Small Arms and Machine Guns Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Small arms are firearms that are designed to be carried and fired by individual soldiers.

Nature and Use

Small arms are firearms that are designed to be carried and fired by individual soldiers. A machine gun is a firearm that continues to fire automatically as long as the operator keeps the trigger depressed. Medium and heavy machine guns are technically not small arms, because they are designed as crew-served weapons.Machine gunsFirearms;smallHandarms;gunsMachine gunsFirearms;smallGuns;small armsHandarms;guns

Firearms are weapons in which a Projectiles;firearmsprojectile, normally made of lead, is propelled by confined gas generated by the rapid burning of some kind of gunpowder. Firearms have, at every stage of their development, repeatedly revolutionized the tactics and strategy of warfare, and they are universally the weapons of individual soldiers.

All modern firearms trace their lineage back to the small Cannonscannon of the thirteenth century. From this clumsy beginning all varieties of modern firearms have developed: the Riflesrifle, a shoulder-fired weapon supported with both hands; the Pistolspistol, designed to be held and fired with one hand; and the machine gun, models of which vary enormously in power, weight, and complexity.

A light machine gun fires a rifle cartridge and is effective up to 600 yards. A medium machine gun fires a similar cartridge but is normally mounted on a tripod and served by a crew. A heavy machine gun fires a much more powerful cartridge–usually about 0.5 inch (12.5 millimeters) in caliber–and can be used effectively to up 2,000 yards. Heavy machine guns are not only infantry weapons; they are also found mounted on tanks, helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft. Submachine Submachine gunsguns ordinarily fire pistol cartridges and are designed to be easily carried and operated by one person. The useful aimed-fire range of such a weapon might be from 75 to 100 yards.

The general pattern of firearms development has been to increase their portability, power, accuracy, and speed of operation. By 1500 the cart-mounted small cannon of the Middle Ages had evolved into the hand cannon, which had become, by the late sixteenth century, the MusketsSmoothbore weaponsmusket–a smoothbore shoulder-fired weapon that would dominate military tactics and strategy until the mid-nineteenth century.


Black Black powderpowder, the earliest form of Gunpowdergunpowder, is a mixture of potassium nitrate, sulfur, and charcoal. When ignited by a flame, it burns rapidly and generates a great deal of gas. This gas, expanding in a gun barrel, can drive a bullet or shell at high velocity. Gunpowder is believed to have originated in China, during the tenth century or possibly earlier. The earliest firearms were extremely cumbersome; they had to be carried in carts or set on wooden trestles and were more like small cannons. It was not until the mid-fourteenth century that portable hand firearms loaded from the muzzle end were introduced. In muzzle-loading Muzzle-loading weapons[Muzzle loading weapons]weapons, a powder charge is poured into the barrel and a projectile is pressed down upon the charge. The powder is ignited by a lighted match, a cinder, or a hot wire. Access to the powder charge is through a small hole drilled in the breech of the gun, and when the match or hot wire is placed against the touch hole, the charge is lit. Although such guns had a range of several hundred yards, they were not very accurate. A less skilled soldier could be expected to hit a stationary man-sized target consistently at only 40 or 50 yards.

In the early years of firearms development neither the rates of fire nor the accuracy of handheld weapons was equal to those of the longbow or crossbow. Consequently the cannon, whose range, striking power, and relative ease of manufacture made it superior to the catapult, had an earlier impact on military tactics and strategy. Like the longbow and crossbow, handheld firearms did have the ability to penetrate armor. Indeed, firearms were superior to longbows and crossbows in striking force, thereby accelerating the disappearance of the armored mounted knight in battle. Troops using firearms were vulnerable to cavalry or mass infantry shock attacks and consequently required the protection of pike formations or entrenchments. Their usefulness was limited to harassing fire and skirmishing preliminary to the main action. Before firearms could become universally practical weapons of war, a number of difficult technical problems had to be solved. These problems fall into the general categories of ignition, accuracy, and speed.


