These autocannons put a whole new meaning into the word "firepower."
The United States military has a plethora of awesome weapons at their disposal, but perhaps no two guns are more impressive than the GAU-8 Avenger and M61 Vulcan autocannons. Both weapons have had a long service history after originally being developed by General Electric.
To better appreciate just what these weapons are capable of, it helps to see a video of them in action. The video below shows both weapons systems during live fire training exercises.
If you have neither seen either operate before, prepare to be amazed by the blazing speeds of these firearms. Most of this video is the M61, but trust us when we say that you do NOT want to be on the business end of either gun!
Of these two guns, the GAU-8 Avenger is arguably the better known of the two, but that is mostly because this 30mm cannon is the one that is mounted in the iconic A-10 Warthog. It was made for anti-tank purposes, but as you can guess, does a number of personnel if needed too. The entire gun weighs over 600 pounds, so it is the type thing that can only be mounted on a vehicle of some kind. This gun has seven barrels and pushes rounds out at an eye-popping 3,300 feet per second. The bullets hit before the target can hear the gun fire!
The M61 Vulcan meanwhile is a much lighter system. That is, if you can call a 240-pound, 20mm cannon light! This gun has six barrels and pumps out rounds at the blistering speed of 3,400 feet per second. Most notable here is the rate of fire. This gun can fire a whopping 6,000 rounds per minute if properly fed. I cringe just buying a box of 20 rounds for my hunting rifle, I don't think I want to do the math on how much a short burst with an M61 Vulcan costs the government.
In any case, the Vulcan has found a place in the Air Force, usually on ships or aircraft. It is often fitted on the iconic AC-130 gunship, making an already intimidating plane an even greater force to be reckoned with!