The History of Automatic Firearms

In a "Short" timeline.

1364 - First Recorded Use of a Firearm

The first firearm was a European touchlock rifle. It was muzzle-loaded, steadied with one hand, and fired by inserting a flaming wick into a hole in the barrel. Essentially a pipe full of BOOM! It would've been similar to the one pictured below. Later firearms had a trigger for the wick, which gave better stability and made the gun practical for hunting and military uses.
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1540 - Rifling Appears in Firearms

Barrels are first bored out to spin the soft metal bullet. While slightly lowering muzzle velocity, this allowed for unparalleled accuracy. This innovation is what made smaller firearms and sniper rifles practical. The one pictured below is of a tank barrel. (Most tanks, however, are smoothbore, or lacking rifling)
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1835 - The First Colt Revolver

The first multi-shot firearm is invented. This could fire multiple rounds before needing to reload, using half-cartridges. The revolver was invented before this, but it was usually unable to fire more than a single shot without disintegrating. Colt's used a percussion cap primer, the type used in bullets today. The earlier models were flintlocks, adding about three hundred more points of failure.
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1860 - Spencer Repeater Patented

The spencer repeating carbine was the first multi-shot rifle, lever action, able to fire seven rounds in fifteen seconds. This rifle wasn't immediately adopted, due to the drain on ammunition. This rifle was widely used by Union cavalry and artillery crews.
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1862 - The Gatling Gun is Invented

A chain fed, crank operated death thrower. Needless to say, very shiny. This wasn't considered fully automatic, as it required the user to constantly operate the crank. Various bore, sometimes water cooled, and as inaccurate as a shotgun at a mile range. Electric models were later invented, but never used because of inadequate battery technology.
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1885 - First Automatic Rifle

Hiram Maxim invented the first automatic rifle. This used a recoil operated system to fire 500 Rounds per Minute. (The fire rate is the maximum. Depending on caliber, practical rate may be limited to semi-automatic. Some firearms can fire faster than the RPM when using a "burst" mode of fire.) The Maxim Gun was often bored out to a larger caliber and mounted on the bows of ships. The recoil operated mechanisms reduced recoil and barrel heating, but the gun still required a water coolant system.
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1918 - First Shipment of Thomsons

The first shipment of Thompson Submachine guns (Handheld automatics chambered in pistol ammunition) arrives in New York on the last day of WWI. This was a standard for military use, and saw many civilian purchases. With a 50 round drum clip, fore-grip, and a vertical recoil dampener attachment, it is nicknamed the "Tommy Gun" by gangsters.
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1932 - ShKAS machine gun

The ShKAS machine gun (Usually aircraft mounted) is the fastest firing machinegun (Not a minigun) in the world and is, naturally, Russian. 3,000 7.62x54mm rounds being sprayed at your face every minute. Fifty rounds every second. Each of these bullets are the diameter of a dime, and half an inch long. The bullet was sometimes carried by Soviet snipers, a very inadvisable act, as (And I Quote) "There is a distinct risk that a Mosen rifle firing such ammunition might explode in the operator's face." Why haven't we armed every single soldier with one of these yet?
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1934 - Firearms act of 1934

Ah, gun control. No automatics for random people! Nothing good about this!

1943 - M3 "Grease Gun"

Cheap, simple, and ugly. Named after the grease gun it appeared as. Lots of service with paratroopers and glider crews. Intended to replace the Thompson. Only slightly more reliable than the MP5 (Jam, Jam, Jammety, Jam Jam Jam). Most soldiers kept them loaded, but the ejector down. Flip the casing ejector up, and you were killing Nazis.
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1944 - STG44

Dubbed the "Storm Rifle", this german assault rifle was produced under the name MP43. Hitler wanted another Submachine gun, and not an assault rifle. It turns out, the gun was a great idea; something that Hitler was incapable of. This rifle wasn't produced until late-war and didn't make much of a difference.
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1946 - AK47

Designed by Калесхнакож (Kaleshnakov, Obviously a Russian) with no firearms design experience to be the most reliable gun in the world, it succeeded! This gun could be buried in the sahara for six years, thrown out into the Antarctic snow storms, left underwater for a few weeks, be set on fire, and still work. This gun will never jam, has little to no vertical recoil, and fires at 600 rounds per minute. It was based off of the STG44 in appearance and function. 75 million AKs were produced. However, whenever somebody sees an AK, they think: BAD GUY!
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1966 - MK19

And, because I can, THE AUTOMATIC GRENADE LAUNCHER!!! 375 grenades per minute, six grenades per second, 2.2 kilometer range. Each grenade with a five meter lethal blast radius. The launcher can also fire a small nuclear warhead (But it is never used in combat, for obvious reasons), or other types of specialized ammunition, including thermobaric, thermite, sponge grenades (Pretty much Nerf), buckshot, and tear gas. Please remind me why I don't own one.
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1985 - M249 Light Machinegun

The SAW (Squad Assault Weapon) was designed to replace the M16A1 as the bullet hose of any fire team. 200 round box magazine, 800RPM fire rate, 3.5 Kilometer range, a whopping 18 pounds, and 3,000 feet per second bullet speed. This is the current Light Machine Gun (LMG) of most armed forces. It's called the SAW for a reason.
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(Very Literally) The Impact of Automatic Firearms

Automatic firearms have no practical civilian use, as hunting firearms require accuracy and not ludicrous numbers of bullets. The sole reason that a civilian would own one would be for the fun of shooting it. The only thing automatic firearms are used for is as weapons. The automatic weapon (Specifically the machine gun) has done nothing but make humans more effective killers, and causing unintentional loss of life. Is this really what we need in the pursuit of peace... who am I kidding? They make loud noises, bright lights, and hit things with great force. What more could we ask for? These things are stupidly fun! (And that is the reason for the cold war. Each country has enough nukes to destroy the entire world six times over, and just makes more because they make pretty clouds, and it's fun to have big explosives.)

Works Cited


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Opfer, Chris. "What's the Difference between a Semi-automatic Weapon and a Machine Gun?" HowStuffWorks., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.

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"- Electrically Powered Gatling Gun Since the Late..." - Electrically Powered Gatling Gun Since the Late... N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2015.

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"MP38(L)." Forgotten Weapons. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2015.

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"Samuel Colt Sells First Revolver to the US Military." Fold3 Spotlights. N.p., 06 Jan. 2012. Web. 29 Sept. 2015.

"Tacti-cool StG44 Rifles." The Firearm Blog. N.p., 25 Mar. 2009. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.

"Tag Archives: Gear." Reflexive Fire. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.

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"Thompson Submachine Gun; The Tommy Gun." Thompson Submachine Gun; The Tommy Gun. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2015.