We think J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum is a treasure for Claremore and all of Oklahoma. For our 50th anniversary we want to share the stories of some of our favorite artifacts.
Some artifacts are just known universally: The Ruby Slippers, the Maltese Falcon, the Everlasting Gobstopper. One of these is of course, Han Solo’s Blaster. Where would everyone’s favorite galactic smuggler be without his DL-44 Heavy Blaster Pistol? Walking back to Jabba’s palace at the point of Greedo’s blaster. That’s where! He would not have been in the Mos Eisley cantina when Luke and Obi-won arrived looking for passage to the Alderaan system, and Star Wars would have been COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.
Enough of that though. How did George Lucas et al come up with this cool-looking pistol for Han? Well, as with most Star Wars guns, it is based upon real life firearms from our galaxy. Han’s DL-44 started off as a Mauser C96 self-loading pistol. C96, as in 1896. This was one of the first commercially successful semiautomatic handguns invented. It was chambered in several cartridges, but most were 7.63x25mm (.30 caliber) Mauser and 9mm Luger. Some later Chinese-made copies were even chambered in .45 ACP (same as the venerable American Model of 1911 .45 Colt Semi-Automatic Pistol).
For its time, the C96 was loved around the world. The German Military fielded it for non-frontline troops past World War I. The young Soviet Russian Red Army used a slightly modified version that became known as the “Bolo” Mauser, as Bolo was a nickname of the Communist Bolsheviks. The C96 was sold commercially around the world, including the USA. A model was made that was Select-Fire; meaning it could switch between semi-automatic and fully-automatic firing. Even a Winston Churchill carried a C96 as a young British Army officer during the Boer Wars in South Africa. This pistol was everywhere.
With more than 1.1 million pistols being made around the world, and the fact that they are strong, overly-engineered German machines, it is no surprise that George Lucas and his prop designers had some of these around to play with. If you look closely, most of the blasters of the Star Wars movies are made with or based upon surplus military arms. So, Han said it, and Winston Churchill believed it. “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.”