The EE-23 was a family of firearms, a modular weapons system, that started as a blaster assault rifle and eventually became a blaster/slugthrower hybrid, especially popular among hunters, professional marksmen, and elite mercenary, military and paramilitary groups. Manufactured by BlasTech Industries, the rifle was best known for its durability, accuracy, and most of all for its expandability and modularity.
EE-23 Mk IEditThe Mark I version of the EE-23 was the original weapon, modeled after and based on the EE-3 rifle, which would later become famous through Boba Fett. It provided increased range and higher energy fire than its template, and unlike future variants, the Mk I was merely a long-range blaster assault rifle.
It was mainly army-issued, but after BlasTech lost their contract to an other arms manufacturer, reasoned with the weapon's "lack of expandability", sales numbers dropped and BlasTech changed their strategy, starting to work on a fully modular weapon, the Mk II.
Jaster Mereel was one of the few known to sport a slightly modified Mk I.
EE-23 Mk IIEditThe Mark II was a full modular weapons system, the main feature of which was now expandability and customization. In addition to energy cells or tibanna gas cartridges for high-energetic blaster bolts, a slugthrower adapter for close-quarters battle could be added to the bottom of the chassis. A barrel attachment groove provided the mounting of modular add-ons, like projectile launchers, sonic, PEP or ion blast attachments, electro-net throwers, tactical lights, laser sights or bayonets. Also, different length barrels, stocks, magazines, firing modes, scopes, and even suppressors could be customized.
The Mk II seen on the left was outfitted with a phase 2 barrel attachment, a long range scope and a bipod. This model was considered a sniper version, without slugthrower capability but an optional bolt-action system for energy cells, which allowed full charge displacement shots that could reach over 3000 meters, sometimes even up to three miles. The downside was that it took several minutes for the magazine to recharge, so in defensive situations, BlasTech suggested a quick switch to slugs, what was, however, not possible with this blaster-only version.
Other versions of the Mk II had built-in slugthrower capability, with capacitors on the side allowing to switch from energy to slug mode. Other modifications yet made the weapon slugthrower-only, or featured shorter barrels and higher shot-frequencies (even rapid fire) that made the rifle a mid-range assault carbine rather than a long-range sniper rifle. But modularity and expandability did not stop there, two EE-23s with the same configuration were hard to be found, as most customers further customized their weapons with sometimes exotic aftermarket add-ons and individual modifications.
The Mk II became especially popular among hunters and sporting marksmen, and even caught the attention of several Mandalorians. A group of Mandalorian mercenaries purchased barebone Mk IIs and modified them into what would later become officially known as the Mk III, as this version was distinctively different from other Mk II modifications.
EE-23 Mk III 'Mini-Tak' Edit
Actually a heavily modified Mk II, the Mark III became a signature weapon of many paramilitary organizations, such as the Mandalorian Protectors and other mercenary groups throughout the galaxy, as well as ShenCresh Ops, special forces unit from Mandalore. Nicknamed 'Mini-Tak' , a combination of the short length for an EE-23 and the name of the armorer, Siege Takomir, it became a shock trooper assault rifle with notably advanced weapons systems. With the Mini-Tak version, the Mk III totally lost its long-range capability, but still allowed most of the add-ons available for a standard Mk II, such as a bigger slug-magazine (for up to 50 rounds), projectile launcher and laser sights as seen on the blueprint.
EE-23 Mk IVEdit
In the later years of the New Republic, BlasTech released a revised variant of the Mk II, the Mark IV, which became known as the actual marksman carbine. This variant used the most sophisticated and advanced technology in the branch and was meant to be an all-round mix of sniper and assault rifle. Adapting Takomir's electromagnetic coil accelerator from his Mk III and a version of the legendary Verpine modulator, it provided the longest range yet (with even farther distances than before seen sniper-only variations of the Mk II), at the same time as it could easily be switched to mid-range and close-quarter battle use. It was the most devastating version of the EE-23 yet, especially in the hands of expert and properly-trained marksmen and soldiers.
Only few models of this rifle were actually fabricated from the factory, as most owners of Mk IIs (which were the most often seen versions of the EE-23 in circulation) or Mk IIIs simply upgraded their rifles with the new and advanced parts from the Mk IV, since the weapons system was so adaptable and durable that even the Mk IV used the same chassis as the older Mk II.
Once an customer had acquired a Mk IV, or upgraded his old rifle to one, however, expandability decreased, since the parts of a Mk IV were meant to be used in the marksman carbine configuration only, and were thus optimized for such a use. Still, barrel-attachments and different stocks or scopes were available, but configuring an Mk IV for assault or sniper use only, respectively, without losing the advanced modulation, charging and acceleration systems of the Mk IV, was not possible. Thus, the Mk IV became not as wide-spread as the earlier versions, despite its superiority in firepower, accuracy and durability.Mandalorian commando Ronan Barec was one of the first to sport an EE-23 Mk IV marksman carbine, which he heavily customized into a unique variant suitable for his personal skills. As such, his stock came without the standard thumbhole, for a more comfortable use in close combat and especially when using the bayonet attachment. Together with Siege Takomir, the "father" of the Mk III and in a way also of the Mk IV, Barec worked on a support for dart rounds, in addition to the default slug clips, tibanna gas cartridges or energy cells. He also customized the bolt-action system for use in slugthrower mode, giving him more manual control over his weapon.
Ironically, the Mk IV (and especially Barec's version) resembled most the EE-3 in appearance, which the original EE-23 Mk I was actually based on, at the same time as it was in a technical aspect farthest away from the EE-3.
Behind the scenesEdit
The term "carbine" for the Mk IV version of the EE-23 can be seen ambiguously. On the one hand, this variant is longer than a usual carbine would be but can still be used as one in close and mid range, but on the other hand, it is a long-range sniper rifle and the meaning of "carbine" is better compared to real-world Mauser Kar98k or Mosin-Nagant carbines, both professional long-ranged bolt-action sniper rifles in WWII.
The various options for attachments and add-ons, and generally customization for the EE-23 can be compared to the expandability of a real-world M4, especially the Special Operations Peculiar Modification (SOPMOD) variant, or the modular XM8. Especially the Mark IV's use can be compared to an USMC Designated Marksman Rifle or Advanced Marksman Rifle, or the Mk 11 Mod 0 SWS used by US Navy SEALs.
DarthKuk (aka Kuk-Man), who also made the CAD drawings, came up with most of the backstory for the rifle, so much kudos goes to him.