THE MORE YOU KNOW: What Is An Assault Rifle?

    What is an assault rifle

    Of all the questions in the gun world, What Is An Assault Rifle, seems to be the one answered and used by those least competent to do so. And since TFB is (arguably) the world’s leading resource on firearms, I thought we should take a minute to settle the debate once and for all. So, what is an assault rifle?

    THE MORE YOU KNOW: What Is An Assault Rifle?

    First created by the Germans (some say Hitler himself), the word Sturmgewehr was used to describe the MP43/StG44 rifle. The word Sturmgewehr is actually German for Assault Rifle. Chambered in the intermediate 7.92x33mm Kurz (short), the StG44 had more power than a subgun, was select fire and a smaller profile than it’s larger-chambered rifle brethren.

    It was that combination of characteristics that made the StG44 the perfect rifle for assaulting enemy positions – quick, powerful with a high rate of fire. And the Assault Rifle was born. After that, other weapons received the Assault Rifle designation.

    The U.S. Army went on to further clarify the definition in later years:

    The U.S. Army defines assault rifles as “short, compact, selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachine gun and rifle cartridges.”[16]

    Source: Wikipedia

    According to these sources ([2][3][4][5]), a firearm “must” have at least the following characteristics to be considered an assault rifle:

    Rifles that meet most of these criteria, but not all, are technically not assault rifles, despite frequently being called such.

    Source: Wikipedia
    With these specifications in place, we have a clear way to categorize what is an assault rifle versus what is not. However, at some point in history, Hollywood, the media or both applied assault rifle with a broad brush to many guns that do not meet the criteria as previously defined. While the overwhelming majority of “assault rifles” referenced by news outlets are semiautomatic and not select fire, many are also chambered in calibers that are not intermediate cartridges or do not utilize detachable box magazines. The term has made its way into popular culture and has attempted to redefine the firearms being referenced.
    Even asking the almighty internet is somewhat of a crap shoot:

    Google search:

    a rapid-fire, magazine-fed automatic rifle designed for infantry use.

    While a dictionary search returns:
    Merriam Webster: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assault%20rifle
    any of various intermediate-range, magazine-fed military rifles (such as the AK-47) that can be set for automatic or semiautomatic fire
    But also adds:
    also : a rifle that resembles a military assault rifle but is designed to allow only semiautomatic fire
    Wait, what?
    Then what do we call a double-barreled Assault Rifle?

    Summary

    So, what is an Assault Rifle?
    The technical definition is spelled out clearly above. Those specific characteristics define an actual assault rifle.
    The Associated Press Stylebook states:
    “the media should differentiate between “assault rifles”, which are capable of fully automatic firing, and “assault weapons”, which are semiautomatic and “not synonymous with assault rifle”
    So what characteristics define an “Assault Weapon”?

    Don’t even get me started.

    Pete

    Editor In Chief- TFB
    LE – Silencers – Science
    [email protected]


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