In “The Force Awakens” Han Solo, Chewbacca and Finn are caught in a battle on the planet Takodana—where Maz Kanata lives, hangs out and does whatever she does—and Chewbacca begins using his bowcaster to pick off Stormtroopers like flies. At one point in the middle of the battle, Han Solo asks to try the bowcaster out and exclaims something along the lines of, “I like this thing!”

Okay, okay… Han Solo likes that big, bad powerful bowcaster… But why is he so surprised and delighted by its power and handling apparently only now in this film? Hasn’t Chewbacca had that bowcaster for at least 30 years? And within those 30 years you are telling me Han Solo has never put his hands on that bowcaster before? Or witnessed its power in action? Really? The first time he’s touched it is during the events in this film?

What is the in-universe explanation for this?

I mean I know some couples are shockingly oblivious to the things their partners have, use, do and have done. But this seems a bit of a stretch coming from someone like Han Solo who seems to spend endless days/nights with his Wookiee sidekick getting into all kinds of wacky action/adventure predicaments.

Chewbacca and Han Solo’s social media profile picture.


7 Answers 7


In the now-Legends EU continuity, Chewbacca was constantly tinkering with his bowcasters. That's right - bowcasters, as in plural. He owned several, and liked to upgrade and customize them. Both Han and Chewie's wife Mala comment on this hobby during his memorial service on Kashyyyk. Here's an excerpt from the New Jedi Order novel Agents of Chaos I - Hero's Trial:

Han's brows knitted. He set the box down on the stool and unlatched its finely wrought metal clasp. Inside, snug in a bed of cushioning material was a beautifully carved bowcaster, its marked and blemished skeleton stock polished to a deep brown gleam. An artfully disguised magnetic accelerator, the weapon propelled explosive quarrels at extremely high speeds. This one was equipped with a sighting scope and a recocking mechanism few human hands would be capable of operating.

"I recognize this," Han said, nodding. He compressed his lips to trap a moan fighting to escape him. "It's one of the first I ever saw him make."

Malla hooted. [Chewbacca fashioned it shortly after we married - while you were here. He fashioned better versions in his time, but this one retains the warmth and power of him.]

If this detail has carried over into the new continuity, then it's entirely possible that Han has never used this particular bowcaster.

  • Isn't the EU ignored in the movies though? Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 10:35
  • @DylanMeeus - yes, the previous EU is no longer canon. We'll have to wait and see what, if anything, gets carried over into the new continuity.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 14:40
  • 3
    @DylanMeeus - let's think of it as healthy speculation based on existing material.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 18:32
  • 3
    @DylanMeeus - not just you. I'm too dang old to memorize another 30 years of rebooted continuity.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 19:48
  • 1
    @JakeGould That is true, which is why I upvoted this answer as well ;-) Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 8:20

As @phantom42 pointed out in the comments on the question, Han Solo is most certainly a creature of habit. It is believable that before that instance in the film, he has always reached for his personal blaster when in danger rather than the weapon that his friend is actively using.

Some evidence for this is provided in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, when we find out that:

After Han and Leia's son turned to the Dark Side, Han returned to his life as a smuggler.

This shows us that Han will always choose the option that he is most familiar with, especially when he's in a new situation.

We also have a very telling quote from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope that supports Han’s complete lack of curiousity about other weapons:

Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.

Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope upon seeing a lightsaber for the first time

This quote shows us that even when seeing a lightsaber for what we can assume to be the first time in his life, he is unimpressed and prefers to stick with what he knows — his trusty blaster.


Actually, Han Solo did shoot exactly that bowcaster before

I don't have a screenshot yet, but on Eravana, right after Chewie got wounded by a gangster, Han shoots that gangster with Chewie's bowcaster. Same one, with large spheres at the end.

He doesn't comment on it, being in the middle of firefight AND worried about Chewie.

  • 1
    I remember this. Not sure why this has no upvote. +1
    – Praxis
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 15:30
  • I'll upvote this, nice!!
    – KyloRen
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 6:57
  • 2
    In case anybody else is wondering, Eravana is Han's new smuggling ship.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 14:53

The sole purpose of Han's fascination with Chewbacca's weapon was to underscore the strength of Kylo Ren as he absorbs the blast from said weapon latter in the film. Arguably, Kylo Ren may have resisted the blast entirely if he wasn't so flooded with emotion from just having....done something to his father.

  • 4
    Plot device, plus one. If this was on M&TV.SE, you'd have gotten the check mark.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 2:36

In the book "Han Solo and the lost legacy" it becomes plain that the bowcaster was adjusted to the strength of a Wookiee. That means that Han was unable to draw the bow easily once it had been shot, just because he lacked the strength to do so. So, while he shot Chewie’s bowcaster (and loved it) on occasion it just was impractical for him to do so regularly.

This occurs on two occasions in the book:

At the beginning of chapter 7:

The man pulled at the front handle of the crossbow in order to draw the bow and to take the next bolt for a second shot from the magazine. But he did not make it; the mechanism of the weapon was set to the force and the arm length of a Wookiee.

At the end of chapter 14:

Chewbacca paused in his efforts just long enough to throw the crossbow with one hand to Han.
Han caught it, turned in one smooth motion around, went to one knee and pressed the plunger to his cheek. He pulled the trigger, and the explosive shell hit the approaching machine at the junction between shoulder and arm. The metal limb fell off, and the robot trembled, but moved on.
Han tried the draw the bow, however, discovered as the man in the city that his human strength was not enough.

(Note: These are not verbatim quotes from the book, I only possess this book in german and translated the passages back for this answer; If someone has the original book, feel free to replaces the passages)

To address the upcoming question “Why didn’t he adjust a bowcaster to his strength?”: I always assumed that the superior strength of the Wookiee’s allowed the bowcaster to shoot the bolts with much more force than a bowcaster configured for a human, making it much more fun to shoot with it.

This would make it "Legends", but IMO it is a pretty plausible explanation for Hans reaction.

  • Well, this gave me a reason to read the book again. I added quotes as reference. Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 8:24

There's a difference between knowing something to be powerful and experiencing the power yourself.

Han may have known the bowcaster was a powerful weapon, but if he, as a creature of habit and healthy skepticism, had never bothered to actually fire the bowcaster himself, then he would likely be emphatically pleased after using it, feeling its kick (or whatever), and seeing the damage he just did with it.


Han carries a handgun even when he has the time to prepare and carry a rifle such as the raid on Endor. He only uses a slightly larger weapon when he takes a storm troopers E-11 when on the death star. He apparently likes to use a small weapon that he is used to over a more appropriate weapon. He probably hadn't tried the bow-caster until he was forced to by the situation.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.