The epic saga lives on with Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens debuting later this week. Thirty years after defeating the Galactic Empire, Han Solo and his allies face a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren and his army of Stormtroopers. Only their weapon of choice remains the same—the powerful lightsaber.
“This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight,” said Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars IV: A New Hope. “Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. An elegant weapon for a more civilized time.” Many science fiction film fans consider the futuristic lightsaber, the legendary weapon of the Jedi Knight, to be their most popular fictional arm.
The lightsaber—essentially a sword with a pillar of light energy discharged from the hilt instead of a metal blade—is activated by the push of a button. It can be used to cut through blast doors or enemies alike. Using the Force, a Jedi Knight can predict and deflect incoming blaster bolts, and reflect them.
Throughout the Star Wars saga, the lightsaber has evolved from its first conceptualization by prop masters at George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic, using the flash gray grip battery housing from 1950s Graflex cameras, to encompassing myriad variations in grip patterns and laser color.
These lightsabers, built by Ellis Props, were attributed as backup props for use in the original Star Wars film. They were auctioned in a liquidation of the Ellis Props collection after the 1999 release of Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace. They’ve been exhibited in the “Hollywood Guns” exhibit at the NRA National Firearms Museum.