As­sault Weapons and As­sault Ri­fles

As­sault weapons are guns/fire arms that fire one round each time the trig­ger is pulled. They are not as­sault ri­fles or ma­chine guns.


As­sault weapons are guns/fire arms that fire one round each time the trig­ger is pulled. They are not as­sault ri­fles or ma­chine gun.

Lt Gen­eral V.K. Kapoor (Retd)

THE TERM “AS­SAULT WEAPONS” as such is not de­fined in the dic­tio­nary and each word of the term is de­fined seper­ately. The Cam­bridge dic­tio­nary de­fines the word “as­sault” as a vi­o­lent at­tack and “weapon” as an ob­ject used in fight­ing or war such as gun, bomb and knife, etc. So if we com­bine the two the sense that we get is that an “as­sault weapon” is a weapon for un­leash­ing a vi­o­lent at­tack.

Dic­tio­ de­fines as­sault weapon as – “var­i­ous au­to­matic and semi­au­to­matic mil­i­tary firearms uti­liz­ing an in­ter­me­di­ate-power car­tridge, de­signed for in­di­vid­ual use.” This def­i­ni­tion is also mis­lead­ing be­cause as we will see later in the ar­ti­cle au­to­matic and semi­au­to­matic weapons are grouped in sep­a­rate cat­e­gories.

Ox­ford dic­tio­nary also does not de­fine the term “as­sault weapon” but it does de­fine an as­sault ri­fle which it de­fines as - A light­weight ri­fle de­vel­oped from the sub-ma­chine gun, which may be set to fire au­to­mat­i­cally or semi-au­to­mat­i­cally.

In the United States, an as­sault weapon is a term used to de­fine some types of firearms. The def­i­ni­tion varies among reg­u­lat­ing ju­ris­dic­tions, but usu­ally in­cludes semi-au­to­matic firearms with a de­tach­able mag­a­zine and a pis­tol grip, and some­times other fea­tures such as a flash sup­pres­sor or bar­rel shroud. Some firearms are spec­i­fied by name. At the time that the now-de­funct Fed­eral As­sault Weapons Ban was passed in 1994, the US Jus­tice Depart­ment said, “In gen­eral, as­sault weapons are semi­au­to­matic firearms with a large mag­a­zine of am­mu­ni­tion that were de­signed and con­fig­ured for rapid fire and com­bat use.” The ori­gin of the term has been at­trib­uted to leg­is­la­tors, gun con­trol groups, the me­dia, and the firearms in­dus­try it­self. It is some­times equated with the term “as­sault ri­fle”, which refers to se­lec­tive-fire mil­i­tary ri­fles that can fire in au­to­matic and/or burst mode but this equa­tion is in­cor­rect. Thus draw­ing from US fed­eral and state law def­i­ni­tions, the term “as­sault weapon” refers pri­mar­ily to semi-au­to­matic ri­fles, pis­tols, and shot­guns that are able to ac­cept de­tach­able mag­a­zines and pos­sess one or more other fea­tures. Some ju­ris­dic­tions de­fine re­volv­ing cylin­der shot­guns as as­sault weapons. Leg­isla­tive def­i­ni­tions do not in­clude fully au­to­matic weapons, which are reg­u­lated sep­a­rately as Ti­tle II weapons un­der US fed­eral law.

Com­mon at­tributes used in leg­isla­tive def­i­ni­tions of as­sault weapons in the US in­clude:

Semi-au­to­matic firearm ca­pa­ble of ac­cept­ing a de­tach­able mag­a­zine. Fold­ing or tele­scop­ing (col­lapsi­ble) stock, which re­duces the over­all length of the firearm.

A pis­tol grip that pro­trudes con­spic­u­ously be­neath the ac­tion of the weapon Bay­o­net lug, which al­lows the mount­ing of a bay­o­net

Threaded bar­rel, which can ac­cept de­vices such as a flash sup­pres­sor, Sup­pres­sor, com­pen­sator or muz­zle brake Grenade launcher.

Bar­rel shroud, which pre­vents burn­ing of shooter’s arm or hand as a safety de­vice.

