A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves (“rifling”) cut into the barrel walls. The raised areas of the rifling are called “lands,” which make contact with the projectile (for small arms usage, called a bullet), imparting spin around an axis corresponding to the orientation of the weapon. When the projectile leaves the barrel, this spin lends gyroscopic stability to the projectile and prevents tumbling. This allows the use of aerodynamically-efficient pointed bullets (as opposed to the spherical balls used in muskets) and thus improves range and accuracy.

Commonly a rifle refers to any weapon that has a stock and is shouldered before firing, even if the weapon is not rifled or does not fire solid projectiles. Common Types of Rifles include: Carbines, Assault Rifles, Battle Rifles, and Marksman Rifles.

A carbine is a long arm but with a shorter barrel than a normal rifle. Many carbines are shortened versions of full length rifles, shooting the same ammunition, as opposed to stand alone designs with generally lower powered ammunition. The smaller size and lighter weight of carbines makes them easier to handle. They are typically issued to high-mobility troops such as special-operations soldiers and paratroopers, as well as to mounted, supply, or other non-infantry personnel whose roles do not require full-sized rifles.

An assault rifle is a selective fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles are currently the standard service rifles in most modern armies. The term originates from the German Sturmgewehr or ‘Storm Rifle’.

A battle rifle is a select fire, magazine fed, military service rifle that fires a full-power rifle cartridge. The term ‘battle rifle’ was coined, largely out of a need to better differentiate intermediate-power assault rifles from full-powered automatic rifles. As both classes of firearms have similar appearances and share many of the same features, they are easily confused and often simply referred to as ‘assault rifles’.

A designated marksman rifle (DMR) or just ‘marksman rifle’ is the weapon used by soldiers in the designated marksman (DM) role. The DM’s role fills the gap between a regular infantryman and a sniper (typically being deployed at ranges of 250–500 meters) and DMRs have been developed with this middle ground in mind. These rifles have to be effective, in terms of accuracy and terminal ballistics, at ranges exceeding those of ordinary assault rifles and battle rifles (typically 250 m or 270 yd or less and up to 500 m or 550 yd, respectively) but do not require the extended range of a dedicated sniper rifle (typically employed for targets at ranges from 500–2,000 m). DMRs, however, often share some basic characteristics with sniper rifles in differences to the weapons carried by others in the DMs unit. DMRs may have an attached telescopic sight, quickly deployed stabilizing bipod to allow optimized accuracy, and low-recoil in temporarily fixed situations or an adjustable stock. They will generally retain semi-automatic firing capability (more rapid than bolt-action sniper rifles) and a larger magazine capacity of 10, 20, or 30 rounds depending on the firearm in question.


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