If you fairly define the term “tactical weapon” you would have to include all guns and knives that were designed to protect, defend or assault. That would mean the early tactical weapons in the United States were the Army revolvers and the repeating rifles.
But in today’s world, we owe credit to Armalite, Inc. for the basic design of the tactical rifle. Armalite, Inc. actually built the AR15 in 1959 and adapted it for military use in 1963.
I was first introduced to the M-16 when I entered the U.S. Army in 1969. That, in my opinion, was the birth of today’s tactical world. In our modern day vernacular, the tactical weapon followed the M-16 that was manufactured and put in use in Viet Nam in the mid-1960s. We have modified the original design with a litany of after market modifications. We have added rails, optics, bipods, modified barrels, suppressors, cameras and, well, just let your imagination run and you can add it to the AR rifle.
But our study of the tactical weapon development has not stopped with the AR platform. We must recognize the shotgun and add that to the mix with both the pump and the semi-automatic. Beretta’s 1301 competition semi-automatic is claimed to be the fastest tactical shotgun manufactured today. And, of course, you can’t overlook the Remington 870 as an all time favorite to almost every policeman in the country. It has a distinct sound that stirs fear in the heart of any criminal when it is racked. Some would argue that the 870 didn’t really become a tactical weapon until Remington started manufacturing the gun in black. I guess until the desert wars, we produced all military weapons either in wood or in black.