World War II, the largest global conflict in human history, was fought over six long years during which military technology evolved and immediately put to use on the battlefield. Among the weapons used, the rifles wielded by infantry soldiers were perhaps some of the most prominent of the age.
To identify the rifles of World War II, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a catalog of rifles from Military Factory, an online database of arms, vehicles, and aircraft. We ordered the rifles based on when they entered service. We included supplemental information from Military Factory about the type of rifle, country of origin, manufacturer, action, range, as well as the caliber and feed.
One of the most famous rifles used in WWII was the M1 Garand, employed by the United States. It was highlighted by Gen. George S. Patton as “the greatest battle implement ever devised.” The rifle was semi-automatic with a capacity of eight rounds. It was renowned for its accuracy and rate of fire, providing the troops a significant advantage over most bolt-action adversary rifles. (Also see, the evolution of automatic rifles in the U.S. Army.)
The Mosin-Nagant, fielded by the Soviet Union, was a bolt-action rifle renowned for its reliable functionality in harsh environments. Its high muzzle velocity made it a valuable tool for the Russians on the Eastern Front, seeing service from urban warfare to the confines of snowy trenches.
One of Germany’s contributions to the rifles of WWII was the Karabiner 98k. This bolt-action weapon became known for its precision and later influenced subsequent rifle designs. The Kar98k served as the backbone of the German infantry, setting a benchmark for military rifles to come. (And here are the classic long range sniper rifles of World War II.)
These three rifles demonstrated technological advancements and the practical considerations of the differing nations at the time of WWII. The M1 Garand displayed a push towards semi-automatic, rapid-fire guns. The Mosin-Nagant showcased the emphasis on durability and reliability in extreme conditions, while the Karabiner 98k represented the ongoing pursuit of engineering precision, a hallmark of German design.
These arms would go on to influence the development of firearms for decades to come.
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