Special Report

The 9 Fastest Firing Machine Guns in the World

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

9. MG3
> Maximum rate of fire: 1,100-1,200 rpm
> Maximum effective firing range: 3,937 ft.
> Cartridge: 7.62×51mm NATO cartridge
> Original manufacturer: Rheinmetall

The Rheinmetall MG3 general purpose machine gun was derived from another gun on this list, the MG42 – one of the most feared weapons used by the Axis that could be fired by a single soldier. The MG3 is lighter than the MG42. It also has a slower maximum rate of fire, considered an improvement because it uses less ammunition, reducing instances of overheating. The MG3 gun and its many variants and derivatives are still used today. They’ve been manufactured under license by numerous companies or governments including Italy’s Beretta, Mexico’s Ministry of National Defense, and MKEK of Turkey.

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8. M1919
> Maximum rate of fire: 1,500 rpm
> Maximum effective firing range: 4,593 ft.
> Cartridge: .30-06 Springfield rounds
> Original manufacturers: Buffalo Arms Corporation, Rock Island Arsenal, Saginaw Steering Gear

The M1919 Browning was America’s answer to Germany’s MG42 during World War II. Versatile and highly reliable, the M1919 could chamber 10 different cartridges and could be mounted on tanks and aircraft. It had a tendency, however, to overheat more frequently than its Nazi equivalent. The typical rate of fire for the M1919 series is up to 600 rpms, but the AN/M2 variant can spit out up to 1,500 rpms.

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7. MG42
> Maximum rate of fire: 1,000-1,800 rpm
> Maximum effective firing range: 6,561 ft.
> Cartridge: 7.92×57mm
> Original manufacturer: Großfuß AG

Used by the Axis during World War II, the MG42 was nicknamed “Hitler’s Buzzsaw” by U.S. troops. Facing one was a frightening experience for a battle-hardened Allied solider ordered to take out a Nazi machine gun nest. Because of its higher firing rate, the MG42 also overheats sooner than its successor, the MG3, which came out in 1959. The MG42 still fulfills a need in the general-purpose machine gun class.

6. MG45
> Maximum rate of fire: 1,350-1,800 rpm
> Maximum effective firing range: 2,401 ft.
> Cartridge: 7.92×57 mm
> Original manufacturer: Großfuß AG

The MG45 resulted from an attempt to reduce the cost of production of the MG42. Engineering tweaks allow the MG45 a faster maximum maximum rate of fire, but a significantly shorter effective firing range. However, time ran out for the Nazis before they could mass produce and deploy the weapon, and, in any case, overheating, ammo consumption, and punishing recoil were factors that tampered the gun’s effectiveness compared to that of the other German general purpose machine guns on this list that are still used today.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

5. Heckler & Koch G11
> Maximum rate of fire: 2,100 rpm
> Maximum effective firing range: 1,312 ft.
> Cartridge: 4.73X33mm caseless
> Original manufacturer: Heckler & Koch

This oddball Cold War-era German machine gun looks more like a “Star Trek” prop than something that would be used by troops patrolling the perimeter of the Berlin Wall. But this was no plastic prop. It fired a unique type of lightweight caseless ammo at a rate of 33 bullets per second. The gun also had an internal buffering system that would absorb a lot of recoil instead of passing it to the operator. Despite these qualities, the G11 was a complicated, over-engineered gun requiring a special armorer to completely disassemble. The bullet chamber also had to be replaced frequently. Defense cuts during German reunification in 1989 put an end to the G11 project.

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