Top 10 Military Weapons that Changed Everything



Top 10 Military Weapons that Changed Everything

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
Script written by Garrett Alden

These are the weapons that revolutionized war. From cruise missiles, to cannons, to catapults, these weapons were huge game changers. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Game Changing Military Weapons.

Check out our other videos of the Top 10 Most Destructive Weapons Ever Created:, the Top 10 Guns for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse:, and the Top 10 Deadliest Video Game Weapons:
Script written by Garrett Alden

Top 10 Game Changing Military Weapons

These are the weapons that revolutionized war. Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Game Changing Military Weapons.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the weapons that altered the way war was, and is, fought, as well as their impact on culture as a whole.

#10: Cruise Missiles

Though the idea of an airborne torpedo existed as early as 1909, the first proper steps towards a cruise missile began with the V-1 and V-2 weapons developed by Germany during the Second World War. Essentially guided missiles that are able to maintain a constant speed, or a cruising speed, cruise missiles changed war by being able to strike at targets many miles away, with their range only increasing over time. Their range and small size make them difficult to defend against, and when combined with their ability to carry even nuclear payloads, it’s no wonder these deadly projectiles are still used today.

#9: Cannons

The application of gun powder was a definite game changer, and although firearms greatly affected warfare as a whole, we decided on their bulkier, harder hitting elder cousins: cannons. Cannons were, and still are, a form of long-range heavy weaponry, whose great precision and predictable arcs made them a step above their predecessors. Their advantages lead to their deployment in battles on both land and sea, with their usefulness in the latter area completely changing the dynamic of ship-to-ship combat. While there’s no denying their effectiveness and impact, cannons were not the first kind of artillery.

#8: Catapults

Of all the types of war, siege warfare has to be one of the most frustrating. Catapults, whether they are ballistae, trebuchets, or some other variation, certainly made sieges easier for the attackers and more difficult for the defenders. The assault on fortifications was made simpler when the walls could be dismantled by large projectiles. Likewise, defensive innovations, such as the development of structures like castles and the improvement of their durability, were also a result of catapults; though there were plenty of other factors. Catapults were also a powerful defensive tool themselves, as wall-mounted catapults were a potent weapon against unprotected besiegers.

#7: Assault Rifles

In yet another innovation by Nazi Germany, assault rifles – a term sometimes attributed to Adolf Hitler himself – began with the StG-44. Besides being lightweight weapons capable of automatic fire, assault rifles are also capable of single shot fire, greatly increasing their versatility. Their detachable magazines and excellent range only add to their ease of use. While Germany may have pioneered their use, it would be the two superpowers of the latter half of the 20th century, the USA and the USSR, who perfected the concept in the M-16 and the AK-47.

#6: Machine Guns

The ability to fire multiple rounds from one gun, continuously, without reloading, was a definite game changer. War got significantly more dangerous once guns offered no respite to their targets. The first benchmark in the machine gun’s development was the Gatling gun, but that required a hand crank. True automation began with the Maxim gun, which used its own recoil to power its loading, and its effectiveness made it popular on all sides during World War I. In addition to their effects on war, the advancements made in early machine guns’ designs influenced future automatic weapons like assault rifles.

#5: Tanks

By the time of the First World War, metal body armor had become impractical due to the effectiveness of guns and explosives. However, there was still a solution to be found in old tech, and thus modern engineers created the tank by combining the concept of a mobile fortification with new advances in industrial technology. Tanks are as devoted to offense as they are at defense, and are armed with powerful cannons and gun ports that allow combatants to wade deep into enemy territory and wreak great havoc. Although their use has dwindled since the two World Wars, tanks remain a hardy and useful part of warfare today.

#4: Bows and Arrows

It might be primitive, but rest assured, the bow and arrow changed war forever. It was among the first projectile weapons ever created and indisputably the most popular, with cultures all over the world inventing it independently of one another. The simple ability to kill without literally throwing your weapon away or having to risk approaching your enemy with a handheld weapon was revolutionary. It’s also worth noting that people used bows for thousands of years before discovering a better personal projectile weapon, though a number of variations on the basic concept, such as crossbows and longbows, would have their day as well.

#3: Combat Drones

Cruise missiles were a big step towards a more impersonal form of war, but unmanned combat aerial vehicles, more commonly called UCAVs or combat drones, refined the concept. While their unarmed counterparts, UAVs, are primarily for surveillance, combat drones are deadly, remote-controlled weapons. Their small size and lack of pilot make them cheaper to make and implement than other aerial combat vehicles. Still, combat drones are not without collateral damage, and many drone strikes have resulted in civilian casualties. Currently, only a little over half a dozen countries possess and implement combat drones, but their proliferation could see a very new kind of war indeed.

#2: Chemical Weaponry

World War I saw the deployment of a huge number of new weapons and improvements upon existing ones. Arguably the most deadly of the latter was the refinement of chemical weapons, including chlorine and mustard gas. Because of their incorporeal nature, defending against them is next to impossible, with gas masks only protecting soldiers from direct inhalation; leaving them still vulnerable to exposure from any contact with unprotected areas of skin. Their effects were so grisly that chemical armaments are now outlawed by the vast majority of the world’s countries, though there are a few exceptions whose refusal remains troubling.

Before we get to our top pick, here’s an honorable mention:

Ballistic Missile Submarines

#1: Atomic Bombs

It’s hard to overstate just how tremendous an affect the atomic bomb had on warfare and humanity in general. A weapon that can annihilate entire cities and leave the blast zones irradiated for decades afterward, the A-bomb brought about a similarly devastating shift in the way war was carried out over the course of the 20th century, and even to present day. The threat of mutually assured destruction became a cornerstone of the Cold War and a near universal human fear. It’s been argued that no one wins in war, and nuclear weapons are perhaps the truest example of this sentiment.