- "This is a Goa'uld Zat'nik'tel. A weapon using a different form of energy, less powerful than that of a staff weapon. Less destructive, but still quite deadly."
The Zat'nik'tel, nicknamed Zat or Zat gun by Colonel Jack O'Neill, is a handheld weapon used by the Goa'uld and their Jaffa. It is in the shape of a serpent and was first encountered by SG-1 on Apophis's Ha'tak.
Its energy output, in the form of blue electrical energy, is less powerful than that of a Staff weapon. It's an extremely efficient weapon and is used extensively by the Goa'uld, Tok'ra, Jaffa and Tau'ri.
In recent years, the zat has become a second back-up weapon for personnel assigned to the SGC teams and who often go off-world with the zat itself often being seen in the thigh holster of various teams with one notable example being Captain/Major/Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter who during her tenure on SG-1 was seen wearing a thigh holster with a zat inside.
In addition, security guards assigned to the SGC also use the weapon as a means of protecting themselves if they run into any difficulty or if they need to sedate a prisoner who has escaped the custody of the SGC.
The Zat'nik'tel is a weapon of Goa'uld design. The safety is active when the Zat is not in use and lays flat like a snake, but when it is turned on it stands up, alert like a snake. The weapon is unique in how it affects objects, animate and inanimate. Zats have been in production for at least five thousand years. The technology itself may be similar to an Ori stun weapon. (SG1: "Seth", "Flesh and Blood", "Moebius, Part 1", "Moebius, Part 2")
The overall shape and size of the Zat'nik'tel made it something of an instant favorite after its discovery by the Tau'ri. Many member of Stargate Command use them in place of pistols and handguns when dealing with potentially dangerous targets on Earth itself. At a distance, it is difficult to tell that the Zat'nik'tel isn't a sidearm, and its stunning capability makes it easier to apprehend a target without injuring them.
While on board Apophis's attack ship, SG-1 came across a cargo container that had not only Goa'uld staff weapons but zat'nik'tels or "Zats" as Colonel Jack O'Neill called them. SG-1 later used the weapons during their attempts to stop Apophis from attacking Earth. (SG1: "Within the Serpent's Grasp")
Teal'c later used a Zat to kill an Ashrak who had murdered Jolinar of Malkshur who was inhabiting of the body of Captain Samantha Carter. This suggests that SG-1 had presumably brought back a small amount of zats for use, both in the field by the SGC teams and also for use by SGC security personnel. (SG1: "In the Line of Duty")
Upon arriving on Abydos, Carter used a Zat to knock two of Heru'ur's Serpent Guards out and kill them. She later fired a third shot that caused the guards to disappear altogether while Teal'c first used one to subdue one of Heru'ur's guards. (SG1: "Secrets")
Aldwin, a member of the Tok'ra was seen using a Zat to keep Teal'c while Aldwin launched a bomb deep in the core of Netu. Teal'c, not wanting his friends to die consficated the zat when he shoved Aldwin into the Ring area of the cargo ship. He later gave it back to Aldwin after successfully intercepting the beam that ended up transporting Jack, Daniel, Sam and Jacob to the cargo ship. (SG1: "The Devil You Know")
A Zat was used to capture Teal'c and bring him before Terok, a minor Goa'uld who wanted Teal'c to give up his loyalty to the Tau'ri and the Jaffa Rebellion and rejoin the Goa'uld. (SG1: "The Serpent's Venom")
When they received word that a Goa'uld was on the Base, numerous SGC personnel including SG-1 were seen using Zats as well as TERs as they searched for the Goa'uld in question. (SG1: "Rite of Passage")
Kanan while in the body of Jack O'Neill used a Zat to attempt to get to the Stargate but failed. As such, Kanan abandoned Jack and fled while Jack was captured and repeatedly tortured to death and revived by Ba'al. (SG1: "Abyss")
Zats were deployed to stop the embodied spirit of the Goa'uld System Lord, Anubis from going through the Stargate. However, Anubis later took control of Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter and used her to zat two security guards before triggering the self-destruct. (SG1: "Lockdown")
SG-1 and their alternate selves were seen using zats during the mission to Ancient Egypt, first to get a ZPM so that they could use to contact the Pegasus Galaxy and second for the alternate SG-1 to repair the damage that their original main-time selves had accidentally caused. (SG1: "Moebius, Part 1", "Moebius, Part 2")
Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, the leader of the Atlantis Expedition's flagship team, the First Atlantis Reconnaissance Team or AR-1 as well as the Expedition's military commander used a zat to knock out both Major Christopher Wallace and MSgt. Sylvester Siler so that, he and Doctors Rodney McKay, Elizabeth Weir and Carson Beckett could steal a Puddle Jumper and return to the Pegasus Galaxy to reclaim Atlantis from the Asurans. (ATL: "The Return, Part 1")
In an alternate timeline where Stargate Command and the Stargate Program did not exist, the alternate Teal'c was seen using a zat as a weapon. (Stargate: Continuum)
- "The Goa'uld take great pleasure in discharging the weapon only once on a subject. Causing great pain, disabling them, but not killing them. The second shot will kill most subjects."
