One of the most distressing features of the Federation's first battle with the Dominion was the ease with which the Dominion weaponry was able to penetrate Federation shielding. The Dominion attack ships used a Phased Polaron Beam which passed through the shields as if they were not even there, no matter frequency nutation was used.1
Subsequently, the Dominion has been observed to use this type of weapon in three distinct forms :
This is a hand unit for general purpose use.2 It is essentially a smaller and lower power version of the rifle mentioned below.
The phased polaron rifle is the standard weapon of the Jem'Hadar soldiers.2 Like the pistol the rifle does not have any variable power setting; only a kill-level discharge is possible. The weapon fires a phased polaron pulse encased in a burst of high-energy gamma EM; both are powered by a tritium microfusion reaction along the discharge centerline.3 Chemical enhancements can be added to the partical stream, including anti-coagulants4, nerve agents, and osteo solvents.3 This ensures that injuries from these weapons will inflict the maximum possible damage on the victim, and fatalities have resulted from even a minor wound.4
Dominion ships all appear to use the phased polaron beam as their primary weaponry, and this gave them a heavy advantage in early conflicts with Federation forces.1 The destruction of the USS Odyssey1 prompted an intense flurry of activity on many fronts within Starfleet. Ship production was ramped to a maximum and starship designs were altered to increase their combat effectiveness, while the academy training program was speeded up massively to provide crews for the new ships. By themselves, however, these projects would be of little use so long as the Dominion was able to defeat Federation ships so easily.
Perhaps the most important project the Federation embarked on was that of shield enhancement. Between 2371 and 2373 the Federation put huge emphasis on the development of new shield technology. The capture of a Dominion vessel in 2373 gave the Federation an operational Dominion weapons system.4 This proved to be a crucial step towards the development of an effective polaron shield.
The first real test of the system came at the end of 2373, when the Dominion launched an all out attack on Deep Space Nine. The station's shields proved to be highly effective, holding off the fleet and allowing the station to destroy over fifty enemy ships.5 Federation ships and stations continued to be resistant to Dominion weaponry for the remainder of the war.2