Useful Notes / When You Need Something Dead

This is a page that lists the numerous types of weaponry found on the battlefield, whether a modern one or not. Many of these weapon types are actually quite old, even the assault rifle dates back to the 1910s and was first widely issued in World War II, and the sniper rifle even further back, at least The American Civil War, if not further; the actual concept of sniping was invented in the Revolutionary War.

As expected, significant overlap with Standard FPS Guns. Game designers had to get the ideas from somewhere.

Here's the list:

Firearms and Explosives

  • Assault Rifle: Common infantry rifle of the modern military. Defining characteristics: Fires an intermediate caliber round (round in power between handgun ammunition and full power rifle ammunition), select fire, and feeds from detachable magazines. Designed, or at least optimized for fighting within 300 meters. Most examples have two fire modes: semiautomatic and fully automatic. Examples include the M16, AKM, Steyr AUG, AR18, F2000, Vz58...
  • Battle Rifle: Rifles which fire cartridges of full rifle power, such as 30-06, or at the top end of intermediate, such as 7.62x51. Fed by magazines. Some were select fire. Some were semiautomatic only. Some fed from manual actions. Early Battle rifles from before the Cold War were usually bolt-action or otherwise manually cycled; later ones were fully automatic or semi-automatic. Largely replaced by lighter-caliber assault rifles in the '60s and '70s, though they serve as the basis for many designated marksman rifles (see below). Older bolt-action battle rifles are typically used today for hunting; not surprising, given that a number of such designs were based off of civilian hunting rifles. Full-auto battle rifles were almost always used semi-automatic by competent troops — accuracy with full-auto fire is typically abysmal due to recoil, wasting the range and power that are the battle rifle's strong suits. In fact, the British/Commonwealth battle rifle of the Cold War era, the L1A1 SLR, was semi-automatic only for this exact reason. Examples of early rifles include the British Lee-Enfield, the Russian Mosin-Nagant, the American M1903 Springfield and M1 Garand (one of the few semi-auto examples from before the Cold War), and the German Mauser series; later rifles include the H&K G3, the American M14 and the Belgian FN FAL (the aforementioned L1A1 was an FAL variant).
    • Some of these are being reintroduced onto the frontlines as rifles for designated marksmen, who are not snipers and they do not carry sniper rifles; they're part of a normal infantry unit, but they have a more powerful rifle to give them reach to provide limited enhanced range precision fire support. The concept originated in the Soviet armed forces, but has since been copied by NATO countries, including the United States. DM rifles are not as accurate as sniper rifles. Examples: PSL, M110, SVD, M14 EBR.
  • Carbine: A carbine is a smaller, shorter and lighter version of a rifle. Carbines are mainly used for troops who have to operate in confined spaces or otherwise would only be impeded by a larger rifle, such as paratroopers, mounted infantry, support troops, and REMF's at forward bases. Examples: AK-105, M4...
  • Light Machine Gun: Squad level support weapon. Some models use the same ammunition as assault rifles, while others use full powered rifle ammunition. Some of the smaller caliber designs, like the RPK, feed from service rifle box magazines, and may even be adapted from the service rifle mechanism. In addition to the RPK, the MG 36, L 86 A 1 LSW, and Type 95 are examples of this type. There are also heavier, purpose built light machine guns, which typically feed from longer belts. This family includes the FN Minimi, the MG 4, and the RPD.
    • General Purpose Machinegun / Medium Machine Gun: The LMG's big brother. Uses a large rifle caliber, such as 7.62x51mm or 7.62x54mm. Almost always uses a belt-feed. These guns are often called general purpose machine guns, because they are light enough to be carried by normal infantry, but have the power to kill more than just men. Examples: MG42, FN MAG, PKP, M60, MG3, HK21.
    • Heavy Machinegun: A step up from the general purpose. These things are almost always mounted on vehicles or implacements rather than carried, on account of the lightest of them starting at about 75 pounds before ammo and mounts. These things can destroy cover, men, and ligther armored vehicles from hundreds of meters away. They used calibers such as 12.7x99mm (50 BMG), 12.7x108mm, and 14.5x114mm. Examples: Browning M2, DShK, KPV, Kord, NSV.