Until the mid-nineteenth century nearly all firearms, including artillery, were loaded from the muzzle end. Neither the metallurgy nor the manufacturing techniques of gun making lent themselves to the invention of a breech closure that could be consistently sealed against the escape of powder gases during firing. Not only would propellant gases escape with each shot, endangering the shooter, but heat and gas resulting from continued firing quickly eroded and destroyed the breech mechanism. Consequently, technical progress focused on refining the method of ignition. The inconvenience of carrying a separate match or hot wire was first surmounted by the Matchlocksmatchlock device, which was developed around 1450. In the matchlock a curved piece of metal called a cock, for its resemblance to a rooster’s neck, held a lighted “match,” usually a cord of hemp fiber that had been soaked in a solution of saltpeter. To fire, the match was pressed against a small pan placed alongside the touch hole into which a few grains of powder acting as a priming charge had been placed. The cock was moved by means of a mechanically linked trigger. The matchlock’s advantage was immediately appreciated, and its development was rapid. The Spanish Harquebuses;Spanishharquebus, a matchlock weapon, was successfully and decisively used at the Battle of Pavia, Battle of (1525)Pavia in 1525. In this battle, the decisive military engagement of the war in Italy between Francis I (1494-1547) of France and the Holy Roman emperor and Spanish king Charles V (1500-1588), the French army of 28,000 was virtually annihilated by a Spanish force of 7,500, which included 1,500 harquebusiers firing volleys into the rear of the French cavalry and utterly routing them.

Nineteenth century sailors operating the hand-cranked Gatling gun, which utilized a system of barrels rotating around a central axis, each firing in turn.

(North Wind Picture Archives via AP Images)

Because matchlocks required the use of a lighted match, they were not only cumbersome but also particularly susceptible to failure in wet weather. To remedy this problem, the wheel Wheel lockslock was invented in 1517. This mechanism used a revolving serrated wheel to strike sparks into the priming charge from a piece of iron pyrite. The wheel, which was spring powered, had to be wound up with a key. Although wheel locks were extremely expensive to manufacture, they were used extensively, because they could be managed by mounted troops on horseback. The wheel lock was also the first practical firearm for use in hunting, because it did not require a constantly lighted match.

The next great advance in firearms technology was the flintlock. The earliest Flintlocksflintlock was the snaphaan, or Snaphance snaphance, developed in Scandinavia and Holland from about 1550 to 1570. This was the first ignition system to introduce the striking action of the cock, which was driven against a metal frizzen by a spring. The cock, with a piece of flint clamped in its jaws, struck a glancing blow against the frizzen, producing sparks to fire the priming charge. Flintlocks, in various forms, were used for nearly 300 years. Flintlock guns were manufactured for military purposes in England as late as 1842. In the most advanced flintlocks, the frizzen and pan cover were made in one piece that was moved by the action of the cock, thus simultaneously exposing the priming pan and firing the gun. This innovation was a great aid in protecting the priming charge from moisture.

In 1807 AlexanderForsyth, AlexanderForsyth, AlexanderForsyth (1769-1843), a Scottish clergyman and inventor, discovered that potassium chlorate could be detonated by a blow and used to ignite a powder charge. This discovery became the basis of all later percussion and self-contained cartridge development. Forsyth’s first design used small pills of priming compound in existing flintlocks. Later experiments with tape and disk primers and the use of fulminate of Fulminate of mercurymercury as the detonating compound brought about the development of the percussion Caps, percussioncap, a small copper cap containing a bit of fulminate of mercury. The cap was placed over a hollow tube or nipple leading to the main powder charge. When struck by the descending hammer, the fulminate exploded to fire the gun. Similar caps became the basis of internally primed self-contained cartridges: the pinfire Pinfire cartridgeCartridgescartridge, invented by Casimir Lefaucheux, CasimirLefaucheux, CasimirLefaucheux (1802-1852) around 1828; the rimfire Rimfire cartridgecartridge, developed by Louis Nicholas Flobert, Louis NicholasFlobert, Louis NicholasFlobert in 1845; and the center-fire Center-fire cartridge[Center fire cartridge]cartridge, developed by American artist and inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, Samuel F. B.Morse, Samuel F. B.Morse (1791-1872) and first manufactured in 1858. Percussion caps made firearms far less susceptible to ignition malfunctions due to wet weather or mechanical problems. They brought about a substantial increase in the rate of fire. The old infantry tactic of charging the enemy to get within bayonet range became much riskier as rates of fire increased.


