An assault rifle is a selective fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles were first put into mass production and accepted into widespread service during World War II. The first assault rifle to see major usage was the German StG 44, a development of the earlier Mkb 42. While immediately after World War II, NATO countries were equipped with battle rifles, the development of the M16 rifle during the Vietnam War prompted the adoption of assault rifles by the rest of NATO. By the end of the 20th century, assault rifles had become the standard weapon in most of the world's armies, replacing full-powered rifles and sub-machine guns in most roles. Some of the most successful assault rifles include the AK-47, M16, IMI Galil and Heckler & Koch G36. Origin of term The term assault rifle is generally attributed to Adolf Hitler, who used the German word Sturmgewehr (which translates to 'assault rifle') as the new name for the MP 43 (Maschinenpistole), subsequently known as the Sturmgewehr 44. Allied propaganda suggested that the name was chosen for propaganda purposes, but the main purpose was to differentiate the Sturmgewehr from German submachine guns such as the MP 40. It has been suggested, however, that the Heereswaffenamt was responsible for the name Sturmgewehr, and Hitler had no input besides signing the production order. Furthermore, Hitler was initially opposed to the idea of a new infantry rifle, as Germany lacked the industrial capacity to replace the 12, 000, 000 Karabiner 98k rifles already in service, only changing his mind once he saw it first-hand. The StG 44 is generally considered the first selective fire military rifle to popularize the assault rifle concept. Today, the term assault rifle is used to define firearms sharing the same basic characteristics as the StG 44. Characteristics 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. ' In this strict definition, a firearm must have at least the following characteristics to be considered an assault rifle: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, examples of intermediate cartridges are the 7. 9233mm Kurz, the 7. 62x39mm and 5. 5645mm NATO. Its ammunition must be supplied from a detachable box magazine.
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