It’s the kind of proposal that makes sci-fi dorks (including this one) quiver with anticipation: a 1999 design, found by DefenseReview, for a real-life laser rifle.
So when I read about the far-out sounding “Gasdynamic Laser Weapon” on Slashdot, I fell for it.
Without reading too carefully, I bought the gobbledygook about the Stavatti Corporation using streams of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and helium gases to help generate pulses of laser light. And I swallowed when I called the company, and was told the president was out of town, looking for government funding.
But Defense Tech’s readers are smarter than its editor, and they immediately called bullshit.
“Looks like an April Fool’s gag,” is how several readers described the rifle design.
“A very elaborate gag,” added another. “Obviously written by an insider.”
A third noted newsgroup posts from 2002 calling Stavatti’s designs for an “F-26” airplane into question.
But the kicker came from Stavatti’s own website:
The company is the first in history to double as a drum maker and a defense contractor, you see.

Stavatti Percussion conducts the retail sale of percussion products Stavattis founder and current CEO, Christopher R. Beskar, plays the bagpipes. Early in his piping career, Mr. Beskar joined a bagpipe band. This band was in need of drummers to play the snare in accompaniment of the pipes. Mr. Beskar1s brother Shawn joined the band and became an accomplished pipe band snare drummer capable of Grade 2 competition while yet in High School. Later on, Shawn became CFO of Stavatti. While serving as CFO, Shawn began marketing Premier Pipe Band Products under a business entity designated DSDC.
DSDC focused exclusively on the sale of high performance pipe band drums and accessory products. Reselling Snares, Bass and Tenor drums to pipe bands throughout the Midwest, in 1996 DSDC became a division of Stavatti Corporation known as Stavatti Percussion.
Concentrating upon the value added resale of pipe band percussion products, Stavatti can address all your pipe band drumming needs!

And Stavatti doesn’t just design any weapons. “Stavatti builds space fighters,” the company website says.
“We know what threats are out there. A 9mm just wont cut it when you are facing 30 ft tall insectoids, or the reptile alien overlords from Rigel.”
To battle these baddies, of course, you need a laser rifle.
THERE’S MORE: Stavatti CEO Chris Baskar insists his company is legit. But he can’t produce a single customer for his high-tech arms buisiness.
In a phone interview from a Virgina hotel room, Baskar claims that he has “60 people in the company.” But when pressed, he admits that all but three “are essentially assisting on a pro bono basis.”
He also says he sees nothing wrong with a company trying market laser rifles and drums at the same time. Yamaha, he notes, makes drums, pianos — and motorocycles, too.
What about the statements on his site about using his Stavatti guns to stop “alien overlords”?
“It indicates a little bit of classified work,” he replies. “Other than that, it’s humor.”

  • Dave

    I just came home on leave when I made the mistake of walking into the old WWII barracks building at Fleming Field in South St. Paul. I was still wearing my Army officer’s uniform when I walked in looking for some old model planes I built there when the Civil Air Patrol rented it years ago. I never saw a couple of guys looking so giddy all of the sudden when they thought the DoD actually bought into their designs. I had to disappoint them though. I had no idea what Stavatti was. It looked like a couple of guys with aerospace engineering degrees who wanted to build planes. As for me, I still can’t find those models.

  • Kevin

    Chris Beskar is a respected member of the aviation community and serves on technical committees for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (http://www.aiaa.org/content.cfm?pageid=234&id=75). He also manages the annual national design competition that is held each year (http://www.aiaa.org/content.cfm?pageid=224). His work gained national prominence recently when his Machete design was highlighted in a Rand Report which was a study on counterinsurgency aircraft for the Air Force (Aviation Week 14 August 2006). History is full of scientists and engineers that were called crack-pots during their time, and were reported as visionaries by later generations. I for one, am going to join some of the others out there who are keeping an eye on this high-tech visionary.


    If you want to make a real LASER rifle, you have to use mini MHD pulse tech combined with an over-under design which would allow for high powered pulses from a solid propellant cartridge fed MHD system. No projectile, just hot, very conductive gases which exit at the end of the barrel, at the same time the power generated through MHD means is fed into a LASER cavity of either solid or gas design and the pulse is sent through an optical barrel for distance focusing.
    New designs in solid state lasers could make use of the high energy pulses generated by a mini MHD system using solid propellant cartridges.