Guns Used by the US Army [A Complete Guide]

Guns used by the US Army

Get ready for a front-row seat to the firepower that defends and deters. In this article, we’re giving a special focus on the guns used by the US Army. These cutting-edge weapons ensure the US Army stays at the forefront of military might. We’ll explore the technology, power, and precision behind these firearms. Whether you’re a gun enthusiast or just curious about military hardware, this is your chance to get up close and personal with the latest and greatest in the US Army’s armament. Let’s get started!

Guns Used by the US Army: Handguns


US Army soldier with an M17 pistol
US Army soldier with an M17 pistol

The M17 and M18 pistols are the U.S. Army’s latest standard-issue sidearms, adopted as part of the Modular Handgun System (MHS) program. They replaced the older M9 pistol. Both are variants of the SIG Sauer P320, chambered in 9mm.

  • M17: The full-sized model primarily issued to standard infantry units. It features a 17-round magazine with an option for an extended 21-round version. Its modular design allows for adaptability to different hand sizes and mission requirements.
  • M18: A more compact version of the M17, the M18 is tailored for use by units requiring a smaller frame, like military police and pilots. It typically uses a 15-round magazine, but is also compatible with the M17’s 17 and 21-round magazines.

Both models are equipped with SIGLITE night sights, have an external safety, and offer enhanced durability and reliability. They are designed to function effectively in extreme conditions, meeting the diverse operational needs of the U.S. Army. Their modular nature allows for a wide range of customization options, making them highly versatile for various military roles.

Check out Sig P320 prices below:


Guns used by the US Army
A US Army Soldier trains with an M11 pistol. (U.S. Army photo by Pierre-Etienne Courtejoie)

The M11 pistol is more known to us civilians as Sig Sauer P228. It is a compact, semi-automatic firearm prized for its reliability and ease of concealment. With a 9mm caliber, it offers a balance of stopping power and control, making it a preferred choice for U.S. military personnel requiring a discreet yet effective sidearm. Issued primarily to military investigators, pilots, and personnel in covert operations, the M11 has been a staple in the U.S. Army since the early 1990s. Its accuracy and durability in diverse conditions make it an invaluable tool in the diverse operational environments encountered by the Army, from urban settings to rugged terrain.


U.S. Marines fire M1911 .45-caliber pistols at a range in Jordan June 9, 2013, during Eager Lion 2013. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Christopher Q. Stone/Released)

The M1911, a legendary semi-automatic pistol, has been a cornerstone in the U.S. Army’s arsenal for over a century. Designed by John Browning, it fires a .45 ACP cartridge, renowned for its stopping power. This iconic weapon, known for its robust design and reliable performance, served as the standard-issue sidearm for the U.S. military from 1911 to 1985. 

Its effectiveness in both World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam made it a symbol of American military might. While it has been largely replaced by more modern firearms, the M1911 still sees limited use and holds a special place in the hearts of many service members for its historical significance and proven combat record.

Guns Used by the US Army: Rifles and Carbines


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 the M107 is heavier and bulkier, its sheer power and anti-material capabilities make it invaluable for certain operations.

M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS)

Guns used by the US Army
U.S. Army Sgt. Aaron Capolupo fires an M110A1 rifle. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Michael Schwenk)

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 the Army to engage multiple targets in quick succession when necessary.

M4A1 5.56mm Carbine

U.S. Soldier trains with his M4A1 rifle
U.S. Soldier trains with his M4A1 rifle at Panzer Range Complex in Boebligen, Germany. (U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Adam Sanders)

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.

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.


M16A4 Service Rifle | Guns used by the US Army
M16A4 Service Rifle

The M16A4 is the latest and most advanced variant of the iconic M16 rifle, which has served the U.S. military since the Vietnam War era. This version retains the classic features of the original M16 but with significant enhancements. It’s chambered for the 5.56×45mm NATO round, offering a blend of power and manageability.Key features of the M16A4 include a 20-inch barrel, providing improved accuracy at longer ranges, and a removable carrying handle, allowing for the attachment of various optics and accessories. It’s equipped with a Picatinny rail system for this purpose. The rifle also has a burst fire mode, which limits the firing to three rounds per trigger pull, improving ammo conservation and control during rapid fire.

M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle

M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle

The M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle (EBR) is a modernized version of the classic M14 rifle, designed for improved precision and versatility. Adopted by the U.S. Army, it’s primarily used in designated marksman roles. The M14 EBR features a 7.62mm NATO cartridge, offering long-range accuracy and significant stopping power. 

Equipped with an adjustable stock, pistol grip, and rail system for optics and accessories, it’s tailored for enhanced ergonomics and adaptability. Ideal for engaging targets at medium to long distances, the M14 EBR is valuable in various combat scenarios, bridging the gap between standard infantry rifles and sniper weapons.

Guns Used by the US Army: Shotguns

M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System

M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System | Guns used by the US Army
Image source: PEO Soldier

The M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System (MASS) is a unique and versatile 12-gauge shotgun used by the U.S. Army. Designed primarily as an under-barrel attachment for rifles like the M4 Carbine, the M26 can also be used as a standalone weapon. Its primary function is for breaching operations—quickly opening locked or obstructed doors during urban combat—but it’s also capable of firing standard shotgun ammunition for close-quarters combat.The M26 features a straight-pull bolt action, which is a departure from the traditional pump-action of most military shotguns. This design choice enhances reliability and allows for a more compact size, crucial for integration with service rifles. It has a detachable five-round magazine, facilitating rapid reloading and versatility in ammunition choice.


