By: Friedrich Seiltgen
This Independence Day, as we once again celebrate our freedom from the tyranny of the Crown, Gunpowder Magazine spotlights the guns that made America. From the Revolutionary War to today, firearms helped shape America into the greatest country in the world.
Here are a just a few of the most noteworthy ones:
The Brown Bess or “British Land Pattern Musket” was one of the most commonly used weapons of the Revolutionary War. This .75 caliber smoothbore flintlock rifle, weighing in at around 10.5 pounds, fired a musket ball to a range of 100 yards and was the workhorse of the revolution for both sides.
The 1861 Springfield Rifle was a favorite of both sides and was probably responsible for more deaths that any other rifle used in the Civil War.
The Wild, Wild West
The Henry Rifle was a .44 caliber lever action breech loading rifle with a 15-round tubular magazine. The Henry was the basis for the Model 1873 Winchester rifle – “The Gun that Won the West.” The Winchester 1873 was produced for 50 years with a production of more than 720,000 units.
World War I
Springfield Model 1917, in 30.06 – aka the “American Enfield” – is a modified 1914 Enfield. During the Great War, the U.S. needed rifles. As several U.S. manufacturers were producing Enfields for the British, they redesigned the rifle for the 30.06 round, and the Model 1917 was born. The 1917 was the primary rifle of the U.S. expeditionary forces.
World War II
The M1 Garand was a favorite amongst the troops. With its semi-automatic operation, 8-round magazine, and chambered in 30.06, the Garand provided accurate, reliable firepower for the troops. In 1945, Gen. George Patton stated the Garand was “the greatest battle implement ever designed.” The Garand would become the basis for the M-14 in Caliber .308, another outstanding rifle.
The M1 Carbine in .30 carbine was designed by David “Carbine” Williams while he was in prison! The M1 was used by officers and tank crews as a high-power replacement for their pistols. The M1 was also produced with a folding stock for airborne troops, as well as in a full-auto version designated as the M2. The M1 was produced by 10 different companies, including GM Saginaw, the Underwood typewriter company, and by my personal favorite, the “Rock-Ola” jukebox manufacturing company.
M-60 General Purpose Machine Gun: chambered in 7.62X51, belt-fed with disintegrating links, the M60 was the workhorse for platoons patrolling the jungles of Vietnam. A design based on the German MG42 and FG42, the M60 was capable of 650 rounds per minute, with an effective range of 1,200 yards.
1918 Browning M2 .50 caliber chambered in .50 Caliber. The legendary “Ma Deuce” is still in service today with the U.S. Military, as well as many foreign services. The M2 has been used in several different roles. During the Vietnam War, legendary Marine Corps Sniper Gunny Carlos Hathcock set up an M2 as a sniper weapon and had confirmed kills out to 2,500 yards! The Ma Deuce is currently the longest serving weapon in the U.S. military.
The AR-15/M-16: The ArmaLite AR-15 is a select fire, air-cooled battle rifle, designed by ArmaLite, a division of Fairchild Republic Aircraft Corporation, engineer Eugene Stoner. The AR-15 would go on to be designated the M-16 when adopted for use by the U.S. military. Since its introduction during the Vietnam War, the AR-15 has been constantly improved and evolved into today’s M4 rifle. And despite what liberals will tell you, the AR in AR-15 does NOT stand for “Assault Rifle.”
Modern Day America
The modern M4 is being produced by so many manufacturers in such large quantities, it’s hard to keep track. The civilian market for the M4 has exploded. Many look at the weapon and think it is hard to shoot or has a brutal recoil. Nothing can be further from the truth. The M4 is easy to shoot and operate, and with its recoil spring/buffer assembly virtually eliminating recoil, it has created a whole new generation of new shooters.
On this Independence Day, let’s all get out to the range early in the morning for a day of shooting. While you’re at the range, think about the Patriots of the past and the sacrifices they made so you could enjoy this day.
Friedrich Seiltgen is a retired Master Police Officer with 20 years of service with the Orlando Police Department. He currently conducts training in Lone Wolf Terrorism, Firearms, First Aid, and Law Enforcement Vehicle Operations in Florida. His writing has appeared in The Counter Terrorist Magazine, Homeland Security Today and The Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.