Special Report

These 9 Foreign-Made Firearms Are Used Every Day by the US Military

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

The United States is one of the biggest and best arms manufacturers in the world. U.S. defense spending outranks many other countries by orders of magnitude. U.S. military spending in 2023 was roughly $750 billion compared to military spending of the next country in line, China, which was about $237 billion. And though a large portion of it goes to U.S. arms makers, some also goes to purchase arms from foreign companies. (This is the country the US Government sells the most weapons to.)

While the United States. excels at building aircraft, drones, tanks, and naval vessels, there are some weapons designed by other nations that find their way into our ranks. Quite a few of these are small arms used by infantry units across multiple U.S. military branches.

It is worth noting that legally speaking, the U.S. government must prefer domestically-produced small arms, among other things, under the Buy American Act of 1933 for its military procurement. So while some of these arms may come under the guise of a foreign flag, they are usually produced right here in the U.S. 

To determine the small arms used by the U.S. military that are not made by U.S.-based companies, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a range of sources, including military handbooks, government press releases, and firearms publications pertaining to small arms and light weapons currently used by different U.S. military branches. Data on the type of weapon, caliber, maximum range, and year it entered service, came from Military Factory, an online database of military vehicles, aircraft, arms, and more. The weapons are listed in alphabetical order.

Most of the weapons originating from these foreign countries are from central Europe and they range from shotguns, rocket launchers, battle rifles, and submachine guns. The dates that these weapons entered service vary greatly as well, ranging from the end of World War II to within the last decade. (These are the fastest firing machine guns in the world.)

Here is a look at the US Military’s small arms that are made by foreign countries:

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Benelli M4 Super 90 (M1014 JSCS)
> Country of origin: Italy
> Type: Semiautomatic combat shotgun
> Caliber: 12 gauge
> Maximum range: 164 ft
> Military branches used: Army, Marine Corps
> Year entered service: 1999

Benelli rose to popularity in the wake of World War II, selling semiautomatic shotguns across the Americas, Europe, and Asia. The most recent iterations of the Benelli M4 employ the same operation used in the company’s Ri semiautomatic rifle, which requires fewer operational parts and is known for its self-cleaning attributes. It is also popular with civilians. According to the NRA’s American Hunter, based on GunBroker.com sales for 2019, the M4 is in the top five best-selling semiautomatic shotguns.


Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Brugger & Thomet APC9 (series)
> Country of origin: Switzerland
> Type: Modular personal defense weapon
> Caliber: 9 mm
> Maximum range: 330 ft
> Military branches used: Army, Air Force
> Year entered service: 2011

The Brugger & Thomet APC9 is a series of submachine guns, also referred to as Sub Compact Weapons, typically used for protective security details. These guns come with retractable stocks and various customizable optics, depending on the intended use. It is yet to be seen how the Army plans to use the highly modular nature of this submachine gun going forward.

Carl-Gustav M3 (M1948)
> Country of origin: Sweden
> Type: Multirole, shoulder-fired recoilless rifle
> Caliber: 84mm
> Maximum range: 6,000 ft
> Military branches used: Army, SOCOM, Marine Corps
> Year entered service: 1948

The Carl-Gustav M3 is a Multi-purpose Anti-armor Anti-personnel Weapon System designed to hit lightly armored targets. The M3 requires a crew of two, one to carry and fire the weapon and another to carry the ammunition and load the weapon. The current MAAWS electronics allow for integration with future MAAWS smart ammunition.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Heckler & Koch HK 416
> Country of origin: Germany
> Type: Assault rifle / tactical carbine weapon
> Caliber: 5.56×45 mm
> Maximum range: 985 ft
> Military branches used: Marine Corps, Army Delta Force, Naval Special Warfare Development Group (SEAL Team 6)
> Year entered service: 2005

The HK 416 is one of the world’s most popular infantry weapons of the latest generation. The original controls of the HK416 are practically identical to the M4 rifles that it was originally based on. There are numerous variants of this type of weapon, and they tend to differentiate by which country or agency is adopting the HK16, whether it is special forces or basic infantry.


Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Heckler & Koch HK 417
> Country of origin: Germany
> Type: Battle rifle / designated marksman rifle
> Caliber: 7.62x51mm
> Maximum range: 2625 ft
> Military branches used: Joint Special Operations Command, Army, and Navy
> Year entered service: 2006

The HK417 is practically the same rifle as the HK416, although it is being chambered in a larger caliber version. The heavier-caliber round is a huge differentiating factor because it turns cover into concealment, and reaches out even farther. A 40mm grenade launcher can be mounted beneath the rail system.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Heckler & Koch HK MP5
> Country of origin: Germany
> Type: Submachine gun / machine pistol
> Caliber: 9 mm
> Maximum range: 660 ft
> Military branches used: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, USSOCOM
> Year entered service: 1966

The HK MP5 has seen action all across the world over the last half century, from Iran to Somalia and even Panama. The MP5 can switch between semiautomatic and automatic firing modes, which is capable of providing either greater accuracy or rate of fire, depending on the situation. It is primarily used for counterterrorism, close quarters combat, hostage rescue, and personal protection operations.


Heckler & Koch HK MP7
> Country of origin: Germany
> Type: Submachine gun / machine pistol
> Caliber: 4.6×30mm HK
> Maximum range: 656 ft
> Military branches used: Army, Navy, Coast Guard
> Year entered service: 2001

The HK MP7 works similar to a submachine gun but occupies a firearm category known as personal defense weapons. This gun offers more range, power, and control than a pistol but is lighter and handier than a traditional rifle or carbine. The HK MP7 is highly modular in nature as well, with the option to add optics, suppressors, and laser aiming units.

IMI M141 Bunker Defeat Munition (BDM) / SMAW-D
> Country of origin: Israel
> Type: Shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapon
> Caliber: 83.5mm
> Maximum range: 1,640 ft
> Military branches used: Army, Marine Corps
> Year entered service: 1984

The M141 Bunker Defeat Munition is a single-shot rocket launcher that is designed to defeat bunkers, breach urban structures, and destroy lightly armored vehicles. The weapon is capable of using a variety of different ammunition types, which makes it a flexible system against various targets. It also works day or night in finding targets thanks to a thermal imaging system and a laser range finder.

Source: Sig Sauer

Sig Sauer P320
> Country of origin: Switzerland
> Type: Semiautomatic pistol
> Caliber: 9 mm, .357 SIG, and .40 S&W
> Maximum range: 165 ft
> Military branches used: All branches
> Year entered service: 2014

The Sig Sauer P320 model is considered highly modular and adaptive because it has options for various interchangeable grips and or multiple sizes and calibers. Sig Sauer beat out both Glock and Beretta USA for the 2015 Modular Handgun System contract with the U.S. Army. The P320 replaces the Cold-War era M9 9mm pistol with better ergonomics and more modular features.

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