Zat'nik'tels are fired by squeezing the bottom curve where the gun is held. The Zat is unique in the way it works. One shot is shown to incapacitate a victim and causes immense pain, while a second shot kills them. The shots do not have to be right after the other, as some have been killed several minutes after the first Zat blast; however, an extended period of time between shots will cause the effect to wear off and two new shots will be necessary to kill (as evidenced by Colonel Jack O'Neill's being shot a variety of times throughout SG-1's various exploits). A third shot will disintegrate the victim and their clothing, and will also disintegrate small inanimate objects with low densities, leaving no visible trace of their existence (SG1: "Within the Serpent's Grasp", "1969", "Point of View")
The Zat has been shown to conduct through objects, stunning victims indirectly. The weapon has also been used as a tool to boost hyperdrive speed when O'Neill used Ancient knowledge and required a short, powerful jolt to the modified engines, but is used as a tool to overload electronics in most cases as many conduits are not designed to handle that much energy in one blast. It is capable of disabling Aschen defense drones with one shot. (SG1: "2010", "Lost City, Part 2", "Memento Mori")
It also appears that repeated attacks by this weapon causes most people to not suffer its effects with as much severity, as seen in cases where certain people are able to withstand the effects and remain conscious after a single shot. The second shot, on the other hand, is invariably fatal (on non-immune species) with only a single exception shown: When Major Samantha Carter's consciousness was replaced by an alien Entity, two shots left her body only brain-dead, allowing her consciousness to be transferred back into it. (SG1: "Prodigy", "Entity", "Lockdown")Zat blasts can be caught and rendered harmless by a Kara kesh as shown by Cronus when he was fired upon by Teal'c. (SG1: "Double Jeopardy")
- The producers and nearly the entire crew of Stargate SG-1 believe that the third shot of a Zat is a bit of a deus ex machina, and some think that the third shot effect is a bit silly/stupid, often not wanting to refer to it outside when it is used. Others even think that it completely makes no sense, as stated in many of the Stargate SG-1 commentaries. The episode "Wormhole X-Treme!" even comments on the effect, with director of the show-within-a-show calling the disintegration idea "the stupidest thing..."
- The "third shot" function of the Zat is only used four times ("Within the Serpent's Grasp", "Family", "Secrets" and "1969") in SG-1, all to disintegrate the bodies of Jaffa guards and material (to be removed from the timeline), and is mentioned one other time. Other "third shots" have been attempted, all on replicators, to no effect.
- Because it was not seen after the 2nd season, it's possible the third shot function was only present on older model Zat guns and that newer model ones only possessed two shot functions. The concept was not officially retconned, rather it was simply abandoned.
- However, given that when a "third shot" is used and there is no difference in the firing or the visual effect, it is likely the disintegration is caused by a build-up of the energy, not by any adden function or mechanism.
- Starting in later seasons, particularly seasons 9 and 10, SG-1 began using zats as their sidearms more often than pistols. They also used the one-shot function more often than shooting their enemy twice.