Top 5 Rifles That Changed The World

Some firearms have had such a great impact on global events that their very silhouette is synonymous with global events. This is a list of 5 truly revolutionary firearms that have helped shape the world as we know it today.

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Firearms featured:
1886 Lebel
Gewehr 98 “Mauser”
M1 Garand

Full transcript …

Hey guys it’s Alex C. with TFBTV.

Small arms have long been a very tangible symbol of not only an individual soldier’s might, but also have often symbolized the strength of an entire nation. Thus, the great nations and empires of the world have constantly tried to improve the humble infantry rifle, and it is easy to point to a few instances when a small arm has truly changed the world. It was quite hard to choose only five, but lets have a look.

First up is the French model 1886 “Lebel” rifle. While not much to look at, this gun literally overnight made every other rifle in the world obsolete for one reason: the new cartridges relied on an invention that doubles effective range and greatly increased velocity… smokeless powder. This shift is so radical that it plunged the world into an arms race to catch up to the French who now had the greatest rifle the world had ever seen.

The lebel’s cartridge was rimmed and used an 8mm spritzer projectile. The rounds were held in a channel under the barrel, and you may think that storing pointy bullets in line with one another would lead to problems, but he crafty French found a solution; the area around the primer pocket had a recess that allowed the bullet tip of the trailing round to rest perfectly without impacting the primer.

Loading the lebel is similar to a modern shotgun. Rounds are individually clicked in and retained by a small tab. This is a somewhat tedious process and I can imagine under stress it would be extremely difficult. To chamber a round you do need to pull the bolt back with some force to trip the cartridge elevator up.

The shock factor in 1886 would be akin to a rival nation today releasing a viable laser blaster. Thus, the Lebel earned a spot on this list for its incredibly innovative cartridge that sent the world into a frenzy trying to catch up.

Next up is a rifle that is often regarded as perfect. The significance of this rifle almost cannot be overstated, and I often have a hard time trying to convey its importance: This is the Mauser 98, which is possibly the most important rifle the world has ever seen. More soldiers have entered into battle with a Mauser than any other shoulder arm ever invented.

To quote Ian Hogg , “The Mauser 98) was Mauser’s masterpiece. Every little improvement that Mauser could ever think of, all sorts of little tiny details were added together and they formed what you may call the ultimate bolt action system, and even today companies are still making rifles with that bolt action.”

It is possible that over 100 million were made, and if you count derivatives that number is much, much higher.

The 98 was safe, stout, reliable, powerful, and universal.

Its use of stripper clips, Paul Mauser’s invention dating back to the 1880s allows for rapid reloading. The action also facilitates quick and smooth operation.

There are many variants of the 98, and perhaps the most famous is the Karabiner 98 kurz (or K98k) employed by Nazi Germany. The k98k is simply a Mauser 98 carbine with a few minor differences. It is worth noting hower that not all Mausers are K98s (I say this because anytime I allude to a Mauser people always say K98 for some reason, even if the rifle is not a carbine).

The Mauser 98s legacy is easy to spot. Nearly every bolt action rifle in production today uses the 98 system in some way or another (and of course Mauser is still making 98s in safari calibers). This Kimber 8400 is essentially a 98, with the claw extractor and three position safety.

I could talk about the Mauser and its influence for a very long time, and I wish I could because it seems that my generation has never understood that it was the most important long arm in the world for 50 years, but I think this brief aside may suffice.

Next up is a true American classic that proved entire armies could be armed effectively with semi-automatic firepower: The M1 “Garand” rifle.

The Garand was not even close to being the first semi-automatic rifle employed in military service, but it does have the distinction of being the first to serve as a nations main battle rifle. Before the Garand, semi autos filled specialty roles or were too costly to produce: the Garand not only broke high-cost barrier, but showed that an individual soldier could make effective use of semi-automatic firepower.

It functions with a relatively simple rotating bolt actuated by a cam track on the rifles operating rod. The sights are excellent, and loading is achieved by tossing in a clip containing 8 rounds of ammunition. This rifle is of course famous for the harmonious ping of the ejecting clip.

“music playing”

Alright, that’s enough of that, but check out our “Musical Garands” video to see more.

So the M1 earned a spot on this list for ushering in the era of the military repeating rifle and even forcing other nations to play catch up. The M1 also became the symbol of a generation of Americans who soldiered on in World War II and into Korea, and that earns it a spot on the list.

Next up is a rifle that has to be included: The Avtomat Kalashnikova model of 1947… or the AK47.

The rifle you are looking at is more akin to an AKM, but that’s all semantics. The venerable AK, like the Mauser before it has become has arguably become universal and synonymous with fighting men the world over.

The AK is held in very high regard by many people, but its simplicity is what makes it so amazing.

The AK borrows heavily from other firearms: browning designs such as the model 8, Garand’s rotating bolt, and some say heavily from the STG44. I personally do not believe it to be coincidence that the designer of the Sturmgewehr was scooped up by the Russians and forced to work for them after the war, and that the final product is so similar in form to it. Regardless, the AK has earned in incredible place in history.

It is easy to maintain, easy to produce, cheap, well-sealed, and offers a lot of firepower in a compact package.

If you grew up in the latter half of the 20th century, odds are you saw an AK every time you turned on the news… and you still do. The longevity of the design makes it deserving of a place on this list, and right alongside it is its little brother, the AK74.

The 74s main difference is that it fires a smaller cartridge, the 5.45×39 that produces much less recoil and is very easy to control on full auto.

Proliferation and the aforementioned factors earn the AK a very significant and well-deserved place on this list.

Lastly we have a rifle that just doesn’t seem to age: The American M16. The M16 is an outgrowth of the ar10 and employs a number of borrowed features from other rifles that come together very well, just like Kalashnikov’s AK, most notably the bolt from the M1941 Johnson rifle and the in-line stock and raised sights of the German FG42.

Armalite, as a division of an aerospace company had access to very advanced materials not available to other designers like Kalashnikov. As a result, liberal uses of aluminum and polymers resulted in an impressively light design that became a symbol for American soldiers, like the Garand before it.

The greatest legacy of the M16 is one that perhaps Stoner, the designer himself did not realize: the incredibly modularity that ensures the design just will not go away.

Like the Chevy small block, little tweaks and changes just keep ensuring that the rifle stays relevant and a serious competitor to more modern platforms. In fact, small arms designers are struggling to create a rifle as light as an M16 derived gun, and continuously fail to do so.