Most military firearms from the fifteenth century to the end of the nineteenth century fired a round lead ball of Caliber (defined)caliber 0.40 to 0.60. (In England and the United States “caliber” is usually reckoned in tenths or hundredths of an inch; in most of the rest of the world the metric system is used.) Such a ball, weighing about one-half ounce, would be fired from a smoothbore barrel. The best such weapons could be loaded and fired two or three times per minute and provided a fair chance of hitting an enemy at 75 to 100 yards.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries new tactics for such weapons evolved. Armies lined up in rows, and one rank would fire while another was reloading. For close combat, when there was insufficient time to reload, soldiers could fix swords or Bayonetsbayonets to the end of the rifle.

Greater accuracy and range could be achieved by cutting spiral grooves, or RiflingRiflesrifling, into the barrel and thus spinning the bullet or ball like a gyroscope. The bullet must fit the bore tightly to take the rifling, and consequently it is much more difficult to muzzle-load a rifle than a smoothbore weapon. The nineteenth century developments of patched balls and hollow-base cylindrical bullets were early attempts to overcome this difficulty. A hollow-base Bullets;hollow-base cylindricalbullet is smaller than bore diameter so that it may be easily loaded. When the rifle is fired, the expanding gas presses the base of the bullet outward, forcing it into the rifling. The Minié Minié balls[Minie balls]ball, used extensively in the American Civil War (1861-1865), was such a bullet. With a rifled barrel and slow, careful loading, a sharpshooter might be able to hit a stationary enemy at 400 or 500 yards.

An engraving from an 1861 issue of Harper’s Weekly describes the Springfield Armory’s manufacture of single-shot, muzzle-loading rifles, widely used weapons during the American Civil War.

(Library of Congress)

By the mid-nineteenth century, although few military leaders had yet perceived it, the combination of the rifled musket, percussion cap, and cylindrical bullet had made the old tactics obsolete. Battles in which soldiers stood out in the open to load and fire resulted in immense casualties, even with rifles that could be fired three times per minute. The heavy casualties suffered by both sides in the American Civil War demonstrated the need for new tactics.


Until Propellants1885 the term Gunpowder“gunpowder” referred exclusively to black powder. Afterward, it came to refer to both black powder and smokeless Smokeless powderpowder. The nineteenth century discovery that treating cellulose with nitric acid and sulfuric acids produces Nitrocellulosenitrocellulose, or Guncottonguncotton, an explosive compound, led to the development of smokeless gunpowder. Combustible substances such as glycerin, wood pulp, cotton, and cotton wastes are all used as sources of cellulose. The strength of the explosive compound depends on the degree of nitrification; unless the residual acid is carefully neutralized, these compounds can deteriorate and explode spontaneously. By the 1880’s scientists had discovered ways of stabilizing nitrocellulose compounds to slow their combustion. These propellants are far more powerful than black powder and also far more efficient, in the sense that 90 percent of their weight becomes gas, leaving fewer solid particles to become smoke.

Smokeless powders offered immense military advantages. The effective range of small arms increased from 200 to perhaps 800 yards. The effective range of the largest Cannonscannons increased to more than 20 miles. Indeed, a few guns were deployed that could actually hurl a shell more than 75 miles. Moreover, there was no longer the immense amount of smoke that had shrouded battlefields where black powder weapons were used. Many battlefields, such as that at Waterloo, Battle of (1815)Waterloo (1815), were so obscured by the smoke of musketry that command and control became impossible. Smokeless powder also left far less residue in the barrel of a gun. The accuracy of a black powder gun declined quickly as the barrel became fouled. Modern small arms and machine guns do not fall off in accuracy with extensive firing. The superiority of smokeless powder was so obvious that nearly all of the world’s armies abandoned black powder cartridges within just fifteen years after the first use of smokeless powder.

