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An FN FAL, an example of a battle rifle.

A battle rifle is a rifle firing a full-sized rifle cartridge, such as .303 British, .30-06 Springfield, 7.62×54mmR, or 7.62×51mm NATO, from a full-length barrel. Battle rifles are usually semi-automatic; however, some have select-fire capability. Almost all battle rifles have a long barrel and fire a large caliber rifle round. Like assault rifles, they often have carbine variants as well.

History[edit | edit source]

Automatic, selective-fire rifles chambered for full-sized cartridges were commonplace after World War II, especially with the standardization of the 7.62×51mm cartridge by NATO. Rifles like the M14, FN FAL, and G3 enjoyed widespread use by most Western military forces. By the early 1960s, the intermediate 5.56×45mm cartridge was beginning to gain popularity and most countries that were reliant upon 7.62mm made a gradual shift toward intermediate rifles over the course of the next few decades. In the 1980s, the 5.56mm cartridge was standardized across NATO and rifles chambered for full-sized cartridges became less prevalent.

Although full-caliber rifles are today rarely standard-issue, they still often serve in sharpshooter roles; the US Army's M14 EBR and the British L129 are examples of this.

Nomenclature[edit | edit source]

It should be noted that the terminology "battle rifle" is a relatively recent invention: while the term "assault rifle" refers to intermediate-caliber firearms, "battle rifle" was generally a term not distinct from "service rifle."

Roles[edit | edit source]

Battle rifles now generally serve as designated marksman rifles (DMR), or as sniper rifles. Many service rifles were modified for this role, and some newer battle rifles even introduced, designed specifically for these roles.

Examples[edit | edit source]

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