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Phasers are the most common and standard weapon in the arsenal of Starfleet and several other powers. Phasers fire nadion particle beams. (VOY: "Time and Again")

Descriptions and Uses[edit]

The phaser beam can stun, heat, kill or disintegrate living creatures. Phasers can damage shields or other systems or even cut through a hull. Phasers can also be used to cut through walls and burrow through rock. The beam can be focused to a single spot or widened to impact a large area.

Plasma is passed to a phaser emitter resulting in a discharge of nadion particles. Residual particles can be found in places where a battle has recently taken place. The disruptive effects of nadion discharges are moderated to produce varying effects (discussed below), ranging from benign to extremely destructive. (VOY: "Memorial", "Endgame")

The Starfleet-issue personal phasers come in three types: The phaser type-1 (hand phaser) is small and can be concealed easily. The type 2 phaser is larger and hand-held. It has a longer hand grip or a pistol grip, depending on the model. The phaser type-3 is also known as the phaser rifle. It has a longer barrel, a stock, and some models have a second grip. This weapon can fire beams or bolts. Over centuries of use, there have been several models of the lightweight and effective phaser rifle. (TOS: "The Devil in the Dark"; TNG: "The Mind's Eye")

Beyond these, phasers are usually mounted devices, such as the phaser type-4 used on Starfleet shuttlecraft and other small vehicles, all the way up to the large phaser banks and phaser arrays of starships and space stations. Various classes of banks, arrays and emitters exist, such as the more powerful phaser type-8 and the phaser cannon. (TNG: "The Outcast", "Preemptive Strike"; VOY: "Live Fast and Prosper")

There may still be canonical confirmation that the phaser arrays of the Galaxy Class and Intrepid Class are called "type-10 phasers", as this term was used by the technical production staff.

Hand phasers can be made to overload, either deliberately or by sabotage. Phasers in the process of overloading emit a distinctive high-pitched whine. The weapon will release all of its energy in an explosion capable of doing considerable damage to its surroundings. In 2266, Lenore Karidian attempted to murder James T. Kirk by hiding an overloading phaser in his cabin. (TOS: "The Conscience of the King") In 2269, Kirk, McCoy, and Sulu were almost killed while on the Kalandan outpost planet, when its defensive computer fused the controls on Kirk's phaser, causing it to overload. (TOS: "That Which Survives")

According to Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual one possible method to overload a phaser involves disengaging the safeties that normally manage the phaser's power system. This allows energy to be transferred from the power cell to the prefire chamber then back into the power cell faster than the cell can reabsorb the energy, causing the cell to overload.

Personal phasers are also used by Starfleet personnel as tools and not just weapons. The phaser can be used to heat rocks and stones for warmth. (TOS: "The Enemy Within") Worf also used his type-2 phaser to open a tunnel on the Cardassian planet Celtris III. (TNG: "Chain of Command, Part I")

Different models of phaser make different sounds when fired, depending on the model and setting. Federation phaser fire typically makes a high-pitched "whistling" or "tearing" sound, for example. A knowledgeable person can use the sound to differentiate between types. (TOS: "Errand of Mercy"; DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels")


The phaser design commonly used by Starfleet in the 23rd century and beyond was preceded by phase weapons, including the phase pistol and phase cannon, and were immediately preceded by types of laser weapons, such as the laser pistol. (Star Trek: Enterprise, all; TOS: "The Cage")

Phaser technology was introduced by Starfleet as early as 2257, when a young James T. Kirk served as a phaser control operator aboard the USS Farragut. Phaser rifles were used as early as 2265, although at that time they were not part of a ship's standard weaponry, as officers were still armed with laser pistols. (TOS: "Obsession", "Where No Man Has Gone Before")

In the 24th century, regenerative phasers were designed to function in the presence of duonetic fields, plasma fields, and other environments in which a normal phaser would not operate. As a historical note, the weapon was chosen instead of the TR-116 for such operations. (DS9: "Field of Fire")

Sidearm Settings[edit]

The 23rd and 24th century phaser include several settings.

