Firearms have and will keep evolving over time. Here is a great look at the breakthroughs that changed the battlefield. To learn more about these guns, check out The 11 Most Important Guns in History.
Developed by China, this is the first true firearm that used gunpowder to launch a projectile.
Gatling Gun, 1862
Dr. Richard Gatling’s invention was one of the first real machine guns with a practical rate of fire of more than 700 .50-caliber rounds per minute.
Colt Peacemaker, 1873
Sam Colt did not invent the revolver, but introduced the assembly-line system to create them rather faster than a gunsmith.
Maxim Gun, 1883
The weapon was recoil-operated, meaning that it didn’t need to be cranked by hand to load new cartridges.
Colt M1911, 1911
John Browning developed a new .45 cartridge with improved stopping power and later built a gun around it. Adopted in 1911, this firearm earned respect and caused fear during decades of service.
M2 Browning, 1933
One of the most formidable machine guns ever made, the M2 began as a water-cooled design, but shifted to air-cooled, requiring a heavy barrel.
M1 Garand, 1936
The first semiautomatic rifle to be adopted by a major nation, this firearm uses some of the energy from the high-pressure gas generated during firing to eject the spent cartridge and chamber.
Major Uziel Gal developed his new 9-mm submachine gun by incorporating a telescoping plot that wraps around the breech end barrel.
This firearm is arguably the most effective and popular weapon in history, with over 75 million made.
Glock 17, 1982
The Glock is a simplified handgun made mainly from plastic, except for the barrel. The frame is lighted and more durable than steel and absorbs recoil of firing.
Perhaps the most innovative small arm in recent years, this firearm has a laser that measures the range to the target so the grenade can be set to explode midair at the exact point it passes over a foxhole or target. However, with a cost of $30,000, it is something of limitation for now.