As a result, nations once bound to other platforms are switching over to some form of M16 rifle.

On the civilian side, the AR15 is unquestionably the best selling rifle in the United States, and it will almost certainly stay this way until a giant technological leap is made to match its modularity, affordability, and universality. I personally do not see this happening for a long time.


Thank you very much for watching this episode of TFBTV. Is there a gun you think should have been included? If so state it in the comments and I would love to hear your suggestions!

Big thanks to Grizzly Target and Ventura Munitions for making this program possible. Also, if you like what you saw hit that subscribe button, it really does help us out. Thanks guys!

Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


  • Trey

    All good choices. I would say of the “smokeless” world they are a very good collection that changed the world.

    If I was to widen the scope the following would be the on my list of the “pre-smokeless” world

    The Baker rifle – First British standard military rifle. Problaby the first “Army Rifle” that was in used in good numbers by any one.

    The Spring-Field / Enfiled Rifles – As the first rifles to be standard infantry weapons in a large scale war using the Minie ball that made the Rifled Muzzle Loader a much more effective weapon from the earlier RML’s

    Dries Needle gun – First truly reliable breach loading system

    Spencer Rifle – First mass produced and used Military Repeating metallic cartridge rifle

    Fusil Gras Modèle 1874 First Bolt Action Center Fire Military rifle.

    And if push came to shove .. the Martini Henry would be easy so slip in to the list.

    • I chose to stick to the smokeless powder era on this one (I noted this in the youtube description but I guess not here). This is in part because I do not have many black powder firearms, and additionally I don’t feel qualified enough to select the five best.

      • Trey

        As you I am far more familiar with Smokeless my oldest begin from a 1895 (Carcano and Mosin)

        You are correct the Berdan II was in Russia in 1870 and the Mauser 1871 of course.. my error. Although I think all 3 were single shots.

        By the way really like TFB.

      • ostiariusalpha

        My “Top Five” list of pre-smokeless longarm game changers are:

        1. The matchlock developed from the early to mid-15th century.
        2. Marin le Bourgeoys’ flintlock of 1610.
        3. Claude-Étienne Minié’s rifle of 1849.
        4. The Model 1862 of the Dreyse needle gun (much superior to the original 1841 Dreyse).
        5. The Spencer repeating rifle of 1860.

        Lot’s of other technological improvements came along in firearms, but these were the guns that you really truly wanted to be on the side of the early adopters when they showed up.

      • GearHeadTony

        Okay, that should have been stated from the outset. I saw this and was like, “WTF!, 8mm Lebel but no mini ball?!? Garand instead of Kentucky Long Rifle?!? Smokeless only, I get it now… wait, WTF, where’s the right arm of the free world?!? See you can’t win.

    • Bal256

      I think overall for rifles that “changed the world” having mostly 20th century weapons is appropriate. Few of the imperial era rifles were widely adopted outside of specific nations and their allies, to the extent that later designs like the mauser were.

      Take a map of the world and throw a dart. There’s a significant chance that you’ll hit a country that has adopted a mauser at some point in time. I shouldn’t even have to mention the AK. It’s not like the British went up against Chinese divisions armed with spencers, needle guns, or enfields during the opium wars.

      • Trey

        That mauser could not defend its patents after WWI might also have helped spread 98 style actions around the world. and that war reparations were in part paid in mausers! and mauser tool and die.
        Enfield and earlier martini-henry rifles were pretty world wide… as the saying went the sun did not set on the British empire .

  • Joshua

    Next up is a true American classic that proved entire armies could
    be armed effectively with semi-automatic firepower: The M1 “Garand”

    designed in Canada

    • Kelly Jackson

      Garand was born in Canada but he developed the rifle while working at the US Army’s Springfield Armory.

    • I can assure you it was not designed in Canada.

      • Joshua

        maybe not but it was designed by a Canadian

        • A Canadian-American, yes.

          • Joshua

            well at that time you people weren’t all up tight about “Illegal immigrants” “Terrorists” and “National security”
            anyone who spent time in the states was an “Canadian-American”
            now I don’t even know why you people would want to call yourselves Americans

          • Joshua

            besides, have you listened to his accent? it was full French Canadian right to the end

          • ostiariusalpha

            Yes, I’m sure he was grateful that his qualification for U.S. citizenship wasn’t decided by his accent. It certainly didn’t seem to hold him back when he gave the Oath of Allegiance and received his Certificate of Citizenship.

          • Bill

            You know, I’ve been to Canada multiple times, count numerous Canadians as friends, hosted them as guests here in the States, have considered retiring to Quebec, and now I know that there are nutball Canadians just like there are nutball Americans. And I’ll probably keep my accent.

          • Oldtrader3

            I am American and my Half brother is Canadian. I have lived in the US most of my life but I also lived in Toronto and Montreal for several years when I was younger. I now live about 1/2 mile from the BC border. This conversation is a waste of time between friends?

          • How very true. Of course he should know one of our writers is Canadian.

          • Oldtrader3

            What is your problem? Canadian, American so what? Chill Dude!

          • Ok fine whatever drop it—–

          • Sgt. Stedenko

            Somebody is all hopped up on maple syrup and poutine.

          • You should like, chill dude. It’s ok to be wrong and bow out.

          • Joshua

            okay, this is why American’s annoy me, John C. Garand was born just outside of Montreal Qc Canada, he was Canadian, you poached him to work on rifle programs, like you poached just about everyone else merit, and now won’t even admit that your country did it, instead I have to be wrong because America is so goshed darned awesome! and is without fault!

          • As a nation of immigrants, once you become naturalized here you become American. Hence, J. C. Garand was an American, and my Grandma (although an Indian born Swede) is now also an American.

          • Joshua

            whom you poached from Canada to design a Light Machine Gun for you in 1917

            also, since your an expert on immigration law, when was he Naturalized? because no one else seems to know

            the fact that he was born in Canada never receives any mention in US literature, similar to how everything else Canada has ever done, designed, or produced, is either claimed by the the US, ignored by them, attributed to the British, or downplayed to be made look to be pointless

          • If I was an expert on immigration law, why would I known when a certain individual was naturalized? Lol.
            But the Canadian inferiority complex does make is laugh when it manifests itself.

          • ostiariusalpha

            It was in 1920.

