Ok, you can select one small arm from any science fiction story for use in real life. We are talking about weapons that, while they may be powerful, are not godlike or superweapons. Star Wars blasters or lightsabers, Star Trek phasers, plasma pistols/rifles, or disruptors and other similar small arms from SF books, shows, movies, comics, games etc. are all in scope. No handheld pocket nukes or pail-sized universe destroyers. “Ordinary” plasma grenades are fine.
Which would be most effective for use in real life alone, as a weapon to carry for personal protection?
Which would be most effective for massed use by modern police or military? For example, would the NYPD be more effective with Star Wars style blasters or with Star Trek phasers? Why?
You may use primary or secondary canon sources to explain advantages or disadvantages of each weapon. For example, was there anything in Star Trek that indicated how many “kill” blasts you could get out of a Romulan disruptor pistol of the TNG era?
Clearly, the TOS phaser type 2 is the winner. It could do pretty much anything the writers wanted it to (sort of a “Swiss Army Knife” for the Federation man). It could stun, heat, kill, disintegrate, fire on multiple targets, cut, and explode. Ultimate power was never really defined, but it could vaporize a building…
Also, for the purposes of this question, you are allowed to have the necessary equipment to maintain and recharge the weapon. If it is a grenade, you can make more at a reasonable rate, not quicker than you can make ordinary grenades today. If the weapon takes physical ammo, you can manufacture it. Assume that all maintenance, manufacture, and recharging requires a fairly substantial base station that would fit in someone’s basement, a military base, or a police station but would have trouble fitting in the back of a van. So, if you use up all your phaser charge you are looking at going home to recharge it unless it comes with field-swappable batteries per canon source. Consider the maintenance effort for different weapons to be approximately equal unless you can show with canon sources why it would be horribly expensive or super-cheap.
I believe that later Federation phasers also had a disintegrate setting. In First Contact, I believe Picard mentions that the (TNG movie era Type 2) phaser that he had been carrying “would have vaporized me”.
IIRC a plot point in a ST ep revolved around some disintegration residue left behind by the victim, and Data (I think) was able to figure out who it was.
To be frank, I think phasers are pretty worthless, to be honest; I believe there have been numerous personal weapons in various other stories which would put them to shame. Thinking of things like hunter-seeker drones for starters.
I was more thinking about fairly mundane, standard issue or widely available (e.g. while not standard issue, can be obtained relatively easily either by private purchase or by special request by a serviceperson) weapons in the SF universe, not a unique or highly expensive artifact.
The handheld laser from Coils by Fred Saberhagen & Roger Zelazny. Besides being destructive, it has the capability of automatically shooting incoming projectiles out of the air. A gun that vaporizes incoming bullets has obvious advantages for personal protection over one that just kills things.
Phasers, for the reasons already mentioned. If everyone has the above laser weapon its most unusual feature is less useful because no one is using bullets anymore.
Phasers are almost worthless as weapons, judging by their on-screen performance. Nearly every time their “kill” setting is used against an enemy, said enemy is either merely knocked over (“stunned” would be a bit generous) or barely slowed down at all. On the rare occasion that they do injure someone (a mundane humanoid), it’s clear that a “phaser burn” is much less grievous than a bullet wound. I don’t care what it says in the technical manuals because they’re clearly lying. They might be useful as non-lethal weapons for police, but as a replacement for tasers, not real guns.
Actually, Phaser I was a self-contained weapon, a less powerful and concealable version of Phaser II. Its power was boosted when it was snapped into the pistol frame; i.e., it was the unit that actually generated the phaser beam, and the pistol merely amplified it.
Phaser I was carried when a landing party did not wish to be conspicuously armed, e.g., during a courtesy call on a friendly planet.
The phaser power packs mentioned in “Omega Glory” (and possibly other episodes; I don’t recall off the top of my head) were contained in the pistol grip and could be changed by snapping them in and out.
As regards the TNG phasers, Roddenberry, concerned about the “militaristic” bent the TOS feature films were following, insisted they resemble cutting tools more than weapons. How this affected their effectiveness, I don’t know. Concern over the “militaristic” bent was also the reason Picard and crew were dressed in Spandex catsuits instead of marching band uniforms.
I always wondered why so much of a phaser’s energy was normally wasted in a continuous (and hard-to-keep-on-target) beam when in most cases a good quick blast would have sufficed.
I don’t remember what he calls them, but Gene Wolfe had some nifty guns that electromagnetically fire flat-tipped needles in his Long Sun stories. Objectively, they would likely be less effective than a. 357 magnum, but apparently held a million shots and were extremely low noise and recoil.