Military Wiki

The three weapons on the left are small arms captured in Fallujah, Iraq by the U.S. Marine Corps in 2004.

Small arms is a term used by military armed forces of the world to denote infantry weapons an individual soldier may carry. The description is usually limited to revolvers, pistols, carbines, rifles, shotguns, submachine guns, assault rifles, squad automatic weapons, and general-purpose machine guns. Also, grenade launchers and certain hand-held antitank weapons may be considered small arms depending on the particular armed force.[1]

Small arms do not include infantry support weapons or crew-served weapons such as heavy machine guns (typically .50 caliber or 12.7 mm) or mortars.[2] In the United States any modern firearm (post 1898) that utilizes a projectile (bullet) greater than 1/2 inch in diameter is legally defined as a "destructive device," while any firearm having a bore diameter of .50 caliber or less is normally considered a "small arm."[3] The so-called "1/2 inch rule" does not apply to shotguns, sporting cartridge big-bore rifles (such as rifles chambered in .600 Nitro Express), muzzleloading black-powder weapons, whether original antiques (pre 1898) or modern replics, many of which have bore diameters larger than .50 caliber.[4]

There is, however, a term which encompasses both, (Small Arms and Light Weapons) SALW, that is used by some organizations working to limit arms proliferation.[5] For example, much of the United Nations action to tackle illegal arms proliferation is raised in the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms.[6]

See also


Other reading

  • Dikshif, P. Proliferation of Small Arms and Minor Weapons, Strategic Analysis, Vol. 17(2) May 1994.
  • Gould, C. and Lamb, G., Hide & Seek: Taking Account of Small Arms in Southern Africa, Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria, 2004.
  • Marchant-Smith, C.J., & Haslam, P.R., Small Arms & Cannons, Brassey's Battlefield Weapons Systems & Technology, Volume V, Brassey's Publishers, London, 1982.

External links

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