The Greatest Gun In The History Of The World

What is the Greatest Gun in the entire History of The World?

Before we can ask that question, let’s quantify “The Greatest”.  Most of the time people will refer to the Greatest as the Most Influential.  Or the Originator of some function that is thought to be important.  Or longest service. Or the most cloned and copied.  Or whatever metric puts their favorite at the top.  So what makes a gun “Great” here for this discussion?   Let’s make the criteria based on some points… Not in any order of importance:
Ergonomics:  How it fits the User and other Users.  The ease of use of the controls.
Accuracy:  Consider both Actual Accuracy, which is accuracy from a machine rest or bench rest, and Practical Accuracy which is what one can get from the gun in field conditions.  These are two separate things.
Utility:  How many uses it can be applied to, or be adapted to other uses.
Power:  Consider both the power of the individual round and capacity of the rounds in the magazine.
Range:  Not Max Range – but it’s actual practical effective range, and combine that with the Accuracy factor and you see just what you can do with the gun and how far away.

Now lets look at the guns, taking in these metrics, apply them to the INDIVIDUAL GUN and not Genealogy or History of the gun.  So for example don’t look at the MG42 and then say the Maxim is the Greatest because the MG42 was built off design evolution from the Maxim… or whatever you want to objectify as great.  If you want to quantify the Maxim on it’s own, the MG42 takes those traits and improves on them.  Lighter, less maintenance, less support required, greater reliability, etc. So based on individual merit, the MG42 is certainly the greater gun.

My knee jerk reaction would be to go with something like the Colt 1911 Government Model Pistol.  But that’s Nostalgia talking and not looking at the actual metrics set forth for the individual gun.  The Utility and Power factors point the needle to the Remington 870.  While it’s certainly adaptable for length of pull and using different shells gives you great utility, it’s limitations in Ergonomics and Range and other factors really hamstring the old girl.  Shame… Because it’s probably my favorite single firearm.  But we are not talking about Favorites.  Remember that.  We’re talking Objectively.  Which brings me to my conclusion that I can’t even being to believe that I’m about to reach here…

The Greatest Gun In The History Of The World:

The AR-15.

Just look at the results of a Google Image Search of “AR-15 Rifle“.  So many variations it boggles the mind, all built off that wonderful AR Lower Receiver.  The AR-15 can be configured and reconfigured to be The Right Tool For The Job for just about any situation that calls for a Firearm.  By pulling two pins you can change it from one caliber to the next, with rounds from .22 LR, to .50BMG, to freaking Arrows… yes, there is a Crossbow Upper for it.  You can use it as an SMG or Pistol Caliber Carbine, Main Battle Rifle, or Hunting Rifle.  There is a Muzzle Loader upper for it.  I’ve even seen a Single Shot Shotgun option for it.  You can change the parts to change the Ergos to make the gun feel great for just about any shooter.  Right handed, left handed, Ambi, it doesn’t matter.  You can put a Silencer on it and make it quieter.  You can put a Loudener on it and make it louder.  (No, seriously, someone made that.)  You can use it for Home Defense, Plinking, Competition, Hunting, Law Enforcement, and Military Actions.

The AR-15 Rifle is the Greatest Gun in The History Of The World.

 

38 thoughts on “The Greatest Gun In The History Of The World”

  1. George, You know I look for the chance to argue. Somehow on this, I can’t With the diversity of ammo( both frangible etc… It works. All the time.(The only thing I cant do is fit it in a holster,) Other than that. You win.

  2. Wow. Didn’t see that coming. One time…a long time ago….there was this dude named Mad Ogre….or Kodiak…something like that…..who wrote THIS!: http://madogre.com/OldMadOgre/Interviews/Hate_the_AR15.htm . He was known far and wide, and there was a great gnashing of teeth at the Arf.com, and Bushhamster fanboyz flagellated themselves and sacrificed naked virgin chickens to Eugene Stoner to make the Bad Man go away…..and then…he was assimilated into the collective. 🙁

    1. I saw the Mad Ogre regularly back in his AR-15/M-16 hate period. He was my boss then and in the SF tradition, he looked out for his team. His hate of the AR was genuine. Maybe his public obituary may include “the veteran who wrote controversial I hate the AR-15” post. It went viral, before that meaning was even coined. Though technology has improved the platform and also craftsmen such as Gundoc at Crusader. Gutsy call George.

