Star Wars: 6 Different Types of Lightsabers

Updated on September 8, 2018
Jeremy Gill profile image

Jeremy hopes the Force is with him as he pursues a forensics career in the swamps of Louisiana.

Lightsabers in Star Wars

One of the most symbolic features of Star Wars are its mystical laser swords called lightsabers. Portable, able to cut through almost anything, and capable of deflecting blaster bolts, these tools are the weapon of choice for Jedi and Sith.

But did you know the weapons come in several varieties? Not just different colors, but different lengths, sizes, angles, etc. So, let's take a look at the many styles of lightsabers in Star Wars!

Standard lightsabers
Standard lightsabers

1. Standard

First up, we have the most commonly seen standard lightsaber. My unfortunate parents probably had to shell out hundreds of dollars to keep buying me plastic versions of these; mine kept breaking after being struck against anything (and anyone) in range.

Anyway, each of these feature a hilt roughly 26 centimeters long, and a blade that extends for about a meter. Green and blue are the colors chosen by most Jedi, though some prefer purple or yellow. Red tends to be favored by the Sith.

We see many characters wield these weapons, including Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, and Qui-Gon Jinn. Even Han Solo gets to briefly borrow one, near the beginning of Episode 5.

Darth Maul's lightsaber
Darth Maul's lightsaber

2. Double-Bladed

Sometimes called saberstaffs, double-bladed lightsabers feature two blades coming out of separate ends of an extended hilt. Often, these sabers are simply two standard lightsabers joined at the pommel, allowing them to be separated.

A sudden change from a saberstaff to two individual weapons often surprises an opponent and allows for openings in their defense. Saberstaffs also aid in taking on multiple foes at once; we see Darth Maul use his weapon to defend against a pair of Jedi in Episode 1.

Speaking of Jedi, some of them prefer this type of saber, including Bastila Shan (a character from popular video game Knights Of The Old Republic), though it's considered difficult to master.

Asajj Ventress's curved lightsabers
Asajj Ventress's curved lightsabers

3. Curved Hilt

These lightsabers demonstrate how a simple design change can alter the effectiveness of the weapon. Curved hilts allow sabers to better fit into palms, and their angled blades help feint against opponents. Typically used by Sith, they produce crimson blades.

We see Count Dooku battle Jedi with this weapon in Episodes 2 and 3. Though not seen in the films, Dooku trains an apprentice, Asajj Ventress, and bestows her with a pair of curved swords.

Did you know Dooku's part of a chain of mentors from Yoda to Anakin? Yoda trained Dooku, who trained Qui-Gon, who trained Obi-Wan, who trained Anakin.

Yoda's emerald shoto
Yoda's emerald shoto

4. Shoto

Shotos are lightsabers with reduced hilt and blade length. Some feature a metal guard to parry attacks. While their tinier blades may seem a disadvantage (and they are in some aspects), the sword weighs less than regular sabers, making it easier to brandish and carry.

Additionally, the hilt's smaller size provides a harder target, so it's difficult to destroy the blade. Many lightsaber wielders use shotos in their nonfavored hand, but some naturally prefer the shorter weapon. In the Legends timeline, Luke sometimes wields one, citing it as a fine counter to lightwhips.

We see Yoda acrobatically fight with his shoto in Episodes 2 and 3.

An unlit lightwhip
An unlit lightwhip

5. Lightwhip

Lightwhips are several meters in length and flexible, allowing for more random and ranged attacks than lightsabers. However, they have trouble defending against blows, many proclaim their energy to be weaker than standard sabers, and shotos prove extra effective against them. For these reasons, lightwhips are rarely seen; none of the current films feature them.

Dark Lady Lumiya from the Star Wars Expanded Universe utilizes a lightwhip; look for her in the Legacy of the Force novels!

A Cross-Saber
A Cross-Saber

6. Cross-Saber

Wielded by the imposing Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens, a cross-saber features two slits which vent extra energy out, effectively creating two small blades. These vented energy beams can cut through opponents, especially when the regular blade is locked with another.

Evidently Kylo betrayed his teacher before learning how to properly construct a blade, hence the need to release the surplus power. The small fluctuations in the energy remind me of the unstable lightsaber available to Starkiller in video game The Force Unleashed, though that's a purely cosmetic choice.

Which lightsaber would you wield?

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Your Vote

With the triumphant return of Star Wars (Rogue One, The Force Awakens, and The Last Jedi all captivated fans), you can bet we'll see more creative sabers in the future.

But for now, as we eagerly await more sword types from the galaxy far far away, vote for your favorite melee weapon, and I'll see you at our next Star Wars review!

Questions & Answers

  • What about the Darksaber? Isn't that a type?

    Good catch. As interesting as the black-bladed Darksaber was, it seems to be one-of-a-kind, not really a "type" of lightsaber. Still, it's a cool weapon that responds to its wielder's emotional state.

    Like the Elder Wand from Harry Potter, the Darksaber is known for being passed down only after its former owner is killed in battle, a fittingly blood-stained legacy for such a savage device.

  • What other famous Star Wars characters wielded the lightwhip?

    Not sure they count as "famous", but Githany, a Sith Lord who lived in Darth Bane's era, wielded one. The Nightsister Silri also used a lightwhip, but is more famous for her pet rancor named Cuddles. I wish I were kidding.

  • Do you have a lightsaber like Darth Vader's lightsaber?

    My parents probably had to shell out hundreds of dollars for those extendable plastic lightsaber toys during my youth; I'm sure there was a Vader one in there somewhere!

    While we're on the subject, take a close look at Vader's saber compared to his original blue lightsaber, and you see the similar design. It seems that Vader adjusted his weapon preferences without straying too far from his roots.

© 2015 Jeremy Gill

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