Smokeless powders are classified by their content. Single-base powders consist of nitrocellulose compounds only; double-base powders also contain Nitroglycerinnitroglycerin. Although the latter tend to contain more energy, they also tend to be more erosive in gun barrels, a significant factor for military weapons, particularly machine guns. Triple-base powders, which came into use in the late twentieth century, use Nitroguanidinenitroguanidine as an additional primary ingredient. These offer higher energy still and are also less erosive.

The burning rate and energy content of contemporary powder is controlled not only by the chemical composition of the powder but also by the size and shape of the grains. For example, the powder used in 16-inch naval rifles has grains of nearly an inch in diameter and 2.44 inches in length. By contrast, rifle and pistol powders have grains that can be less than 0.03 inch in both length and diameter.


A further revolution in warfare resulted from the development of breech-loading repeating arms firing self-contained cartridges. Once it was discovered that a Cartridgescartridge could be made of drawn brass, it became possible to design efficient breech-loading Breech-loading weapons[Breech loading weapons];gunsguns. When a brass cartridge is fired, the case is expanded by the pressure of the gases, sealing off the breech end of the mechanism. The first firearms of this sort were single shots that used hinged or dropping blocks to close the breech, but soon a variety of actions were developed to permit rapid repeat fire. Although the Spencer repeating lever-action rifle was used in the United States as early as the American Civil War (1861-1865), most military development focused on bolt-action magazine rifles. A bolt-action Bolt-action weapons[Bolt action weapons]weapon is one in which a turning bolt locks a loaded cartridge in place and then extracts the fired case. An operating handle attached to the bolt gives the operator great leverage for the extraction operation. The first usable bolt-action weapon was the so-called needle Needle gunsgun, invented by Johann von Dreyse, Johann vonDreyse, Johann vonDreyse (1787-1867). Although not a very successful design, it was briefly adopted by the Russian and Prussian armies in the mid-nineteenth century and showed itself far more effective than the single-shot rifles used by Prussia’s adversaries. The development of smokeless nitrocellulose-based powders in 1885 encouraged further bolt-action development. Smokeless powder rifles utilize a smaller bore diameter than black powder weapons. Although the fixed setting of the “battle sight” is normally for about 200 yards–well within the point-blank range of the cartridges–the high-velocity metal-jacketed bullets they fire remain dangerous at 1,800 yards. Trained soldiers can fire ten aimed shots per minute. By 1890 every major army in the world, with the exception of the U.S. Army, was armed with bolt-action magazine rifles. The seminal design for these rifles was produced by Peter Paul Mauser, Peter PaulMauser, Peter PaulMauser (1838-1914), the German arms inventor and manufacturer. This became the basic infantry weapon of the German army in 1898, and its bolt action was widely, almost universally, copied around the world. The 7.92-millimeter cartridge used by the Germans fired a pointed 154-grain bullet at 2,880 feet per second. Because of its excellent ballistic qualities, this cartridge became nearly as influential for future designs asMauser’s Mauser riflesrifles.

The American 1903 Springfield Springfield riflerifle is a modification of Mauser’s 1898 model; for manufacturing rights, the United States government paid Mauser $200,000. Another notable twentieth century bolt-action military rifle design was the British Short Magazine Lee-Enfield rifle[Lee Enfield rifle]Lee-Enfield (SMLE) .303, which was used in both world wars. All of these bolt-action rifles could be loaded very rapidly with cartridges from “stripper Stripper clipsclips” that could be placed into slots in the receiver. A full magazine’s worth of cartridges could be pressed into the rifle in just a second or two.