  • Setting number one is also called the base cycle stunning force. (TOS: "The Enemy Within") This minimal setting causes only a stun effect to the average humanoid lifeform. A hit will leave the target dazed and unable to think straight for a moment. (TOS: "The Man Trap") When used at close range, a phaser set on stun is still capable of inducing sufficient trauma to kill if fired at a vital organ such as the brain. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) Two phasers set on setting one fired simultaneously can break large objects into pieces, such as the urns of Taurus II. (TAS: "The Lorelei Signal")
  • Setting 3.1 is enough to cause a changeling to experience similar discomfort. Setting 3.4 or 3.5 was determined to be a stun setting that would effectively stun and force any changeling to revert back into the gelatenous state. (DS9: "Homefront") A wide-field stun setting is used when large groups need to be stunned with a single shot. (TOS: "The Return of the Archons") Some stun settings can also cause unconsciousness. Although mostly harmless when used at these low settings, multiple phaser stuns like this can result in injury and death. (TNG: "Samaritan Snare") There is a heavy stun force setting and a maximum stun setting also known as full stun charge. (TOS: "Tomorrow is Yesterday"; TNG: "Legacy"; TAS: "The Eye of the Beholder")
  • A phaser can be used to heat several substances, such as rocks or even coffee (TOS: "The Enemy Within", "The Corbomite Maneuver") Phasers can be used to melt certain ores from solid to liquid. (TNG: "The Enemy") They can be used to quickly boil tens of meters of ice. (TAS: "The Slaver Weapon") Settings 6 and 7 cause severe burns to the flesh of humanoids. (TNG: "Night Terrors") Setting 7 is also powerful enough to vaporize noranium carbide. (TNG: "The Vengeance Factor")
  • One-quarter and level 10 are names of the kill setting for humanoid forms. (TOS: "The Man Trap"; TNG: "Aquiel") The kill setting has a distinct sound from the stun setting. (TNG: "Too Short a Season") To a humanoid infected by a neural parasite, the kill setting only causes unconsciousness, due to the high levels of adrenaline in the targets body. (TNG: "Conspiracy")
  • Cutting settings can be used to slice off segments of a steelplast wall, (TNG: "Too Short a Season") a standard starfleet corridor wall (TOS: "The Naked Time") or even to slice off body parts. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
  • The normal maximum setting on a hand phaser will vaporize a humanoid lifeform or a human size android. (TOS: "What Are Little Girls Made Of?";TNG: "The Vengeance Factor"; Star Trek: First Contact) This is also called disintegration. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II") When used as a means of suicide, the phaser will also disintegrate along with the person shooting at himself. (TOS: "Elaan of Troyius") There is also a maximum setting that can set parts of clothing or humanoids on fire. (TNG: "Datalore", "The Wounded") Against a Horta, even when set specifically for silicon, the maximum setting will only hurt it. (TOS: "The Devil in the Dark") Disruptor-B is another maximum setting for the type 2 phaser. It is also called the disruptor effect setting. This setting was assessed to be the most effective against gaseous dikironium. (TOS: "Obsession")
According to the script of "The Vengeance Factor" the human vaporization setting is called setting 8.
  • The standard level 16 setting on a type 2 phaser can be used to vaporize tunnels through rock, large enough to crawl through. (TNG: "Chain of Command, Part I") The level 16 wide-field setting can easily destroy half of a large building with a single shot. (TNG: "Frame of Mind")



Light Stun

Knocks out base-type humanoids for up to five minutes.


Medium Stun

Knocks out base-type humanoids for up to 15 minutes.


Heavy Stun

Knocks out base-type humanoids for up to 1 hour.


Thermal Effects

Causes neural damage and skin burns to base-type humanoids.


Thermal Effects

Causes severe burn effects to humanoid tissue.


Disruption Effects

Causes matter to disassociate and deeply penetrates organic tissue.


Disruption Effects

Kills humanoids as disruption effects become widespread.


Disruption Effects

Cascading disruption forces vaporise humanoid organisms.Maximum setting for type I phasers.


Disruption Effects

Damage to heavy alloy and ceramic materials over 100cm thick.


Disruption Effects

Heavy alloy and ceramic materials over 100cm thick are vaporised.


Disruption/explosive effects

Ultra dense alloy materials vaporise. Light geological displacement.


Disruption/explosive effects

Ultra dense alloy materials vaporise. Medium geological displacement.


Disruption/explosive effects

Light vibrations to shielded matter. Medium geological displacement.


Disruption/explosive effects

Medium vibrations to shielded matter. Heavy geological displacement.


Disruption/explosive effects

Major vibrations to shielded matter. Heavy geological displacement.


Disruption/explosive effects

Shielded matter fractures. Heavy geological displacement. Maximum setting for type II phasers.

Types of phaser weapons[edit]

There are several numbered types of phasers of increasing size and capability: Types 1, 2, and 3 are personnel phasers, and types 4 and above are ship-mounted weapons.

Starship Phasers[edit]

The phasers mounted aboard starships are considerably more powerful than those used by Starfleet personnel, owing to the increased power reserves available. Early phasers, such as the MK IX/01 type found on the USS Enterprise, were mounted in banks of one or two emitters, firing in either proximity blasts or beams. The ship's phasers also have a stun setting, and can be set for a wide-beam. (TOS: "Balance of Terror", "The Trouble with Tribbles", "A Piece of the Action")

Classes of Starship Phasers[edit]

  • Type V phaser is used on auxiliary craft. In Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual it is stated that type 7 shuttlecrafts and type 9A cargo shuttles use phaser emitters of this type during special operations. According to Star Trek: Starship Spotter the Chaffee shuttlepod and the Delta Flyer also uses this phaser type.
  • Type VI phaser is used on auxiliary craft and runabouts. According to the Star Trek: Starship Spotter the Aeroshuttle and Danube Class Runabout phaser arrays are of this type.
  • Type VII phaser is used on starships. According to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual and Star Trek: Starship Spotter the twin phaser banks on Miranda Class starships are of this type.
  • Type IX phaser is used on starships. According to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual the Ambassador Class and one type of Excelsior Class variant uses them. The phaser emitters in the rotary weapon arrays of the weapon sail towers of Deep Space 9 are of this type.
  • Type X+ phaser is used for planetary defense. According to Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual this is the designation of some large dedicated planetary phaser defense emitters.
  • Type XI phaser is used normally for planetary defense. According to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual the emitters were designed to minimize atmospheric blooming of the beam. The phaser emitters in the carriages, embedded into the habitat ring of Deep Space 9, are of this type, modified for use in space.