Navy M4 carbine
080725-N-4236E-391 ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 25, 2008) Fire Controlman Seaman Rachel Hubley fires an M4 carbine from the fantail of the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72). Vella Gulf is participating in Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 08-4 as a part of the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Chad R. Erdmann/Released)
Previous Post
Next Post

One of the phrases that frequently gets tossed around by anti-gun activists — people like noted firearms experts Emma Gonzalez and Justin Trudeau — is “military grade weapons.” The connotation, of course, is usually modern sporting rifles such as the AR-15 or so-called “high capacity” pistols, though high capacity is all rather relative and conveniently undefined.

“Military grade” is, of course, a colloquialism that, when followed to the letter, actually describes such a long list of firearms that the term becomes completely meaningless. Which is exactly the point of most of those who use it.

A huge number of the most popular firearms owned in America and around the world started out as military weaponry. For instance, all of the following guns have been either issued by our armed forces or a foreign military unit in some form in the past 50 years:

The Browning Hi-Power was actually the most commonly issued sidearm going due to the the sheer number of its adopters. Canada, the UK, Belgium and more than 50 other nations selected the Hi-Power as their standard issue military pistol.

Yes, even the diminutive Smith & Wesson Airweight J-frame revolver was issued – in limited numbers – to some pilots in the Vietnam War and beyond. 

The Smith & Wesson Model 10, a K-frame .38 Special, was issued to personnel on guard duty in the US armed forces (on a limited basis, but widely enough) from the Second World War all the way into Desert Storm. Additionally, the Model 10 was the service revolver of several dozen countries, even into the late 20th century.

Two of the most popular bolt action rifles in the world have seen extensive military service.


During the Vietnam War, a number of pre-64 Winchester Model 70 rifles were issued to Marine Corps snipers, Carlos Hathcock being a famous example. These rifles had been gone over by the Marine Corps armory, of course, but were still production rifles.

That conflict also saw deployment of the Remington Model 700 bolt action rifle, known by the military as the M24. It’s served in sniper roles from Viet Nam conflict into the Operation Enduring Freedom, albeit with modifications by the US Army and US Marine Corps as those branches saw fit. Both branches are in the process of switching to a new sniper rifle platform, but both are still based – oddly enough – on the venerable 700’s action.

The Beretta M9 — or the 92FS as you may know it — was the US military’s standard sidearm for over a generation until just recently. It’s also widely owned by millions of civilians and is one of the more popular semi-automatic handguns on the market.

Much to the chagrin of the plastic pistol posse, the classic 1911 remains one of the most popular handguns on the civilian market. John Moses Browning’s design saw military duty from 1911 until just a few years ago when the last special operations unit still using the 1911 moved to the GLOCK 19.

Mossberg 500 shotgun
Travis Pike for TTAG

Oh, and don’t forget that home defense shotgun. Your Mossberg 500 is otherwise known as the Army’s M500. Shotguns like the 500 have been used by the military going back to the trenches of World War I.

And so on and so forth. Everything from the Colt Pocket Hammerless to the garden variety GLOCK 17 has been issued and used by our military and others in war time for over a century. So just like every gun grabber’s favorite label — “assault weapon” — the term “military grade” doesn’t really mean anything at all any more since it could technically apply to almost any firearm in civilian use today.

What about you, though? What “military grade weapons” do you have in your collection?

Previous Post
Next Post


    • Agreed. I think this point – as well as the foundational purpose for the very existence of the 2A – needs to be bullhorned to everyone. We should be sticking with it, not shying away and acquiescing to the Fudd mentality whenever some politico or rainbow-haired vegan Lefty grabs the microphone in a town hall meeting.

      Are you reading this, NRA? Are any of LaPierre’s or Marrion’s interns in the habit of perusing TTAG to glean the true grassroots sentiment across the landscape?

    • There is no such thing as Military Grade weapons, just like there is no such thing as Assault Weapons.

      It is a term made up by gun grabbers to fool the stupid and gullible into thinking they are extra killy and do not belong in the hands of law-abiding citizens.

      Unfortunately, it is working because most voter are stupid and gullible. It’s a brilliant plan to decieive.

