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.
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?