The U.S. Army Rangers, a highly-trained and elite light infantry unit, are renowned for their combat proficiency, operational excellence, and tactical precision. As part of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), their equipment, especially firearms, plays a pivotal role in ensuring mission success. The small arms systems and guns used by Army Rangers have evolved to meet the dynamic challenges of warfare, providing them with accuracy, reliability, and firepower. Let’s find out what they are.
Table of Contents
- Guns Used by Army Rangers: Assault Rifles/Carbines
- Guns Used by Army Rangers: Automatic Weapons / Heavy Machine Guns
- Guns Used by Army Rangers: Handguns
- Guns Used by Army Rangers: Sniper Rifles
- Guns Used by Army Rangers: Conclusion
Guns Used by Army Rangers: Assault Rifles/Carbines
M4A1 5.56mm Carbine
The backbone of the Rangers’ small arms inventory, the M4A1 Carbine is a shorter and more versatile version of the M16 rifle. It offers both semi-automatic and fully automatic firing modes, ensuring adaptability in varied combat scenarios. Its compact design, combined with a collapsible buttstock, makes it suitable for close-quarters battle (CQB) as well as longer-range engagements.
The M4A1 is also one of the guns used by Special Forces.
However, the Army has announced that they will be replacing the M4A1 as their close-quarters combat rifle. The new weapon from Sig Sauer will be called M7 and will be launched in the fourth quarter of 2023.
M249 Squad Automatic Weapon
Bridging the gap between individual rifles and heavier machine guns, the M249 SAW, chambered in 5.56×45mm NATO, provides a high rate of fire. It is often employed to lay down suppressive fire, enabling Rangers to maneuver and outflank enemy positions.
For soldiers involved in close-quarters combat, the M249 SAW will also be replaced this year by a new system from Sauer called M250.
MK 17 SCAR-H (Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle)
This modular rifle system, available in various calibers, provides the Rangers with the capability to engage targets at extended distances with significant stopping power. The SCAR-H, chambered in 7.62×51mm NATO, is favored for its durability, adaptability, and reliability in diverse environments.
Guns Used by Army Rangers: Automatic Weapons / Heavy Machine Guns
When the Rangers require a sustained rate of fire, the M240 steps in. Chambered in 7.62×51mm NATO, this belt-fed machine gun provides the firepower necessary to suppress enemy positions and maintain the momentum of an assault.
The MK46 is an adaptation of the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) specifically designed for the special operations role. It retains the 5.56×45mm NATO chambering of the M249 but sheds some weight by eliminating the M249’s vehicle mounting lugs and magazine well for M16-type magazines.
Furthermore, the MK46 incorporates a forward rail system to allow for the mounting of various optics, lasers, and foregrips. Its lighter weight and adaptability make it a preferred choice for rapid mobility operations that the Rangers often find themselves in.
The MK48 is a scaled-up version of the MK46, chambered for the 7.62×51mm NATO round, providing a middle ground between the M249/MK46’s high rate of fire and the heavier firepower of the M240B.
Its design provides Special Operations units like the Rangers with a compact yet powerful machine gun that’s especially useful in engagements where increased firepower and penetration are needed without the bulk of traditional 7.62mm machine guns. Like the MK46, the MK48 also features a rail system for mounting optics and other accessories.
While the U.S. Army Rangers typically prioritize mobility and rapid response, the M2 Browning is employed when there’s a need for a heavy machine gun, especially in vehicle-mounted roles or defensive positions.
The firepower it offers is unparalleled, and it’s especially effective in providing suppressive fire, defending key positions, or taking on enemy vehicles and fortifications.
Guns Used by Army Rangers: Handguns
Over the decades, the M9 has seen extensive use in various operations, including those by the Rangers. Its double-action/single-action design provides a safety mechanism that some operators prefer, and its track record in numerous conflicts has proven its reliability.
Sig Sauer P320
Adopted by the U.S. military as the M17 (full-size) and M18 (compact), the Sig Sauer P320 marks a departure from the longstanding use of the Beretta M9.
Its adaptability makes the Sig P320 a fitting choice for special operations forces, including the Rangers. The striker-fired design ensures consistent trigger pull, and its capacity for mounting optics represents the shift towards red dot sights on military sidearms.
