How well do you know military weapons?



By: Olivia Cantor

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Are you charged up for action on the battlefield? Take the marvelous military weapons quiz to find out more about how ingenious people can be when it comes to war.

Military weapons have been around for as long as humans have had to protect or conquer someone or something. What were some of the earliest close-combat weapons ever made?

Because any well-made -- or found -- big stick is a weapon, the earliest military weapons were based on the design of a club. When the Copper Age began, copper maces became a high-demand combat weapon.


Before gunpowder, what was the common weapon for one-on-one combat?

Swords are a natural evolution of clubs. All you have to do is add an edge to a club, and you have a sword. Of course, a sword only became truly practical once humans found a material that could keep its edge, like obsidian or hard metals.


We know that a thrown stone could probably have been the first weapon, but what weapon would make a thrown stone more useful?

Slings, and their cousin, slingshots, have been around for so long that even ancient middle-eastern civilizations used them. Remember David and Goliath? Getting a stone up to killing speed with a length of leather or twine makes it a cost-effective military weapon.


Fast-forward to the future, and let's prepare to meet our robot soldiers. What was the MAARS robot originally designed to do?

The Modular Advanced Robotic System (MAARS) is great for bomb disposal, since no human lives will be at risk when it's defusing a bomb. However, all you have to do is switch out equipment, and it becomes a remote military weapons platform. It can be armed with a machine gun, a grenade launcher, or non-lethal weapons, like beanbag guns and pepper spray.


What modern weapon made it easy for the common man to go to war?

Guns have been the great social equalizer for military weapons. In some cultures, it effectively removed military social classes, allowing anyone to be part of the military.


This weapon was the deadliest ranged weapon in ancient times, barring large-scale military weapons like the catapult. What was it?

The bow is probably the most deadly "simple" military ranged weapon. With a properly made arrow, it is accurate, and can, in some cases, pierce heavy armor. It is an improvement over a sling, since an arrow's flight is more controlled and longer in range than even the best sling ammunition.


It was probably created as a hunting weapon, but ended up as a handheld range weapon that could be thrown. What is this?

The spear was probably a parallel or next-stage development of using longer and longer clubs. Its usefulness as a defensive and offensive weapon made it an all-around weapon.


"The Punisher" is a new kind of grenade launcher that was designed for the US Army. What makes it so high-tech?

The XM25 "Punisher" grenade launcher has technology that allows the user to set the distance at which the shot grenade will explode. This is very useful if forces are pinned down by enemy fire. The punisher can shoot a grenade on top, or near, the enemy's defended position, and then explode at the set distance.


Before guns, this mechanical weapon made it easier for people to participate in war. What is it?

The crossbow is a mechanical weapon that is based on the bow. The basic idea behind pistols and rifles probably came from how crossbows were designed. Though they still took some skill to use, they were easier to master than bows.


What is mostly known as a construction tool, but has been used in the past as a weapon, when supersized?

The hammer has been used as an upgrade to a club. It is more destructive, thanks to the added weight on the head. It was usually used by soldiers or warriors who could lift and swing these heavy military weapons.


Which other military weapon — that started out as a tool — is still in use today as part of a soldier's equipment?

The survival gear of some soldiers still includes an axe, often a fold-up, mechanical one. It works as a weapon somewhere between a sword, a hammer, and a knife.


In terms of large military weapons, this is the latest for launching things super-fast. What is this cannon-like weapon?

Ever since people found out you can move objects at high speeds using electromagnets, the idea of an electromagnetic rail gun had been toyed with. The U.S. Navy plans to mount rail guns on their latest destroyers. Smaller versions are being developed for soldiers.


After the medieval ages, this military weapon has steadily replaced the bow as the ranged weapon of the infantry. What is this weapon, which soldiers today usually carry?

The rifle firearm is so named for the fact that their barrels are rifled. Having swirled lines in their barrel makes the bullets spin, making them more accurate over longer distances. The use of rifles changed how close soldiers engaged each other on the battlefield.


Grenades have been around since ancient times. Originally, however, they didn't explode. What was in them?

When grenades were first used, they had what was called "Greek fire," which was an ancient version of napalm. Supposedly, it was the Chinese who started packing gunpowder into their grenades.


What is the difference between a spear and a pike?

Pikes are specialized spears that are particularly long. They are normally used in mass troop movements as a combination of offense and defense, both against other infantry and cavalry.


We know that "Greek fire" was like napalm, but what is it made of?

