I've just rewatched Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and during the Battle of Hoth, a rebel soldier said that the AT-AT shields were too strong for blasters. If that is so, why did they continue shooting? Is it to distract the walkers? Or was it for another reason?

And if there are things that are blaster-proof in Star Wars, why aren't there many people who keep weapons that aren't blasters, like normal guns?

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    The same reason crooks used to not only shoot bullets at Superman, but try to throw the guns at him in the old TV show. They know he can't be hurt, but what else are they going to do?
    – phantom42
    Jun 29, 2015 at 17:21
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    Additionally, in the games at least, the shielding on vehicles and such can be worn down by blaster fire; it just takes a lot of it.
    – phantom42
    Jun 29, 2015 at 17:24
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    When the only tool you have is a blaster, everything looks like a blaster target... Jun 29, 2015 at 22:00
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    @phantom42 - so, bad writing?
    – Davor
    Jun 30, 2015 at 7:37
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    @JoãoMendes - I don't know, from my experience, people run away when running away is available and winning isn't. The "screaming banzai" is very much a movie trope in my experience.
    – Davor
    Jun 30, 2015 at 10:40

1 Answer 1


I think the quote was "That armor's too strong for blasters" implying that most of the body can withstand lots of blasts. This is similar to current day tanks which can take lots of punishment from small arms fire but can still be penetrated by lucky shots in one of its many vulnerable parts, such as the turret swivel, tracks and sensors. Being in a tank while it is being shot at by a machine gun is very distracting.

There is a scene where a blast from someone in the trench shot at, and hit, a rear leg joint causing a large (relatively speaking) explosion.

Another point I remember from my Marine Corp days is that having as many guns firing at the same time has an effect of causing attackers to concentrate fire towards your main fortification so that a flanking attack has a better chance of success. The flanking attack by the snow speeders in this case.

This particular battle is also a rear guard action, so killing is not the objective, just slowing down the attack. For that purpose, the more guns firing, the better.

All in all, this scene looks like the first encounter German Forces had with English tanks in WWI. Machine guns were fired at the tanks and managed to stop a lot of them.

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    To supplement this answer, regarding the point about tanks in WWI: machine guns were effective against the early tanks, not because the bullets pierced the hull (they didn't), but because they caused white-hot shards of metal to flake off the interior walls and ricochet around inside the tank, wounding the occupants. The same idea might apply here.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jun 30, 2015 at 0:31
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    @WadCheber: That effect is called "spalling", and has never ceased to be an issue. It's what makes even crude IED's a threat to modern tanks. Indeed, the British created an AT round that is not intended to penetrate, but cause maximum spalling (HESH).
    – DevSolar
    Jun 30, 2015 at 7:50
  • they were also shooting at the AT-STs and foot soldiers
    – Petersaber
    Jun 30, 2015 at 9:47
  • This is an excellent answer, and it makes me look forward to any other answers you might have about the Star Wars movies. :)
    – Ernie
    Jul 2, 2015 at 19:40

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