M500 | Guns used by the US Army
Image source: PEO Soldier

The Mossberg 500, commonly known as the M500 in the U.S. Army, is a versatile, pump-action shotgun that serves a variety of roles in military operations. Chambered typically for 12-gauge shells, it’s known for its reliability, durability, and adaptability. The M500’s design allows it to function effectively in harsh conditions, making it a favored choice for combat and field operations.

Guns Used by the US Army: Machine Guns


M2 Browning

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.


M240 | Guns used by the US Army
U.S. Army Pvt. Ryan Slade (left) fires an M240 machine gun as Spc. Cody Branam fires his M4 carbine during a situational training exercise.

The M240 family, consisting of the M240B, M240L, and M240H, is a series of versatile and powerful machine guns widely used by the U.S. Army. These 7.62mm caliber weapons are renowned for their reliability and effectiveness in various combat situations.

  1. M240B: The most common variant, the M240B is a ground model used by infantry. Known for its robustness and high rate of fire, it’s primarily employed for suppressive fire, providing cover for advancing troops and defending positions against enemy forces. It can be mounted on vehicles, aircraft, and naval vessels, making it adaptable for different combat scenarios.
  2. M240L: A lighter version of the M240B, the M240L was developed to reduce the load on infantry soldiers. It features titanium construction and a shorter barrel, cutting weight without sacrificing performance. This variant is especially valued in operations requiring mobility and rapid deployment.
  3. M240H: The M240H is an aviation version, mounted on helicopters and some fixed-wing aircraft. It provides crucial firepower for air-ground support missions, enabling aerial crews to engage ground targets effectively, support ground troops, and defend against enemy forces.

M249 Squad Automatic Weapon

M249 SAW
M249 SAW

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 soldiers 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. 

Guns Used by the US Army: Rocket Launchers

M3 Carl Gustaf

M3 Carl Gustaf | Guns used by the US Army
A U.S. Special Forces Soldier fires a Carl Gustaf rocket. (Photo by U.S. Army Spc. William Hatton)

The U.S. Army 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 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.

Rate of fire: 6 rounds per minute

M320 Grenade Launcher

M320 Grenade Launcher
M320 grenade launcher (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael J. MacLeod)

The M320 Grenade Launcher Module (GLM) allows the US Army 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.

Rate of fire: 5 to 7 rounds per minute

MK19 Grenade Machine Gun

The MK19 Grenade Machine Gun is a formidable asset in the U.S. Army’s weaponry, designed to deliver a high volume of explosive firepower over a considerable range. This belt-fed, automatic grenade launcher fires 40mm grenades at a rapid rate, capable of neutralizing enemy personnel and light armored vehicles. It has been a critical component of the U.S. military’s arsenal since the late 1960s, seeing extensive use in various conflicts. Mounted on vehicles, tripods, or naval vessels, the MK19 excels in providing suppressive fire and defending against troop concentrations, lightly armored vehicles, and fortifications. Its combination of range, rate of fire, and explosive power makes it a game-changer on the battlefield, offering both offensive and defensive capabilities.

Rate of fire: 325 to 375 rounds per minute

FIM-92 Stinger

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.

Having access to weapons like the Stinger ensures the Army has a means to counter aerial threats when operating in environments where dedicated air defenses might not be immediately available. This is especially pertinent when they are conducting deep raids, reconnaissance, or other missions behind enemy lines where they might encounter enemy air assets.


What guns does the US Army use?

Guns used by the US Army
M240B machine gun

The U.S. Army uses a variety of firearms, including the M4 Carbine, the M249 light machine gun, the M240B and M240L medium machine guns, the M2 .50 caliber machine gun, and the M320 grenade launcher. Sidearms include the M17 and M18 pistols.

Does the US Army use AK47?

No, the U.S. Army does not use the AK47 as a standard issue weapon. The AK47, a Soviet-era rifle, is not part of the standard U.S. military armaments. However, some U.S. forces soldiers are trained to use them

Does the US Army still use the M16?

The M16 rifle has been largely phased out in active front-line service, replaced by the M4 Carbine. However, the M16 is still used in some roles within the Army and other branches of the U.S. military, mainly in training environments or by reserve units.

What brand of AR-15 does the US Military use?

The U.S. Military doesn’t use the AR-15, which is a civilian firearm. The military uses the M4 Carbine and the M16 rifle, which are military variants of the AR-15 platform. These rifles are manufactured by various defense contractors, including Colt Defense, FN Herstal, and others under government contracts.

Summary: Guns Used by the US Army

The guns used by the U.S. Army really showcase how far military tech has come. From the trusty M4 Carbine, tailor-made for the modern soldier, to the heavy-duty M240 machine guns, each piece of hardware has its own cool factor and crucial role. It’s like a toolbox where every tool is designed to meet the unique challenges of today’s battlefields. These firearms provide soldiers what they need to get the job done, whatever and wherever it might be. As tech evolves, so will these weapons, ensuring the Army stays ready and resilient.

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