They're not the newest and most trendy firearms available, but there are plenty of guns from WWII still in use today. Here are 11 of the most noteworthy examples.
World War 2 was the largest and most destructive conflict in human history and involved millions of American, British, Soviet, French, Chinese, German, Japanese, and Italian soldiers (among others) fighting in locations scattered over much of the world. Even though the war ended many decades ago, there are a number of guns from WWII that were so effective that they have stood the test of time and are still in use today.
Some of these guns from WWII are in use with military or insurgent forces in ongoing conflicts all over the world. Others are used by police forces and civilians for recreational shooting and hunting.
As you'll see in a minute, many of these firearms have also radically influenced cartridge and gun design as well.
Regardless of their current use in the world today, the guns from WWII on this list are still commonly found in the hands of shooters all over the globe due to one primary reason: they are extremely effective firearms.
Sturmgewehr 44 (StG-44)
Designed and introduced by Nazi Germany in the middle of World War II, the StG-44 was the first assault rifle used on a mass scale. And yes, as a select fire rifle chambered in an intermediate cartridge and with a detachable magazine, the StG-44 is an assault rifle in the true sense of the word.
Indeed, the official name of the rifle literally translates to "assault rifle" and some accounts attribute that name choice to Adolf Hitler himself.
Chambered in the 7.92x33mm Kurtz cartridge, the StG-44 was much more powerful and had a longer effective range than a sub-machine gun, but had less recoil and a much higher rate of fire than a bolt-action rifle chambered in a full powered rifle cartridge. For this reason, the StG-44 filled an important niche among infantry guns from WWII.
The Soviet AK-47 embodies many of the same design principles (and even the overall look) of the StG-44. While the Germans did not make extremely large numbers of StG-44 rifles, they have continued to pop up in odd spots all over the world since WWII. Interestingly, there have even been reports of somewhat widespread use of the rifle during the Syrian Civil War.
A development of the legendary Mauser 1898, the Karabiner 98k was the main service rifle of the German Army in World War II. Along with the StG-44, the Mauser rifle may well be the most influential gun from WWII.
Millions were produced and the Karabiner 98k was extensively used in every corner of the European Theater of Operations by the Germans. Countless rifles were captured by the Soviets, which they also used during portions of World War II and in subsequent conflicts.
The Germans produced millions of these rifles during the 1930s and 1940s. This reason, combined with their rugged design and reasonable price, results in Karabiner 98k rifles still appearing in various conflicts in the world today. "Sporterized" versions are also quite popular with shooters and hunters in Europe and the Americas, and Mauser still continues to make very high quality rifles, specifically for civilian hunters and shooters, to this day.
The Mauser rifle was so well designed and so influential that the United States military basically copied it when they designed the 1903 Springfield. Until it was replaced by the M1 Garand and M1 Carbine, the 1903 Springfield was still a relatively common rifle used by the American military at the beginning of World War II.
Even after the M1 Grand was fully in service, the 1903 Springfield, which was also chambered in .30-06 Springfield, was still used extensively by American snipers in World War II and Korea.
Because it was such an accurate rifle, the 1903 is still a popular choice among gun collectors, shooters, and hunters in the United States.
The Lee-Enfield rifle was the primary weapon used by British and Commonwealth soldiers in World War II. Originally chambered in the .303 British cartridge, the Lee-Enfield was known for being both accurate and powerful.
The rifle is also quite reliable, durable, and reasonably priced. Because of this, military surplus Lee-Enfield rifles are extremely popular with shooters and hunters all over the world, including the United States.
However, it is especially plentiful in countries with a strong British influence, like Canada, South Africa, and Australia.
Firing the venerable .30-06 Springfield cartridge, the M1 Garand was the standard rifle for American soldiers and Marines in World War II and Korea. While some countries did arm their infantrymen with small numbers of semi-automatic rifles, no other country did so on the same scale as the United States. Called "the greatest battle implement ever devised" by General George Patton, the semi-automatic M1 Garand gave American fighting men a big leg up on their opponents.
