“The fast draw is a bit overrated….sure it sells holoflicks, but in real life? I’ve seen more go down that way than just about any other. Sure, speed counts, but so does accuracy. It doesn’t do you any good if you shoot the floor five times while your opponent puts the bead on you for good….the real test is the look before the guns come out. When you look someone directly in the eyes, that’s what really separates the professionals from the amateurs.” — Han Solo, to historian Voren Na’al
From every corner of the galaxy, in every period of history since the invention of the slughthrower, they’ve come, always under various names. Gunslingers. Blastfighters. Shootists. Beings who make their reputations and sometimes their livelihoods looking down the barrel of a primed blaster. They vary as wildly in their disposition as they do in origins. Some are paper nexu, with no grit to back up their talk. For every Gallandro or Boba Fett there is a Swifty Yonsen or a Jodo Kast. Some shun celebrity and go unsung, like Vhonte Tervho of the Cuy’Val Dor, who passed her phenomenal prowess with a pair of DC-17’s on to thousands of elite clone commanders during the Clone Wars. Some, like Cemma The Younger, Shoto Eyefire, or Glott, never make much more than a passing story or two in the local holonews before they burn out. They live fast and die slow, the slap of nerf-hide, the hot sting of a blaster bolt, a flash of red light, the feel of a well-worn broom handled pistol in their hands the last sensations they experience in this world. The exploits of Jedi and war heroes overshadow some of them, but some, just some, make a name for themselves without lightsabers or vast armies. They smirk at the derision of more civilized types, and will tell you that a blaster is only as clumsy and random as the hand that pulls it.
Han Solo — To adequately cover the storied career of the Corellian smuggler turned New Republic general, Han Solo would take up more space than this list allows. Picked off the streets of a Corellian spaceport by minor gunslinger, thief, and bounty hunter Garris Shrike, Solo probably adopted and refined Shrike’s personal style of hook and draw early on. The young Corellian bought into the blastfighter mystique for a time, practicing regularly on holo targets, blast ranges, and ‘folks with no sense of humor.’ He had earned enough of a reputation as a tied-down gunman by the time he and his partner Chewbacca were plying their trade in the Corporate Sector to excite Uul-Rha-Shan’s avarice upon hearing his name. Having killed the Tiss’shar gunbeast in the interim, even top blasterslinger Gallandro was already familiar with him when they met. Much of Solo’s early reputation was forced upon him. After he was blamed for the death of Zavval, the Hutt overseer of a Ylesian spice mining operation, he was forced to contend with various hungry bounty hunters and attempted to alter his identity in order to join the Imperial Navy. Solo never did have much luck in dealing with Hutts, although he did seem to possess an uncanny knack for surviving against all odds. Having turned to smuggling after being dismissed from Imperial service for refusing to the sadistic command to skin the Wookiee Chewbacca, Solo’s dumping of a cargo of Jabba the Hutt’s glitterstim led to a jump in the price on his head. This brought the Rodian hunter Greedo to his table at Chalmun’s Cantina in Mos Eisely, and led to a confrontation the particulars of which vary wildly in the telling. The end result, however is always the same. Despite Greedo having the drop on the Corellian, Solo left the Rodian face down and smoking, famously tipping the bartender a 20 credit chip to cover the cleanup. As Solo’s fame grew, Chalmun fastened an old credit chip over the bar claiming it was the one given by Solo, but the veracity of this is disputable. This encounter perfectly embodies Solo’s style, which mostly derived from his daring as a pilot. Unlike others on this list, Solo never set out to be a gunman, nor worked deliberately at his reputation. He was a pilot first, more enamored of his Millennium Falcon than his trademark heavy blaster. He was a practical, but undeniably daring opponent. When confronted with no one less than Sith Lord Darth Vader in a Cloud City dining room on Bespin, his first instinct was not to run, but to draw and fire three well-placed shots. Even Solo admitted to Voren Na’al that it was fastest, most perfect draw of his life, albeit a futile gesture. Although the rivalry of Boba Fett and Han Solo is played up a great deal in the holos, it remains one of the epic confrontations that never quite happened. Fett collected the Hutt bounty on Solo with the aide of the Empire, even famously marking up his price as a work of art by the Dark Lord of the Sith. However, their numerous confrontations over the years were mostly settled without blasters (such as when Solo accidentally caused Fett to fall into the maw of the Sarlaac on Tatooine), or wound up in a stalemate, as in their brief, furious shootout and pursuit on the Smuggler’s Moon of Nar Shaddaa. Though no believer in hokey religions, some force seemed to watch over Solo’s life, and Fett finally came to realize he’d chased the man enough. Eventually, it was a grudging respect, mutually earned through decades of conflict that put an end to the feud of two of the galaxy’s deadliest shooters. Weapon Of Choice: Modified DL-44 Heavy Blaster Pistol.
