“The AH-64 Apache is the Army’s heavy division/corps attack helicopter,” the YouTube caption informs. “The AH-64D Longbow remanufacture effort incorporates a millimeter wave fire control radar, radar frequency interferometer, fire-and-forget radar-guided HELLFIRE missile and cockpit management and digitization enhancements.” Not to mention . . .

the chopper’s 30mm M230E1 Chain Gun. According to wikipedia.org:

The M230 is mounted on the chin turret. It uses a 2 hp electric motor to fire 30 mm linkless ammunition at a rate of 625 (±25) rounds per minute. The practical rate of fire is about 300 rounds per minute with a 10-minute cooling period as the gun is air cooled.

The gun has a positive cook-off safety for open bolt clearing, and double ram prevention. Spent casings are ejected overboard through the bottom of the gun . . .

The M789 is typically used in the M230. Each round contains 21.5 g (0.76 oz) of explosive charge sealed in a shaped-charge liner. The liner collapses into an armor-piercing jet of metal that is capable of penetrating more than 2 inches of RHA.

Additionally, the shell is also designed to fragment upon impact. The lethal radius against unprotected, standing targets is about 10 ft (3.0 m) under optimum conditions. The M789 requires about 4 seconds to travel 1,000 m (3,300 ft). However, as the shell slows down, it takes over 18 seconds to cover 3,000 m (9,800 ft).

My fave. Yours?

90 Responses to Question of the Day: What’s Your Favorite Military Gun?

    • Same reasoning: the Winchester M1866 Musket. There never were that many infantry lever guns, with a bayonet and everything.

  1. Is the round the same as the A-10 cannon? How the heck does it take 4 seconds to reach 3300 feet? Like, 800 fps? I’m thinking that’s wrong, especially if it will reach 9800 feet *at all*. Last, will that mount fit my pickup? Looks like a contender.

        • Yes, sort of. The way it works is that it’s a linkless system for the M230, but the 30x113mm cartridges are held in those strips for transport/handling/loading.

          They get placed in a loader to reload the internal magazine for the M230’s feeder. By using those, you quickly reload the system, you don’t have dropped individual rounds, you don’t have issues with cartridges moving around in transit, and you don’t have to grab an armload. Just the strip of cartridges out of the can and into the loader. At worst, you have to make sure they’re all at the right spacing top to bottom, same as a belt, so that the loader can actually load the magazine.

          It’s like a box of ammo to load a mag, which would be single loaded, versus using stripper clips to reload a mag. Just upscaled.

        • Makes sense. Quick way to load hundreds of rounds of ammo.

          That 30mm looks like a hell of a way to knock on someone’s door.

  2. This isn’t a gun but deserves an Honorable Mention: The Scalable Offensive Hand Grenade (SOHG). Many problems can be solved with the thoughtful application of suitable high explosives.

    • A slight quibble, while it’s often referred to as a chain gun, that’s not a chain gun. However, I concur with the choice. Gatlings of any stripe are my fav.

  3. Good question.
    Sidearm, battle rifle, precision rifle, squad automatic, crew served, field artillery, mechanized, aircraft mounted or other?

    I’m thinking, I’m thinking…

  4. The 16 inch fifty caliber rifles off of the Iowa class. 2700 pound shell at 2700 feet per second. 24 mile range. Pretty spectacular. Supposedly can penetrate more than 30 feet of reinforced concrete.

  5. Browning Hi-Power. The weapon of choice for good guys & bad guys worldwide since 1935. From the SAS to the SS. From Saddam Hussein to me.

  6. As a whole unit, the iowa class battleship.
    The 16″/50 cal main guns of said battleship.
    For something that can be carried, i would say the m14. Good caliber, and a good looking rifle that is reliable.

  7. M256 120mm smoothbore gun. Primary armament aboard the M1A1 and A2 series tanks. It is capable of firing SABOT, HEAT, CANister, and MPAT ammunition against multiple types of targets, up to approximately 3700m. It is currently fielded in several nations armaments, including the US, Germany, and Israel. See below for details.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rheinmetall_120_mm_gun

  8. One of my earliest memories, from when I was around 5, was watching Audie Murphy rock the Ma Deuce on my grandparent’s old tube set. I wasn’t excited by the tanks, the explosions, the Germans dying by the bushel, etc.

