Anyway, the only thing I'm sure is empty hands techniques are armed-hands-techniques-diverted.
Our Sense´ often shows us the relation between the two "styles" (showing techniques once with a weapon, once without).
IMHO, I think weapons are good to see problems in postures, etc. ... With a weapon, I cannot lie : if the weapon move isn't efficient, so is my hand one.
So, I think weapons are more "powerful" than hands but need to be more mastered...