  • Sniper Rifle: Extreme range weapons for specialized troops. Many are modified civilian hunting rifles. They are chambered in full power rifle calibers and have optimum ranges of between 600M and 1KM. For longer shots, anti-materiel rifles, which fire HMG rounds, are used.
    Best at very long range, 1000-2000 meters and beyond. Examples: M24, SV-98, Mosin-Nagant 91/30, Z93, Barret M82.
  • Submachine Gun: Small light weapons generally only effective to one hundred meters. Essentially machine guns which fire pistol rounds. SMG's have fallen out of favor since WW2 on account of assault rifles being able to do everything they can and beyond while not requiring doing logistics for more weapons and calibers. Example: PPSh-41, PPS-43, Uzi, TMP, MP-5, Bizon, L2 Sterling.
    • Personal Defense Weapon: The PDW is an attempt at giving new life to the SMG by creating new rounds to defeat armor in a bid to appeal to militaries with non-combat personnel who nevertheless might need to fight, such as truck drivers and artillerymen. The PDW concept has been a commercial flop for several reasons. Firstly, compact assault rifles are just better and easier for militaries. Secondly, everything about them is propreitary; proprietary magazines, ammo, parts... Thirdly, PDW rounds (5.7x28 and 4.6x30) are both tiny and lack stopping power. Fourthly, armor-piercing ammunition for the already long-established calibers such as 7.62x25, 9x18, and 9x19, all of which are far more lethal and economical and versatile than the newcommers.
  • Shotgun: Large bore weapon firing buckshot. Generally effective to the same range as SMGs, but have greater spread. Can be loaded with slugs and rifled for better accuracy, but it's not typical. Pump action is the most popular, examples of this type include the Remington 870 Modular Combat Shotgun and Winchester 1200 of America; but semiautomatic models are becoming more popular, examples of this type include the Saiga series of Russia.
    • Fully-automatic Shotgun: Just what it sounds like, a weapon that takes a simple shotgun and turns the dakka factor Up to Eleven. Sadly, this type of weapon didn't quite take off, simply because there aren't enough situations were you'd NEED a full-auto shotgun—unfortunately, you always need your weapon to be cheaper and more reliable, both of which automatic shotguns are less spectacular at compared to their slower firing cousins. Example: USAS-12, AA-12.
  • Semi-automatic pistol: Magazine-loaded and can be held in one hand. Small and light, but very low power. Usually only good to fifty meters, although given normal human marksmanship, seldom effective past 10M. Examples: TT-33, Makarov PM, Browning Hi-Power, Walther P38, HK USP 9, Sig Sauer P226.
    • Machine pistol: A fully-automatic pistol. Pretty much the poster child for Awesome, but Impractical. Of only extemely specialized use. Examples: Stechkin, Vz68.
  • Revolver: For a time, the revolver was the sidearm of choice for many people, used in the times of The Wild West up to World War II, eventually being replaced by semi-automatic weaponry. Put simply, it features several separate chambers for each bullet, arranged in a circle that can simple rotate to ready the next round. Revolvers have been out of favor with most world militaries for more than a century now, their only real domain being large bore big game handgun hunting.
  • Grenade Launcher: Large bore weapon firing an explosive projectile. Many are attachments used on other weapons; examples of this type include the M203 and M320 used by American forces and the GP series of Russia. Others, like the Milkor MGL and the M79, are used as standalone weapons systems.
  • Rocket Launcher: Very large, very heavy weapon firing rockets. Usually only used against tough targets. This type includes the AT4 of America Sweden, a one shot disposable system; the RPG series of Russia; and the Shoulder Mounted Assault Weapon, or SMAW, of America. Some fire homing missiles, like the FIM-92 Stinger, for use against aircraft.
  • Hand Grenade: Only goes as far as you can throw it, and many can create blast effects much farther than that (so Take Cover after you toss). Comes in two types: stick grenades, which are more or less bombs on sticks and can be thrown a fair distance, but have mostly fallen out of service; and regular hand grenades, sometimes referred to as "pineapple" or "lemon" grenades, which can't be thrown as far. Create blast and shrapnel clouds, which can cause injuries at up to fifteen meters. One example is the M67 "pineapple" grenade of America. In the Russian military, standard hand grenades are called "offensive grenades", and heavy hand grenades with a burst radius greater than their throw range are "defensive", meant to be thrown from cover.

