Greatest invention in firearms history


Aug 18, 2019
South Carolina
This came up in a discussion between my son and I. What would you consider to be the greatest invention in firearms history? It doesn't necessarily have to be something you own or even like. As a matter of fact I would rather your answer not be based on likes or dislikes at all.

My candidate is the 1911 and I have never owned one so don't know if I like it or not.
Broader than individual firearm… Powder, rifling, caps to primers, breach loading, … where to start?

Folks like to say the 1911 but it was invented then and usage really languished until WWII. Then it was really the 9 mm that made semi auto handgun development take off with the DA/SA guns and then the strikers (Glock). Sure 1911 patterns sell but it's an enthusiast gun really.

In the revolver world, the 38 caliber rounds led to the modern handguns, with that pattern being adopted for other calibers. Yeah, we are having a resurgence of 32s, pretty much pushed by the snubby world SMEs.
Metallic cartridge that sealed the breech.

Both coil and "V" spring were known in the muzzle loading era.

Beatened by lysanderxiii by 18 minutes. :)
3-line deep massed volley (at least until around the end of the 18th century).
Someone beat me to "rifling." Without it, we'd be stuck with arrow stability in our individual weaponry, although some modern artillery uses arrow stability.

Nearly tied for first in my opinion would be the various short-recoil lockup system concepts, which allowed for powerful ammo to be fired in an autoloading manner in both handguns and rifles.

To me, the most "artistic" sample of that would be the Luger toggle link. Not the bestest or efficientest, but the most... "artistic" somehow. (0;54)

Ah, yesss,... yess, baby, yesssssss. I love you...

Terry, 230RN
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My vote is iron. Iron becomes steel when alloyed. Gunpowder gets honorable mention. Without iron gunpowder would be little more than fireworks. Without iron you don’t have good barrels, springs, locks, frizzens, durable trigger mechanisms… without iron you have brass, bronze and various natural organic media, which can produce a gun but the soft metals can’t handle heavy loads without being obnoxiously heavy and hard to wield.

But you have to have fire to smelt iron… so maybe fire first, then iron, then steel, then gunpowder.
Gotta go with gunpowder.
Smokeless? Since black powder pre-dates firearms, does it count as a firearm invention?
blowing thingy for the fire

I've got to go with steel, since it's not naturally occuring. I'm taking the question in the literal sense, as in something man devised. After steel I'd say rifling , followed by holsters, slings and scabbards.
Though I'm watching something about the Mexican Revolution and gotta say, those criss-crossed bandoliers are pretty sweet.
The finger!

Without them, firearms would've never been made, never be fired...