Phasers are the standard defensive sidearm of the Confederation. They also serve as the defensive weapon for most Starships. Phaser is an acronym for PHASed Energy Rectification, a term which referred to the original process by which stored or supplied energy was converted to another form for release toward the target without any need for an intermediate energy transformation.

Type I Phaser
The type I phaser is a small hand-held Phaser, approximately the size of a pack of cards, that can be easily concealed. They can fire up to Setting 8, which causes total vaporization of humanoids as 50% of affected matter transitions out of the continuum.

Type II Phaser
This is a larger hand unit. Early models of the type II phaser used a type I phaser clipped into a pistol grip, but modern weapons seem to have little in common with the smaller model. The modern type II phaser can fire up to setting 16, which causes the destruction of some 3,900 metric tons of rock per 0.28 second discharge.

Type III Phaser
The type III is a rifle version of the type II phaser. It uses a nearly identical "business end" as the type II, and is also capable of firing to setting 16. The advantages of the type III are a 50% greater energy reserve, a multiple target acquisition system and a gyrostabilizer system. Recently the standard type III phaser rifle has apparently received the same advanced targeting system as the Heavy phaser rifle.

Type IV Phaser
The type IV phaser, also known as the Compressed Phaser Rifle, is similar to the Type III phaser but is capable of creating a concentrated burst of phaser energy. The power release for each setting is the same but the effect is much more destructive in nature. Up to 50% more damage is capable.

To aid in the compression of the beam, the design team built a small isolinear artificial intelligence unit into the rifle which has complete control of the energy discharge. This approach met with considerable success in a testing program that was surprisingly free of difficulties. The use of a computer control system also allows the beam characteristics to be modified much more easily than in previous phaser rifles, a measure clearly important when dealing with the Borg.

The type IV rifle also includes a much more effective and elaborate targeting system, a more powerful gyrostabilizer, and a larger energy reserve. The targeting unit is now being retro-fitted into earlier models of phaser rifle.

Romulan Disruptors are essentially identical to a Phaser II except that they are slightly heavier, around 1.75 pounds. Romulans also have a Phaser III like weapon with similar stats to the Federation Phaser III. Romulan disruptor fire can be identified by a high residue of antiprotons that can linger for several hours after the weapon has been used.

Also know as Phase Disruptors, Klingon Disruptors are similar to Phaser II's with only power levels 8 and 9 available. Also, weight is around 2.5 pounds, since they have a larger power cell. However, they only have 200 charges due to the fact that the Klingon power cell is less sophisticated than the ones the Federation or the Romulans use.

Other Disruptors, such as the ones used by the Ferengi and other races, are similar to Phaser I's in effectiveness, charges, range, etc., but are like Phaser II's in size.

Phase Disruptors follow the same basic principle as the Federation Phaser in that they cause the target to transition violently out of this continuum. But the Disruptor uses slow nadions rather than rapid nadions in generating the energy beam. This gives the disruptor a considerably lower energy conversion efficiency than the Starfleet phaser. This is partially offset by a moderate reduction in the size of the hardware required for the weapon itself - the space freed up by this allows a higher power weapon to be installed in the same space. The Federation phaser is therefore considered to be more sophisticated and generally more effective than the disruptor, which relies on brute power to overcome its efficiency failings.

Like phasers, disruptor weapons can fire sustained beams or pulses depending on the exact configuration of the hardware. One major drawback to this type of weapon is that no user has been able to develop the efficiency of the system to a point where individual emitters can be linked via force coupling. This makes it virtually impossible to construct a linear disruptor array along the pattern of Starfleets phaser arrays. Since these weapons entered Federation service on board the Ambassador class there has been massive investment by the Klingons and Romulans to overcome this deficiency, but neither power has been able to field such a weapon. Recent warship designs by these two powers have instead concentrated on building ever larger and more powerful single emitter weapons, and the linear array remains one of Starfleets significant advantages.

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