          • Joshua

            just like the American superiority complex makes us look at you like your douchebags

            Ad Hominem works both ways,

            He was Canadian-American, at the very least, he had Canadian citizenship, and was not “all-American” like you American’s make him out to be

          • Superiority complex? Dude, I aint the one all butthurt spewing drivel in the comments. Lol.

          • Joshua

            I don’t know what your butt is like, mines fine thank you. I admit I have been more incendiary than I should be.
            but then, from my perspective, you are the quintessential American, who can’t admit that your country doesn’t exist in a vacuum and that other people are working on the problems too

          • Wolfgar

            ROTFLMAO 🙂

          • Drop it–what difference does it make when talking about the merits of the rifle.

          • I hereby declare all Canadian innovations null and void, and assign them to the British, French, and First Nations, respectively. Anytime a Canadian talks about something invented in their borders, anyone present is hereafter obligated to have a long squawk about how the Canadians stole it from one or more of those three groups.

            Since that’s the ball game we’re playing.

            As a happy side effect, hopefully this will inflame arguing about the Avro Arrow enough to make it an extreme sport.

          • Joshua

            well screw me and the horse I rode in on then
            clearly you are done talking so I won’t continue either.

          • I was hoping the Avro Arrow joke would break the ice, actually. 🙂

          • On this subject that would be a good idea. It’s well off topic.

          • Don Ward

            Do Newfies count?

          • JeepsGunsTanks

            No, they left Canada willingly, because Canada sucked back then, all sheep shaggers and x frenchys, er I mean wasn’t as awesome as the US of A, back then or now. Sorry about the inferiority complex, but is it really a complex if its true?

          • Rock or Something

            Most of my family on my father’s side is Canadian, but I do like to give them a good ribbing when I visit.

          • Trey

            when did Canada leave her majesties realm again ?
            I am most fond of my Long Branch no4 and would love to have a Inglis High Power but to be honest Canada is and has not been a leader in arms development.

          • I really want to know the story of how US Ordnance “poached” John Garand when he was eleven years old.

            I mean, I agree that he’s one of the finest small arms designers who ever lived, but hot damn.

          • #kony1899

          • FWIW: Garand moved to the US in 1899.

          • iksnilol

            But when did he get his US citizenship?

          • It is my understanding that he became a US citizen in 1920.

          • iksnilol

            And if he designed the rifle bearing his name before 1920 then we should say a Canadian designed it.

            No dog in this fight by the way. It isn’t a rifle that interests me.

          • Trey

            so the usa dragged him across border into save labor at an arsenal ?

          • G.K.

            Hey, why are you busy making yourself look like a clueless idiot again, shouldn’t you be actually reading the Geneva and Hague conventions and studying for your third grade physics exams which you clearly hadn’t done the last time we spoke?

          • I do—–

          • Rock or Something

            Does the axe you are grinding even have an edge anymore?

        • BobDole_is_my_waifu

          Québec ne canadienne

  • Magnus

    I may not know all the facts, but personally I would replace the M1 on the list with Colt’s revolvers. All previous weapons around the 1800s were extremely slow at reloading, but when the six-round barrel was invented, Colt stopped all their previous productions and changed them into the famous revolver’s pre-loaded system.

    • Trey

      Do you mean the Colt revolving rifle ?

    • This was a list of rifles.

  • Vitsaus

    Don’t forget the MP40/Sten which revolutionized the materials of manufacture and how firearms were mass produced.

    • Esh325

      They would be classified as sub machine guns rather than rifles I think the STG44 started the trend to rifle recievers made out of stamped sheet metal where previous to that it was only light machine guns and smgs. .

    • Not rifles.

  • Wolfgar

    Another excellent post. The in line magazine of the 1886 Label rifle and their case rib solution to premature discharges was new to me. This is why I have enjoyed your video’s and post’s. I would have put the STG44 instead of the AK since it forced the Russians to design their own assault rifle. Like the Label rifle it came first and made the other nations play catch up. The impact of the AK on the world is understandable why you place it in the top 5. Just my opinion. Great video!

    • G.K.

      Other then the fact the STG-44 didn’t “come first” and that it didn’t force the Russians to design their own assault rifle (It didn’t even have a great impact in the war, let alone ignoring the war was already decisively in the Soviets/Allies favor by the time it was even fielded) …..yeah, sure.

      • Esh325

        I would say the” STG44″ forced everybody to make their own Assault Rifle. While it didn’t have much impact on the war, it had a huge impact on rifle development after the war.

        • The West said it was a crude weapon that reflected the growing deperation of Germany’s situation. Remember that the West went with 7.62×51 for decades before they made the switch to poodle shooters.

          • Esh325

            The USA was really the only country who held such opinions. After WW2 a lot of countries developed test rifles in 7.92×33 kurtz or made their own intermediate cartridges, but any further development of that came to a halt because of the USA’s insistence on the 7.62×51.

          • Trey

            And now we are re-issuing m-14’s because the short range “assault” rifle does not have the reach needed in open field warfare.

            There is no perfect cartridge or rifle they are all compromises at the moment we are selecting very short range Carbine because we assume that each squad will be in contact with higher echelon for support, which is mostly true.

            The present idea is to specialize weapon and tactic. In this model having a great all purpose rifle tends to not be of major importance.

          • Esh325

            The 7.62×51 still has its purpose like sniping and machine gun use, but for an infantry rifle the M14 and it’s cartridge are outdated/unsuitable for role. Maybe with ammo improvements or other weapons might replace the 7.62×51.

          • Trey

            Exactly what makes the 7.62×51 unsuitable for infantry use ?

          • Wolfgar

            Yes the US said it was a crude, cheaply made weapon born of desperation and they also said the MG-42’s bark was worse than its bite LOL. The US also determined the AK-47 was inaccurate and less effective than the M-14 at the begging of the Vietnam war. It took a real shooting war for the US to become a believer in the advantages of the assault rifle concept.

          • Rock or Something

            To be fair, the U.S. Army has a long history of fielding small arms that were inferior or barely on par to their opponents. This was due to a variety of reasons, one being that the U.S. military generally had the luxury of combined arms to support the infantry. M1 Garand was probable our biggest leap forward over our contemporaries in the area of small arms technology and large scale production, so no wonder the U.S. military rested on that laurel almost all the way up to the Vietnam War.

