This is the third installment of a countdown of the 50 greatest classic firearms of all time. I have eliminated guns that are not generally available to the American public, such as the select fire Soviet AK-47 and World War II German STG-44 assault rifles. To make this list, the firearm in question has to be available to the public, made a significant contribution to the shooting sports or the national defense. Here are the next five.
36. U.S. Model 1861 Rifle Musket. This rifle was a stone killer in the civil war. It was used by both sides and set a standard for accuracy and power that following military rifles were forced to live up to. Although it was time consuming and dangerous to load (the loader had to stand up to seat the powder and ball. It was supremely reliable and durable. I had become an icon in American history.
37. Henry rifle. The Henry was the first practical lever action rifle. Had the North used it in large numbers during the Civil War, it might have changed history. The Henry did, however, set the pattern for subsequent lever guns like the Winchester 1866 and 1873. For 1860 technology, it was simply a marvel.
38. M1 Carbine. This handy little rifle has held a special place in shooters hearts for years. Designed as a replacement for the pistol, the M1 carbine was lightweight and reliable. The M1 carbine’s service in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, has made it a sought after collectable. It’s detractors point out the weakness and lack of stopping power of the .30 M1 carbine cartridge. But to many Americans, its flaws are forgivable. The M1 carbine introduced shooters to military style semi automatic firearms with detachable magazines. The M1 carbine set the standard for intermediate cartridge self defense rifles.
39. Mosin Nagant M 91 rifle. The long obsolete Mosin Nagant can still be found on distant battlefields today. Not as a primary battle rifle, but as a sniper rifle, militia or police rifle. Tens of millions were produced by Tzarist Russia, the Soviet Union, Red China, and even a number under contract in the United States during World War I. Thousands have been sold to American sportsmen and civilian shooters at very attractive prices over the last two decades. To people on a budget, the Mosin Nagant 1891 series of rifles and carbines has opened the door to high power rifle shooting.
40. Remington Rolling block rifle. The Rolling Block was the perennial “2nd place” rifle of the 19th century. It was second to the legendary Sharps in fame during the great era of buffalo hunting. The Rolling Block also placed second to the Trapdoor Springfield series of rifles in U.S. service. However, the Rolling Block accrued a very respectable number of foreign military contracts and it was used all over the world in latter half of the 19th century. The rolling block also did something that the Sharps and Trapdoor could not do, it was successfully adapted to smokeless powder cartridges. In 7mm Spanish Mauser, it was sold in numbers to Mexico and in Central America. As late as World War I, the French purchased Rolling Blocks in 8mm Lebel for rear echelon troops. Not bad for an 1868 Black Powder design.