10 Guns That Have Shaped The Course Of American History

With more than 90 guns per 100 citizens and a constitutional right to bear arms, the United States has a close history with guns.

A new book, American Gun, details the 10 firearms that have the biggest stake in American history.

The author is Chris Kyle, a legendary Navy SEAL who died in April as a result of gunshot wounds when a Marine veteran with post traumatic stress disorder turned his weapon on Kyle at a Texas shooting range.

As a Navy SEAL sniper, Kyle holds the record for the most confirmed kills in American military history, with 160, but he perhaps killed as many as 255. The insurgents in Iraq placed a bounty on his head and called him the Devil of Ramadi.

Kyle was working on a book about the guns that defined America before his death, and it has now been published posthumously.

These guns were wielded by revolutionaries, carried across the frontier, and loaded in the trenches. They hold as much of a piece in American history as any other advancement in technology.

The Spencer Repeating Rifle — while most of the soldiers in the Civil War went to battle with muskets, this rifle enabled Union troops to fire as many as 20 rounds per minute.

The M1903 Springfield — This bolt-action rifle was fed by a five-round magazine and really staked its claim in the trenches in World War I. It remained on active service as a sniper rifle through the Vietnam War.

The M1911 Pistol — This .45-calibre pistol was the standard issue sidearm for the U.S. military from 1911-1985. Durable and powerful, it's still in use by Army special forces, and elite units in the Navy and Marine Corps.

The M1 Garand — As the first standard issue semi-automatic rifle, this weapon redefined small-arms combat the world over. It had a huge stake in World War II and the Korean War.

The .38 Special Police Revolver — Unlike early revolvers, which were single action — meaning that pulling the trigger performed only the action of releasing the hammer, and the shooter had to pull the hammer back — the .38 special was double action, meaning it did not have to be cocked.

The M16 Rifle — Despite its slow start in the Vietnam war, where the weapon was prone to not feed rounds into the chamber properly during moments of intense combat, the M16 has ironed out its kinks and is currently the standard weapon of choice for the U.S. armed forces, where it has performed flawlessly through the first Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

But that's just American military history. See how things stack up on the global scale.

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