      • Wolfgar

        The same could be said for the ME-262 jet fighter used by the Germans. The ME-262 didn’t have a great impact on the war but was recognized as a great advancement in fighter aircraft and the resulting scramble for German jet designers and technology after the war by both the Russians and Americans. The advantage and superiority of the STG-44 over standard rifles and SMG’s of that time was not loss on the Russians. It was the first mass produced assault rifle and proven advancement in military small arms which wasn’t lost on the Russians unlike the Americans who missed the boat until they had to face the AK-47 in Vietnam. The STG-44’s layout is obviously copied in both the M-16, AK-47 and every new assault rifle since. This is not debatable in my opinion.

        • G.K.

          “The same could be said for the ME-262 jet fighter used by the “Germans. The ME-262 didn’t have a great impact on the war but was recognized as a great advancement in fighter aircraft and the resulting scramble for German jet designers and technology after the war by both the Russians and Americans.”

          Actually it was seen postwar as a primitive, poorly built aircraft (when your engine’s full service life can be measured in hours, this isn’t a sign of advanced quality) and basically all the allied nations had parallel fighter programs they were working on already anyway they used in lieu of trying to copy anything from the Me.262 (Even the Soviets gave up on it and resorted to begging to buy British made engines.) The only scientists that really proved useful were their rocket scientists, and the scramble to get said scientists was more to deny it from the other then a genuine desire to have them.

          “The advantage and superiority of the STG-44 over standard rifles and SMG’s of that time was not loss on the Russians. It was the first mass produced assault rifle and proven advancement in military small arms which wasn’t lost on the Russians”

          You know, the terrible irony of this statement is it actually was the Russians who made the first mass produced assault rifle (the Fedorov Avtomat) that saw service in WW1 before the revolution cancelled production and even in the Winter War. It wasn’t some genious idea no one had ever though of before to have an automatic rifle in between a full power rifle and a pistol/smg in power, several other prototypes existed and would’ve came to be if not for WW1 and WW2, Hell, even the Americans did infact “Get” this concept with the M1/M2 Carbine which was supposed to be select fire from the start, but wasn’t made until later to get them to the battlefield faster.

          “unlike the Americans who missed the boat until they had to face the AK-47 in Vietnam.”

          Yes, with that rifle that was in service by 1957 (and based on a “full power” design made earlier) based on studies prior that determined the average fighting range in WW2 for infantry was around 300m and that most squads ran into each other mostly by chance, and also determined who can lay down the most fire and had the most ammunition readily at hand would likely come out on top, clearly related to encountering the AK-47, I can see how the M16 would’ve never come to be without it being made.

          “The STG-44’s layout is obviously copied in both the M-16, AK-47 and every new assault rifle since. This is not debatable in my opinion.”

          How are they even remotely “copied”? the AR-15 doesn’t look a damn thing like the STG-44 and the AK-47 only in passing resemblance (while being significantly different internally) by the fact they have a magazine, or a pistol grip? perhaps even a trigger and a receiver? By that logic, the STG-44 copied the layout of the M1 carbine, or maybe the Fedorov Avtomat, or maybe the Thompson 1928A1, which also has all of these things.

          Who taught you your history on WW2 and Firearms? you should never take advice from them ever again for your own good.

          • Wolfgar

            . The Russian Fedorov was not mas produced or used in any quantity and had a standard rifle lay out of the time. The M-1 carbine used what is basically a pistol round, standard rifle lay out and was not select fire when first introduced. The layout of all modern assault rifles looks like neither the Fedorov or M-1 carbine. The Me262 was far superior than any of the allies jet’s at that time, swept wings and all that LOL. The poor engine life was attributed to the lack of heat resistant materials available to Germany at that time not flaws in engine design for that time period. The MIG 15 was designed with the help of German designers. The AK,, M-16 copied the pistol grip, shorter barrel,gas tube “piston, bolt carrier above the barrel placement and recoil spring layout. The Russians even tried to copy the stamp metal manufacturing. The M-16 copied the front sight and dust cover directly from the STG-44. Look at any modern assault rifle and any one can tell the STG-44 had enormous influence on the design. Every advancement is a combination of others designs and innovations. The T-34 tank is recognized as the best tank of WW2. The Russians were heavily dependent on the American Christie’s tank design when they built the T-34. The Germans copied many of the superior tank designs used in the T-34 for their Panther and King Tiger tanks.. Should all the credit go to the American designer Christie or the Russians? Forums such as this allows us to discuss and trade ideas and thoughts. For some it becomes a personal slight and insult if another has a different opinion. Thus the snide rebuttals when discussions occur. I understand your opinion , I just don’t agree.

          • G.K.

            “The Russian Fedorov was not mas produced or used in any quantity and had a standard rifle lay out of the time.”

            Really? I must have missed all those “standard” 1915 era rifles that used features such as a select fire switch, curved, 25 round detachable box magazines with a round intended to be lower powered then a 7.62x54mmR but stronger then a pistol round, a semi-pistol grip and vertical foregrip, and was used as individual infantry weapon while having all of this among others.

            Also, you mention things like the King Tiger (which had less then 500 ever built) as if it were mass produced, but a weapon with a production count of 3,200-3,500 with an original order of 9,000 on the first batch only cancelled by the revolution, and which saw combat in WW1 and the Winter War doesn’t count? Really now?

            How in the hell is it possibly a “Standard rifle layout” by 1915 standards? that it has wood and metal in it’s construction and a barrel?

            “The M-1 carbine used what is basically a pistol round,”

            Tell me what pistol rounds used in WW2 got 2,000 FPS with a 110 gr bullet for a muzzle energy over 1,300 J again? (which is actually rather close to some modern 5.56mm loads out of Carbine-SBR length barrels)

            You said the US didn’t “get” the concept of intermediate rounds, the fact they made a rifle specifically designed to be less powerful then a full size rifle like the M1 Garand but more powerful and with a longer range then a 1911A1 or Thomson shows that they actually did as a matter of fact. and there’s a reason the .30 Carbine is referred to as a “light rifle” round. Even if you argue it’s not a true AR, it goes widely against what you’re saying, and can even be argued as one of the forerunners of the first PDW.

            “standard rifle
            lay out and was not select fire when first introduced The layout of all
            modern assault rifles looks like neither the Fedorov or M-1 carbine” The original M1 carbines were select fire, it wasn’t an issue of it being made later, it was an issue of simply getting them fielded faster so not bothering adding the selectors in the meantime.

