Watching original Star Trek, the ships seem to be shooting in slow motion not much faster than a muzzleloader, yet the modern version shows them engaging enemy ships with extreme rapid fire of both beam and torpedoes. The rapid fire seems more 'realistic' to me but got me wondering how fast they could run out of ammo in a firefight. How fast can they deplete their ammo supply?

  • Take a ship, find out its ammo loadout, divide by its rate of fire and that is how fast it runs out of ammo. Phasers are charged by impulse engines, check charge rate vs power output and you can determine how many times in a minute the phaser can fire. Since they don't use any materials, the only thing you have to worry about is having the phaser banks overheat and go offline. – Thaddeus Howze May 12 '16 at 23:49
  • 9
    Seven. Seven fast. – Wad Cheber May 12 '16 at 23:50
  • I think he'd prefer a reasonable effort, not a joke answer. – Ham Sandwich May 13 '16 at 0:02
  • @ThaddeusHowze The rate of fire is what is confusing to me. They show crews loading photon magazines but I don't see specs on max rate of fire. I assume they can't maintain max fire rate beyond a minute or two before depleating their supply of torpedoes and burning out their phaser banks. – Morgan May 13 '16 at 0:05
  • 3
    @T-1000'sSon - That's why I didn't post it as an answer. – Wad Cheber May 13 '16 at 0:14

I will base my answer on the performance of phaser and photon torpedo delivery systems on the Enterprise D, as according to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, written and compiled by Michael Okuda and Rick Sternbach, production designers for the actual show.


According to Section 11.2 "Phaser Operations":

Recharge times are kept to <=0.5 seconds. Full power firing endurance is rated at 45 minutes.

It then goes on to describe some less than ideal conditions in which these performances are reduced, but the point is that under good conditions it takes less than half a second to recharge phasers (from the impulse array, as explained earlier in the same chapter) and full-power firing at this recharge rate can be maintained for as long as 45 minutes before a longer recharge window must be initiated.

Photon torpedoes

According to Section 11.3 "Photon Torpedoes", the torpedoes are injected with matter-antimatter fuel prior to priming in batches of four. Under ideal circumstances, the minimum time for injection is 1.02 seconds.

Each of the forward and aft launchers can be loaded with up to 10 torpedoes at a time. These torpedoes can be launched in one batch, and batches of up to 10 each can be fired until the total supply is exhausted.

While a batch is launched, the next batch can be primed, and so the Enterprise D can fire spreads of 20 torpedoes (using both the forward and aft launchers) at roughly 2.55 seconds apart.

  • Okay but how quickly will a starship deplete its ammo? – Lightness Races in Orbit May 13 '16 at 16:56
  • That's good info Praxis, thanks. So they would be empty (torpedoes) within a minute or so depending on their payload but could sustain phaser fire for an indefinite period but with a much slower rate of fire after 45 minutes of max cyclic rate? – Morgan May 13 '16 at 23:02
  • @Morgan : Exactly. :-) – Praxis May 14 '16 at 2:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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