Some armies appreciated the impact of the increase in lethality of infantry weapons that resulted from rifling and breech-loading. For example, by 1870 the Prussians had dropped the close-order Bayonetsbayonet charge from their tactics. Prussian combat formations spread into “open order” so that all infantrymen acted as Skirmishingskirmishers, a technique informally developed by U.S. infantrymen from the middle of the American Civil War onward. Most general staffs did not fully understand until finally the combination of these rifles and the deployment of the machine gun produced the static Trench warfare;World War I[World War 01]trench system of World War I. The firepower that entrenched defenders could produce completely overwhelmed offensive action until the development of armored vehicles after World War I.

Automatic Weapons

An Automatic weaponsautomatic weapon is one that continues to fire as long as the trigger is held back. Although assault rifles and a few light machine guns are carried by soldiers as individual weapons, most machine guns are crew-served weapons.

All four of the great pioneers of automatic weaponry–Richard Gatling, RichardGatling, RichardGatling (1818-1903), Sir HiramMaxim, Hiram StevensMaxim, Hiram StevensMaxim (1840-1916), John M.Browning, John M.Browning, John M.Browning (1855-1926), and Isaac Lewis, IsaacLewis, IsaacLewis (1858-1931)–were Americans.

The Maxim field gun, the first fully automatic gun, invented in 1884.

(North Wind Picture Archives via AP Images)

The hand-cranked Gatling Gatling gunsgun, invented in 1862, utilized a system of barrels rotating around a central axis, each firing in turn. The first truly fully automatic gun, however, was invented by Maxim in 1884. It used the recoil energy of the gun itself to extract and eject the fired cartridge case and to load a fresh cartridge. Although machine guns may be recoil- or blowback-operated, the most common method of firing is by tapping a bit of the propellant gas from the barrel. The expanding gas presses against a piston linked to the mechanism of the gun. In 1890 the first gas-operated Gas-operated guns[Gas operated guns]gun was developed by Browning. A third important gas-operated machine gun design was provided by Lewis; Lewis’s gun was later the first machine gun used in aerial combat. The Browning, manufactured by Colt, and the Lewis gun, manufactured by Vickers and Savage, were the mainstays of Allied armies in World War I. The German MG08 machine gun, known as the Spandau machine gunSpandau, was a redevelopment of Maxim’s design.

Of the different magazine-feed systems developed for machine guns, the belt of cartridges became the most dominant. In this method, cartridges are tied together by spring clips in long “belts” that feed into the gun during firing and are ejected on the other side. Modern military machine guns have cyclic rates of 500 to 1,000 rounds per minute.

Sir Hiram Maxim explains to his grandson how his machine gun works.

(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The use of machine guns during World War I completely changed the face of war. During the British attack on entrenched German positions at the Somme, Battle of the (1916)Somme in July, 1916, the attackers suffered 60,000 casualties on the first day, of whom 20,000 were killed. Most of these casualties were inflicted by machine guns. The military establishments of the warring powers had been unable to conceive of the firepower of the machine gun and the magazine rifle and seemed unable to adjust their tactical thinking. In effect the war became a siege punctuated by occasional vast slaughters as troops were forced again and again to attack in the open. As the lesson sank in, it resulted in the disappearance of Cavalry;decline ofcavalry from the world’s armies and the development of armored vehicles to punch through infantry emplacements.

Semiautomatic Rifles

Samuel Colt with the Colt pistol.

(Library of Congress)

A Rifles;semiautomaticsemiautomatic Semiautomatic weaponsweapon is one that fires a shot for each pull of the trigger, as opposed to a machine gun, which continues to fire for as long as the trigger remains depressed. Semiautomatic rifles are much harder to design than are machine guns, because the latter tend to be crew-served weapons; their added weight and bulk are less significant than for rifles. The first semiautomatic rifle deployed as a standard infantry weapon by a major power was the M-1 rifle[M 0001] M-1, designed by John C. Garand, John C.Garand, John C. Garand (1888-1974) and adopted by the United States in 1936. This gas-operated .30-caliber weapon weighed less than 10 pounds. It was the best military rifle of World War II and was widely copied by other designers.

