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Top Guns Used in Military History

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The US military is constantly improving its weapons, and the anti-tank weapon AT4 is the perfect example of that. Manufacturers compete to produce weapons with the best reliability, range, and weight—so when a weapon like the anti-tank weapon AT4 stays in service for over 30 years, you know it's a good one.

Here we compare a list of the most iconic guns used throughout modern history in both the US military and foreign armies.

5. M24 Sniper Rifle

The M24, formally known as the M24 Sniper Weapon System, is a US military and police rifle based on the Remington Model 700. That's right, the very same Remington your uncle goes deer hunting with.

Adopted by the US military in 1988, the M24 has been a staple on battlefields due to its pinpoint accuracy. While other rifles surpass its effective range of 800m, the M24 provides excellent power and adjustability, making it a highly effective tool. 

Photo credit: "S&W Model 10 from 1962", by Stephen Z,  Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

4. Smith & Wesson Model 10

The Smith & Wesson Model 10 makes it onto this list simply by virtue of its longevity. 

In production and use by the US military since 1899, it has seen use amongst police forces, correctional departments, and US soldiers across generations. In fact, it's the most-produced revolver of all time, and the most popular handgun of the 20th century. 

A double-action .38 Special six-shot revolver, the Model 10 has fixed sights and barrel lengths between two and six inches. Known as a workhorse, it's an iconic weapon used reliably for defense, police, and military situations.

3. Anti-tank Weapon AT4

The anti-tank weapon AT4 is a Swedish-made single-shot anti-tank weapon used by the US military since 1987. Its name is a play on its 84mm caliber—ay-tee four, get it?—as well as an abbreviation of "anti-tank."

The AT4 was designed to give soldiers the ability to destroy tanks, armored vehicles and fortifications. Although modern tanks with reactive armor tend to be impervious to the AT4, it still has many uses on the modern battlefield. 

Recruits in the US military are often taught how to use the AT4 early on, as its operation is fairly simple: aim, shoot, discard. It's not reusable and comes in at around $1500 per unit though, so you may want to make sure you're aiming carefully first.

2. AK-47

While some people might argue this one deserves the top spot, it'll be a cold day in hell before we hand out the gold medal to anything other than an American gun. Sorry, Russia!

But to be fair, the Avtomat Kalashnikova or AK-47  is a genuinely iconic rifle. A gas-operated assault weapon in service since 1949, it's the most widely used rifle in the world. 

Between the AK-47’s ease of use, reliability, accuracy, rate of fire, and cost-effectiveness, there's little wonder it has been a staple of armed groups from small, untrained militia to elite forces for the last half-century. 

If it's so great, though, you may wonder why the US military hasn’t adopted the AK-47. For the answer to that, we present the gun in our number one spot:

1. M16 Rifle

The M16 is a family of rifles made by various companies for the US military. Starting in 1964, the M16 has served in different variations, from the M16A1 to the latest M16A4, up until its planned replacement was announced in April of 2022. Over fifty years of service is nothing to shake a stick at.

Although the M16 has been criticized for reliability issues and notoriously performed poorly during the Vietnam War, the US military worked to improve it, making these troubles largely a problem of the past. As a result, later iterations of the M16 can go toe-to-toe with just about any assault rifle for overall effectiveness.

Firing a 5.56-mm round, the M16 has the ease of mobility, accuracy, and stopping power to make it an iconic rifle recognizable the world over. For that reason, we've named it our number one most iconic gun of modern military history.

So there you have it—the top 5 guns of recent history. Maybe you weren’t surprised by our selections, but then again, feel free to debate us in the comments. 

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