The primary energy service weapon of the United States military, the AER9 is a sturdy, reliable weapon focusing on ruggedness and usability over performance. The titanium cage housing the laser rifle mechanism is durable and retains focus of the internal arrays over extended periods of time, although the emphasis on reliability reduces firepower compared to state-of-the-art models like the AER12, with its gold alloy housing. The principle of operation is simple, shared across all weapons of the AE platform: Power is drawn from microfusion cells and sent through a General Atomics Internationalwave/particle diverter and on through precision-cut lenses of the crystal array to generate a focused laser beam. While the components are well protected (the diverter is shielded by a carbon fiber housing), they can be damaged. The aforementioned diverter is extremely difficult to repair and renders the weapon unusable if damaged. The lenses are also delicate when exposed, but can be replaced with cut clear glass, although a skillful hand is needed to duplicate the original cutting. However, beyond these components, the AER9 is a very forgiving weapon. The chassis can be opened in the field for servicing, while a damp cloth is enough to wash mirrored and glass components. Overheating is an issue, but simply submerging the weapon's barrel will help cool heat sinks down and prevent permanent damage. Most importantly, the absence of recoil allows even sub-par marksmen to use it effectively in the field.
Despite its advantages, the AER9 did not manage to fully supersede conventional firearms in service. Limited production runs were manufactured and issued to select military units on all fronts of the Resource Wars (foreign or domestic), with many more undergoing further testing and development in facilities operated by the American military. While full-scale adoption has not taken place, the military was already preparing for the full-scale deployment of the AER9 as standard weapon platform for the entire military. An extremely broad range of weapon modifications was developed for the rifle, allowing for the AER9 to be converted into almost any desired weapon type, depending on the situation. With the right barrel and muzzle, it could be an automatic assault weapon, a sniper rifle, or a close-quarters energy shotgun. Different options for optics and grips further refined the amount of options at the soldier's disposal. Combined with the commonality of ammunition type, the AER9 was set to revolutionize frontline combat.
As with all energy weapons, the AER9 can suffer from poor performance if not properly maintained. The crystal arrays and non-mechanical components are delicate and if not properly serviced can lead to a loss of beam intensity, overheating, and energy regulation failure. Given that laser weapons were still in their infancy as regular military weapons, parts can be hard to come by in the wasteland. However, its lack of moving parts (aside from the microfusion cell holding latch and trigger mechanism) means it is resilient against extended use. By nature of firing a beam projectile, its shots will instantly hit, negating any need to lead the shot.
In combat, the laser rifle is an exceptional weapon. It performs admirably at medium and long ranges where its accurate semi-automatic fire combined with its large ammunition capacity makes short work of most opponents. However, its semi-automatic nature prevents it from being a viable close quarters combat weapon. As such, the laser rifle is a good weapon for traveling through the open wastelands where dispatching enemies at a distance is a frequent opportunity. Although its damage output is only comparable to the hunting rifle and lower than the sniper rifle, its rapid semi-automatic action, sizable magazine, minimum spread of 0 (meaning potentially perfect accuracy), extreme effective range, and exceptionally low AP cost allows the laser rifle to really stand out. A deadly critical hit from this weapon, as with other laser weapons, will not only kill enemies but also turn them into a pile of colored sparkling ashes, which can still be looted as normal.
A fully repaired laser rifle can fire 1086 bolts, about 46 full cells, before breaking.
Wazer Wifle, a unique variant of the AER9 that has higher damage and durability, as well as a larger magazine.
Tri-beam laser rifleBroken Steel, a variant of the AER9 that fires three high-powered beams per shot - similar to the Metal Blaster - though it requires three microfusion cells every time the trigger is pulled.
The following is based on Fallout 3 cut content and has not been confirmed by canon sources.
The Operation: Anchorageadd-on includes an unused add-on-specific version of the laser rifle. It is identical to the normal laser rifle in both statistics and appearance. Its intended purpose in the add-on is unknown and it was cut from the final release, rendering it accessible only through the use of console commands.
A "demo" version of the laser rifle is included in Fallout 3, presumably left from the game's E3 demo. It does one point less damage per shot and less than half the critical damage than the standard variant, but has a much higher critical chance percentage. It is not used anywhere in the game and is only accessible through the use of console commands.
End of information based on Fallout 3 cut content.
On the barrel, there is a warning: "Caution: laser radiation". It's also rated as a "Class 6" laser, which may be a subtle reference to the internationally used laser class rating system, which currently rates the strongest industrial lasers as "Class 4".
A 'clip' levelled list that remains buried and unused in both Fallout 3 and New Vegas implies that the laser rifle was originally designed with a 30 round capacity.
↑Citadel terminals; Terminal, AER9 Laser Rifle: "Unlike many of the weapons in use today, the AER9 is actually not the top laser rifle that was in service at the time of the Great War. The model line went up to the state-of-the-art AER12, which saw service in a handful of specialty units. The reason that the AER9 is much more commonly found is that it was much sturdier and more reliable than the models that followed. The AER9 features a titanium housed crystal array which proved to withstand long years of exposure to the elements much better than the gold alloy housing of the later models. As a result, the crystal arrays stayed focused within operating parameters, rather than falling completely out of focus like the newer models. As with all energy weapons, the AER9 can suffer from poor performance if not properly maintained. The crystal arrays and non-mechanical components are delicate and if not properly serviced can lead to a loss of beam intensity, overheating, and energy regulation failure."
↑ 2.02.1Fort Independence terminals; Research Terminal (Laser Rifle/Pistol): "Subject -> Laser Rifle/Pistol Researcher -> J. T. Benning Analysis Analysis -> Further research regarding Laser Weaponry has not revealed much we didn't already know. Small production run of prototype weapons developed by US Military, most of these weapons were recovered from military armories where the weapons were being tested by live-fire groups of active duty personnel. Critical Components Critical Components -> Power drawn from Micro fusion Cell is processed through a Wave/Particle Diverter (manuf:Gen Atomics Intnl). Diverters are protected by carbon-fiber housing, preventing frequent malfunction, but when a diverter fails the weapon becomes unusable, and this part is extremely difficult to replace or repair. Precision-cut lenses focus optic energy. Lenses are prone to damage and can grossly affect precision of the firing weapon's firing mechanism. Lenses are easily replaced with any clear glass, but require a great deal of skill to fabricate. Field Operation Field Operation -> A fully charged cell will discharge 20 bolts from a pistol, and 12 shots from the rifle model. Recoil is negligible compared to ballistic weapons, so long range combat requires less marksmanship ability of the soldier. Maintenance Maintenance -> The chassis are easily opened, allowing the weapon to be serviced in the field. Purified water and a clean cloth can be used to wash mirrored and glass components, slowing wear on the weapon. The weapon can also overheat after a period of intense use. This can be counteracted by submerging the barrel of the weapon in water, which helps cool heat sinks located beneath the chassis shell in that area."