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The only time you'd ever see a Marine without his DL-3 was after he'd been killed.
—Sergeant Denaas Bekuur, in his memoirs
The DL-3 blaster pistol was a type of blaster pistol, the second military-issue sidearm to be produced by the Aratech Repulsor Company in its first centuries of existence. Originally developed to fulfill a set of specification put forth by the Republic Military for a standardized heavy blaster for use by all branches of its armed forces, this weapon saw widespread use throughout the time of the Old Sith Wars. A favorite sidearm of Army troopers, Navy officers and security personnel as well as the Republic Marines, it was often used as a backup weapon, or as an alternative to a full-sized battle rifle in close-quarters combat situations.
Developed during the Old Sith Wars, the design was derived from the company's earlier offering, which was based on the idea of reducing the vital components of a blaster rifle in order to provide higher-powered shots in a smaller frame. After acceptance for use with the Republic's armed forces, the DL-3 became very popular, eventually spawning a number of copies including the black-market DKL-7 and a Czerka Corporation-engineered clone. Because the DL-3 was much prized by those who wielded it, the pistol was eventually augmented, but never quite replaced, by the refined and longer-ranged DL-5 model.
A medium-to-large blaster pistol, the DL-3 was easily recognizable by the shape of its barrel and housing. The outer shell, which ran from the tip of the barrel to the butt of the grip, roughly resembled an inverted right triangle. The trigger housing, located at the junction of the lower angle and handle/power cell casing, was large enough for a thickly-armored finger to have ample pull. The handle itself extended from the body at a rear-facing 20° angle, and could be fitted with different-sized grips to accommodate different-sized hands. The top of the blaster was flat, with slotted sights, and could be fitted with a variety of optical or multi-spectral scopes. On production models, the end of the muzzle was fitted with a small brake to reduce recoil.
It's too much pistol for you, maggot. You might want to start with something smaller, like this water gun.
—Chazzlukk Ibsenhauss, to the main character in the holodrama Full Plasma Powerpak
Based on the idea of reducing the size of a blaster rifle's power pack, gas chamber, and other mechanical parts so that they could fit into a pistol-sized frame, the DL-3 was an improvement over the preceding DL-1 model that was the Aratech Repulsor Company's first foray into heavy pistol development. Though not as far-reaching as a military-issue rifle, the DL-3 nevertheless packed the same punch, particularly at close range. The drawback to this level of power was that each cell could only fire a limited number of shots before needing replacement. The weapon's gas chamber, however, retained the same capacity level as other, less powerful hand blasters. Lasting for approximately five hundred shots, each gas pack needed to be changed once for every ten power cells.
After the conclusion of Exar Kun's war, specially-engineered and modified versions of the DL-3 began to be utilized in competitive shooting matches. These specialty models were typically rebuilt almost literally from the frame up, with advanced materials making these weapons lighter, faster on the draw, and giving an increased rate of fire as well as the ability to, with training, swap out the power cell with incredible swiftness. Because of such modifications these weapons, referred to as "match-grade" pistols, were significantly more expensive than the baseline model, sometimes by as much as seventy-five percent. Such high-grade versions were typically wielded only by champion pistol shooters who competed for the million-credit prize competitions that were held across the galaxy.
This pistol has saved my life more than I can count. I call it 'Daddy's Little Pocket Protector.'
—Anonymous Marine Force Reconnaissance veteran
The first DL-3s were delivered to the Republic Marines in 4,006 BBY for testing, and approval for general use was given shortly thereafter. Those Marines who tested the weapon praised it for its stopping power and mobility at close quarters; however, they admitted that the pistol was somewhat heavy for its size. Nearly all of them considered this to be a worthy trade-off, however, as the blaster's heavy grip could, in a pinch, be used as a melee weapon. The design was also found to be quite rugged, requiring little maintenance while in the field, and capable of standing up to considerable abuse.
With the ordering of full production granted by the Galactic Senate Armed Forces Committee's Appropriations Department, Aratech engineers tweaked the design. This involved reducing the pistol's overall weight by ten percent as well as adding a recoil-dampening flange to the muzzle. Within three years, nearly every frontline unit within the Republic Armed Forces was equipped with the DL-3, with second-line and reserve units receiving theirs by the outbreak of the Beast Wars on the planet of Onderon. It was there that the blaster saw its first action, with the Republic rocket-jumpers and Marines sent in to aid the Jedi Knights in their goal of ending the dark-side conflict and rescuing Jedi Master Arca Jeth. The weapon proved to be effective against armored foes, however it lacked the range of a dedicated battle rifle, and was typically used as a backup weapon or for close-quarters fighting where the bulk of a rifle put a soldier at a disadvantage. As the years progressed, the DL-3 became an ubiquitous sight amongst the military of the Galactic Republic, with many soldiers choosing to buy their weapons from the government upon the completion of their terms of service, usually at a fraction of its original value.
Though the Republic attempted to restrict the DL-3 to military use, nevertheless a number of examples were obtained illegally, with black-market manufacturers making either direct copies or, far more often, cheaper knock-offs that typically lacked the same quality of production that Aratech factories were noted for. Imitations such as the DKL-7, produced on Nar Shaddaa by factories under the control of the Exchange, were carried in great numbers by pirates and other criminals despite its propensity to misfire if not cleaned often enough. Professional mercenaries, however, held these low-quality reproductions in contempt, preferring the GL-4 produced by Czerka Corporation, who cared little about who bought their weapons. Despite a court order handed down by the Judiciary in 3,989 BBY, the result of a copyright violation lawsuit brought against the corporation by Aratech, Czerka continued to manufacture their version, which was slightly heavier and not quite as powerful. The Sith Empire of Darths Revan and Malak became a major purchaser of the GL-4 during the Jedi Civil War.
Eventually, Aratech produced the successor version of the DL-3, designated the DL-5, which incorporated designs purchased from Mandalorian manufacturers in the years after the First Jedi Purge. These innovations allowed for a weapon that, despite an increase in maximum and effective ranges, could fire more shots per power cell. The frame was also fractionally lighter and stronger. However, these improvements were not cheap; an individual DL-5 cost over five hundred credits more than its predecessor. Because of this, the Republic military was slow to adopt it, and so it never saw the popularity of the DL-3. Amongst the special forces, for example operators within the Republic Marine Force Reconnaissance companies, the DL-5 was eagerly welcomed and much prized.
By the time of the New Sith Wars, the DL-3 had become a relic, with production having ceased some centuries prior in favor of newer models, which incorporated newer technologies. Most of those pistols which remained were to be found in museums, with the occasional wealthy collector possessing a fully-functional example that was, often as not, the most valuable weapon in his, her or its collection. Nevertheless, the legacy of the heavy blaster remained, having become a popular sidearm for soldier, mercenary, and criminal alike.
Behind the scenes
The DL-3 blaster was first introduced in the fan fiction novella Star Wars: Saber Battalion by Sean "Goodwood" Nash. However, it was retconned to have appeared in A Marine Went to Jedi Camp when the latter novella was rewritten by Nash. The styling of the weapon, as created by Nash, was based loosely on the revolvers produced by Colt's Manufacturing Company during the second half of the 19th Century.