A Plasma Rifle is the generic term for a man-portable, dedicated energy weapon designed to replace conventional slugthrower assault rifles (such as Pulse Rifles).
Unlike their earlier predecessors (such as the M78 PIG) or tripod-fixed plasma cannon cousins, most plasma rifles are intended to be carried by whole squads as their primary battle rifles, rather than used purely in a support or anti-armor role.
Plasma rifles tend to feature more frequently in Aliens comic book and novel stories (such as Earth Hive), possibly due to their later time period compared to the original film trilogy, although such weapons' absence in Alien Resurrection suggests plasma weapons were never widely adopted for military use.
"Phased plasma" weapons are mentioned by Hudson as being part of the USCM's available armory in the film Aliens, though the weapons are never seen or used in the film. The video game Aliens: Colonial Marines later featured a weapon that was based on this dialog.
Specific models plasma rifles featured in Aliens-related media include:
- XM99A Phased Plasma Pulse Rifle, a weapon used by the USCM in the video game Aliens: Colonial Marines.
- 50 Watt Plasma Rifle, a weapon used in the novel Alien: Sea of Sorrows.