America has a long history with firearms ever since inventor, industrialist, and businessman Samuel Colt developed the Colt Paterson revolver, making it the first commercial repeating firearm employing a revolving cylinder with multiple chambers aligned with a single, stationary barrel.
Ever since then, the firearms industry has grown into a billion dollar business, and while you can buy a weapon to protect your home and family, making sure the U.S. military has reliable and effective weaponry is a must! Not just for the protection of our country, but for the safety of our forces abroad too.
Here we look at the most popular and reliable weapons the U.S. military trusts to keep our troops safe.
1. M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle
Designed and manufactured by the German company Heckler & Koch, this lightweight magazine-fed 5.56mm select-fire automatic rifle has now become highly associated with the United States Marine Corp. The corp wanted to replace the belt-fed M249 and issued contracts to a number of manufacturers. In December 2009, the H&K weapon won the competition and entered into a five-month period of final testing.
They originally ordered 6,500 M27 units in 2013, at a cost of $13 million, however, by December 2017, the top military brass in the Marine Corps made the decision to equip every member of an infantry squad with this powerful weapon intended to enhance an automatic rifleman’s maneuverability.
2. M203 Grenade Launcher
Designed by the aerospace and defense development and manufacturing firm AAI Corporation, there are many variants of the M203 under-barrel grenade launcher designed to attach to a rifle. This single shot weapon has been in service all the way back to 1969. By the early 1970s, it was introduced to U.S. military forces as it was versatile and compatible with many rifles models.
The M203 grenade launcher gained its popularity because not only was it used as close fire support against point and area targets, but because not all occasions require a grenade launcher, the innovative under-barrel system has the advantage of allowing its user to also carry a rifle, and to easily switch between the two.
3. M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW)
Manufactured in the U.S. by the subsidiary FN Manufacturing LLC in Columbia, South Carolina, the M249 (also known as the M249 light machine gun) is actually an American adaptation of the 5.56mm Squad Automatic Weapon developed by Ernest Vervier, for Belgian firearms manufacturer FN Herstal.
This light machine gun was introduced in 1984 after being judged, compared to a number of candidate weapons, as the most effective and would address the lack of automatic firepower in small units. It would be used by the United States Marine Corps and see action for the first time during the invasion of Panama in 1989.
4. M4 Carbine
The ArmaLite AR-15 family of rifles has had a long association with U.S. forces, and while most people with even a limited knowledge of military firearms would have heard of its most famous member, the iconic M16, it would be its predecessor the M4 Carbine that would earn itself the title as “one of the defining firearms of the 21st century”.
Sporting a telescopic sight and 370mm barrel, this air-cooled, gas-operated, direct impingement, magazine-fed, select fire carbine was designed to be a shorter and lighter version of its more famous counterpart. Extensively used as the primary infantry weapon by both the U.S. Army and the United States Marine Corps, its popularity would see this rifle adopted by over 60 countries worldwide.
5. Beretta M9
Replacing the Colt M1911A1 in the Army and Navy, and the Smith & Wesson .38 Special in the Air Force, the Italian/American designed Beretta M9 (also known as the Beretta 92FS semi-automatic pistol) has been the primary sidearm/service pistol of the U.S. military since 1985, officially entering service in 1990.
Although this iconic weapon has largely been replaced by a customized version of the SIG Sauer P320, it still remains popular due to its average reliability of being able to fire 17,500 rounds without a stoppage in its lifetime. They even developed a special model issued to General Officers in the Army and Air Force called the Beretta M9 General Officer’s Model.