            And if you honestly think no modern assault rifle looks like the Fedorov in at least a pretty passimg similarity, you may want to get your eyes checked, and stop using the term “standard layout” so arbitrarily and frankly, with a massive amount of bias at that.

            “The Me262 was far superior than any of the allies jet’s at that time,
            swept wings and all that LOL. The poor engine life was attributed to the
            lack of heat resistant materials available to Germany at that time not
            flaws in engine design for that time period.”

            Yes, those swept wings that weren’t even angled enough to give it any advantage in flight, and even if they did it wouldn’t even matter as the ME-262 wasn’t even a Transsonic/Supersonic design. *The wings were “swept” because the engines were so massive they unbalanced the airframe and this was the only way to readjust the center of gravity to fix it, not exactly the hallmark of a good design.)

            As for the engine life not being the fault of poor design, I can give you a chance to retract that statement, or I can simply go into brutal detail, documents and all that say otherwise.

            “The MIG 15 was designed with the help of German designers.”

            If by help, you mean “they tried to use German engines in the Mig-9, realized they were awful, and then asked the British to buy production rights to the Rolls-Royce Nene instead”, I… Guess that counts as help.

            “The AK,, M-16 copied the pistol grip,” …..Are you actually trying to claim the STG-44 invented the pistol grip? I guess every SMG and rifle that had that as a common feature before that had zero influence on that decision at all.

            “shorter barrel,” The STG new invented the concept of the carbine length barrel too? I’ll tell the designers of the countless weapons before that who made one they stole it from the STG-44. (oh, and speaking of “shorter barrels, mind explaining why the M1 Carbine mentioned earlier had a barrel length 4-6” shorter then it’s .30-06 contemporaries? I guess that was also plagiarism.)

            “gas tube piston,” Those things the Germans almost blatantly ripped off from captured SVT-40s and even used said features of the gun to try and fix the G41 when making the G43? tell me more.

            “bolt carrier above the barrel placement and recoil spring layout.”

            Might want to take a look at that whole “SVT-40” thing again, which was actually one of the biggest influences of the actual design of the AK along with, arguably the M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, and even the Remington model 8 in some aspects (the trigger and safety.)

            Basically, not a single thing you just listed above was taken from the STG-44, infact, you’ve actually proven that the STG-44 in turn now has evidence of Russian influence considering the Germans love affair with captured SVT-40s. (Which also helped influence the SKS by the way.)

            “The Russians even tried to copy the stamp metal manufacturing.” Wow, It’s almost like the Russians had stamped metal designs before this and realized it was a cheap, easy way to make parts, too bad the early stamped designs tended to fall apart.

            “The M-16 copied the front sight and dust cover directly from the STG-44.” The sights on the M16 and STG-44 are not even remotely related to each other, the M16 has to use the raised sights because of the straight inline stock which the STG-44 doesn’t even use, As for the dust cover…. Wow, what a massive feature to borrow, I’m convinced guys, because 1 relatively minor part is likely inspired by the STG-44, that makes it a complete clone.

            ” Look at any modern assault rifle and any one can tell the STG-44 had enormous influence on the design.”

            Which is why I and many others into firearms can look at basically any modern assault rifle and not even think about the STG-44 being a massive influence, designs like the M-16 and AK are far more influential to modern designs (mainly if you actually understand how firearms actually operate internally) and had more impact in far more places, hence why they’re both listed here and the STG-44 is not a game changer in the grand scheme of things.

          • Wolfgar

            LOL, I take it you don’t vote for the STG-44 being on the 5 rifles that changed the world, got it 🙂

          • Doug73

            G.K…as an aeronautical engineer myself, I can tell you definitively that your take on the Me262’s post-war influence is laughably inaccurate. This aircraft was EXTENSIVELY studied by the allies (and others) after the war, and its influence was critical in America’s own development of jet aircraft. It was so influential in fact, that if you get a degree in aeronautical engineering you WILL spend a fair amount of time studying the aircraft even now…75 years later. If you doubt the very significant influence it had, I’m more than happy to elaborate on the many, many aspects of the Me262 that allowed U.S. jet technology to more rapidly developed post-war.

            If you’re going to scold people on their alleged lack of historical knowledge, you’d do well to not aptly demonstrate it yourself. You’re a prototypical “Internet expert” who spouts off on things that in reality you know little about.

  • Esh325

    The STG44 should have been on there. There wouldn’t be an M16 or AK without it.

    • G.K.

      Yes there would have, for christ’s sake the STG 44 was not the first assault rifle or the first idea for one.

      • mosinman

        The only real thing the AK takes from it is the shape.

        • Wolfgar

          The shape of the AK-47,M-16 and every modern assault rifle since is the STG-44 lay out. The Russians even tried to copy the stamping manufacturing of their AK-47 used in the STG-44 manufacturing.
          Top placed gas piston,”Gas tube”, barrel length, pistol grip, 30 round detachable magazine,recoil spring and bolt carrier placement were copied in the AK design. They may have not manufactured a direct copy but they plagiarized a lot of the lay out .The Germans didn’t make a direct copy of the Russian T-34 but they plagiarized many of the advancements used in the excellent T-34 tank when they designed their Panther and King tiger tanks.

          • G.K.


            That “layout” has existed since at least 1915, I guess by that logic the STG-44 may not have been a direct copy of the Fedorov Avtomat, but they plagiarized a lot of the layout!

            Also, your list of features that the AK supposedly ripped off is so incredibly vague that you can literally say that basically any gun is a rip off of the STG-44 with it. (Hey, the Thompson used 30 round detachable magazines and a pistol grip, god I can’t believe the Germans would just so shamelessly rip off a design like that!)

          • Wolfgar

            I never said the Germans invented all these features but they did put all of them together, mass produced and proved it in battle which all other nations have followed since with their own assault rifle developments. I never said the AK was a rip off of the STG-44 but had a heavy influence in its design. Put any earlier so called assault rifle and the STG-44 side by side and ask any person which modern assault rifle followed in lay out and pattern and you will have your answer. “Chill dude”, this is a forum of opinions not a political debate. We don’t have to agree on everything

          • mosinman

            except the Russians already had stamped guns prior to the capture of STG-44s, pistol grips were also a feature before the STG. heck even higher capacity detachable magazines were known to the russians. I would argue the AK takes more from the Garand than it does the STG

        • iksnilol

          And I would argue it didn’t take its shape from the STG. The shape of the M16 and AK is a logical progression. Just look at the shape of the Fedorov or all the other early assault rifle thingies. They all had the basic layout, some had pistol grips others didn’t. The curved mag of the AK is simply because the cartridge is tapered. Just look at 7.62x54mm mags, they are also curved.

