With the advancements in military warfare, the top weapons of the Vietnam War take on a very different look than those used just a few years prior in the Korean War. Helicopters were widely utilized and tanks were not practical. The Vietnam People’s Army (North Vietnamese Army) fought a more conventional war, sometimes sending large units into battle. The U.S. and South Vietnamese forces relied more on their air superiority and tremendous firepower when operating their search and destroy missions, which involved ground forces, artillery and airstrikes.

List of Top Weapons

This list of top weapons of the Vietnam War will focus specifically on infantry weapons. They are listed in no particular order.

M16 Assault Rifle – More specifically, the M-16A1 – 5.56mm – was one of the most distinguishable hand held weapons of the Vietnam War. The reliability of this rifle is reflective in its continued use by US forces today.

CAR15 – This 5.56mm telescopic assault rifle was used in Vietnam, but primarily by US Special Forces.

M14 Rifle – This 7.62mm rifle was briefly used during the Vietnam War, but was eventually phased out with the introduction of the M16.

Colt 45 1911 – This 45 cal pistol continued to see service through Vietnam, but was mainly issued to the Officers and/or those enrolled in special forces.

M-60 Light Machine Gun – This 7.62mm gun was often mounted on armored vehicles and helicopters and used by troops for infantry support.

AK-47 Assault Rifle – A 7.62mm weapon, the AK-47 was produced during the 1950s by the Russians. It was considered more durable than the M16, but not as accurate. The AK-47 is still in production today.


The list of infantry weapons in Vietnam could go on and on.  Rocket launchers, grenade launchers and even anti-tank weapons were widely used by the infantry. Other types of machine guns, pistols and rifles were also used. The above list could be disputed, but is, no doubt, reflective of some of the top weapons of the Vietnam War.