Assault Rifles and Submachine Guns

In Assault riflesthe decade following World War II most countries designed or built full-caliber rifles similar to the M-1; many of these were “selective-fire” Selective-fire weapons[selective fire]weapons, which could be fired either automatically or semiautomatically. The U.S. M-14M-14 rifle[M 0014]rifle is an example. The M-14 was similar to the M-1, but it loaded from a twenty-round box magazine. A skilled soldier could fire fifty aimed shots per minute with this weapon. Partly as a result of studies showing that relatively few infantrymen in combat actually fired their weapons and that even fewer aimed them, the major powers began to concentrate on designing lighter rifles for intermediate-range cartridges. At the end of the twentieth century the world’s two most common military rifles were the U.S. M-16 rifle[M 0016]M-16, a selective-fire .22-caliber assault rifle, and the Russian AK-47 rifle[AK forty seven rifle]AK-47, a selective-fire rifle of similar weight that shoots a short .30-caliber cartridge. The cartridges for such rifles are normally carried in twenty- or thirty-round magazines, giving soldiers great firepower. Although the M-16 is capable of great accuracy, the AK-47’s sights are very rudimentary; these rifles were designed primarily for “suppressing fire,” or large amounts of fire whose primary purpose is to force the enemy to keep their heads down. Infantry tactics have been adjusted accordingly: Flanking rather than frontal assaults are the rule, while the high volume of fire forces the defenders to lie low until they have been enveloped and overwhelmed by close-range automatic weapons fire.

Submachine Submachine gunsguns have a similar role in close-range fire. The first submachine gun used in combat was the 9-millimeter Bergmann submachine gunBergmann, introduced by Germany in 1918 at the end of the World War I. During World War II most of the major powers issued submachine guns of various kinds. The best-known and most influential were the British Sten Sten gungun, the American Thompson submachine Thompson submachine gungun, and the German SchmeisserSchmeisser MP40MP40. All of these fired pistol cartridges. Submachine guns made the pistol obsolete as a practical offensive weapon: They cost less than pistols to produce, and they produce a tremendous volume of fire that is directable at longer ranges. They were considered particularly useful for street fighting in cities and towns. The newest models of submachine guns add a “burst” mode to the common selection of semiautomatic or full-automatic fire. In burst mode the weapon will fire three shots for each pull of the trigger.

In most armies submachine guns are issued only for special operations in which close-range engagements are expected. Moreover, because submachine guns normally use subsonic pistol cartridges, they can be effectively silenced for stealth attacks.


Pistols Pistolshave gone through most of the same developmental patterns as heavier weapons. In military use the pistol was considered especially useful for mounted cavalry because it could be fired with one hand. A military flintlock pistol weighed 2 to 3 pounds and was about 12 inches long. A seventeenth century cavalryman would normally be armed with two or three loaded pistols as well as a sword or lance.

With the development of percussion caps and self-contained cartridges, pistol design forged ahead rapidly. Because pistols are low-powered weapons, compared with rifles, it is easier to design repeating mechanisms for them. In the days of black powder and percussion caps, revolvers were designed with a cylinder containing multiple chambers. The first successful design was patented by Samuel Colt, SamuelColt (1814-1862) in 1835. With this weapon, the soldier could shoot Six-shooters[six shooters]six or more shots before reloading. Some designs made it possible to carry several loaded cylinders, thus permitting relatively quick reloading. Percussion revolvers were widely used as short-range weapons, particularly by officers during the American Civil War. Revolvers continued in military service after the development of metallic cartridges; although the first adopted in the United States was the Smith and Wesson 1869 Smith and Wesson .44 pistol[Smith and Wesson forty four].44 American, the most famous was the .45-caliber Colt single-action Colt pistolsArmy model of 1873, known as the Peacemaker (Colt pistol)Peacemaker. With a hiatus or two, this weapon has been in production since 1873.