      • “It is a term made up by gun grabbers to fool the stupid and gullible”

        Otherwise known as potential democrat voters. If it weren’t for ignorance and propaganda, how would the democrats ever win an election? Imagine them being honest and relying on scientific data. “We need to take these scary looking guns that are extremely common, yet rarely used to murder someone! Who’s with me?”

        • They also do voter fraud. My uncle was a staunch conservative his whole adult life, but voted dem in the last election. I don’t think he would have done that if he were alive.

        • Here’s another type of fraud they committed. Many people voted dem in the 2018 midterm elections because of the Russia hoax. Remember the coverage at the time? The Mueller team knew in 2017 that it was a hoax, yet they never leaked that info like they did other tidbits. They never even mentioned that in their summary. Adam Schiff knew it was hoax, but he took the opposite position in the media, and of course the media and the rest of the dems were perfectly fine playing along because it’s about power, not principles.

          Now we’re learning that VP Joe Biden was in on it as well.

      • Absolutely right, “d”. Those names are just names given to firearms to help instill a fear in the general populace who are mostly too ignorant of firearms to know the difference. Heck, at one time, the single shot musket was a military weapon. Big Whoop! The thing is, the 2nd Amendment does NOT differentiate between firearms as to which one is “more dangerous” than another and which one is to be a “sporting” weapon. To the committed “gun grabber”, all weapons are “assault weapons”, unless, of course, those weapons are owned by the gun grabber, at which point, they become “defense weapons”. Interesting that many “gun grabber” politicians are awfully glad to get their mitts on our weapons, whether they be bolt action, semi-auto or lever action, while they, the “elite” have their own full time ARMED security to protect them. I would love to see Pitiful Pelosi, Horrible Hillary, Obama and/or their cohorts, dropped down in the mieeld of the “ghetto” without their security and see what these Libtards would do. Probably freeze up and hunkier down, crying for the police dept.

      • I rather like “weapons of war”. That’s just ambiguous enough that you can lump every firearm into that definition. But then, if the 2nd Amendment is intended to recognize the rights of armed citizens to oppose governmental tyranny. it also pretty clearly intends for armed citizens to have the kinda of weaponry necessary for opposing tyrannical governments—all of whom can be counted on to be defending their oppression and illegality with similarly armed military and police.

      • A hammer is an ‘Assault Weapon’ if it used to assault someone. According to some women, creepy/sleepy Joe has an assault weapon below the belt.

    • FUDDs would be truly shocked if they found out their Remchesterby hunting rifle was based on 1903 Springfield and/or P14/M17 Enfield which in turn were based on 1892/95/98 pattern Mauser rifles.

      The only changes were made for closer tolerances and cheaper production.

      • Got it backwards, bud.

        The Enfield was the precursor to Remingtons bolt guns.

        The 03 was a derivation of a Mauser design.

        Theft is the sincerest form of flattery.

        • “Theft is the sincerest form of flattery.”

          In the end, Mauser won the court case over patent infringement by Springfield. The post WW1 money was likely a live-saver for the company, at the time.

        • The path was going backwards from the current rifles through the Springfield and Enfield to the Mauser designs.

    • No duh. Like I would buy a gun with the title “civilian grade” or “pedestrian grade”. Its my money and I want the best it can afford. If I had more money I would be buying better then military grade arms.

    • For what it is worth, the city I live in considers my 22LR pistol an assault weapon because it has a threaded barrel.

  1. Well No Chit Sherlock,firearms are tools and the human person decides how to utilize said tools, now if the average Leftard could reason that simple fact.

    • “Leftard could reason that simple fact” LMFAO! Your kidding right??
      The gun grabbing left are a group of ignorant and clueless idealists who don’t want a conversation. It’s like religion with them; DON’T QUESTION, OBEY! Their position is fiction which is incompatible with facts.

  2. well, actually military grade is rather poor. whats available in the civillian market can be rather high quality surpassing “military grade”. Should tell them that it’s more dangerous that previous thought.

    • Lever-action rifles like the ones I own were what U.S. military troops *wished* they had back when the West was being won. The military was stuck on single-shot Springfields while civilians ran around with cool Winchester repeaters. Civilians should always be able to outdo the military.

