Back in the days of the American Revolution, a good soldier could complete two well-aimed, accurate shots in 60 seconds or less. Fast forward to the Civil War and that figure doubled to nearly four shots a minute for a highly-trained marksman. WWI saw the use of the 1914 machine gun, which took the Civil War rate of fire and multiplied it by 100 for 400-600 rounds per minute. WWII introduced the BAR, or Browning Automatic Rifle, which delivered about 850 rounds per minute. Hitler’s feared “Buzzsaw” machine gun struck fear into the hearts of Allied troops with its 1,500 rounds per minute max rate of fire. And modern machine guns used in the War on Terror (the M249 SAW is quite common) only achieves a rate of fire around 1,000 rounds per minute.
While 1,000 rounds of anything can certainly cause catastrophic battlefield damage, there are newer guns in the field today that make these weapons seem incomparable. Let’s look at some of the most powerful guns such as the GAU-8 Avenger, M134 Minigun, and Metal Storm.
The U.S. Air Force’s A-10 Thunderbolt is a low-altitude support plane that is designed to inflict lethal damage on enemy ground positions, tanks, buildings, and vehicles. The centerpiece of this impressive airplane is its GAU-8 Gatling gun, designed by General Electric, and blessed with a rate of fire of 4,200 rounds per minute. And, each cartridge fires an incendiary projectile that weighs a whopping 6,096 grains or nearly a pound. That’s the equivalent of more than 50 standard 9mm bullets per round. The gun itself is longer than an average full-size pickup truck and weighs as much as two VW Beetles.
Let’s say you don’t have a U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt to fly around in, but you still want to experience serious full-auto power. Consider the M134 Minigun - in service since 1963. This weapon weighs as little as 41 pounds but packs quite the punch with a rate of fire up to 6,000 rounds per minute. The 7.62mm NATO rounds are a common battlefield caliber and have an effective range of about 1,000 yards. Maximum load out is about 5,000 rounds on a massive linked belt, which could theoretically be depleted in about 50 seconds if the trigger is held tight. Hollywood loves this gun, as does the U.S. military - it is in use today across a variety of platforms.
Now 6,000 rounds per minute is pretty impressive, but the Metal Storm is simply in a league of its own. Designed by an Australian weapons company of the same name, this incredible unit was first picked up by the U.S. Navy for use on destroyers, battleships, and fast response units, and fires an unbelievable 16,000 rounds…per second. That equates to a million rounds per minute, which absolutely destroys anything put in its path. A Metal Storm gun can fire the same rounds in one second that an M134 Minigun could fire in two and a half minutes. You won’t see one of these at the local gun range anytime soon - but it’s sure great that the U.S. military has such an awe-inspiring weapon in its arsenal.
There is nothing quite like the thrill of shooting a machine gun in full-auto mode - and the exhilaration of firing off a full magazine of high-velocity ammo is something that must be felt to be appreciated. Visit your preferred shooting range today to experience the thrill firsthand.