From the first, which got America’s revolution started on sound footing in 1775, to the last, which is now in the hands of U.S. soldiers, versions of all of these firearms have been or are used by private U.S. citizens and our armed forces.
There is a long and important connection between private arms makers and the U.S. Armed Forces. Phil Schreier, the senior curator for the NRA’s National Firearms Museum, put it this way: “History teaches us that without the civilian gun market, gun innovation would fall on its face. Government procurement contracts come bureaucratically slow. If gun companies had to solely rely on them most would stop innovating. This would let America fall behind the world. Pretty soon we’d be dependent on other nations for our military’s firearms and our American people wouldn’t know how to use them.”
There is no better time to look back on these guns than Memorial Day. In chronological order, these are the ten guns that shaped America: