There are a lot of ways to win a battle at different levels, but the most effective methods involve some kind of surprise and deception. Sneak attacks go back as far as war itself, and since then man has always come up with a lot of weapons designed to deliver damage without getting caught.
In this list, we’re going to take a look at some of the coolest, scariest, and most notorious sneak attack weapons in history, focusing on attack weapons – not traps or ambush tactics.
This list of stealth weapons is meant to take out a single target in silence or wipe out whole contents in a global doomsday scenario.
Say what you will about the tactics, but one things for sure: these sneak attack weapons is not about fighting fair.
- Horton HO 299 “Bat”
It’s hard to believe, but this incredibly modern-looking stealth aircraft was captured by the Allies from Germany after WWII. Recently confirmed to have been built specifically for radar stealth using all-wood construction and radar-absorbing carbon glue, the crazy-fast jet-powered “Bat” never saw action.
- U-480 Submarine
At first glance, this German U-Boat looks like any other, which in a way already immediately classifies it as an epic sneak attack weapon. But U-480 was a stealth weapon among stealth weapons, being the first submarine in history ever to use a sound-absorbing, rubberized “anechoic” coating that made it almost invisible to sonar. Submarines still use this anechoic coating, and even 80 years later its exact composition remains classified information.
- Poison Gun Umbrella
Among followers of shadow wars and spy games, this KGB killing tool has reached almost mythical proportions. Using compressed air to fire a tiny pellet of ricin toxin into its victim, the umbrella gun silently stung like a bee made of doom. Its most notable victim was Bulgarian journalist Georgi Markov, though likely nobody short of Vladimir Putin truly knows the umbrella gun’s final body count.
- Cigarette Dart Gun
Say what you will about the KGB, but they did come up with some pretty sweet spy toys. This pack of smokes concealed a clip of cyanide-tipped darts, and could silently kill its victim from across the room.
The one pictured was remanded to the C.I.A. by a defecting Russian spy named Nikolai Khokhlov, whose original mission was to assassinate an anti-communist agitator in Germany.
- Lockheed RQ-170 Sentinel
Dubbed “The Beast of Kandahar” for sightings during its initial (confirmed) combat mission, the Sentinel is a next-generation stealth drone that can get to places the Predator can’t. Right now, nobody knows exactly what the Sentinel looks like, since it’s still very much black bag. Also, it’s currently recon only. But, if drone history (and Lockheed history) teaches us anything, it’s only a matter of time before this raven grows some talons. It may have already, for all we know. Guess we’ll find out if stuff in North Korea starts mysteriously exploding.
- V-2 Missile
The grandfather of all ballistic missiles and space rockets, the German V-2 engineered by Wernher von Braun terrorized Londoners throughout the second half of WWII. Generally, the first warning you’d get of an incoming V-2 was when it blew up next to you.
- MH-60 Airwolf
If you’ve seen Zero Dark Thirty, you’re already familiar with this stealth-adapted version of the Army’s classic Black Hawk helicopter. It was famously used during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and probably would have remained a secret had one not crashed.
Probably the coolest thing about Airwolf (apart from the name) isn’t so much its stealth skin as its rotors. Details remain black bag, but Airwolf is probably the first operational stealth helicopter to use rotors adapted in design from the wings of owls. At certain speeds, these rotors spin almost dead silent, so, an Airwolf could be landing in your front yard right now, and you’d never hear it.
- Lipstick Gun
Standard equipment for Natasha Romanov’s handbag, the KGB called this single-shot, 4.55-millimeter weapon “The Kiss of Death.” Yes, it really was carried by female Soviet spies on missions of seduction and assassination, but the lipstick gun’s full service record is still buried somewhere under the Kremlin.
- Das U-Boat
While another, very singular U-Boat makes this list on the basis of its revolutionary stealth technology, U-Boats in general were regarded at the time as one of the most dastardly sneak attack weapons ever devised. When Hitler’s “wolf packs” first began roaming the Atlantic, there was a strong movement in the naval community to make summary execution of all submariner “spies” part of the Geneva convention. Loathed, detested, and feared, U-Boat crews were considered among the most dishonorable of killers by Allied powers. At least, until the Allies got subs of their own, and universally did a 180 on the “honor” of these underwater assassins.
- Barrett .50 Cal
All sniper rifles are sneak attack weapons, and that certainly goes for the baddest mother of them all: the legendary M82A1 Barrett .50 cal. Introduced in 1982, the King of All Rifles fires the equally legendary BMG round, which was introduced in 1921 as a scaled-up version of the .30-06 hunting round. And the game it hunted was airplanes. The BMG went on to widespread use on fighter planes, and the Ma Deuce machine gun still in use today. Used in a bolt-action rifle like this, it’s capable of punching big holes in engine blocks from more than a mile away. The longest known confirmed hit was taken in 1967 by a Marine sniper in Vietnam, and he still holds the record at 6,558 feet. Even from that distance, the BMG doesn’t so much “kill” as “vaporize.”
Granted, the M82 has since been replaced by the more compact XM5000, but many people would contend that the classic BMG is still the BFG to have.
- BAE Taranis
Also known as the “Raptor,” if you think the original name is stupid. Any resemblance to the Lockheed Sentinel is not a coincidence, since the BAE design is about five years newer and meant for exactly the same mission. Difference being, this drone was designed from the outset to carry weapons, while the Lockheed doesn’t have them yet. Probably. As of right now, the Taranis/Raptor project is just getting underway, and BAE expects to have them in operational service by 2030. At which point, there’ll probably be a million armed Sentinel IIs in the air. Still, the Brits have flown a prototype, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so good on you, chaps.
- Reaper Drones
The MQ-9 Reaper is the weaponized version of General Atomics’ “Predator” recon drone that’s been making headlines of late. These drones are somewhat stealthy as far as radar goes, but they usually don’t need to be. The Reaper’s big scythe is its ability to simply loiter over a target area for 24 hours or more without refueling at a stratospheric altitude of 50,000 feet. That makes it an ideal weapon for sneak attacks against people without radar or high-altitude surface to air missiles. And if one does get shot down, it’s no big deal; at a mere $12 million each, these RC aircraft are actually cheaper than some air-to-air missiles.
- The Trojan Horse
Probably history’s best-known secret weapon, the Trojan Horse used by Odysseus at Troy still stands as one of the most decisive military deceptions ever. Check out this clip from the movie Troy to see how it played out. It picks up at the end of a massive battle, as the “victorious” Trojans check out a little parting gift left by the “defeated” Greeks.
- Krummlauf “Curved Barrel”
Introduced by Germany in WWII, this curved barrel attachment for the Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle allowed soldiers to shoot around corners or from cover without exposing themselves. It was only good for about 300 rounds before the barrel overheated, warped, and failed, but one good burst might be all a soldier would need if he could catch an enemy squad unaware.
You know this list wouldn’t be complete without at least mentioning silencers. This is one of the latest generation of suppressors known as the Osprey. This modern design places most of the chamber’s volume below the barrel, which keeps the top flat (so it doesn’t interfere with the sites), reducing the weight while keeping that weight low and controllable. One of the few weapons on this list you can actually buy, provided you’ve got the right licensing for it.
Well, yeah. Of course. Yes, a lot of the mythos of the ninja comes more from Hollywood than Japan, but these master assassins really were living weapons. In reality, most ninjas didn’t skulk around in black pajamas carrying katanas; they specialized in hiding in plain sight as servants, farmers, and household staff. They were trained to use almost anything on hand as a weapon. Today’s special forces owe a lot to the principles of Koga-Ryu ninjitsu.
Sources: IMDB, Ranker, Wikipedia, Richard Rowe