Tenth Greatest: Katana (05:46)
The five-foot long slicing sword used by Japanese Samurais was designed to remove body parts with one blow. It is forged into two types of steel, making it strong while maintaining sharpness.
Ninth Greatest: Walther PPK (05:08)
James Bond iconized this concealed weapon designed for the German police in 1931; the lightweight gun was the first successful double action semiautomatic pistol. It uses lightweight bullets unlikely to cause fatalities and its visual safety device allows users to see when loaded.
Eight Greatest: Pike (03:33)
Pikes were first used in warfare by Alexander the Great, giving his armies 20 feet of range and having a great tactical impact when used in mass ranks. The introduction of Calvary in the 15th century necessitated its revival.
Seventh Greatest: Arquebus (04:50)
The Arquebus changed warfare, penetrating steel armor from 50 yards with lead balls. Its wooden stock and matchlock trigger improved its aim, but it was not a precision weapon; gunpowder smoke obscured targets while small bullets bounced in the barrel.
Sixth Greatest: Boomerang (03:58)
Australian war boomerangs date back 40,000 years. Cambridge University Aeronautics Lab studies their aerodynamic properties in a wind tunnel; Richard Ogilvy reproduces a centuries old model.
Thompson Submachine Gun (04:46)
The Tommy gun was tactically designed to clear trenches; it was portable, operated by an individual soldier, and sprays 700 rounds a minute. It was used by gangs during American prohibition, and adopted by Western Allies during World War II.
Fourth Greatest: Barrett M82 (04:20)
Barrett M82 sniper rifles shoot 50 caliber rounds from long distances and have a reputation as an anti-material firearm. Muzzle breaks reduce recoil while handheld computers calculate weather conditions and weapon data to further increase accuracy.
Third Greatest: Longbow (05:25)
The longbow required great arm strength and was difficult to master, but could kill a horse from 300 yards and dominated English warfare for centuries. Strong, flexible Yew wood was chosen for its composition.
Second Greatest: AK 47 (06:14)
The Soviet Union engineered AK 47 is an iconic firearm; with 100,000,000 produced, it is used by 50 armies, and has changed warfare worldwide. It is cheap, reliable, and versatile, bombarding targets at 300 meters with 600 rounds a minute.
Greatest Ever: Humans (05:56)
All weapons require invention and operation; when soldiers deplete ammunition or civilians meet unexpected violence, they rely on wits and strength for defense. Hand to hand combat methods have been developed by many civilizations; Weng Chun is the most effective of martial arts.
Credits: Episode VII: Weapons (00:30)
Credits: Episode VII: Weapons
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