  3. Well, I hesitate to argue on this one. I remember I kind of started getting my mind change when I read a book about a SAS team that went behind the lines in the first Iraq war. The had their choice of weapons and they settled on the M-16. It was light, you could disengage the safety without making a lot of noise, and you could mount a grenade launcher on it. These day even the Chi Com make a copy of it. Then while it is hard to believe these days, there is the price. It is much more convenient to mount stuff on an AR-15 (a little to convenient, See: cup holder syndrome)
    Then there is the accuracy issue. The damn things are capable of surprising accuracy. They have even got the piston version doing well. Then there was that guy with the wimpy lightweight Yankee Hill carbine. 5 shots at a hundred yards and three of them were touching. Off of a bench but still….

  4. Having been turned into an M-16A1 fan in the 1970s by the US Army. Learned the biggest M-16 problem was troops exceeding their level of maintenance. Having seen run of the military rifles turn in zero groups of ONE HOLE. I can only say, I’ll still go with the Mauser Bolt Action. Geoff Who is saving his diet change money for an AR, because I already have a bolt gun in .308.

  5. Depends on the era you’re considering.

    Late Middle Ages? The early guns.

    1600-1700’s Muskets of any flavor of English or French design. Favoring more towards the Brown Bess.

    Late 1700-early 1800’s The rifled musket.

    1860’s-1870’s The preloaded cartridge designed long arms or the converted percussion cap rifled muskets. Or the early Gatling guns.

    1890’s-1914 Nitrocelluose smokelss powder bolt action rifles. (I have a choice in either the British SMLE, The German Mauser 98’s or the US M-1903 Springfield).

    1920-1936: The design and final acceptance of the M-1 “garand” as the first gas operated clip fed infantryman’s rifle issued to all the infantrymen of a country.

    1943-1954 The design and development of assault rifles or submachine guns.

    I’ll stop there, enough ammunition for a hanging party.

    RHB

    1. We are considering All Eras, and all guns. Within the limitations of Small Arms of course. Because there is a good argument for the Navy’s 16 Inch Guns.
      And we are only considering the individual gun’s own merits.

  6. I tried to think of another gun or rifle and it’s hard to argue your position. I guess if we leave the shores of the USA, the AK-47 is that greatest rifle of all time. Not for your criteria you list mind you, but rather for sheer dominance and effect on the shifting political landscape of the world.

    1. It’s certainly a significant gun. But like Yoda said, “Wars do not make one great.” That’s like saying an iPhone is great because so many people use it, when in fact, we all know iPhones suck and their owners are programmed by Apple to defend it or the phone will stop working.

  7. Amazing the number of service men who died because their m-16 jammed n would not fire
    When I was in nam in the marines. I had an m-14.
    When ever we hooked up with another outfit ,in the bush,, there was always someone trying to trade me. They suck.

  8. Okay, I bow to your wisdom. Much better definition of the question, and I can’t argue with your logic. I think you are speaking of the AR as a platform, rather than the original AR-15?

    1. You can take that AR-15, which ever one you bought… and pretty much use it for anything. And if it’s unsuitable, you can easily change it and then change it back.

  9. Y’all are dancing around the obvious. The greatest gun in history was the FIRST one. All others followed.

    1. The first one… Yeah, I think you missed the whole point of the discussion, brother.

  10. Would throw a negative on the AR platform . The cost of all of the different uppers and being able to haul all of them around with ammo. From a cost effectivness and portability standpoint would respectfully suggest consider the humble Ruger 10/22. It can be accesorised with many options including lazer sites, is ultra controlable, cost is much less than any AR platform. With an extended mag and 4x scope anything within 100 yards would be toast even if it needs more than one shot to neutralize. In low light , 22lr would also have very low muzzle flash.

    1. Yeah, I thought about the 10/22 as well but when I go out to plink recently, I’m not shooting 22LR. Who knows when that stuff will be available at a half decent price anymore!

  11. A lot of comments are from the early M-16 deployments, where I can argue the US Army deliberately killed our soldiers to defend a religious belief in the M-1 rifle and the .30-06 round.

    Unfortunately the US Army was allergic to operational testing despite winning WWII. Now I’m told it’s the other way around, they test like crazy and never deploy looking for magic perfection.

    The flexibility of the AR system is a grabber, despite the “pistol” abominations. The self-loading system brings its own problems and limits, but you can put enough gunk into anything and eventually stop it. Check out serial rifle abuser Patrick Sweeney and his books, it’s tough to stop an AR now days.