The firearms in­dus­try it­self in­tro­duced the term “as­sault weapon” to build in­ter­est in new prod­uct lines. Phillip Peter­son, the au­thor of Gun Digest Buyer’s Guide to As­sault Weapons (2008) wrote:

The pop­u­larly held idea that the term ‘as­sault weapon’ orig­i­nated with an­ti­gun ac­tivists is wrong. The term was first adopted by man­u­fac­tur­ers, whole­salers, im­porters and deal­ers in the Amer­i­can firearms in­dus­try to stim­u­late sales of cer­tain firearms that did not have an ap­pear­ance that was fa­mil­iar to many firearms own­ers. The man­u­fac­tur­ers and gun writ­ers of the day needed a catchy name to iden­tify this new type of gun.

The term “as­sault weapon” is some­times con­flated with the term “as­sault ri­fle”. Ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press Style­book, 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.” Civil­ian own­er­ship of ma­chine guns (and as­sault ri­fles) has been tightly reg­u­lated since 1934 un­der the US, Na­tional Firearms Act and since 1986 un­der the Firearm Own­ers Pro­tec­tion Act.

Dif­fer­ences Be­tween As­sault Weapons and As­sault Ri­fles The AR-15 ri­fle, is the most pop­u­lar ri­fle sold in the United States today. Mil­lions have been sold to Amer­i­can cit­i­zens since 1963.

The AR-15 is the most com­mon ex­am­ple of what are some­times called as­sault weapons. But what does this term ac­tu­ally mean?

First, it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand what an as­sault weapon is not. The terms “as­sault weapon” and “as­sault ri­fle” are of­ten con­fused. Ac­cord­ing to Bruce H. Kobayashi and Joseph E. Ol­son, writ­ing in the Stan­ford Law and Pol­icy Re­view:

Prior to 1989, the term “as­sault weapon” did not ex­ist in the lex­i­con of fire- arms. It is a po­lit­i­cal term, de­vel­oped by anti-gun pub­li­cists to ex­pand the cat­e­gory of “as­sault ri­fles.”

If an as­sault weapon is not an as­sault ri­fle, what is an as­sault ri­fle?

It is like the M4A1 car­bine, a US mil­i­tary ser­vice ri­fle. It is also an as­sault ri­fle.

The M4A1 is fully au­to­matic. This means it fires mul­ti­ple rounds each time the trig­ger is pulled. The M4A1 can fire up to 950 rounds per minute.

Like the ma­jor­ity of firearms sold in the United States, the AR-15 is semi-au­to­matic. This means it fires one round each time the trig­ger is pulled. The AR-15 can fire be­tween 45 and 60 rounds per minute de­pend­ing on the skill of the op­er­a­tor. This rate of fire is com­pa­ra­ble to other semi-au­to­matic firearms, but pales in com­par­i­son to fully au­to­matic as­sault ri­fles, some of which can fire more than 1,000 rounds per minute.

So-called as­sault weapons are not

ma­chine guns or as­sault ri­fles. Ac­cord­ing to David Kopel, writ­ing in The Wall Street Jour­nal:

What some peo­ple call “as­sault weapons” func­tion like ev­ery other nor­mal firearm—they fire only one bul­let each time the trig­ger is pressed. Un­like au­to­mat­ics (ma­chine guns), they do not fire con­tin­u­ously as long as the trig­ger is held. ...Today in Amer­ica, most hand­guns are semi-au­to­mat­ics, as are many long guns, including the best-sell­ing ri­fle today, the AR-15, the model used in the New­town shoot­ing. Some of these guns look like ma­chine guns.

There­fore as­sault weapons are guns/ fire arms that fire one round

each time the trig­ger is pulled, how­ever due to the men­ac­ing looks of weapons like the AR-15, peo­ple of­ten con­fuse them with au­to­matic, as­sault ri­fles.

In­dian As­sault Ri­fles

Some of the as­sault ri­fles which are in use in In­dian armed forces are given be­low:

INSAS – This is the mostly used as­sault ri­fle in In­dian Armed Forces and was orig­i­nated in In­dia. It also has a light ma­chine gun vari­ant. It has its ba­sic de­sign sim­i­lar to AKM but has some points of dif­fer­ence too. This ri­fle is be­ing used by Nepal, Bhutan and Oman mil­i­tary. But some is­sues of jam­ming, crack­ing ofthe mag­a­zine and semi-au­to­matic mode were scars on it. But its vari­ants have erad­i­cated these draw­backs. Multi cal­i­bre in­di­vid­ual weapon sys­tem (MCIWS) – It is also an in­dige­nously de­vel­oped ri­fle by In­dia which is ex­pected to re­place the INSAS as­sault ri­fle. It has got some spe­cial fea­ture that de­serves ap­pre­ci­a­tion and its in­duc­tion into the army will im­prove the fight­ing skills of sol­diers.

