Laser guns are something you’ve probably only seen in science fiction, like Battlestar Galactica or Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Few people realize though that laser guns are about to become a reality because scientists have been experimenting on ways to create handheld laser guns for quite some time. These guns are actually referred to as “directed energy weapons.” You probably know lasers as being beams of light that are narrow and highly concentrated. But what real laser guns do is release highly focused energy towards a specific target that the shooter wants to damage. The gun has to be held still because the laser needs to make continuous contact with its target. Real handheld laser guns aren’t like what you see in Star Wars where a visible red or yellow beam shoots out of the gun repeatedly like bullets. Instead, a beam of powerful light will burn the target continuously as long as the laser stays pointed at it. To give you an idea of what this laser looks like, watch the classic James Bond movie “Goldfinger” and look at the scene where the laser gun shoots down at Bond as he is strapped to a table. Now imagine that same laser coming out of a handheld gun. This is a good representation of what a real handheld laser gun will do.
Laser energy is typically produced through electromagnetic radiation. The amount of watts of the energy is what determines how powerful the laser will be. Laser technology has actually existed in the consumer marketplace for quite some time. Have you ever heard of laser pointers? These are handheld devices that produce a laser in which you can point to things with. All you will see is a dot of light on the target and not the full beam because the light is not powerful enough. Now you are probably wondering why laser pointers don’t cause any damage to the target. Well the reason they don’t is because laser pointers only use .005 watts of energy. The U.S. Navy has a laser cannon prototype that is 30,000 watts, which can actually shoot down a drone flying in the sky. Therefore, this should give you an idea of how the number of watts makes a difference in its level of destructiveness.
The Soviet Union in 1984 also had a prototype laser pistol.These were intended for use by Russian cosmonauts to take out optic sensors on enemy spacecrafts. It was apparently a ruby laser and may have worked by a synthetic ruby rod, which would be pumped with high energy and very bright light from a flashtube. The ruby rod would then send out a short burst of laser beam. The pistol had an effective range of about 20 meters.
Thanks to the internet, people can now learn how to make their own handheld laser guns at home. One can also find laser gun demonstrations on YouTube where people have made them at their house. These guns typically have 40 watts of power to them, which is enough to cause a fire on the target and do some damage. You should take caution when trying this for yourself(in fact, don’t do it at all.)