American Firearms Built This Country
Just as American freedom has flourished for the past few centuries, so has the prestige of the firearms that have helped make that possible. Below, you’ll find a rundown absolutely brimming with American firearms that you not only know, collect, and display, but can only be justly described by one word…iconic.
We start off with one of the most iconic American weapons, the M1 Garand. Of all the small arms in the U.S. Military’s arsenal during World War II, the M1 Garand was the one of the most effective. From Saving Private Ryan to the plethora of WWII video games that feature the weapon, there are few weapons that come to mind more often when an American thinks of WWII. While Germany, Japan, and Russia were plinking off individual rounds with a bolt action rifle from a five round magazine, Americans were storming Normandy Beach and paving the road to Berlin using eight-round clips with blistering semi-automatic fire.
Gen. George C. Patton dubbed it “the greatest battle implement ever devised.” The M1 was adopted into service in 1936 and remained in service through the end of the Korean War.
More commonly known as a ‘Tommy Gun’, the Thompson Sub Machinegun is another member of the iconic American firearms club. Although it was originally developed for close quarters combat in the trenches of rural France during WWI as a “trench sweeper”, it never made it to battlefields of France as the weapon was completed after the conclusion of the war. The magazine came in either a 20 or 30 round stick magazine with an alternative of a 50 or 100 round drum. The U.S. and British Armies used the weapon beginning in 1928 through the end of WWII. The weapon was also known as the ‘Chicago Typewriter’ due to its staccato report as it was fired by the gangsters in Prohibition-era Chicago.
Flintlock Kentucky Rifle
Developed for general frontier use, the Flintlock Kentucky Rifle is a symbol of independence and rugged self-reliant American Individualism. Unlike the smoothbore weapons that so many of the world’s militaries were still using in the late 18th Century, the Kentucky Rifle had a rifled barrel which increased the effective range to nearly two hundred yards. Although many Colonists still used smoothbore muskets, this American weapon proved an important force multiplier in the many battles for American independence in the Revolutionary War.
The 1911 is one of the quintessential American firearms designed by John Browning in the early 20th Century. It is definitely one of the most iconic American weapons. The .45 Caliber weapon is a mainstay of everything from Special Forces units to competition shooters, to every day Americans. This was the first major large caliber semi-automatic handgun that was widely adopted to deal with the increased threat experienced during the Philippine-American War. American soldiers were emptying their revolver cylinders into enemy insurgents to no avail. The semi-automatic, magazine fed 1911 was the solution. It has been in service with the American military since 1911 and still serves as the preferred sidearm of many American tier one units across the globe today.
Colt Single Action Army “Peacemaker”
The pistol that won the wild west is the Colt Single Action Army. Forged in steel for over 150 years, this weapon is still produced to the same specifications nearly a century and a half after its initial release. The revolver is a .45 Long Colt designed for use by the US Army Calvary, and later adopted by Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, and the Legends of The West.
1860 Henry Rifle
The first mainstream lever action rifle was the 1860 Henry Rifle. With its iconic brass receiver, it was the first in a new era of weapons. From the wild west to the Civil War, this rifle redefined how Americans thought of weapons. The Henry Rifle has an easy to reload fifteen round magazine, and it is chambered in the powerful .44 Magnum round. This weapon was nothing to sneeze at for anything unlucky enough to find itself on the business end of the brass bodied behemoth. This weapon was so effective for its time that soldiers were spending their own wages to purchase it for themselves rather than use their issued weapons.
The Springfield model 1903 is a weapon of war that has served longer than nearly any other small arm: from the trenches of the Somme to parade fields in Washington D.C. today. This weapon is nothing if not versatile. The bolt action magazine-fed rifle served as a primary weapon in World Wars I and II, as a sniper rifle in Vietnam, and currently serves as the standard drill rifle for thousands of drill teams across the country.
This shotgun is the gold standard for police departments, the FBI, hunters, and game wardens alike. With over twelve million of these shotguns produced since they were introduced in 1950, its safe to say that these weapons can be found in most towns across the country, from a squad car to a gun cabinet. This weapon will work as a shotgun, hammer, and even a paddle on a duck hunting trip. Versatile and reliable, the 870 is as American as it gets.
The most popular sporting rifle in America today, the ArmaLite AR-15 is a .223/5.56 semi-automatic magazine fed weapon. The iconic AR-15 is the semi-automatic civilian version of the US Military’s M16 Battle Rifle. The AR-15, which stands for ArmaLite Rifle Fifteen, has been redesigned for nearly any modern sporting caliber you can imagine. From 6.5 Creedmoor to .308 to .458 SOCOM this frame can do it all. This ‘black rifle’ is one of the most iconic American weapons on this list when it comes to near universal recognition the world over.
S&W Model 29
In the movie Dirty Harry, Detective Harry Callahan, played by Clint Eastwood, famously asks if a bank robber “feels lucky.” As anyone who has shot this American gun would agree you never want to be on the other end of “the most powerful handgun in the world.” Dirty Harry’s network television debut can be linked to an immediate run on gun shops for any blued Model 29 chambered in .44 Caliber.
Did your favorite make it on this list? What other iconic American firearms do you know? Tell us in the comments!
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A great selection of civilian arms, although I would have added the Sig Sauer P226 on here.
The Sig, one of my favorite pistols, would not fit on this list because it is a Swiss design, made in Germany due to Swiss laws that prohibit the export of firearms. Thus it would not be appropriate on a list of Iconic American Firearms.
In my opinion, the Kentucky Rifle should not be on this list. It should be replaced by it’s predecessor, the Pennsylvania Rifle. I have been commissioned by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky as an Honorary Colonel, so I harbor no ill will against Kentucky, but in all fairness, the Kentucky Rifle needs to cede it’s position to the Pennsylvania Long Rifle.
The 1903 should be bumped in favor of the Winchester 1873, the 1892, or the 1894