    I just knew whatever that badass GI was using to mow down sad sack nazis, being a .50 gunner was permanently going to be at the top of my grown-up-job list.

    And when I knew I was going downrange the first time, I pestered my platoon sgt. endlessly about getting M2 qualified, until Top finally got tired of me making googly-eyes at the .50s and volunteering to clean them whenever the arms room was open….

    And so, I never had to clean another M16 besides than my own after coming back from field problems or deployments…. although I narrowly escaped going to work for my first Battalion permanently, because I knew how to make sadly neglected .50s run like champs.

    I’ve had my hands on some pretty rare, expensive, and badass firearms since then…. but just ain’t nothing ever going to replace the Browning Machine Gun, Cal. .50, M2, HB, Flexible.

    • I realize that tactically it was utterly worthless and had very limited strategic value but damnit it launched a shell the size of a VW Beetle.

      • Both the Schwerer Gustav and the Maginot line (what it was designed for) were created for the last great war. Tactics and technology had passed them by. Still it was an impressive piece, it’s shell weight was actually equal to 7 or more VW beetles. The rifles on the Missouri could shoot a shell weighing 2700 pounds. The Gustav could shoot a shell weighing 14000.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwerer_Gustav

  9. US Navy 5″ 38 dual mount. The gun and mounting are “officially” obsolete but still in service with some smaller navies. The gun was reliable, accurate and very fast firing for its day. When it was teamed up with the Mark 37 fire control system and proximity fused shells for AA work the US Navy became the first force that could actually shoot down aircraft from a moving platform with any degree of certainty. The 5″ 38 was effective against cruisers and even battleships – study the good work against the Hiei and the USN’s heroic action off Samar. It was also very useful against shore targets as great bunker buster.

    If the HMS Prince of Wales had been equipped with US 5′ 38s, quad 40mm Bofors mounts, and the Mark 37 fire control equipments I think that Tom Phillips would have had a much better day back in December 1941.

    • From what I’ve read the British 2 pounder quick firing gun(long way to say 40mm) had many issues. It had continuos jams and stoppages on the POW and Repulse during their last fight. And they had no tracer ammo. A single army Bofors gun in 40mm, not interchangeable with the 2 pounder round, found its way aboard the Repulse. It had tracer shells and the brits reported that Japanese bombers were seen to veer away and drop their bomb loads poorly when brought under fire by the tracer equipped Bofors.

      Those pilots apparently didn’t flinch at the 2 pounder fire because they didn’t see the incoming tracer rounds.

      The POW had no Bofors and their secondary battery consisted of twin, turret mounted, 5.25 inch guns. They had a low rate of fire and of traverse and they had no proximity fuse.

      By contrast the elderly Repulse had 4 inch aa mounts and that old ship lasted much longer in the fight and took much more damage before dying than did the POW.

      • POW was hit early on in the stern and that took out one and maybe two propeller shafts (I don’t have an account of the action in front of me to check but that’s what my imperfect memory says.) So POW was pretty much a sitting target. The Repulse being a smaller ship and a battle cruiser rather than a battleship was apparently much more maneuverable and her captain was able to evade a number of torpedoes. I’m led to believe that the damage control efforts on both ships were pretty poor – certainly no where near the later war standard that saved several major US ships with the best example being the carrier Franklin. I remember that they showed us a movie on the Franklin in boot camp (1970) to illustrate how much punishment a ship could take and still make it home.

        I agree that the British 5.25 secondary batteries were junk. I’ve read that the Brits were more worried about those big German Narvik destroyers which were almost light cruisers in some navies and they wanted a heavy shell that would deal with a big destroyer. They also thought that the main aerial threat would be high flying horizontal bombers and again they wanted a long range gun with a heavy shell. Instead the KGVs and Dido AA Cruisers had to shoot at fast dive and torpedo bombers and their AA armament just didn’t work very well against that threat. Their 4 and 8 barrel pom pom mounts looked impressive in the movies but they were heavy, slow firing and mechanically unreliable as you’ve noted. The later USN quad 40s were compact and light enough that you could bolt them down to almost any spare deck space, hook up power, provide an ammo supply and you were in the AA business with a chance of hitting something rather than just making noise. Note that the concept of “hitting something” was still relative even late in the war. I remember a statistic that said a modern late war US ship with a trained and experienced crew, proximity fused 5″ ammunition, and a well maintained Mk 37 fire control system still had to fire about 1000 rounds for each aircraft kill.

