U.S. Military Channel has released the list of top ten combat rifles built over the last one hundred years. A panel of American and British experts painstakingly examined every firearm used by humans battling one another since the time of the Russo-Japanese War up to the Desert Storm.
The experts used the following criteria while drawing up the list of the world’s most famous firearms: accuracy, reliability, combat effectiveness, design originality, and handling.
AK-47: connecting people
It is plain for all to see that the Americans have rewarded four out of ten positions of the list to U.S.-made firearms. However, the overly patriotic Americans could not but put the Soviet Kalashnikov assault rifle, the best combat rifle of all time, on top of the list. The firearms legend created by Mikhail Kalashnikov was unanimously found to be a first-rate weapon by all criteria but one i.e. accuracy.
Some 100 million pieces of the AK-47 and its later versions manufactured across the globe may as well participate in the vote. The word Kalashnikov has easily entered many languages just like the Russian words vodka, Kremlin and sputnik did in their time.
From Afghanistan to Counter Strike
The above factors kept the Americans from putting the M16, America’s firearms darling, above the Kalashnikov assault rifle on the list. The M16, which sits on the second position, is a semi or fully automatic assault rifle of 5.56 mm caliber. The M16 is indeed a superior weapon to the AK-47 in terms of accuracy. However, accuracy is not the most valued characteristic of an infantryman’s weapon. The proof can be found in the wars of modern time. Watching news coverage of the U.S. army in Iraq, a Russian TV viewer can occasionally spot the AK-47’s familiar outline in the hands of a foreign soldier. The thesis “practice is a criterion of the truth” can only argued with the price of one’s life in war, and therefore the U.S. servicemen opt to use the weapon that can function without fail in any conditions of a real battlefield.
The British SMLE Mk.III occupies the third slot. The rifle entered service shortly after the Boer War. However, the British Army’s standard bolt-action Short Magazine Lee-Enfield Mk III repeating rifle has been widely used after it first saw official service in 1907. The weapon was quite popular with the Afghan rebels firing from ambush at the Soviet troops in the 1980s.
The U.S.-made semiautomatic Counter Strike M1 Garand rifle sits on the fourth position of the list. Well, those who happen to have no knowledge of this American legend are strongly recommended to give Pearl Harbor another screening. U.S. servicemen portrayed in the movie fire the weapon at the Japanese fighters on the fateful day of December 7, 1941.
The Belgian-made FN FAL rifle is put on the fifth position of the list. The weapon remains largely unknown to the public. However, the German carbine Mauser Kar 98 is installed in the sixth place, and deservedly so. The Russians in their forties and above can easily picture the weapon: every Soviet motion picture about the WWII would feature German invaders carrying the MP 38/40 assault rifle. Well, if the Germans did not display the above hallmark weapon for the benefit of the camera, they would surely carry the Mauser Kar 98.
The Steyr AUG, an Austrian fully automatic assault rifle is number seven on the Top Ten of the world’s most popular combat rifles. On the face of it, the weapon looks like a prop of a Star Wars movie.
By and large, the Russian Mosin-Nagant M91/30, a highly reliable bolt-action, magazine-fed, repeating rifle that entered service with the Russian Army in 1891, should have been placed into the eight position. The rifle proved to be an outstanding performer with superb accuracy and handling during the years of WWI, Russian Civil War, Soviet-Finnish conflict, and WWII. However, the position is filled by the U.S.-made Springfield, a bolt-action rifle featuring a five-round box magazine. Actually, the Springfield was contemporary with the Mosin rifle.
The German Sturmgewehr 44 sits on the ninth position of the list. The Sturmgewehr, which looks very much like the Kalashnikov assault rifle, entered service with the Wehrmacht in 1944. The German brass hoped that the use of a new rifle would give the German infantry an advantage but there was no way the Germans could stop the advancing Red Army.
The experts put the U.S.-made M14 into the tens position. The choice looks apparently biased. The M14 was first fielded in 1957 though it continues to see official service in Taiwan, the Philippines, and the Baltic States. The question is: Does the rifle really belong to the world’s Top Ten rifles of all time?
Top Ten Combat Rifles, according to the Military Channel
1. AK-47, USSR, 1947
2. M16, United States, 1960
3. SMLE Mk III, Great Britain, 1885
4. M1 Garand, United States, 1936
5. FN FAL, Belgium, 1950
6. Mauser Kar 98, Germany, 1898
7. Steyr AUG, Austria, 1960
8. Springfield, United States, 1903
9. Sturmgewehr 44, Germany, 1944
10. M14, United States, 1957
Translated by Guerman Grachev