Semiautomatic Semiautomatic weapons;pistolspistols were first built in Germany and Austria. Design work there culminated in the adoption of the Luger pistol as the official sidearm of the German military forces from 1908 to 1932. The American designer John M. Browning devised a dropping-barrel, locked-breech design, the best-known example of which is the .45-caliber Colt 1911 Colt pistolsA1. Browning’s locking system is used in nearly all military pistols built around the world.

Modern military pistol designs utilize the double-action principle. The chamber of the weapon may be loaded while the hammer is uncocked. The gun may be fired either by a long straight through-pull on the trigger or by an initial cocking of the hammer, which gives a lighter trigger pull. After the first shot, the hammer remains cocked. The M9 Beretta 92 M9 Beretta 92 SB pistol[M 9 Beretta]Beretta pistolSB, the present American service pistol, operates in this fashion.

Statistics compiled by American military authorities during the course of World War II and the Vietnam War (1961-1975) show that the number of actual casualties inflicted upon the enemy with pistols was so small that it may not be worthwhile to spend any time or money on handgun design or procurement. However, because soldiers have always felt some comfort in the possession of a sidearm, their demand continues whether or not they are actually effective. Even though pistols are close-range weapons, they are extremely difficult to shoot accurately even at short range without a great deal of training and practice. The cartridges fired by modern military pistols generate 300 to 400 foot-pounds of energy, only a fraction of the energy produced by a rifle cartridge. Pistols have not had an effect on military tactics for many years.Machine gunsFirearms;smallGuns;small armsHandarms;guns

Books and Articles
  • Chase, Kenneth. Firearms: A Global History to 1700. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
  • Gluckman, Arcadi. United States Martial Pistols and Revolvers. Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole, 1956.
  • Greener, W. W. The Gun and Its Development. 9th ed. New York: Bonanza Books, 1967.
  • Hall, Bert S. Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe: Gunpowder, Technology, and Tactics. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.
  • Haskew, Michael E. The Sniper at War: From the American Revolutionary War to the Present Day. New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2005.
  • Hogg, Ian V. The Story of the Gun. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996.
  • Hughes, B. P. Firepower: Weapons Effectiveness on the Battlefield, 1630-1850. New York: Scribner, 1975.
  • Jones, Richard D., and Leland S. Ness, eds. Jane’s Infantry Weapons, 2009-2010. 35th ed. Surrey, England: Jane’s Information Group, 2009.
  • McNab, Chris, ed. Gun: A Visual History. New York: DK, 2007.
  • North, Anthony, Charles Stronge, and Will Fowler. The World Encyclopedia of Pistols, Revolvers and Submachine Guns: An Illustrated Historical Reference to Over Five Hundred Military, Law Enforcement, and Antique Firearms from Around the World. London: Lorenz, 2007.
  • Otteson, Stuart. The Bolt Action: A Design Analysis. New York: Winchester Press, 1976.
  • Pauly, Roger. Firearms: The Life Story of a Technology. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004.
  • Pegler, Martin. Sniper: A History of the U.S. Marksman. Botley, Oxford, England: Osprey, 2007.
  • Smith, Anthony. Machine Gun: The Story of the Men and the Weapon That Changed the Face of War. London: Piatkus, 2002.
  • Walter, John. Guns of the Elite Forces. London: Greenhill, 2005.
  • _______. The Modern Machine Gun. New York: Greenhill Books/Lionel Leventhal, 2000.
  • Zhuk, A. B., and John Walter. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Handguns: Pistols and Revolvers of the World, 1870 to the Present. London: Greenhill Books, 1995.
Films and Other Media
  • Early Machine Guns: Advent of Rapid Firepower. Documentary. History Channel, 1998.
  • Glory. Feature film. Columbia Tri-Star, 1989.
  • History of Firearms. Documentary. History Channel, 2000.

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