        Its significant that those numbers were considered to be several orders of magnitude better than the pre-war ships from all navies which relied on optical range finders, mechanical time fused AA shells, and open sights for the light AA weapons. Most of the pre war destroyers didn’t even have dual purpose main batteries. Their 4″ or 4.7″ guns were low angle only. Try pulling troops off the Dunkirk beaches with a sky full of JU88s and Stukas and one slow firing ww1 vintage 3″ AA gun, two water cooled Vickers .50 cals, and a couple of .303 Lewis guns. I’d take couple of Fletchers or Gearings into the narrow waters off Dunkirk and we might make it home in one piece. You’d need a real set of stones to try the same trick in those British antiques. I think it was Admiral Cunningham who said “It takes three years to build a navy but 300 years to build a tradition.”

        • At the end of ww1 the brits had a world wide empire and were tottering on bankruptcy. They went on the cheap for the next couple of decades and it cost them dearly when ww2 erupted.

          They’ve never fully recovered.

          The Repulse took a credible amount of damage and stayed in the fight. Battle cruiser, and old at that, she took a hell of a beating before she finally went down.

      • Fighter cover was available and did show up as the battle ended. Phillips maintained “radio silence” even after he had been spotted by Japanese aircraft. He could have called Australian fighters in when he knew his force had been spotted. Once an enemy force has spotted you, maintaining radio silence is simply foolish.

        “Radio Silence” was a religion in the military and it got a lot of men killed that could have lived.

        The survivors of the Juneau, Sullivan brothers included, were spotted by an army bomber on routine patrol. Hundreds of men in the water and the crew of the bomber maintained radio silence and completed their assigned patrol before verbally reporting the survivors on return to base.

        That message was then sent thru routine channels as tho it were a supply request for baby powder. In the end there were only 10 survivors of a crew of 700.

  10. In man portable
    Swedish K 9 mm sub machine gun
    FAL rifle in 7.62 – carried for years
    66 mm anti tank for knocking on doors
    338 lap for reaching out

    In vehicle and crew lots but Puff a favourite

  11. M1900-’06 Gattling gun the .30-06 conversion of the M1900 .30 army version

    there was a Field Artillery trainer in the 1930s that shot 1″ ballbearings with various powder charge blanks that with the smaller charges could be used indoors in large field houses for the training of Field Artillery ROTC cadets or outdoors with larger blanks over dirt or water to make spotting the impacts possible. it could even simulate a group of guns concentrating fire they were used withe the full set of instruments and plotting just called down… My father who used them at Yale in the 1934 to 38 period said they were amazingly accurate… that may have been an invasion /invention of that ROTC unit and not in common use as I have never found any info on them

  12. AK47, when you absolutely positively have to kill every muh humper in the room. The ak has killed more enemy and friend alike than any other weapon system on the planet.

  13. Stuck in the 60’s!

    Browning Hi Power
    Colt xm177e2
    FNFAL
    Winchester 1897 and Ithaca 37, slam fire trench brooms.

  14. M240b. Hauled it around and that part sucked but if I had to pick one gun to bet my life on and make a final stand that would be it

  15. Springfield model 1873 – Good enough for George Armstrong Custer, good enough for me.

  16. Nambu Type 14 – the pistol that inspired William F. Ru ger to start his own firearms company.

    • OK, NOW I see where you’re going with this.

      How about the Webley-Vickers .50-80, with which an excellent shot can unerringly hit his target at 300 feet using only his OFF-hand?

  17. For sheer function and artistry – a mauser 95 or 98.

    For just function on the cheap. – the Sten.

    One wonderfully accurate, one not

  18. M41A Pulse Rifle. Ten millimeter, with over-and-under thirty millimeter pump action grenade launcher. Standard issue rifle of the Colonial Marines.

  19. M1 Garand. Because it is a gun(a firearm) and not an airplane, a helicopter, or any other type of vehicle.

  20. The MACVSOG Death Machine. A chopped down M60 with an aircraft feed chute attached to a backpack containing a 500 round belt of ammo.

  21. The beloved 8″ self propelled Howitzer, Pig”. My God I fondly remember that beast coughing out those 204 lb rounds. I just do not miss lifting those things.

  22. Any 100+mm tube artillery whose crew can be convinced to zero on thaaaat distant smokestack and wait for radio call when an enemy sharpshooter uses the perch.

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