    • Like everything the Left says, the term “military grade” isn’t meant to be taken seriously or thought about. Its a buzz phrase like “assault weapon” or “climate change” that low information people can use to sound smart in conversations. If you ask them to think about these phrases, their brains melt and they start screaming.

    • Exactly right.
      I may be incorrect, but I think I remember the standard for the M16A1 was 2-4moa on paper. Everything I have now is vastly superior to what they issued us in 1982.
      The wool cold weather gear we had before Goretex was military grade too.

  3. military grade is pretty easily surpassed. many designs were the canvas for an upgraded product.

  4. I have a cap lock rifle in my safe. It is functionally identical to “military grade” weaponary from the Civil War.

    • I have a Springfield Model 1873 Trapdoor rifle in my safe. Single shot. It IS a military weapon. Custer had the carbine version at Little Big Horn. Will they ban that too? Is there a single firearm out there, black powder included, that couldn’t be used in an armed conflict? When they say “military grade” and “weapons of war”, they mean everything. They want them ALL. Everyone should keep this in mind the next time they hear the word “compromise”. Think about it.

  5. Dunno if I could fight a war with my S&W Sport…or my pistols. Or shotgun. But I could give it a go😃😎😏

    • Ask the Afghan goatherders about how they held the Soviets and their military hardware at bay for two decades before the Russkies finally gave up. Or how our own incursions into the area were frustrated by insurgents and their brick-a-brack weaponry. If I can take out a ground squirrel at 50 yds with my .22LR and iron sights, I’m sure most of us could ruin the day for a contingent of invaders (or traitors) with scoped ARs or deer rifles. And then there are all the options for asymmetric warfare (caltrops, thermite, fuel sabotage, et al).

      Wolverines. Just remember the Wolverines.

      • “Ask the Afghan goatherders about how they held the Soviets and their military hardware at bay for two decades….”

        Well I can tell your hearts in the right place but it was December 24, 1979 – February 15, 1989. That’s about 10 months short of 1 decade.

        Other than that though – Right on!

        PS to the next poster who’s going to say “Don’t stop him, he’s on a roll”- I know, I know.

        • You pulled those dates from Wikipedia (chuckle, snort). But you’re correct. I must have been conflating the length of engagement with another “war” that lasted a very long time because it struggled to achieve its goals.

          What was it, again?…lemme put on my thinking cap…

          Oh yes. The War On Terror. Announced January 2002 and still going…

        • Haz – I absolutely did! I really though it was over a decade but not 20 years for sure.

          Just trying to keep everyone honest LOL.

  6. You missed the original .44 caliber Henry. In use (in limited numbers) during the War of Northern Aggression. Specifically, one used by Marine Lt. Frank Church who commanded a detachment of Marines during the Red River Expedition in 1864.

    Reference: Civil War Marine, A Diary of the Red River Expedition, 1864 . A downloadable copy is available on the Internet Archive.

  7. The whole basis of this article is idiotic. At one time…all militarizes used black powder, single shot, muzzle loaders. Militarizes have bought plenty of .22 caliber target pistols like the Colt Woodsman or High Standard models. What isn’t “military grade”?

    • Maddcapp,
      That IS the whole point of the article. The term is meaningless except to influence the uninformed voter. And the Communists on the left know it.

  8. I’d wager that throughout much of U.S. history, private citizens have often owned weapons (especially rifles) that were or are actually superior to standard military issue of the time. Making “military grade” a doubly stoopid talking point.

    But then, the point with these folks is never to have legitimate debate. It’s all about finding ways to scare people and dig away at the foundations of the 2nd Amendment in the process.

  9. A She-52.
    Kinda unique. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. Found some ammo, shot it.
    An FR-8. Probably the best truck gun I’ve found yet.

  10. Very few sporting arms, self defense or police arms can be named that did not have roots in military arms development. Some sporting and police arms have moved in the opposite direction, but relatively few.

    For example the early Remington and Winchester semiauto hunting rifles moved first into law enforcement and then into military use in WW1. Before machine guns were mounted to early fighter planes, semiauto sporting rifles turned up there as offensive military arms.