AKM – This As­sault ri­fle is used in In­dian Armed Forces, which has a ba­sic de­sign as that of AK-47 ri­fles. AKM is a mod­ernised form of fa­mous AK-47. It has a fir­ing rate of 600 rounds per min- ute and comes with semi-au­to­matic and fully au­to­matic modes. Named as Av­tomat Kalash­nikova, AK se­ries is au­to­matic ri­fles that were found a hit among sol­diers af­ter its in­ven­tion.

AK103 – Apart from AKM, In­dian Armed Forces use AK 103 from AK fam­ily. AK 103 is also a vari­ant of AK 47 ad­di­tion­ally hav­ing side fold­ing stock. It is also used by spe­cial forces of In­dian Navy i.e. MAR­COS. T91 as­sault ri­fle – It is a Tai­wan made ri­fle and is used by Spe­cial Forces of In­dian Army and Garud of In­dian air force. The ri­fle has got fir­ing speed of about 800 rounds per minute. This ri­fle is based on T86 as­sault ri­fle with fea­tures of M16 and AR-18 ri­fles. It has 4

fir­ing modes i.e. safe mode, semi-au­to­matic mode (1 bust), 3 burst mode and fully au­to­matic mode.

IMI Ta­vor TAR-21 – This ri­fle is also used by Spe­cial Forces of In­dian Armed Forces. This Is­raeli made ri­fle hav­ing se­lec­tive fir­ing sys­tem (semi and fully au­to­matic modes). The ri­fle’s birth was aimed to build a re­li­able and durable ri­fle, which needs low main­te­nance. This makes it step ahead of car­bine ri­fles.

APS am­phib­ian ri­fle – The APS am­phib­ian/un­der­wa­ter ri­fle is used by MAR­COS by In­dian navy. This un­der­wa­ter as­sault ri­fle orig­i­nated in the Soviet Union and has fir­ing speed of 600 rounds per minute. The ef­fec­tive fir­ing range of this ri­fle de­creases with an in­crease in depth. It has dif­fer­ent shaped bul­lets and has good range and ac­cu­racy as com­pared to or­di­nary bul­lets.

FN F2000 – This is an As­sault ri­fle by Bel­gium and used by a Spe­cial Pro­tec­tion Group of In­dia. The ri­fle can fire at a swift speed of 850 rounds per minute. The gun is fully au­to­matic with NATO box mag­a­zines and is cur­rently used by many coun­tries.

SG 551 – It is the as­sault ri­fle made in Switzer­land and ex­clu­sively used by Na­tional se­cu­rity guards, which has a ma­jor part of the In­dian army. It is based on SG550 and has shorter length than SG 551 with fir­ing speed of about 650 rounds per minute. The ri­fle is be­ing used by France, Canada Brazil, Ger­many and many other na­tions.

All the above as­sault ri­fles be­ing au­to­matic weapons can­not strictly be termed as as­sault weapons which are semi au­to­matic, sin­gle shot weapons.

Pro­cure­ment of new As­sault Ri­fles and Car­bines

The De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil (DAC), chaired by Rak­sha Mantri Nir­mala Sithara­man, met on Jan­uary 16, 2018, and cleared pro­cure­ment of 72,400 as­sault ri­fles and 93,895 car­bines on fast track ba­sis for

3,547 crore to en­able the De­fence Forces to meet their im­me­di­ate re­quire­ment for the troops de­ployed on the bor­ders.

On Tues­day, Fe­bru­ary 13, 2018, In­dias De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil, presided over by the Rak­sha Mantri Nir­mala Sithara­man, cleared 15,935 crore worth of pro­pos­als including the one to pro­cure 7.4 lakh ‘Buy and Make (In­dian)’ as­sault ri­fles at a cost of

12,280 crore for the three ser­vices. This clear­ance also in­cluded 1,819 crore worth of Light Ma­chine Guns which will also be pro­cured through the fast-track pro­ce­dure to meet the op­er­a­tional re­quire­ment of the troops de­ployed at the bor­der. Ad­di­tion­ally the clear­ance in­cludes 5719 sniper ri­fles for the In­dian Army and Air Force at an es­ti­mated out­lay of 982 crore.


M4A1 Car­bine

PHO­TO­GRAPH: Wikipedia

In­dian Army Para Com­man­dos with Ta­vor as­sault ri­fles

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