Melee Weapons

  • Sword: Numerous variants exist, from the Japanese katana to the European Rapier, but one thing is common: a short hilt, followed by a long one or two edged blade. Swords can be either straight or curved. Curved blades like the katana or scimitar serve as cutting weapons. Normally used against lightly armoured or unarmored opponents. Cutting swords were ineffective against metal armor, but thrusts could break through mail and slide between plate gaps. Swords required better and more materials and superior craftsmanship compared to polearms or blunt weapons, and so were more often the preserve of the elite, upper-class, or simply professional soldiers (where the sword would hopefully pay for itself).
  • Combat Knife: Usually kept as the last resort for any soldier. Short, light, nimble, easy to use and capable of almost anything, although their main use is as tools. One example is the American KA-BAR knife, which used to be in service with the Marine Corps.
    • Bayonet: A knife you can fit onto the front of your rifle, thereby giving you a short spear. Bayonets have been used for centuries, and were decisive weapons in the days before repeating firearms.
    • Daggers and Dirks: The more ancient equivalent of the above, used as a back up weapon by those who can afford it, a concealed weapon by assassins, or even as a primary form of armament by a poor man which would have had difficulty getting his hands on a larger weapon. Unlike the single edged knives, suited for both slashing and stabbing, these double edged blades were instead optimized purely for stabbing, typically to allow them to pierce armor, which they did quite well assuming one could get close enough to make use the the dagger's limited reach.
    • Punching Daggers: a somewhat silly-looking weapon, the basic idea is a blade that is held such that the user, well, punches with it. They could be held like brass knuckles or strap to the forearm, and could be slashing or stabbing weapons.
  • Polearms: Simply put, Blade on a Stick. This can be a spear, glaive, halberd, naginata or axe. Polearms were the primary weapon of pre-industrial militaries, not swords, contrary to popular belief. Swords require a good deal of metal and time to forge them well, and even more time to learn/teach someone to use effectively. Although intricate fighting systems such as naginatajutsu exist for polearms, the essence of it on the field was "stick the pointy end into the other guy". Much easier to drill. The modern concept of a bayonet essentially allows a firearm to function as one (if by 'modern' you mean 'since someone noticed longarms were long and a wood/metal mix).
  • Bludgeoning Weapons: Hammer, mace, morningstar, flail, you name it. If it wasn't meant to cut or thrust, it was meant to deal massive blunt force trauma. Common for European knights, who came to wear full plate, and primarily designed specifically for fighting an enemy in plate. Since you can't get a sword through plate unless it's at the joints, the only other way to damage a fighter wearing it is blunt force - smashing their sternum or skull in, breaking an arm or leg, or just as often simply denting their armor enough that they couldn't move well enough to stop you from taking them prisoner! (Particularly useful if you want to ransom that rival nobleman you're fighting.) If Deadliest Warrior is to be believed, the samurai had their own version of this - the kanabo. Also popular with monks, who were technically not allowed to "spill blood". Of course, smashing somebody upside the head with anything hard and metal is going to make a mess, whether the implement is sharp or not.
    • Clubs and Maces: smaller bashing weapons, generally a length of wood, with or without metals bits on the end. More impressive ones were all-metal. Spike(s) on the head optional. Flanges were very popular.
    • Flails: like the above, except with a length of chain between the handle and the head, which improves range and makes for a harder strike.
    • Quarterstaff: essentially a long piece of whatever material is available; the Blade Onna Stick without the blade.
    • Brass Knuckles: a chunk of metal with holes for your fingers; you hold it tightly and punch people with it. Not great for defensive purposes, but readily concealable.
    • Saps, Coshes, and Blackjacks: these cover anything, from bags of sand to purpose-built metal implements, designed for hitting upside the head in an alley. Quiet and easy to hide, but hoping to use one in a fair fight is.. optimistic.
    • Guns. If an enemy gets within reach of you, especially when you are trying to reload, your only option might be to club them with your firearm. Many military forces train in the use of a rifle as a melee weapon for this reason.
  • Axes: chopping implements, either repurposed tools or designed as weapons. Sizes range from "throwable" to "two-handed behemoth". Extend the handle enough and it becomes a sort of blade on a stick as mentioned above.

