The Top 6 Oldest Weapons Still in Use in the US Armed Forces

Some weapons have decades in service... But, they are so good that they can't be easily replaced.

The US has the best weapons in the world today – and it is, by far, the leading global arms exporter.

In fact, effective and cutting-edge weapons provide a strategic, tactical, and material advantage over enemies… But, the most powerful and effective weapons are the ones that bring results on the battlefield.

That’s why some weapons are still used even if they already have decades in service.


The UH-1 Huey

uh 1
UH-1 Battle Drills by Sabrina Candiaflores. Public Domain.

The Bell UH-1 Iroquois, also called “Huey,” is a powerful and very reliable utility helicopter in service since 1955.

UH-1 Huey began its services as an aerial ambulance, and it has demonstrated its efficiency in the most hostile and challenging conditions, particularly during the Vietnam war for around ten years. 

Uh-1 carried out several tasks during the War, including medical evacuations, troop extractions and insertions, firefly operations, and recoveries for helicopter crew members. 


Nowadays, many Huey models are still in use – and some of them are also operational for civilian roles like research operations, firefighting, and much more.

The M61 Vulcan

Performing maintenance by Pasquale Sena. Public Domain.

The M61 Vulcan is a 20mm automated rotary cannon created by General Electric in 1946. This six-barreled, mechanically fired cannon has an outstanding fire rate of 6000 rpm, more than enough to overwhelm and destroy most of its targets.

As a result, the M61 Vulcan, along with its advanced versions, has been a critical weapon for the USAF and US Navy for five decades. 


And it has proven its effectiveness in war many times. For example, during the Vietnam War, the USAF used the M61 Vulcan to shoot down 39 MIGs, showing it is a world-class weapon with unstoppable cannon rounds. 

The M14 Rifle

m14 by Airman 1st Class William Johnson. Public Domain.

The M14 rifle is the official rifle of the US, which fires 7.62*51mm NATO ammunition. It was the standard-issue rifle of the US from the year 1959 to 1970. Today, the Marine Corps and military use it for advanced and basic individual training.  

The rifle had an outstanding range of 500 yards, and it is reliable enough to keep it as a training weapon as well as a ceremonial rifle… and it is expected to stay for many years.


KC- 135 Stratotanker

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A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the Iowa Air National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City by Vincent De Groot.

The KC-135 Stratotanker is one of the best aerial refiling Boeing aircraft. This successor of Dash 80 has been serving the USAF since 1957, and it is still an efficient aircraft. 

This terrific plane provides aerial refueling backing to allied aircraft, Marine Corps, US Navy, and USAF. And the KC-135 has battle-proven capabilities as it has participated in several conflicts around the world such as Operation Desert Storm and the Vietnam War, with outstanding results. 

The M60 Machine Gun

Machine gun training by U.S. Navy. Public Domain.

The M60, also called “The Pig,” is a lightweight weapon that employs a varied range of ammunition, making it a very versatile machine gun in a real war scenario.


This machine gun has been successfully serving all the country’s military branches since 1957. Although the M60 continued in U.S. service beyond the threshold of the 21st century, it is remembered for its high-profile combat role in Vietnam during the 1960s and 1970s.

Today it continues to serve overseas because it is no longer in the U.S. Army’s inventory.

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

b 52 stratofortress
B-52 take-off byJacob Thompson. Public Domain.

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress has been a key tactical bomber for over 70 years. This subsonic jet with eight engines was the first long-range heavy bomber of America.


The B-52 can launch and drop 70,000 pounds of weapons, including cluster bombs, gravity bombs, and guided missiles. 

This aircraft started its journey as a global, high-altitude nuclear bomber for the USAF, but it has been modified for extended range and low-level flights with standard bombing features.

In addition, it easily transports high-tech equipment to destroy the enemy from hundred miles away anywhere in the world.   


Some legendary old weapons are here to stay

The advancement in technologies provides a substantial range of strategic abilities for the Army, Navy, and USAF. However, some of the oldest weapons are also the most effective, and they can serve the US for several years.

Featured image credit: Minot B-52s deploy to Indo-Pacific in support of Bomber Task Force by Kevin Iinuma. Public Domain.