Ames Electric LLC GmbH was a well-known supplier of generator parts and solar panels, but its founder, Dr. Leonard Ames, was also a noted energy weapon enthusiast. He spent many years tinkering with designs before perfecting one and marketing it as the AE-3. As the AE-1 and AE-2 were prototypes, the AE-3 was the first weapon the company had produced.

Consumers hammered the pistol for its ergonomics, but it was an immediate smash hit. The problem with energy weapons before the AE-3 was their reliance on bulky and expensive power packs that took time and energy to recharge. Ames instead designed the AE-3 with an internal battery that was charged in one of two ways: kinetic and solar. By disconnecting the handle from the body of the pistol and rotating it, which could be done with a simple flip of the hand, the AE-3 could bank up kinetic energy and store it for hours. Thus, toying with the gun all day could, in theory, provide enough shots for a full-power charge, though it was difficult to pump up anything more than a light stun blast in combat with a dead battery.

By deploying the fold-out solar panels, singly or in a pair, one could also rely on simply leaving the AE-3 in the sunshine or having it in an outside holster. This and the kinetic charge option made the AE-3 incredibly popular as a survival weapon, a back-up pistol, or a sidearm for people like forest rangers who spent a lot of time outdoors and rarely needed to open fire. Some go so far as to credit the AE-3 with singlehandedly jump-starting popular adoption of energy weapons.

Sadly, the follow-up product from Ames Electric, the AE-5 rifle, was a disaster. It was complex where the AE-3 had been simple, delicate where the AE-3 had been rugged, and without portability to make up for its cumbersome larger solar panels and kinetic charging lever. Losses were so great that Ames exited the arms business entirely, selling its tooling and patents to a holding company that continued to manufacture AE-3s under the Ames name for many decades.

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