Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
It is Goa'uld technology, and commonly borne by their Jaffa warriors, along with the staff weapon. The zat is the Goa'uld equivalent to the pistol, and Jaffa tend to carry them as secondary weapons, usually worn either attached to their wrist bracers or on a belt. Stargate Command forces have captured quite a few, and sometimes use them in preference to human-made weapons, their advantages being the unnecessity of precise aiming or reloading, and the capability to merely stun a target.
Although they can bring zats for special missions, SG teams do not carry zats as standard equipment. The reason for this is never explicitly stated; it is possibly because the zats are alien technology, or perhaps because Stargate Command does not possess the ability to recharge them, and thus need to conserve their supply.
The zat somewhat resembles a cobra folded in a compact "S" shape with its "tail" as the handgrip. When activated it pops up into a less tightly folded configuration, and when fired it emits a sort of short-ranged electrical discharge, the effects of which vary depending on how recently and frequently the target has been shot with previous zat discharges. A single shot renders a person incapacitated with pain and often unconscious, two shots in quick succession typically kill, and three disintegrate the target – a convenient method of getting rid of bodies on a covert operation.
Also, the effect can be lessened in victims who have been repeatedly rendered unconcious by it, as evidenced by Colonel O'Neill in "Prodigy" (episode 419). In this episode, O'Neill was shot for the sake of producing an electromagnetic field that would repel the hostile energy beings of that planet. Instead of being knocked unconscious, he was merely knocked to the ground. Other characters, including Daniel Jackson and a few Jaffa, have also been show to merely experience pain rather than total paralysis upon taking the first shot.
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