What weapons were available before WWI?i am doing a history project and i need to know what types of weapons were out and in use before the great war started.

1 Answer | Add Yours

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There were, of course, many kinds of weapons available.  We can only talk in generalities here.

The state of the art at that point for rifles was the repeating, bolt-action rifle using smokeless powder in its cartridges.  This meant that a soldier could shoot multiple bullets without reloading (these were not automatic weapons, though).  The smokeless powder allowed soldiers to hide more effectively.  There were also smaller rifles, called carbines, that were used a great deal in cavalry units.

There were all sorts of artillery pieces.  There were rapid-fire artillery pieces like the "French 75" that did not need to be reaimed after every shot.  This allowed it to fire up to 15 rounds per minute for long periods of time.  This particular cannon had a range of about 5 miles.  There were also mortars which could be used to shoot small shells in high arcing trajectories.

Finally, there were some kinds of automatic weapons similar to machine guns.  The most famous of these was the "Maxim gun."  These were big things that had to be pulled around on wheels sort of like a cannon.  They could fire something in the range of 600 rounds per minute.

Of course, there were all sorts of other weapons around.  But these were the state of the art in the most important types of weapons before WWI.


We’ve answered 317,686 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question