Firearms are a fascinating aspect of human existence, as we all know by now. The US has had an array of different firearms through the years, and it’s fascinating to see how things have changed over the centuries and generations.
Here, we’re going to talk a little about the history of US military firearms and take you through a little tour through time. Some of the most legendary firearms have come out of this country and this army, and it’s marvelous to see how everything has panned out since. Let’s get into it:
America In Its Infancy
The army first used the Musket Model 1795 in the war of 1812. These were made at the armories at Springfield and Harper’s Ferry, and were produced by Eli Whitney. They incorporated some of the features we still associate with such as a rounded hammer face and slanted pan. Over 10,000 Muskets were handed to the Army as part of the July 1812 contract. A few years later, a newer form of this Musket was created and distributed – again from the armories in Springfield and Harper’s Ferry. They kept this kind of design and style until the Mexican War in the mid-19th century.
Mid-19th Century America
During the middle of the 19th century, the Model 1842 Musket was brought to light. It was the first US weapon that was created with interchangeable parts. It was the last of the smoothbore .69 caliber muskets, but it was the first to be made in the percussion ignition system by the national armories. Overall, 275,000 of these were created between 1844 and 1855.
In July of 1855, a new rifle, the .58 caliber rifle-musket was beginning to come to light. Brought in to replace the M1841 rifle, this was the first rifle produced by the US army for general use. Both the rifle and the musket were equipped with a priming system that used caps in a compartment in the lock that advanced whenever the weapon was cocked.
During the civil war, carbine rifles were used by the Cavalry and became popular choices. The three that were most prevalent were the Sharps (95,000 produced), the Spencer (80,000 produced), and the Burnside (54,000 produced).
Late-19th Century USA
In 1896, a .30 caliber carbine version of the Krag-Jorgensen was brought into circulation. The 1896 Krag-Jorgensen carbine was used by the cavalry of the Regular Army and the majority of the Volunteer cavalry units during the Spanish-American War.
A couple of years later, a number of Model 1898 carbines were then produced and handed out during the same war. Sure enough, one year later, Model 1899s were created – they would accompany the regular cavalry into the new century fighting insurgents in the Philippines.
Things progressed a little further as we headed into the 1900s. The United States Rifle Caliber .031, M1 (also known by many as the M1 Garand) was the first semi-automatic rifle on the planet that was generally issued to the infantry. In 1936, the M1 rifle became Army standard. While production and design difficulties continued, they were still used adequately. A designed version was brought out in early 1940 and output reached around 600 rifles a day once January 1941 was hit.
The m1 was a gas-operated, semi-automatic rifle and gave a significant advantage to the United States. It was the main weapon of choice during WW2 and in Korea.
The early 1900s weren’t just about semi-automatic weapons, however, as the Thompson and Grease Gun came into fruition around this time, too. The Grease Gun entered Army service in late 1942 – it employed metal stamping, pressing, and welding. The Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) also made an appearance at this time and fired from an open bolt fed from a 20-round detachable box magazine. Another popular choice.
Late-20th Century America
The common and popular M16 rifle was first brought to light in 1964 by the US Air Force. It was a direct replacement for the semi-automatic M14, much to the objections of the Army. The M16A2 entered service during the 1980s – it was a select-fire rifle that was able to be utilized in a semi-automatic or three-round burst method.
The M4 Carbine would come next as would replace the existing M16A2 used by the army. It was a fully automatic gun and would be used as a submachine gun in instances such as house-to-house combat.