Non-Firearms Projectile Weapons

  • Bow and Arrow: The Mongol recurve bow, the English longbow, the Japanese daikyu — almost every culture has its own variant. The bow uses recoil tension to fire an arrow (or volley thereof) at the enemy. Usually made from wood, but the Mongol recurve bow could be made of horn. The string could be made of various materials such as sinew. The bow could be shot from horseback or from a chariot. Training for archers took a very long time, because you both have to train a bowman to be able to make hits, but you also have to condition their body to be capable of using a bow for hours. Skeletons of English longbowmen show that their upper bodies had heavier bones on account of the insane training needed by archers. Despite what anime may make you believe, war bows required far more strength and skill to use than any other weapon in history.
    • Longbows: made famous by the English, this is pretty much what it sounds like: a larger, longer bow (as tall as the user or taller), with a higher draw strength (the force used to pull the string back). All of this makes the longbow fire greater distances with more force. The weapon of choice for raining arrows in fiction.
    • Composite Bows: made famous by the Mongols. Composite and recurve bows use different constructions to put more force behind the launched arrows.
    • Crossbows: these weapons use the same principle as bows, but crossbows use a trigger mechanism to keep the bowstring taut, ready to fire, for up to several minutes before firing. Heavier crossbows used winches or similar mechanisms to add to the user's strength. Automatic Crossbows were experimented with by most militaries that issued the normal kind, but never became as widespread outside of China, where they were in use by the military as late as 1895.
    • Ballistae/Scorpios: Singular ballista and scorpio. These weapons appear very similar to crossbows but function using different mechanisms. Bows and crossbows are flexion engines (they use the bending of the bow as a source of power), whereas ballistae and scorpios are torsion engines: they use the stretching of a material (usually animal sinew) as a source of power. When the arms of the weapon are pulled back, the sinew at the base of each arm is stretched significantly, creating impressive force. Ballistae were siege engines, mainly used against dense infantry formations and battlements, while scorpios were lighter and designed more for general anti-infantry purposes. The cheiroballistra/manuballista was a later smaller version that did not require a squad to operate: they were even sometimes attached to chariots, where they were called carroballistae, an ancient precursor to vehicular mounted firearms.
  • Javelin: A thrown spear. A really heavy one comparatively. Some variants (such as the Roman pilum) had a head consisting of a forged tip on top of a shaft of relatively soft unforged iron. The result was when these were thrown, the soft iron shaft would bend. This served several purposes - one, it made the javelin useless (and unable to be returned); two, the bent shaft would make it near impossible to remove the javelin from a shield, rendering the shield either unwieldy or potentially unusable.
  • Sling: Two straps with a pocket to hold a projectile (traditionally a lead pellet or smooth stone) in the middle. The projectile was swung around in the pocket and one of the straps released, causing the projectile to fly forward. Many Roman examples had various taunts cast on their lead pellets (e.g. "Dexa", meaning catch, "For Pompey's arse", a simple emblem or just boring old details of the soldier it was issued to). Typically a poor man's weapon of choice, due to the low cost and ease of manufacture and maintenance of both the sling and its ammo compared to the bow and arrow (even the higher grade lead projectiles were much easier to make than arrows, and when those aren't available, simple rocks would serve well enough).
  • Dart: A small projectile, similar to a crossbow bolt, designed to be launched by hand.
    • Blowgun: A simple tube (usually made from plants) loaded with a single dart, fired by blowing into it hard. Usually more accurate, faster and more effective than hand-thrown darts. Usually used to launch poison darts.
    • Dartgun: Looks a lot like a normal rifle, but uses blasts of compressed air to fire darts. Often used to deliver tranquilizer darts to someone or something, like an escaping prisoner or a rampaging animal.
  • Throwing Knife: A knife which is specially weighted (typically using a tang as a handle) to be thrown. Rarely seen on the battlefield, as the most effective way to throw one is end over end, meaning that it took quite a bit of practice to make sure the weapon would strike a moving target blade first. A short range doesn't help.
    • Throwing Axe: Like above, but with an axe. The limitations are similar, with the primary difference being that the axe would cause greater damage to a target, while a fighter could carry more throwing knives. It also saw more use on the battlefield for whatever reason.
      • The reason is that an axe, even light throwing axe, like francisca, has enough weight to deliver damage, even if it heats the target with a handle or not-sharpened part of the head. Also quite effective at breaking shields in shield walls before charge. And, finally, can be used as a backup melee weapon easily, unlike throwing knifes.
  • Shuriken: A bit like a throwing knife. A traditional Japanese concealed weapon, supposedly used a lot by Ninja. Often small and easily concealed. This is an assassin's weapon, a soldier on a field of battle would likely struggle to make use of it due to a poor range and lackluster armor penetration, with the primary advantage of conceal-ability put to waste. Generally not used with the intent to cause a lethal wound (if it was used to kill, it would be poisoned).