Cad Bane — The death of Jango Fett left a void in the galaxy in terms of reliable, individual mercenary muscle as well as top gun blasterslinging. The ruthless Cad Bane stepped in to fill that void. Born in the slums of the Descent Ghetto district of New Tayana orbiting Duro, Cad Bane began his career as a bounty hunter tracking down bail jumpers and low level criminals, but soon left his hometown, swearing never to return. Perceiving the approach of a pangalactic conflict and deciding he would need to make a name for himself in order to remain financially viable, Bane decided that like Jango Fett, he would have to take down a Jedi. Relying on his already considerable fast draw, he took a job with Bothan crime lord Akris Ur’etu to settle a Jedi harassing his operations. Bane uncovered the Jedi as an imposter working for a rival Hutt syndicate, but was inspired by the assassin’s use of gadgetry to mimic Jedi abilities, and adapted a modus operandi of enhancing his physical attributes with a variety of technological trickery. A true mercenary, he sold his skills to the highest bidder regardless of loyalty, and earned a 500,000 credit bounty for acts against the Republic. Like Jango Fett before him, his career attracted the attention of Separatist leader Count Dooku and his dark side master Darth Sidious. Throughout the Clone Wars he operated almost exclusively in the employ of the Confederacy of Independent Systems on a contract by contract basis, sometimes in the capacity of an unofficial commander, turning his guns against clone troopers, Jedi, and even Republic senate commandos. He stole the Kyber Crystal from the Jedi Temple, impersonated a Jedi in order to kidnap younglings for Dooku, successfully rescued Ziro The Hutt from Republic custody on Coruscant, and escaped incarceration twice, leaving a heap of bodies in his wake. Bane collected the standing million credit bounty on Jedi offered by the CIS at least twice, when he killed Master Ord Enisence and again when he defeated Master Bolla Ropal on Devaron and later tortured the Rodian to death. By the end of the Clone Wars he had amassed a then unprecedented 2,500,000 credit bounty and was one of the most dangerous individuals alive. With the fall of the Republic he returned to bounty hunting and became one of the New Order’s select independent operatives. Weapon of Choice: Matched BlasTech LL-30 Blaster Pistols.
