Infantry Weapons

Guilmartin, John F.
January 1996
Reader's Companion to Military History;1996, p220
Book Chapter
Infantrymen have wielded a variety of cutting, smashing, and missile weapons such as spears, bows, knives, swords, and javelins. >From about 1850, the reign of the smoothbore musket and bayonet ended with the general adoption among European armies of the minié ball, a musket ball with a hollow base that expanded on firing to fill the grooves of a rifled barrel. By 1900, military institutions throughout the world had adopted magazine rifles with bore diameters of 0.236 to 0.351 inch. The hand grenade, now with high-explosive fillers emerged as the premier weapon of shock combat in World War I. Armor reappeared in the form of the helmet, as did fighting knives. The need for firepower in the trenches led to the development of rifle-mounted grenade launchers and various patterns of trench mortar.


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