Is your Sturmgewehr a “battle rifle” or what?

    This is a short post intended to illustrate that terms such as “assault rifle” or especially “battle rifle” are more or less meaningless for classification, unless used in historical context and in conjunction with a particular rifle that was named as such by someone who lacked a better idea…

    Usually most people agree that an “assault rifle” is a select-fire rifle firing intermediate ammunition, right?

    You sure?

    Let’s look at some original assault rifles which were officially designated as such:

    1. Sturmgewehr 57. Swiss select-fire rifle also known as SIG SG-510, firing rather powerful 7.5×55 GP11 ammunition.Official manual for 7.5mm Stg.57 automatic rifle7.5x55mm SIG Stgw.57 automatic rifle
    2. Sturmgewehr 58. A license-built version of the 7.62x51mm select-fire FN FAL light automatic rifle, adopted by Austrian military.
      Official manual for 7.62x51mm Stg.58 (FN FAL in Austrian service) automatic rifle7.62x51mm Stg.58 automatic rifle
    3. Fusil de Asalto CETME Modelo C, Spanish select-fire rifle firing the same 7.62×51 ammunition, and a direct ascendant to German HK G3 rifle.
      Official manual for CETME Model C 7.62mm rifle7.62mm CETME Modelo C automatic rifle

    So, are those “assault” rifles “battle” rifles as well? And, considering that both Swiss and Austrian militaries are of purely defensive nature (due to political neutrality of respective countries), how they can have anything but “defensive” rifles at all?

    Max Popenker

    Max Popenker is a long-time firearms enthusiast and semi-amateur firearms historian from Russia. His primary interest is in automatic firearms, their evolution and use. He wrote a number of books on the subject and maintains a Modern Firearms website at