    So heck yeah, most firarms in the USA are of military origin or have heavy military influence in their design.

    This is not a fault or a reason for concern. It is a naturally ocurring fact of firearms design evolution and exactly as it should be.

  11. Yugoslav M24/47. Great gun. Basic design goes back to 1895.

    I used to work at a range in Texas. One gentleman brought in his (great?) grandfather’s military issue 1911 from the First World War. Had a stamp on it said it was patented in 1895.

  12. The only military grade weapon I have is Brutal Ivan the Moist Nugget.

    On a very good day I give it a grade of D+.

    • There’s an awful lot of German soldiers who would disagree with you.
      If they didn’t get killed by a 91/30.

      • Gotta agree with you. My 91/30’s will ring steel at 400 yards, probably further if range limitations weren’t in place. One caveate; Timney triggers make a tremendous difference. Something Ivan didn’t have.

  13. Lets see, bow and arrows, slingshots, spears, tomahawks, even the lowly entrenching tool has been used as “military weapons.” Such nomenclature is meaningless and serves only to inflame the emotions of the ignorant by manipulative politicians.

    • Of course. And also, of course, we need to define what constitutes a “military”. Would that include the warriors of native tribes for example, either on the North American Continent or any other spot that people have inhabited in the last, say 10,000 years. 🙂

    • Go visit the Special Forces museum at Ft Bragg NC. There you will see the cross bows used by soldiers in Vietnam.

  14. A military can and will use nearly every weapon there is, including large sticks.
    I’m not seeing the relevancy. The USC doesn’t have a clause saying the serfs can’t use what the military can use.

    The point is we should be able to defend ourselves with the same tools our soldiers do.

  15. One among many useless non-sense words and phrases.

    Saturday Night Special
    Ghost Guns
    CZAR (of whatever)
    Etc etc etc

  16. For about 130 years after the founding of this country civilians ALWAYS had Superior weapons compared to the government. And we were much safer that way.

    Never forget it was civilians who first purchased sub machine guns in large quantities first. The government was not interested.

    • You are talking about the Thompson correct? I have read that having failed to seduce the military it was marketed to civilians, people with large cattle ranches ect.

      • Yes. Civilian sales of the Thompson saved the Auto Ordnance company. Long before WW2. People forget just how long it takes to help in a rural area. And it took even longer in the 1920s America.

    • Until the eve of WWII civilians had superior weapons because of bureaucratic nature of military procurement. Arguably the large civilian market provided beta testers for future military firearms. Gun owners forget that the military requires a logistics train to support a weapon. That is why the military often sticks with older equipment longer than they should.

      • Well the A4 for the m16 (A3 as well but never saw those) and the A1 for the M4 were largely upgrades developed by civilian shooters’ refinements and tinkering.

  17. I read a bio on Hathcock. Seem to remember he was quite insensed when forced to surrender his Winchester, and accept what he considered inferior: the Remington.

    On the other hand, he may have appreciated the reduced weight of either rifle compared to his MA-duce setup used originally.

  18. This was discussed here years back when there was a proposed law to ban anything that was “military” or “significantly similar” to a military design.

    IIRC, the general consensus was that taken to its logical extreme, such a rule banned nearly everything other than some derringer type guns, a few bird/clay guns and some exotic big game rifles. Everything else met the definition for being banned.

    • “IIRC, the general consensus was that taken to its logical extreme, such a rule banned nearly everything other than some derringer type guns, a few bird/clay guns and some exotic big game rifles. Everything else met the definition for being banned.”

      And why not?

      Individuals do not need weapons of war for target shooting and hunting. The Second Amendment is not about waging war on the public, right? Not about waging war on the government, right? The Second Amendment is about the National Guard, police and prison guards. We aren’t controlled by the king of England. No need to declare more independence. Time marches on, and in a civilized, modern society, time marches without guns and other really noisy devices that are made only for the military. Weapons of war require well trained soldiers to operate, not everyday Joey Baggadonuts civilians. If you’ve done nothing wrong, there is no reason to fear your government. Turn your guns into plowshares, come in from the cold and rain; embrace a compassionate, caring, expert, all-knowing government to make you free from want and envy.

