Designed in the 2381, the Strike Phaser was intended to provide greatly increased firepower and flexibility to Starfleet operatives facing the Borg. The mandate was to produce a hand weapon that was both as powerful as possible within the ergonomic limits of the average officer, whilst simultaneously offering a far greater ability to modify the beam emissions.
The styling adopted was controversial, deemed in many circles to be 'too aggressive', but the ergonomics studies which had led to the recent Type 3 phaser rifles were clear on the advantages of a 'weaponised' grip/design in combat situations. The front half of the unit is a phased energy emitter, far larger than previous Type 2 designs - and indeed, larger than the older models of the Type 3. Beneath the emitter is a small rail which allows easy fixing of attachments to the weapon - target seeking and aiming assistance devices, micro photon grenade launchers, etc. Behind the emitter is a large capacity power cell, designed for easy of replacement in the field.
But the greatest advantage of the Strike Phaser lies beneath the power cell; a small but powerful isolinear computer system which is capable of modulating the phaser frequency, harmonics, resonance patterns, nutation, polarisation, quantum backscatter, refraction indexing, subspace rebounding, particle density - in all more than sixteen beam parameters, each of which can be adjusted to more than 600 settings. This gives the Strike Phaser more than 4x10^41 different beam setting options, all of which are adjusted randomly by the control system after each discharge. This is claimed to make the Strike Phaser almost impossible to counter - it does not ignore forcefields as such, but rather the constantly varying and completely unpredictable nature of the beam means that it is almost impossible to optimise
a forcefield to be immune or even particularly effective against it. Against the Borg, it is expected - hoped - that it will prove impossible to adapt to the Strike Phaser.
Give a man a fire, and you keep him warm for a day. SET a man on fire, and you will keep him warm for the rest of his life...