Gallandro — The Mid-Rim world of Ylix in the M’shinni Sector is little known, but its obscure conflict with the neighboring colony of Goelitz produced one of the greatest blastfighters the Galaxy has ever known, Gallandro. Orphaned early on by a Goelitz terrorist attack, Gallandro joined the Ylix Militia as soon as he was able, and developed a taste for adrenaline and killing. When the war was over, Gallandro had grown too big for the M’shinni Sector, and embarked on a career of lawlessness that eventually earned him the death sentence on ten systems. He held up the luxury starliner Quamar Messenger on its maiden voyage, singlehandedly took control of the pirate planet Geedon V, and for a time, lent his expertise to the infamous starfighter gang Marso’s Demons, becoming its top ace. When the deranged Malorm family hijacked The Galaxy Wanderer and ejected thirty of her passengers into deep space, Gallandro was hired by the Corporate Sector Authority to lead a team of mercenaries against them. Gallandro lured them to Matra IV, where he cut his partners out of the bounty by personally killing Shalla, Jek, Rez, Sheyna and Star Malorm. This earned him the enmity of the Assassin’s Guild, which had been hired by one of the wealthy victim’s relatives. Forced to default on a contract for the first time in its long history (and having lost one of its top Malakite Poisoners whom Gallandro burned down for chastising him), for the next decade the Guild sent dozens of its journeymen and apprentices after Gallandro. When Gallandro blasted his way through them and later half their Elite Circle, they quietly agreed to bury the hatchet, offering him a top position in their organization. He declined. Gallandro grew tired of the independent life though, and soon after, accepted a permanent retainer with the Corporate Sector Authority on the side of the law. He fathered a daughter, Anja, with a woman from Anobis, but his pride and lust for action kept him from settling down. Investigating a slaving ring for the Authority brought him into a few fateful encounters with the smuggler Han Solo that left Gallandro itching to test himself against the younger man’s mettle. Perhaps the world-weary gunslinger was looking for a worthy end to his career. Pursuing Solo to the Dellait system, Gallandro found the Corellian with a party of treasure hunters after the legendary treasure ship of Xim The Despot, The Queen of Ranroon. Battling through ancient war droids and inbred caretakers, Gallandro finally forced Solo into a one on one duel in the secret vaults beneath the ancient Dellaitian city. He prevailed, wounding Solo twice, then set out in pursuit of one of the smuggler’s fleeing associates, an innocuous academic named Skynx, intending to liquidate him as a witness. The clever scholar lured him unsuspecting into the range of Xim’s concealed, ancient automated defenses, which opened fire upon detecting Gallandro’s blaster and burned him to a crisp. An ignominious end for a great gunfighter. Weapon of choice: Custom Mer-Sonn Model 434 “Death Hammer.”
Jango Fett — Concord Dawn in the Mandalore sector was the cradle for a good many hard men and women, and among the handiest with a blaster was the man who would be Mand’alore, Jango Fett. Forged in the harrowing conflict between his adopted father Jaster Mareel’s True Mandalorians and the Death Watch of Tor Viszla, Fett’s career as a soldier was already legend when the disillusioned warrior took up the profession of bounty hunting and hired assassination. Jango’s galaxy-wide reputation really began with his killing of six Jedi on Galidraan (where he famously first attracted the attention of Count Dooku), a feat no one has yet been able to duplicate without the aid of the Force, top of the line equipment, or serious body modification. Just a simple man trying to make his way in the universe, Jango next put an end to the career of gunman Longo Two Guns and his entire gang, and singlehandedly took down the infamous Bando Gora cult, again, emerging triumphant in a duel with its fallen Jedi leader Komari Vosa. As the personal bodyguard of Separatist leader Count Dooku, Fett fought Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi to a draw on Kamino, and killed Vurk Jedi Coleman Trebor, but shortly afterwards met his death at the hands of Master Mace Windu in the arena on Geonosis. In the years immediately following his death, he became the subject of a series of wildly popular and exceedingly violent holo-serials, to an extent supplanting much of the public’s prior fascination with the more heroic exploits of the Jedi Knights. A spectacular gunman and a consummate warrior, Jango Fett’s legacy was carried on by his son Boba and to a lesser degree, in the millions of clone soldiers developed from his genetic material during the Clone Wars. Blaster of choice: A matched pair of custom dallorian alloy WESTAR-34 Blaster Pistols.
Edward M. Erdelac is the author seven novels, including the Judeocentric/Lovecraftian weird Western series Merkabah Rider and The Van Helsing Papers. His fiction appears in over a dozen anthologies, and he wrote the definitive story about boxing in a galaxy far, far away, as well as the backstories for the bounty hunter Bane Malar, the m-HYD hydromech, and Yoxgit. News of his latest projects can be found at http://emerdelac.wordpress.com.