Not surprisingly, this rifle is probably the gun from WWII looked upon most affectionately by Americans. Even though it was officially replaced by the M14 in the 1950s and 60s, the M1 Garand is still a common sight in the collections of shooters and hunters all over the United States.
With over six million rifles produced, they are also not hard to find and reasonably priced. Garand rifles can still be purchased from the Civilian Marksmanship Program.
M2 Machine Gun
Designed by the legendary gun designer John Browning, and affectionately known as the "Ma Deuce," the M2 Heavy Machine Gun is the oldest machine gun currently in production anywhere in the world. The M2 was widely used by land, naval, and air forces in World War II.
Firing the massive .50 BMG (Browning machine gun) cartridge, which was specifically designed for the M2 machine gun, the Ma Deuce has a fearsome reputation for long range accuracy and incredible power.
In addition to being used by infantry forces mounted on a tripod, variants of the M2 machine gun have also been used in aircraft, mounted on wheeled and tracked vehicles, and some have even been fitted with telescopic scopes and used for long range sniper work.
Indeed, the famous sniper Carlos Hathcock used a M2 machine gun to make his longest confirmed kill in Vietnam. The M2 is still in production and use by the United States military, along with dozens of other nations.
Though the M1 Garand was the primary service rifle for the United States military in World War II, millions of M1 Carbines were produced and issued to support personnel such as radio operators, truck drivers, and artillery crews.
The M1 Carbine was also widely used in Korea and Vietnam. Since the military officially phased out the M1 Carbine, many of them have made their way into the hands of gun collectors and shooters. While it shoots the relatively anemic .30 Carbine cartridge, it is still quite popular among firearm enthusiasts and hunters because it is inexpensive, lightweight, and has a mild recoil.
Originally adopted by the U.S. Army in 1911, the Colt M1911 pistol was used extensively by all branches of the United States military in every conflict since World War I. While it was replaced by the Beretta M9 in the 1980s as the standard sidearm of all branches of the military, certain Special Operations units in the military still use the M1911, which makes it the longest lived service weapon in the history of the United States.
Countless police forces in the United States still use the M1911 and it is also one of the most popular handguns in the country among civilian shooters.
The Mosin-Nagant was the primary rifle used by Russian and Soviet Soldiers in World War I and II. With nearly 40 million Mosin-Nagant rifles produced, it should not be surprising that these guns are still commonly used all over the world.
Though very simple in design, the rifle is very durable and effective. Due to their rugged construction and the sheer number produced, they are also very inexpensive. Normally selling for $100-250 in the United States, the Nagant is a gun from WWII that's great for hunters and shooters on a budget or who just want to go afield with a piece of history.
Even though it is not widely known as a World War II weapon, the Browning Hi-Power pistol was actually extensively used by both Axis and Allied forces in the war.
The Luger P-08 and Walther P-38 pistols are most famous for their use by the Germans in WWII. However, the Germans captured the FN manufacturing plant when they invaded Belgium in 1940 and subsequently armed portions of their military with Hi-Power pistols produced there for the duration of WWII.
The Allies used original FN blueprints to produce the pistols in Canada after Belgium was overrun. Canada, Belgium, and the Nationalist Chinese used the pistol for their regular armed forces. The Hi-Power pistol was also popular with the British SOE, SAS, and certain airborne units.
The Hi-Power is still in production and is widely used by military and police forces as well as civilian shooters in every corner of the globe.
Shooting the same 7.62x25mm round as the Tokarev and CZ-52pistols, the PPSh-41 is a rugged sub-machine gun that was widely used by the Soviet Union in World War II.
Though it was only effective at short range, the PPSh-41 gave individual Soviet soldiers an incredible amount of firepower. Millions were produced during the war and the Soviet Union helped spread them all over the world to arm communist forces over the following decades.
Thousands of PPSh-41 sub-machine guns are still in wide use by military and insurgent forces all over the world, especially in war-torn areas of the Middle East and Africa.