          • mosinman

            yeah you could be right

    • Trey

      The STG44 was important but the concept of a lower power higher rate of fire weapon was

      not really new. The US built the M1/M2 carbine fit the basic idea of an Assault Rifle.

      It was not alone one example from 1900

      And the Hyde Carbine even has the look of an assault rifle

      The Winchester 1907 was a fairly viable weapon even being modified for FULL AUTO fire and using 20 round magazines… in WWI (yes the war to end all wars )by the french.

      France also made Carabine Mitrailleuse 1918

      (the cartridge looks t like 300 black out a bit )

      That the Germans coined a good name for them and had a good tactical doctrine for them was what makes the STG44 important well that and all that post war German weapons some how were seen as “high tech”

      • Wolfgar

        Excellent video except assault weapon is a term created by gun haters. The German name was Storm Gun but how good it is a matter of opinion.Yes there were much earlier concepts for full auto intermediate fire arms including some Browning designs but the Germans were the first to mass produce and field in large numbers. The STG-44 was a proven concept on the Russian front and most nations followed suite through time. The layout of all modern assault rifles follow the STG-44 design via internal differences and improvements. If it deserves being put on the 5 rifles that changed the world list is a matter of opinion which we obviously disagree on.

  • guest

    I have problems with this video.
    The title reads “top 5 rifles that changed the world”.

    So the title itself implies that a rifle featured in the list was revolutionary, extremely influential, it sparked change!

    So let’s have a look:
    labelle – yes, it pretty much set the standard… or rather paved the way for bolt actions, plus the ammo, so yes major change
    mauser – what did it “change”? It did introduce a more reliable action, but that’s not exactly “change”. That is a moderate improvement of something already existing, much less changing the world. And it had a lot of competition amongs which it does not exactly stand out.
    Garand – for USA this was indeed a major change. The rest of the world did not exactly follow suit with a retarded under-barrel low pressure long stroke system, that even featured a wonderful “I am out of ammo” bell in the form of very musical emtry clips. And while americans were trying to use an outdated system, which would probably suit a belt-fed machinegun much better the rest of the world slowly but surely adopted actual magazines, high-pressure pistons and actions that don’t look like some freakish adoptation of a miniature bolt almost akin a bolt action rifle and some exteral cam-lever-something. Or in shorter terms: this is like American Football or Baseball with “world cups”. Only USA plays, nobody else cares, and USA always wins.
    AK – sure, but that spot is debatable. It brought nothing new to the table, except the fact that soviet mass production, minimalism and engineering though always translates to simplicity and practicality, and that is not new.
    Stoner’s rifles – really? What did they change, modularity? So modularity did not exist before? Let me remind that unless the title was deceptive clickbait, it still reads “changed the world”.

    As with all views here on TFB they are heavily biased, and this video is no excepection.

    • ostiariusalpha

      So, basically you can’t understand how the M16 – the first standard issue rifle made from very lightweight materials, operated by a lightweight & radically different internal piston system, and firing the first microcaliber intermediate round – could possibly be considered a real change. Okay.

      • SP mclaughlin

        ” A rifle should kill a man in one shot and kick like a mule in the process. This one dared to breakaway from that tradition” ~Ahoy on the M16

      • Esh325

        The M16 is probably one of the most influential rifles out there. Pretty much every rifle that came after it has a feature or part that comes from the M16.

        • ostiariusalpha

          The AR and AK are the Scylla & Charybdis of modern rifle design. Lots of talented weapons engineers have tried to get beyond those polarities of lightweight, modular ergonomics and tenacious reliability, but I haven’t yet seen that moment when it all comes together in a mechanical epiphany to create something that is truly new & clearly better. The AK is as reliable as ever, and the AR keeps pushing the boundary of “how light can you go?” Both keep getting more feature rich and modular too.

      • Trey

        The direct impingement system of the AR was not in any way new, my Mas 49/56 uses it as did the swede jungman(sp)
        As for the 5.56 yes it was new, but not the first small cal standard rifle 6mm Navy Lee comes to mind
        the new materials like Aluminum and plastic were for the most part new though bakelite and others had been used before

        • ostiariusalpha

          The Stoner internal piston is not a direct impingement system. The gas is not directly impinging on the bolt carrier to cycle the action, it is instead channeled behind the bolt into the piston chamber; it is the bolt pushing off from the breach that cycles the action. The Stoner gas system is really rather ingenious and remarkably simple (though not quite as simple as a direct gas impingement system) and it keeps all the moving parts recoiling in line with the barrel to minimize muzzle rise & carrier tilt. So it was very much new.
          The Lee Navy cartridge was getting closer to the idea of what was to become the 5.56, but the technology just wasn’t there yet to bring together the concepts of very small caliber and very high velocity in a light & compact cartridge. An M193 bullet will zip through a 1/2″ plate of AR500 steel like the old 6mm Lee could only dream of doing.
          As for the synthetic furniture, the Bakelite was similarly an earlier iteration of an idea that came to fruition with the AR. In this case though, I’ll admit the initial nylon furniture was kind of lacking with regards to durability; it’s only in the past decade really that mature polymer tech has been applied more innovatively to the AR.

          • Trey

            It may well be a very modified Direct Gas Impingement system as per stoner patent

            US 2951424 A

            “It is another object of this invention to utilize the energy of the expanding gas developed by the firing of the weapon, for actuating the automatic rifle mechanism directly by use of a metered amount of the gas coming from the barrel. This invention is a true expanding gas system instead of the conventional impinging gas system. By utilization of a metered amount of gas from the barrel, the automatic rifle mechanism is less sensitive to different firing pressures caused by variations in the propelling charge. It is therefore still another object of this invention, to provide a rifle mechanism which is not affected by variations in the propelling charge.”

            If his goal was the last sentence it failed rather miserably in the first use in Viet Nam as the powder type and charge radically affected reliability

            As for the majority of writers and technical types it is still a direct gas impingement system albeit with a few bells and whistles and minor improvement.

