assault rifle

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Calqued from German Sturmgewehr ("assault rifle", literally "storm rifle"). The Maschinenpistole 44 was called the Sturmgewehr by Adolf Hitler, whence it was renamed to represent the separate class of firearm it represented. From assault + rifle.


assault rifle (plural assault rifles)

  1. A military style automatic rifle or carbine that fires a shortened rifle caliber round or lower-power smaller-calibre round, from a high-capacity magazine.
    • 2014, Jeff Jacobson, Growth, page 23:
      A man dressed as a lab tech, his blue scrubs startlingly pale against the vivid red and black chaos, moved into sight from behind the SUV. He carried an assault rifle.
  2. (colloquial) Any assault weapon.

Usage notes[edit]

There is no widespread official definition of assault rifle, and the meaning varies among different legal jurisdictions.


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