"Greek fire" was similar to napalm. Most historians and researchers agree that it must have contained a form of crude oil.


In the evolving battlefield, what will replace most aerial military vehicles?

Many military aircraft roles can now be served by drones, as technology develops real-time remote control systems for them. Some drones have already been used to drop bombs or fire missiles in battlefields.


What specialized rifle can be used to slow down enemies at a long range?

Sniper rifles are specialized long-range firearm military weapons. In the hands of a trained user, a sniper rifle can pin down large groups of people. It's rare for a sniper to kill everyone in a unit, but the idea is that he can whittle them down, or slow down their progress.


What military weapon is better off being attached to a rifle?

Bayonets are knives or spikes that can be attached to the barrel of a rifle, turning the rifle into a short spear, which can be used for blocking and attacking in very close combat. They can also be removed and used as handheld weapons.


What is the military weapon that isn’t a true weapon, but a very effective addition to rifles, and even large handguns?

They are not weapons but the weapon needs them to be effective.


What were land mines in their original form?

Land mines take their name from the fact that in the past, forces would literally dig mine tunnels under a battlefield or area. If enemies crossed it, they could collapse the tunnels, taking the enemies with them. Later, they would fill the mines with explosives, and the idea evolved from that to explosives that can be triggered to explode on contact.


What are catapults?

Catapults describe a wide range of large military weapons that are the prequel to cannons. Some are gigantic crossbows, others look like wind-up throwing arms. In any case, they are meant to fire large objects ranging from spears to boulders, straight at enemy forces or fortresses.


Why was the fire-lance such an important military weapon in ancient history?

A Chinese fire-lance was basically a hollow tube with gunpowder and some "bullets" in it, strapped to a spear-like weapon. In close military formation combat, the tubes were lit, and the gunpowder would belch fire, and whatever else was in the tube, straight at attacking forces.


What was the Davy Crockett weapon system?

The Davy Crockett recoil-less rifle was designed to fire one of the smallest nuclear weapons in the U.S. Arsenal. With a range of two to four kilometers, anything within 600 meters of impact would either be dead from the explosion or radiation poisoning.


What is this ancient military weapon that was made by folding metal sheets or blocks a few times?

Katanas are the required weapon of the Japanese samurai warrior class. The tradition of folding the metal was to make the carbon distribution more even, since at the time, the iron ore that was available wasn't that good.


For what is a rocket-propelled grenade primarily used?

Rocket-propelled grenades are primarily used to destroy armored targets, usually military vehicles. This military weapon destroys normally through a specially designed warhead that can cut through armor by ejecting hot metal forward from the head itself, cutting through the armor, before exploding.


Which rifle is the new standard service rifle in the U.S. Army?

The M4 is an updated version of the M-16 rifle, and is the main military weapon for soldiers in the U.S. Army. Due to changing times, it has been designed for close-quarter operations, where longer rifles would be a problem.


Why was the stick grenade an effective design?

The stick form of the German stick grenades could be thrown farther, around 30 to 40 yards. By contrast, normal grenades could only get up to around 20 yards at most.


What is the combat use of shotguns?

Shotguns are effective military weapons in that you don’t have to really aim dead-on to hit a target, as long as the target is in the general cone of the shot or pellet spread. Shotguns can also be used to breach door locks more effectively.


What makes a mini gun such a fearsome military weapon?

The mini gun is a ferocious weapon, as it can spit out thousands of bullets in a minute. It has many gun barrels firing and reloading in sequence, so the barrels have a little time to cool down before shooting again.


Why is the new M26 modular accessory shotgun system named that way?

The M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System can be mounted under the main barrel of the M4 rifle, much like a grenade launcher. It can also be fitted with parts to make it a standalone unit.


What makes a mortar different from a normal cannon?

Mortars fire low-speed rounds, and with a short range. However, the high, curving path of the fired rounds makes for good support bombardment against enemy positions.


Why was the Roman gladius sword such a feared weapon?

The Roman gladius was less than three feet in length, grip included. This made it perfect for stabbing and slashing motions in cramped spaces or close-quarter combat.


Why was the .45 caliber handgun, the Colt M1911, a staple U.S. military weapon, developed?

Muslim rebels in the Philippine-American War (1899-1902) were hard to kill. Heavier bullets were needed to stop them, and so evolved the use of .45 caliber M1911 handgun.


What was the primary use of flamethrowers, aside from being terror weapons?

Flamethrowers are an old weapon of warfare. They were first used by the ancient Greeks. They were introduced to modern battle during World War I.


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