While not the standard-issue sidearm, the Glock 19 has been adopted by various U.S. Special Operations units, including some elements of the Rangers, for specific missions. Its compact size makes it suitable for concealed carry operations or as a backup weapon, and its reputation for ruggedness aligns well with the demands of special operations.
Guns Used by Army Rangers: Sniper Rifles
M24 Sniper Weapon System
Originally adopted in the 1980s, the M24 is a bolt-action sniper rifle based on the Remington 700 series. It’s chambered in 7.62×51mm NATO and is known for its accuracy and durability. The M24 has been a mainstay for long-range engagements, providing Rangers with a dependable platform for precision shooting.
M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS)
The M110 SASS offers the advantage of rapid follow-up shots due to its semi-automatic nature. Chambered in 7.62×51mm NATO, it delivers accurate fire out to extended ranges, allowing Army Rangers to engage multiple targets in quick succession when necessary.
MK 13 Mod 5 .300 Win Mag
Built around the Remington 700 action, this rifle is chambered in the powerful .300 Winchester Magnum cartridge, allowing for extended-range engagements beyond what standard 7.62mm rifles can offer.,
Also known as the Barrett M82, this semi-automatic rifle chambers the massive .50 BMG cartridge, making it effective against both personnel and light vehicles.
While it’s heavier and bulkier, its sheer power and anti-material capabilities make it invaluable for certain operations.
MK12 Mod 1 Special Purpose Rifle
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
M2010 Enhanced Sniper
Guns Used by Army Rangers: Missile / Rocket Launchers
M320 Grenade Launcher Module
The M320 Grenade Launcher Module (GLM) is one such addition to the Rangers’ arsenal, allowing them to deliver indirect fire upon enemy positions while maintaining their mobility. Whether it’s to clear out an entrenched position or create a smoke screen, the adaptability of the M320 proves invaluable.
The FGM-148 Javelin is a man-portable, fire-and-forget, infrared-guided missile system, primarily designed to destroy armored vehicles, fortifications, and other targets from a safe distance. Developed as a joint venture between Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, the Javelin has become a cornerstone of the U.S. military’s anti-tank capabilities since its introduction in the 1990s.
In the hands of U.S. Army Rangers and other special operations forces, the Javelin serves not just as an anti-armor weapon but also as a strategic tool, deterring enemy armor advances and providing a significant advantage on the battlefield.
M3 Carl Gustaf
The U.S. Army Rangers adopted the M3 Carl Gustaf for its adaptability. In urban warfare, for example, the ability to choose between direct fire against armored threats and using high-explosive rounds against fortifications or enemy personnel is invaluable. The weapon’s relatively compact design for its firepower also means it can be rapidly deployed by small teams, fitting the Rangers’ operational style.
The Carl Gustaf operates on the principle of a recoilless rifle. When firing, a portion of the propellant gases is expelled to the rear, negating the recoil. This allows it to fire powerful rounds without the punishing recoil of traditional man-portable anti-tank weapons.
Despite its compact size, the AT4 is capable of penetrating up to 420 mm of armor, making it effective against most armored personnel carriers and light armored vehicles. While not as versatile as the Carl Gustaf, it’s a formidable weapon against armored threats.
While the AT4 is a potent weapon on its own, the Rangers often integrate its use with other systems for combined arms tactics. For instance, while an AT4 gunner may target an armored vehicle, snipers or other riflemen could engage dismounted enemy troops, ensuring comprehensive threat neutralization.
The FIM-92 Stinger is a man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) that is employed by the U.S. military, among many other forces worldwide, for its short-range, anti-aircraft capabilities.
While the primary mission of the U.S. Army Rangers is not air defense, having access to weapons like the Stinger ensures they have a means to counter aerial threats when operating in environments where dedicated air defenses might not be immediately available. This is especially pertinent when Rangers are conducting deep raids, reconnaissance, or other missions behind enemy lines where they might encounter enemy air assets.
Guns Used by Army Rangers: Conclusion
When we talk about the U.S. Army Rangers, we’re talking about some top-tier soldiers, and they’ve got the cool gear to match. From nailing long-distance shots with the MK 13 sniper rifle, to saying “nope” to tanks with the Javelin, and even swatting aircraft out of the sky with the FIM-92 Stinger, these guys are kitted out. It’s clear the U.S. military isn’t skimping when it comes to arming these folks. Bottom line: Rangers rock, and their gear is pretty rad too.