      Workers of the World, Unite !!

  19. I believe the AR15 was originally designed for civilian use. The military, m16, use came much latter.

    • “I believe the AR15 was originally designed for civilian use. The military, m16, use came much latter.”

      That doesn’t matter (pooh on you for bringing the timeline into the discussion). All that matters is the AR15 is “substantially the same” as the M-16. They look almost identical. They both can accept large capacity magazines. Both rifles can be built to accept deadly silencers. The AR15 and the M16 use the same ammunition, bullets for war (.223/.5.6mm). Both can accept the same accessories (including that little thingy that goes up in the back). Both are black. Both have sling swivels. the AR15 and the M16 can be made to have collapsible stocks, or folding stocks. In fact the only difference is a switch to go between full automatic and fully semi-automatic shooting. One part, that’s it.

      • My dear Sam, can you name one single person killed by a silencer? Just one. it doesn’t shoot. It doesn’t have a sharp edge. It cannot even be used as a good hammer since it is hollow. So please, name one person this deadly silencer has killed. Now I can easily look up how many people were killed by your deadly ord, Chevy, Toyota or whatever in the last hour.

        • Sam’s in sarc mode today.

          Also, given the number of people and the oddball accidents that occur someone, somewhere, at some point probably has been killed by a silencer in a freak accident.

          If I dropped my 223P1 off a three or four story building it’s definitely heavy enough (14.7oz) to kill someone that it hits in the head if they’re not wearing a helmet.

          Crazier training accidents that were lethal have occurred and people have done dumber shit that killed or seriously injured someone.

        • “My dear Sam, can you name one single person killed by a silencer?”

          Dear Chief….

          Here’s an idea: next time you are in your favorite retail store, inquire at Customer Service the location of the department where you can purchase a sense of humor.

          The clues were all there.

      • It’s actually three parts–full auto selector, full auto disconnector and auto sear…

        • “It’s actually three parts–full auto selector, full auto disconnector and auto sear…”

          Oh, pshaw. Details, details, details. The selector is one switch, one part. Just replace the two positionseledtor with a three position selector, and bang, full screaming automatic fire. The worst of it is anyone can buy that selector switch, and the parts are not serialized, nor is a background check required. Everybody knows that, it’s settled science.

    • That’s incorrect. The AR15 was designed for military use. And the US military was using select fire AR15s in combatbefore the first semi auto AR15 was available for civilian sale.

  20. The point can be argued that just about every firearm out there, from muzzle loading flintlocks to the current AR platform was a “military grade” firearm at some point in it’s history. The calibers may differ, but the lineal descent from military armory to the home hearth is still there. Even break open single shot shotguns and rifles are descended from military issued arms.
    Since “We the People” are in fact, the militia, our founders all agreed upon. We’ve the affirmed God Given Right to defend our Constitution, our country, our communities, our home, and ourselves and loved ones with whatever we decide.

  21. A sniper with a 22 caliber rifle can and has controlled the battlefield. As the saying goes, “any sniper rifle is better than no sniper rifle at all”.

  22. A friend of mine used to be a Civil War reenactor. He has a replica Enfield Musket. Definately a military grade weapon.

    • My friend’s dad had one of those when we were growing up. Really cool gun.

      Not as cool as his collection of (functional) medieval crossbows, but still damn cool.

  23. What about all of the technological advancements that are military grade. Better put down that cell phone that’s military grade. Better get the paper maps out, that gps is military grade.

    • Exactly…. so are the military hating liberals going to ban military style canteens or camouflaged poncho liners because the thinking is that if it was used by or issued to military personnel that any use by civilians must be only to harm others?

      Because then we have to ban or restrict duck tape, paracord, Silly Putty (Oh yeah, the compound now sold as a kid’s toy was an attempt to create a sealing compound for military use) and anything use by or created for or simply sold to the military. Of course why would any company not attempt to acquire a military contract which would result in millions of sales. That’s the American way. It’s free enterprise and smart business.

      I guess the anti-gun, bleeding hearts who feel they can outlaw anything harmful would have us give up our modern forearms for slingshots, lawn mowers for a scythe and cars in favor of horses.

