World War I Guns Still Being Used Today

Published: 12 April 2022

By Brady Kirkpatrick, Editor-in-Chief,
Special to the Doughboy Foundation website

WWI soldier and modern rifle shooter

Then and Now

The Springfield 1903 (M1903) rifle in use by a Doughboy during World War I, and by a 21st Century recreational shooter. The M1903 is one of a number of guns in use during WWI that are still in the sporting inventory today. (Modern shooter photo courtesy Lucky Gunner.)

World War I saw the introduction of many innovations in military technology, including the development of tanks, submarines, warplanes, and guns. Some of these technologies remain in use today.

The following WWI guns are still used in the military and among law enforcement professionals and civilians. The first World War ended over a century ago, which means the guns in this list are among the most reliable firearms ever built.

Here are six examples of WW1 guns still used today.

Springfield 1903 Bolt-Action Rifle

Springfield 1903 Bolt Action RifleThe Springfield 1903 (M1903) is a five-round bolt-action repeating rifle. The Springfield M1903 was released in 1903 and introduced into combat the same year during the Philippine-American War. The M1903 soon became the standard infantry rifle for the US Army.

The US Army used the M1903 throughout World War I and World War II. The M1 Garand replaced the M1903 as the standard service rifle in 1936. However, a lack of M1 rifles led to the continued use of the Springfield M1903 rifles.

Springfield produced the 1903 bolt-action rifle from 1903 to 1949 and built over 3 million units, many of which are still operable. The US Army Drill Team still uses the M1903 today.


Lee-Enfield Bolt-Action Rifle

Two pictures of the Lee Enfield Bolt Action RifleThe Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifles have the distinction of being the longest-serving rifles. The first Lee-Enfield rifles were released in 1895. They were the standard issue rifle for the British Army from 1895 to 1957.

The rifles originally used a 10-round magazine and fired .303 cartridges. However, the .303 British cartridges proved inefficient during the Second Boer War, which lasted from 1899 to 1902. Several later variants used other cartridges. For example, the Rifle Factory Ishapore in India produced a model in the 1970s and 1980s that used 7.62x51mm NATO rounds.

Police and military in India, Pakistan, and many other countries still use Lee-Enfield rifles. Until recently, Lee-Enfield was the primary supplier of arms to the Canadian Rangers.

 Mauser Gewehr 98 Bolt-Action Rifle

Two photos of the Mauser Gewehr 98The Mauser Gewehr 98 (M98) bolt-action rifle was the German service rifle from 1898 to 1935. It was one of the rifles to use a controlled-feed bolt-action system, which helped increase the reliability of the rifle and decrease the risk of misfires.

Production of the M98 stopped after World War II ended in 1945. However, a newer Mauser M98 rifle was designed for civilians and released in 1999.


 Colt M1911 Semi-Automatic Pistol

Colt M1911The Colt M1911 is one of the most popular military pistols of all time. It was used by a wide range of militaries during World Wars I and II.

The Colt M1911 is a single-action, semi-automatic pistol chambered for .45 ACP rounds.

John Browning designed the powerful handgun over several years in the early 1900s. By the start of World War I, the US Armed Forces had acquired over 68,000 M1911 pistols.

The pistol was still produced in large quantities during World War II and remains in service by different law enforcement agencies and militaries around the world.

Nagant M1985 Revolver

Nagant M1985The Nagant M1985 is a seven-shot revolver produced by Leon Nagant for the Russian Empire. The first model was produced in 1895. The Russian Empire purchased the manufacturing rights in 1898 and soon started producing over 20,000 units per year.

The Nagant M1985 used a proprietary 7.62x38mmR cartridge and had an unusual gas-seal system. This system added a boost to the velocity of the bullet and allowed for the use of a suppressor.
The Nagant M1895 became the standard-issue sidearm for officers and soldiers in the Imperial Russian Army. Officers received a double-action version while lower-ranked soldiers were issued a cheaper single-action revolver.

Some members of the Syrian Army and Russian law enforcement agencies continue to use the Nagant M1985. However, it is illegal to possess a Nagant M1985 revolver in Belgium, where it is considered an antique.


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