          • ostiariusalpha

            ? Do you not know how to read?
            “This invention is a true expanding gas system instead of the conventional impinging gas system.”
            It’s right there, plain as day: not a direct impingement system. And no technical writer that knows what he’s talking about would portray it as a DI, it’s forum ninjas with no clue what the word impingement even means that maintain that notion. As for the M16 rifle’s problem-plagued debut in Vietnam, that’s more complicated than you’ve implied, and has been covered before in articles on TFB. You’ve also slightly misread what Stoner meant. The goal of the internal piston wasn’t to make the rifle ammo insensitive, he was saying that he had ADDED a metered gas system to his design to help with different powder and bullet loads (which it does). Other gun designers had already developed gas metering before the Stoner system, and Mr. Stoner wanted to make it clear that he had that feature also. The M1 Garand does not have a gas metering system, and is much more ammo sensitive that modern guns; it takes some real gunsmithing to adjust it’s gas system for different loads. Gas metering is not infallible, obviously, but it was a real technological step forward in the 1950’s when it became common.

          • Trey

            You state.

            “And no technical writer that knows what he’s talking about would portray it as a DI”

            “As someone who tests and reviews guns for a variety of firearms periodicals, I’ve had the opportunity to test versions of both the gas impingement and piston-driven ARs. Here are my factual discoveries:”

            Richard A. Mann, Gun Digest

            “The first and most important reference mark is the fact that the Stoner-designed AR with a direct gas impingement system is by far the longest serving military service rifle in U.S. history, but its reign has not gone unchallenged”

            American Rifleman Cameron Hopkins – Tuesday, April 13, 2010

            “Should one go with an AR-15 piston or direct impingement (DI) system?

            The big drawback to the Direct Impingement (DI) system is the gas blown back into the receiver. It does, however, have several manifest advantages, advantages you should not discard simply because all your buddies say you should.”
            AR-15 Pistons: Pros & Cons Sept 12 2012
            Gun Digest.


            “DI is usually identified as the weak link in the AR-15 system when it comes to sustained fully automatic fire. How vulnerable is that system to fully automatic fire? That’s a good question, but fortunately we have a few resources with which to examine it.”

            How Well Does Direct Impingement Handle Heat? The Firearms Blog Feb 24 2015

            There now you do.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Quoting a bunch of writers that don’t know how to use technical terms correctly doesn’t really help your case, you know that right? Should I pull up a slew of quotes where professional writers refer to magazines as clips? How about every time someone says tolerance when they should be saying clearance? Or accuracy when they mean precision? Of course, you can claim these are just informal ways of saying the same thing or slang terms, but they do misinform people and cause them to believe stupid things. Such as thinking that an AR and a Hakim have the same operating system, even though the only thing they have in common in that regard is the gas tube. Now, I do occasionally refer to a cartridge as a bullet myself, but only in the company of people that know I’m using it as a synecdoche because there really are non-gun people out there that think a firearm magically shoots out the entire round like some cartoon.

          • Trey

            Glad to see you are the sole arbitrator of who is and is not worthy of being read.
            And that NRA and US Army do not make you list.

          • ostiariusalpha

            So, because I tell you to be aware that writers working for organizations like TFB, the NRA, and, yes, the military screw up technical jargon more than every once in awhile, that must mean I’m trying to be supreme arbiter of what should & should not be read? Thanks for clearing that up, Trey, not too many logical fallacies there. You know, from now on I’m going to have to call Nate out every time he uses DI in reference to the AR, just because numbskulls like you can’t see through a colloquialism and are somehow getting the idea that it is the same thing as actual direct gas impingement. And won’t that just be peachy.
            You also seem to be slightly ignorant of certain aspects about the history of 5.56 NATO and why it was failing in the M16 when it was fielded in Vietnam, so I’ll give you the condensed version. Skipping over the multiple problems with the M16 itself, the early 5.56 ammo had enough growing pains that it would have made pretty much any rifle fail that used it. The Remington supplied trial ammo worked well only because Big Green had been cherry-picking the IMR4475 powder lots to meet performance requirements, when the Army found out that most of the IMR4475 lots were either producing pressure spikes or below spec velocity they made Remington switch from it; Remington chose CR8136, which ended up being just as erratic between lots as the IMR4475, and the other ammo manufacturers went with Olin’s fancy WC846 double-base powder. The WC846 was more stable, but it had a poison pill in it due it’s excessive calcium carbonate content that built up in the gas tube. In fact, it would have caused any gas operated firearm, regardless of whether it had a gas metering system or not, to fail when the calcium clogged it up.

          • Trey

            Pedantic, and insulting good combination you have going.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Belligerent stupidity tends to earn more than a few pedantic insults, sorry if you find that such a hard pill to swallow. You also put that comma in the wrong part of your sentence. Just saying.

          • Trey

            And a grammar Nazi… your journey is complete.

      • Also the rifle that’s literally been state of the art for the past 60 years.

    • Yeah, the labelle is a pretty cool gun.

    • skusmc

      It says “Changed the World”, not just impact rifle development or invented something new. As far as actually changing political systems and nations, this is a solid list.

    • BrandonAKsALot

      You’ve demonstrated you clearly know very little about most of these designs. If you take the time to really see the extraordinary amount of details put into the firearms that most would never notice, you might think differently.

      And damn it, I wish the idea that the AK was designed as some cheap piece of trash to toss to the masses of peons, would go away forever. The design has been continually refined for over 60 years at this point and ever detail of it was purposeful, well thought out, and made to function and survive through just about anything. The parts were designed so they would work and were then refined. AK’s are not cheap to make, but they can be relatively cost effective to mass produce. Regardless, the Soviets have always made crazy amounts of almost every firearms they ever produced.

      The AK pioneered and brought a lot of new things to the battle field. Even the magazines were way beyond what anyone else had. AR mags start getting no-tilt followers when, the late 90’s or early 2000’s? They were designed that way and they had made aluminum magazines in the mid 50’s along with AGS4 (Bakelite). The gun was turned into a light machine that was easily portable and can still lay down a sustained fire. The AK borrowed many ideas, but there are so many ways they were way ahead of their time. The AR is the same way, but was just a very different goal and take on designing a similar rifle.

  • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

    The Garand did not usher in the era of the “repeating rifle”.