      • My lawnmower has a silencer. Others call it a muffler. Same type of design. Somehow, my lawnmower can still be heard from a distance.

  24. I thought I was buying a non military revolver an hour ago.
    My #1 want left on the handgun list. A 5 inch barrel S&W .44 mag.
    I called. I wrote. I did everything I could to make sure it was a 5 inch barrel.
    The company confirmed in writing and verbally.
    Yes. It’s a 5” barrel.

    As soon as I saw the box. I knew.
    6” barrel. It says so right on the factory box.
    I put the tape to it. Yup. 6 inch barrel.
    I didn’t even do any paperwork. Already got one. Don’t want it.

    I’m so bummed.
    The guy on the phone was very apologetic and seemed to understand.
    Blah, blah, blah. Refund some day. Blah, blah, blah.

    I’ll never, ever, do business with that company again. And I’ll badmouth them at every opportunity.

    Can’t stand liars.

    Vent off/

    • Fuck. Don’t you just hate when that happens. I was looking forward to your review of the new five incher.

      Years ago I got hands on one of those British ww2 contract S&W .38s that had been sold surplus. My understanding is they were all 6 inchers. Somewhere before i got it it had been cut to 5.

      Handy damn length. Just too bad it was in the .38 S&W caliber.

      • They were made in 4,5, and 6 inchers. I have one of each in 38 S&W.

        Lots of fun to shoot and cheap to reload. I use 38 special swaged lead bullets and 125 g JHPs. Work fine.

        If you just want a woods gun or farm fun, they do yeoman work.

        Also great for teaching DA trigger skills.

  25. Always found it ironic nearly every weapon in existence was at one time put into Military service. Thus making every weapon “Military Grade” the argument at that point should be moot for owning these weapons but apparently not.

  26. My guns are better than military grade. They weren’t designed by a committee and manufactured by the lowest bidder.

  27. I have a large bag of Mil-Spec elastic catapults. Put a wad of Covid-19 in the center, pull, and fire! instant CBR weaponry.

  28. In the revolutionary war, the British army never had a chance against the “Military grade” muskets of the colonists.

  29. We all know that “military grade weapons” is just anti-gun talk for modern sporting rifles. However to be a real “military grade weapon, you would have to add a “giggle switch” to said firearm. I have not seen a modern military gas operated shoulder fired weapon without one. The Barrett is the exception though.

  30. I have a zip gun my brother made from a car antenna back in the ’60s when he was a teenaged reprobate. I bet that’s not military grade.

  31. Just in the last week and a half there was an article about a Michigan legislator who was scared of the “assault rifle” bearing protesters and was escorted to the Capitol building by volunteer men and women carrying “large rifles” to protect the lawmaker. Those men and women were carrying the same rifles the the protesters were carrying!
    Just change the term and it’s all okay!

  32. The sheer stupidity and denial by you folks that you’re treating deadly weapons like toys, is astounding. Here’s the simple truth about guns, they’re designed and created for this SOLE purpose:


    That is an indisputable fact, do your research. The fact that we own them for sport or “protection” is rooted in fear and denial, but do not delude yourselves into thinking they’re harmless toys. They’re NOT FUCKING TOYS. For the record, more “Killy” means they’re more affective at killing multiple targets, i.e. HUMAN BEINGS at a rapidly higher rate. I’m surprised you’d be stupid enough to dismiss it as a political conspiracy when it is in fact a weapon’s feature.
    If you respect the History and ingenuity of weapons, and know how to be a responsible owner, I’m all for it. But you have this idiot teenager, along with these mass shooters giving all of us a bad name.

    It starts here, with these guys writing up these idiotic articles about “The truth”. Go fuck yourself

  33. In terms of application, thermal imaging cameras find extensive use in military and law enforcement operations. Their advanced digital properties make them ideal for evidentiary purposes in legal cases. Initially designed for firefighting, these cameras have evolved to cater to various sectors, becoming increasingly popular among hunters as well. Hunters can benefit from the technology to spot and track animals in challenging terrains, capturing the entire process through photos and videos that can be conveniently transferred to mobile devices for later review.

Comments are closed.