Here are five of the best weapons, and how the wars of the twenty-first century changed them.
The Fusil d’Assaut de la Manufacture d’Armes de Saint-Étienne, or FAMAS assault rifle, was adopted by France in the late 1970s. The assault rifle was a bullpup configuration, like the SA80A2, that came standard with twenty-five-round 5.56-millimeter magazines. Manufactured by GIAT, the rifle had an overall length of twenty-nine inches with a nineteen-inch barrel—nearly rifle length. The weapon weighed only 7.96 pounds. Intriguingly, unlike standard infantry assault rifles, FAMAS has radioactive tritium sights for night firing and a built-in bipod with arms that swivel up and store above the barrel. FAMAS’s blowback action gives it greater recoil than other weapons in this category. FAMAS is currently being replaced in French Army service by the Heckler and Koch 416.
Warfare in the post-9/11 period is primarily infantry-focused, with ground troops taking part in small-unit actions against insurgents and guerrillas. Fought on a wide variety of terrain, from arid desert regions to jungles and even cities, infantrymen have relied on their service rifles to get the mission done. Here are five of the best weapons, and how the wars of the twenty-first century changed them.
Originally developed by Colt to fulfill a contract for the UAE, the M4 carbine was later accepted into U.S. Army and Marine Corps service. The M4 carbine is very similar to the M16A2 assault rifle, but features a shorter 14.5-inch barrel as opposed to the twenty-inch barrel of the M16. Like the M16A2, the M4 carbine fires the 5.56-millimeter round from a thirty-round magazine and has both semiautomatic and three-round-burst modes. Recently, as a result of battlefield experience with the M4, the U.S. Army decided to upgrade the weapons to the M4A1 standard. The -A1 carbines have thicker barrels for accuracy retention during sustained fire, an improved trigger, ambidextrous safety controls and the ability to fire on full automatic.
Recommended: The Colt Python: The Best Revolver Ever Made?