What was considered a bad design in military weapons?
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By The Smartencyclopedia Staff 

Bad design in military weapons can have serious consequences, from compromising the effectiveness of a mission to endangering the lives of soldiers. Throughout history, several military weapons have been criticized for their flawed designs. Here are some notable examples:

1. M16 Rifle (Early Models)

The M16 rifle, introduced during the Vietnam War, faced severe criticism for its early models. Problems included:

  • Jamming Issues: Early models tended to jam frequently, often due to the lack of a chrome-plated chamber and barrel which led to corrosion and dirt build-up.
  • Maintenance: The rifle was initially marketed as requiring minimal cleaning, which was not accurate. This misinformation led to soldiers neglecting proper maintenance, exacerbating jamming issues.
  • Ammunition: The switch from the original IMR (Improved Military Rifle) powder to ball powder increased fouling, contributing further to the jamming problems.

2. Ross Rifle

The Canadian Ross Rifle, used during World War I, is another example of poor design:

  • Overly Sensitive to Dirt: The rifle was designed for accuracy but was extremely prone to jamming in the muddy conditions of trench warfare.
  • Bolt Problems: Incorrect reassembly of the bolt could cause it to blow back into the shooter’s face upon firing.
  • Durability: The rifle was not robust enough for the harsh combat conditions, leading to frequent malfunctions.

3. Bren Ten Pistol

Designed in the 1980s, the Bren Ten was meant to be a powerful and reliable sidearm, but it suffered from several design flaws:

  • Ammunition Availability: The proprietary 10mm Auto cartridge was not widely available, limiting its use.
  • Magazine Issues: The pistol suffered from poorly manufactured magazines which caused frequent feeding problems.
  • Production Quality: Inconsistent quality control led to reliability issues across different units.

4. Arisaka Type 99 Rifle

The Japanese Arisaka Type 99, used during World War II, faced several criticisms:

  • Complex Sights: The anti-aircraft sights were overly complex and impractical for the average infantryman.
  • Fragile Components: Late-war production rifles suffered from poor quality control and used inferior materials, making them less reliable.

5. Mk 14 Enhanced Battle Rifle (EBR)

While the Mk 14 EBR was an attempt to modernize the M14 rifle, it encountered significant problems:

  • Weight: The modifications added considerable weight, making it cumbersome for soldiers to carry.
  • Ergonomics: The rifle was not user-friendly, with a design that made it difficult to handle in various combat situations.
  • Reliability: Despite improvements, the EBR still suffered from some of the same reliability issues as the original M14.

6. M73 Machine Gun

Used by the U.S. military, the M73 machine gun was plagued by several design issues:

  • Jamming: The M73 was notorious for frequent jamming and malfunctions.
  • Maintenance: It required extensive maintenance to keep functioning properly.
  • Replacement: The issues were so severe that it was eventually replaced by the M240 machine gun.

7. L85A1 Rifle

The British L85A1, part of the SA80 family, was criticized heavily for its design:

  • Reliability: The rifle had severe reliability issues, particularly in adverse conditions such as sand and dust.
  • Ergonomics: The design was not user-friendly, with awkward placement of controls.
  • Maintenance: It required frequent and complex maintenance to remain operational.


Design flaws in military weapons can stem from a variety of issues including poor material quality, inadequate testing, failure to account for real-world conditions, and rushed production timelines. Addressing these flaws typically involves redesigns, extensive field testing, and feedback from the users to ensure the weapons meet the rigorous demands of combat environments.

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