About six years too late, but what the hell.
I was thinking about this while perusing Guns & Ammo the other day. If you could name ten 20th century firearms that had the most effect on firearms design and general history, what would they be?
Here's a partial list, submitted for discussion:
1) U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, M1. The first generally adopted, practical semi-auto battle rifle, the M1 Garand was described by Gen. Patton as "the greatest implement of battle ever designed." High praise from a tread-head. The M1 was in use from the early days of WW2 well into the 60s, and still sees use in National Match version on many service match ranges today.
2) Winchester Model 70. This rifle, especially the pre-64 (really pre-WW2) version, set the standard for sporting rifles, and still does. Even if it is yet another adaptation of the Model 98 Mauser.
3) Colt 1911. Probably the best military handgun ever designed, and has influenced more semi-auto handguns than any other. My carry gun, a Firestar M45, is a 1911 knock-off. Even Smith & Wesson now makes a 1911 clone.
4) Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun. The finest heavy machine gun in the world, designed in the 'teens, adopted in 1921, and still seeing heavy use today.
5) Remington 870 Wingmaster pumpgun. The 870 isn't fancy, it doesn't command the adulation of the Model 12 Winchester, but with this gun Remington put a lot of fine, hard-working, reliable pumpguns in the hands of millions of hunters.
6) Kalishnikov AK-series rifles. Rugged, cheap, reliable, and easy to maintain by troops with minimal (if any) training. The AK-series guns can and are produced in any reasonably equipped machine shop - I saw a blacksmith in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia hammering out AK receivers once. The AK has probably equipped more troops and irregular fighters than any other military arm.
Room for four more. Any ideas?
The Rimengton nylon 66 .22 cal
as the first mass produced weapon without any wood in or on it