This is an E-11 blaster rifle:

Blaster Rifle

It was standard issue for stormtroopers and makes many, many appearances in various Star Wars works.

Recently, I noticed this:


These guns have sights. I can't recall ever seeing these sights used in any medium. Does anyone know if they ever had been used? It would seem that it would really help with the stormtroopers' aiming issues.

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    It's not that they don't use the sights. It's just that the sights are so incredibly bad!!! – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Sep 14 '15 at 2:25

During the Battle of Endor:

Battle of Endor

Battle of Endor

Battle of Endor

And of course, this guy shot Artoo.

Battle of Endor

I originally did not include this shot that hit Leia, because I feel it is ambiguous whether the scope is in use or not.

Battle of Endor

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    One of the few storm trooper blaster fatalities (against an android) and hits on a main character (Leia) involved the use of the site. It's sad that it took them three episodes to master this technology. – Hoytman Sep 11 '15 at 21:42
  • @Hoytman I added a picture of that shot that hit Leia. I cannot tell whether the stormtrooper is using the scope or not. – William Jackson Sep 17 '15 at 14:51
  • It doesn't look like the shot that hit R2 was aimed through the scope either, honestly. – Scott Whitlock Sep 18 '15 at 0:48

enter image description here

This is from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. In the video of this scene (0:14), we can clearly see this particular stormtrooper (circled in red) aim down the sight and fire at Han:

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    I agree with the other answer (which is incomplete); it doesn't look like the stormtrooper was actually looking down the sight. – Null Sep 11 '15 at 3:12
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    @Null: It's a certain point of view. ;-) – Praxis Sep 11 '15 at 3:45
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    Was that in the original version too, or just the enhanced version? – user12616 Sep 11 '15 at 12:09
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    @Hurkyl : Enhanced, I believe. – Praxis Sep 11 '15 at 14:48
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    I love that shot of all those Stormtroopers just hanging around :,) – maguirenumber6 Dec 28 '15 at 14:34

Since you've asked for any medium, the most unambiguous way to confirm that stormtroopers used their sights is using a video game.

Here's a gif (taken from 2:14 of this Youtube video) of a cold weather assault stormtrooper (snowtrooper) using the sight on his E-11 to get headshots on Rebel soldiers at the Battle of Hoth (from Star Wars: Battlefront II):

enter image description here

And here's a similar gif (taken from 32:40 of this Youtube video) from DICE's new Star Wars: Battlefront (which is largely canon):

enter image description here

Notice that this snowtrooper's HUD is displaying a note that he's already killed fifteen Rebels while he kills his sixteenth. These snowtroopers prove that Imperial troops can be quite effective and deadly, contrary to certain naysayers!

We know these are snowtroopers because (a) snowtroopers formed the Imperial infantry at the Battle of Hoth and (b) a few seconds after the indicated time in the second clip we see the snowtrooper with his E-11:

enter image description here

As a bonus, both gifs show that the sight is a scope since there is some magnification when aiming down it.

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    Whoa, indeed a live example of the sights in use. I imagine this actually us a scope, not an optic, as it magnifies the target image when used. (Of course, this is Star Wars, so for all we know it might be a screen projecting an arbitrary image for the user -- which is a much more interesting/advanced use, which is the direction modern targetting systems are moving toward today anyway.) – zxq9 Sep 11 '15 at 4:38
  • @zxq9 I agree, both gifs indicate that it's a scope since there is some magnification. – Null Sep 11 '15 at 4:47

No. There is no canon explanation why helmeted soldiers with limited vision would be able to make use of a scope on a rifle they mostly hip fire anyway. There is one example of a stormtrooper raising their rifle to fire, but in this example it cannot be made out whether the stormtrooper is using their scope or merely raising their rifle to brace for recoil (maybe this explains why they are usually so inaccurate when firing from their hip?).

An out of universe answer would be the reason they added the scopes to the E-11 Blaster Rifle was to make it better replicate existing earth weapons, even though the Blaster rifles in the star wars universe are rarely used for long distance pitched assaults, but more frequently for corridor shootouts.

The analysis I have made upon the aforementioned scene where a stormtrooper appears to raise their weapon is as follows:

  • You can clearly see from the diagram below the orientation of the gun and the stormtroopers visor do not line up
  • The stormtroopers helmet eye-holes do not line up to the scope

enter image description here

A better explained theory as to what the stormtrooper is doing is as follows:

  • The stormtrooper, seeing Han has raised his weapon in order to improve accuracy by reducing the recoil on his blaster.
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    Why was this answer nominated for deletion? It's really quite good! – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Sep 11 '15 at 2:09
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    I'm not sure I buy this analysis. I can't "clearly" see this. His stance is consistent with aiming (otherwise he would adopt a stance more like the others) and also we can't infer the direction of his eyes from his mask. – user51095 Sep 11 '15 at 2:36
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    @TangerinesonTatooine, it's true that you can't tell the direction of his gaze. You can however tell that he isn't using his sight for one simple reason: His eyes are not in line with the sight at all. They are far too high. He may be getting ready to use the sight, but he certainly is not using it now. – Paul Draper Sep 11 '15 at 3:03
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    @JustAnotherDotNetDev : No worries --- and a belated welcome to SFF:SE, by the way. (I noticed that you've only been a member for a couple of months.) – Praxis Sep 11 '15 at 4:08
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    Do blasters (being energy weapons) have recoil? – Tim B Sep 11 '15 at 16:20

Out of universe, and not an answer, but interesting and too much for a comment...

The E-11 blaster prop is a modified Sterling sub-machine gun. The scope is not a rifle scope, but a 1.44x scope from a Sherman tank!

An inappropriate scope, plus the helmet, probably made it very difficult for the actors to see through.

M40 scope

M40 scope

M38 scope.

M38 scope


I heard that the "scope" on top was used to record when and where the blaster was shot. That is how the Imperial Intelligence officers know if a stormtrooper shot at any high ranking officers. Also, if you look closely at the "scopes" the caps always seem to be on...

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    Welcome to the site. Do you have a source for this? – Rogue Jedi May 16 '16 at 1:07

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