Book Review
Infantry Small Arms
Infantry Small Arms of the 21st Century
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


Soldiers in today's modern armies have access to ever more advanced infantry weapons; lighter, more compact and more accurate than anything seen in the last century. These include combat pistols, personal assault rifles, sub-machine guns, sniper rifles, shotguns, light machine guns and squad automatic weapons.

Infantry Small Arms of the 21st Century features all these weapons and more in exhaustive detail. The author draws on the operational combat experience of the users in war zones such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Ukraine. As well as assessing and comparing the potency of different nations weapon systems, the book looks to the future demands of the infantry man.

As in the case of the author's previous work Guns of Special Forces 2001-2015, the result is an affordable, comprehensive and authoritative study of modern infantry weapons.


This offering from Pen and Sword titled ‘Infantry Small Arms of the 21st Century’ is a hard backed book offering authored by Leigh Neville. The book consists of 264 pages that are stitched into the cover; something I always consider as a sign of a quality book. The paper used is a gloss stock that shows the photographs off to a very high standard. The book is broken down and presented as follows:

1. Combat Pistols
2. Sub-Machine Guns and Personal Defence Weapons
3. Assault Rifles and Carbines
4. Battle and Designated Marksman Weapons
5. Combat Shotguns
6. Sniper and Anti-Material Rifles
7. Light Machine Guns, Light Support Weapons and Squad Automatic Weapons
8. Support Weapons

The introduction in this offering is a considerable read and covers a great deal of aspects I had not expected to find in a book with this title. It looks at unit configurations and the weapons issued, it then considers the effectiveness of those load outs and changes that have been made to make platoon actions more effective. The effectiveness of smaller calibre weapons is also looked at from both physical assessment and the way the soldier felt about weapon he or she was using. The effect of this introduction is that you pick up a lot of information I had not expected and I felt drawn in and informed by this area of the book.

The various weapons that slot into the various sections are covered well with a full colour photograph of the weapon from one angle and enhanced with images of the weapons in the hands of those who have to use them. The history of the weapons is covered in many cases in so much as the progression of the which weapon replaced what and why. Something that caught me out was that due to the number of military actions that NATO members have been engaged in the weapons are physically wearing out and replacements with like or different systems is looked at; this aspect of the title makes for interesting reading.

Something that I think many will find of interest and on occasion amusing are the words of a soldier who was issued with the all new SA80; This is a weapon I have heard described as designed for warriors and built by Airfix. On paper this was an exceptional weapon, but in use it was anything but that. The following are the words of Doug Beattie who is a British veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and he agreed to have his comments in this book.

The magazine would not stay attached to the weapon as the lightest contact with the release catch resulted in it falling out and spilling the rounds it contained; this resulted in troops using string and a clip to keep it in place. Mosquito repellent would melt the cheek rest of the weapon. The bayonet didn’t fit and the recoil spring was not up to the task and resulted in stoppages. The new round often failed to be fed into the breech, even worse is that the extractor often ripped the base off of the fired round leaving the casing behind. The weapon could not be fired by someone who was left handed unless a face full of spent rounds was desired. The SA80A2 that replaced this weapon has overcome all of these issues but suffers the reputation of its namesake.


With so many new weapons in use with modern military units it can be very hard to accurately identify a weapon accurately and this offering from Pen and Sword will help with that. The weapons are covered well with good information provided on them. Most of this can be found in most titles covering like data, but for me it is the information on the weapons in use and the troops expected to use them that sells the title. The result is a title that well rounded and provides more than just information on the weapon.
Darren Baker takes a look at a title from Pen and Sword titled 'Infantry Small Arms of the 21st Century'.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781473896130
  Suggested Retail: £30.00
  PUBLISHED: Dec 09, 2019

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2021 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. All rights reserved.


Looks like a good, general reference for those of us who need some basic details answered.
DEC 09, 2019 - 02:28 PM