    OK George, I surrender. Fact, I am not looking for a new Mauser, I’m looking for an AR. SWaMPy 15 OR is still the front runner. http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_750051_764994_-1_787653_757785_757784_ProductDisplayErrorView_Y

    Geoff
    Who can be convinced.

    1. I’ve retailed the M&P15OR for as low as 599. You want to know the best price on that now, call Basin Sports in Vernal. That will give you the litmus of what it can be had for.

  12. What caused the M16 failures in the early days of the SEA conflict was mostly a change in the ammo not the rifle. Ammo makers without telling the army apparently changed from a stick to a ball powder (cheaper to load and handle) that burned less well leaving huge amounts of fouling in the damp air that caused almost immediate (2 -5 mags) rapid fire jambs. compounding the problem was the Armelite propaganda that said the guns did not need to be cleaned, in fact the Army did not even ship cleaning kits into the combat zone until after the Congress got involved. In that the Army is guilty because they tried to cover their ass’s over the problems rather then address them head on. Once these problems were addressed (like the forward assist) the problem largely went away.
    1974 SEA vet.

    That said, I really like my AR rifles, but if I was going to another planet and could only take ONE gun it would be an AK47, (folding stock of course). Where all the graph lines cross, maintenance; reliability, close range effectiveness etc. there stands the AK platform. Other than the boltie Mauser’s nothing else comes close…

  13. The single shot 22. With out it most people would never have learned to shoot anything else in the modern world.

  14. It was not only ammo loaded with stick instead of ball powder it was ammo from some Canadian sources that had calcium compounds added to reduce flash, that unfortunately increased the gunk factor and was very moisture absorbing. One in country study found they were getting a lot of loads of shined up ammo that didn’t show the discoloration from neck annealing that is typical of military bottle necked brass. Sure enough it had been sourced from a commercial outfit and somehow they’d managed to skip the neck annealing, a lot of case separation resulted.
    Then there has been the whole short barrel problem messing up the timing. I find it interesting that the Marines with their 20 inch stiff barreled rifles have been having comparatively fewer problems over the last decade….at leas as far as I know. Apparently they’ve got the M4 problems sorted out with the new ammo. If you have an M4gery you can apparently tame it with heavy buffers, stronger recoil springs, and other tweaks.

  15. Most would agree that the greatest gun is the one in your hand with ammo when you need it.

  16. You’re not describing a single gun. You’re describing a Lego kit. And it’s too wide a category. I don’t think there *is* a “best gun” any more than there is a “best motorized individual transportation” in a category that includes everything from mopeds to full sized pickups.

    And there’s a lot of individual preferences involved too – it’s like “best pizza” or “best BBQ” or “most beautiful woman” – if you’re a thin-crust pizza kind of guy, even the best deep dish pizza in the world won’t cut it. I’ve seen flame wars erupt over NY vs Chicago pizza, or Carolina vs Memphis vs Texas BBQ. At this point, preference approaches religion for a lot of folks.

    I admit up front, I’m a bolt-action kind of guy. And I live in California where our political overlords are deathly terrified of both Evil Black Rifles and common sense, so I’ve not had the opportunity to play M16 customizer. I’ll willingly defer to your experience with ’em. Maybe it’s just my lack of experience with them, but although I might like to argue I could – possibly – accept “best rifle”, and wouldn’t be able to argue against “best modern semiautomatic rifle”, but “greatest gun” seems overly broad. Because is sure isn’t “best combat handgun” or “best shotgun”.

  17. I was serious. Name another rifle that is more versatile than the M2 .50 cal machine gun? It’s a crew served weapon. It’s mounted on trucks. It’s mounted on planes. It’s even been used as a sniper rifle. It defeats engine blocks. It’s chops down trees. It turns bullets into dollar signs faster than just about any other platform. It can do everything and does it better than anything else.

    1. The AR-15 evolved. While still complicated with many small parts, most AR’s now run very well if not extremely well. I don’t think the AK-47 has any reliability advantage over the AR anymore.

  18. I just wish my Bushy worked better. Shoots good no problem. Bolt locked back change mag, problem. Bolt just dont wanna go home.Lancer and Bushy mags, Upgraded wolf action spring, H2 buffer, slipstream oil and grease. advised by trainer not to slap mags into mag well like a pistol. If anybody has an idea let me know.

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