    Lever-actions and bolt-actions had always been referred to as repeaters or repeating rifles. The term pre-dates semi-auto firearms by a significant amount of time. You probably meant to say “semi-auto” instead.

    • Nope, I meant repeating rifle in the more modern sense. As technology evolves, so does language and diction.

      • ostiariusalpha

        The majority of modern Non-English speakers still use some variation of the word “repeater” to refer almost exclusively to lever & bolt actions.

        • Rock or Something

          If it’s not “semi-automatic”, then it’s “auto-loader” I often see instead. Nothing wrong with the word “repeater” per say, but I guess in the context of firearms history as a whole, it tends to be relegated to lever guns.

      • I may just be an antiquarian, but “repeater” to me has only ever meant a magazine-fed manually-operated weapon.

        The biggest exception I can think of is Israeli/British receiver markings.

        • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

          Right. Because if it’s not manually operated then it’s considered an “automatic”. I.E. fully-automatic or semi-automatic.

          But never “repeating arm”.

          There’s a reason these are separate terms.

      • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

        Yeah, sure. Except “repeater” or “repeating rifle” or “repeating arm” has NEVER been used to refer to semi-autos.

        Just because YOU change or make-up new language (or use it wrong) doesn’t mean language and diction changes.

        It also shows a general lack of knowledge regarding the history of firearms. Not exactly something you want to show when you’re doing a video on historical firearms.

        • “Except “repeater” or “repeating rifle” or “repeating arm” has NEVER been used to refer to semi-autos.”
          I mean, I just used it to refer to semi-autos.
          Also a repeating rifle is “A rifle is a single barreled rifle containing multiple rounds of ammunition. These rounds are loaded from a magazine by means of a manual or automatic mechanism, and the action that reloads the rifle also typically recocks the firing action.”
          So there’s that.
          Oh, and this other dictionary definition:
          “a firearm that can fire several rounds without reloading”.

  • Zugunder

    “Kalashnikov’s AK”
    FPS per second.

  • kyphe

    They made about 5,000000 G98 Mauser and about 15,00000 K98 not 100,000000. even if you added all derivatives it comes no where close to that figure.

    • I think your figure includes only German guns.

      • kyphe

        the US made just over 1.400000 derived guns we already have the major producers so where do the 66,000000 other guns come from

        • Yugoslavia, Spain, Poland, Czechoslovakia, China, Belgium, and so on. The number grows depending if you count 98 derived guns like the Japanese Arisakas, Siamese Mausers, English P14s, American M1917s, American Springfields, etc.

          • kyphe

            Yougoslavia 1.500000 M48. Belgium 100000 M24, china just 800000 Zhongzheng. Portugal only 100000 vergueiro rifles. Chzechoslaovakia made 250000 G24(t). Poland a tiny 50000 kb wz 98. Combined production of M1917 and p14 is about 2.500000. About 8000000 Japanese variants of all types. 4000000 Springfield. No idea on siam but it will not be many. I am at 40,350000 total so far. 59,650000 left to find

          • Keep looking 🙂

          • ostiariusalpha

            Don’t forget all the civi sporting rifles! Remington 798, Ruger M77, Winchester Model 70, Kimber 8400, CZ 55X rifles, Husqvarna, ad nauseum.

      • kyphe

        sorry 4,000000 not 1.400000

  • I’d inlcude the Steyr AUG for popularizing the general issue rifle optic.

  • “[The Mauser 98 is] the most important rifle the world has ever seen.”

    That’s a pretty incredible degree of fanboyism even coming from you…

    • I have an eye for greatness.

      • Yeesh, how bad can you get? The bolt-lock door was invented in agent Egypt! All Paul Mauser did was scale it up!

      • Woofan

        Or a love for anything German or all else

    • UCSPanther

      No list of influential rifle designs is complete without Paul Mauser’s masterpiece…

    • BrandonAKsALot

      LOL fanboyism. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. I’d imagine you have an altar to Stoner by now. I mean, I have one to Kalashnikov, so I don’t think it’s weird.

    • Brian M

      Said by the world’s greatest fact twister an AR fanboy. You’d better chill, Alex.

  • st4

    C’mon, no Barrett?! Bill Paxton vaporized dudes through walls using one with a thermal scope and Robocop blew up the ED-209 with his!

  • G.K.

    Every single point he made is valid on why the AR-10 and AR-15 family changed the face of rifle design forever and those were infact it’s big contributions to the firearms., on the other hand, you’re apparently an idiot who still believes the AR-15 is inherently unreliable design (my favorite parroted armchair commando myth) and judging by how you think “extremely deadly” isn’t a selling point for it, by all means, please explain who not only all of NATO, the USSR/Russia and a good portion of the Former Warsaw Pact, and now China have all switched to their own SCHV rounds with many non aligned nations following suit? clearly you know best captain armchair commando.

  • Secundius

    We can’t forget the the Krag-Jorgensen/Springfield Model 1982 .30-40 contribution to the World. If it wasn’t for “Lack-Luster” Performance of the Rifle in the Spanish-American War of 1898. The Mauser 7.92×57 Rifle might have “Stalled” and the Introduction of the Springfield M1093 or M1 Garand, may NEVER OF HAPPENED…

  • The Brigadier

    You left out one American rifle. The M1 Carbine has inflicted more casualties on our enemies than any other American rifle, battle or assault rifles. Jim Dickson in an article entitled “Perfect Companions” in the October issue of Inside Military Surplus wrote the following: “The M1 carbine has the highest number of enemy soldiers hit per rounds fired of any weapon ever issued by the U.S.”

    It was the desired weapon of choice for the Pacific Theater and was the rifle carried into battle by our Airborne in Europe during the invasion. In the jungle fighting the lighter bullet was deflected less by foliage than the heavier .30’06 from the Garand. This is counter intuitive, but true and that’s why both the Marines and the Army carried the M1C. It is also the semi-automatic with the least number of jams per round fired and that includes the Garand as well as the M16 and M4.

    I have an AR15 and an M1A, but my Rock Island Armory M1C is my CQB rifle. It hits harder than the .556 (per Dickson in the same article) and is less likely to kill my neighbors as my M1A’s .308 bullet is liable to do. Inland and Hi-Point are both making milspec copies of the WWII models. Now if they would only offer the M2 along a with a 50 round drum life would be perfect.