Most people are familiar with machine guns from their appearances in war films and video games. Automatic firearms and weapons systems have been an integral part of modern warfare since rapid-fire weapons appeared on battlefields in the 1800s.
By the early 1900s, the machine gun had become one of the most terrifying weapons that a single soldier or a small team could deploy, often defensively, against an enemy. Some variants of fastest-firing guns ever made debuted in World War II are still in used today, most prominently the German MG3 of 1959 and its predecessor, the MG42, which originated in Nazi Germany.
Designers and manufacturers in the United States and Germany dominate the list of the fastest-firing guns ever produced for combat. The popularity of these guns has resulted in different variants produced in several countries by different makers over the decades.
To identify the fastest firing guns in the world, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed information on maximum rate of fire (measured in rounds per minute) from Military Today, American Rifleman, and The Range 702, in addition to other online sources. Maximum effective firing range, cartridge, and original manufacturer for each gun were identified from a variety of sources.
The maximum firing rate of the fastest automatic weapons ranges from 1,200 rounds per minute by the MG3 to an astonishing one million (yes, million) rounds per minute from a prototype of the boxy, 36-barrel Metal Storm – a gun that’s arguably too fast and furious for any purpose except as a record-holder.
Maximum effective firing range for these guns starts at a weak 984 feet for the Metal Storm and extends as far as 6,561 – about one-and-a-quarter miles – feet for the fearsome MG42. Effective range is the range at which a bullet maintains its intended trajectory. This should not be confused with maximum firing range, which can be three times that distance or more, but with rapidly degrading accuracy beyond effective range. Maximum effective ranges listed here may only apply to certain variants of these guns, assisted by engineering tweaks or accessories like tripod mounts and optical sights.
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