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.”
- It must be capable of selective fire.
- It must have an intermediate-power cartridge: more power than a pistol but less than a standard rifle or battle rifle, such as the 7.92×33mm Kurz, the 7.62x39mm and the 5.56x45mm NATO.
- Its ammunition must be supplied from a detachable box magazine.
- It must have an effective range of at least 300 metres (330 yards).
Rifles that meet most of these criteria, but not all, are technically not assault rifles, despite frequently being called such.
a rapid-fire, magazine-fed automatic rifle designed for infantry use.
any of various intermediate-range, magazine-fed military rifles (such as the AK-47) that can be set for automatic or semiautomatic fire
also : a rifle that resembles a military assault rifle but is designed to allow only semiautomatic fire
“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”
Don’t even get me started.