Throughout history, the U.S. Military has used a wide variety of guns to win its battles. Prior to the M16, there were several weapons used across the service throughout some of the most devastating wars the world has ever seen.
Here are some of those weapons:
These rifles are still in use by the Danish military as they perform reliably in arctic conditions.
(War Relics Forum)
Model 1917 Enfield
The Lee–Enfield is a bolt-action British rifle that used heavily in the first World War. Americans took that original design and had it modified to fit its needs, thus giving birth to the Model 1917 Enfield, widely referred to as the “American Enfield.” The official name, however, was “United States Rifle, cal .30, Model of 1917.” You can see why it was given a nickname.
This is one of the weapons Sergeant Alvin York, one of the most decorated American Soldiers of WWI, used on the night of October 8th, 1918.
Soldiers in French trenches with Springfield 1903 .30-06s during World War I.
(Imperial War Museums)
The bolt-action Springfield 1903 .30-06 saw service as the standard-issue rifle from the first World War until it was replaced by the M1 Garand in 1936. By the time WWII broke out, it wasn’t standard issue but, despite this, it was a popular sniper rifle during World War II, the Korean War, and even into the early stages of Vietnam.
(U.S. Library of Congress)
One of the most notable rifles used during World War II, the M1 Garand was favored by Soldiers and Marines across the military. As a semi-automatic rifle firing a .30 caliber cartridge, it was useful in a wide variety of military applications.
General Patton even once said it was “the greatest battle implement ever devised.” It was eventually replaced by the M14 during the late 1950s.
Marine Sgt. John Wisbur Bartlett Sr. fires a Thompson submachine gun during the Battle of Okinawa during World War II.
Thompson submachine gun
Favored by gangsters, cops, civilians, and Soldiers alike, the Thompson submachine gun was fully automatic and fired a .45 ACP round from a 20-round stick magazine.
It initially earned its infamy on the streets of Chicago during the Great Depression but was later adopted by the U.S. Military and used from 1938 until 1971. It’s no M16, but the Thompson was well loved.
Marines using M14s in Vietnam.
(American Historical Foundation)
Of all the items on this list, the M14 is the only one still in active service in the military since its introduction in 1959. This rifle fires a 7.62x51mm NATO round (.308 Winchester) and was the first standard-issue rifle to take a 20-round box magazine.
This powerhouse of a weapon saw service during Vietnam as the standard-issue rifle until it was replaced by the M16. Now, it’s a designated marksman rifle.
This baby helped us win independence.
(Norfolk Island Museum)
Land Pattern Musket aka “Brown Bess”
This was the most commonly used long gun during the American Revolution. This .75 caliber musket was originally British-made but many American colonists were required to have this on-hand for militia duty.
The nickname “Brown Bess” is of unknown origin, though there is a lot of speculation about it.