The ‘P3’, properly known as the Phased Plasma Pistol, is an extremely compact short-range pistol that fires a small charge of superheated helium.
The helium gas retains both its shape and small volume via a residual magnetic field and PPP ‘bolts’ cause significant visible distortion as they travel through air. Upon impact with an object, the magnetic field is dissipated and the heat discharged making it extremely effective against un-armoured opponents but practically useless against modern armour with heat dissipation capabilities.
The P3 is composed only of highly heat-resistant alloys and composites, due to the rapid and extreme heating and cooling that it must endure during regular use and combined with its high rate of fire, which drains its limited energy source rapidly, makes it a less than ideal military weapon.
It is used widely by Police and Urban Pacification Units and is a favourite of almost all criminal gangs and undercover operatives where its compact size means it can easily be disguised under clothing.
Even though P3s are expensive to produce they are the standard-issue military sidearm for all space-based law enforcement and security personnel. While a stray bullet from a normal weapon can puncture the hull of a spacecraft or space station, causing unintended decompression, a P3 bolt cannot penetrate bulkheads or shielding.
They have a high TQ production cost but low TQ maintenance costs, they are also extremely reliable, have no ammunition storage issues, are easy to recharge and it is therefore of little surprise that they are almost universal in their distribution.