Assault rifle, a military weapon chambered for small ammunition or propellant charge and which has the ability to alternate semi-automatic and fully automatic fire. Because they are lightweight and portable, but can still deliver a large volume of fire with reasonable accuracy at modern combat ranges of 300 to 500 meters (1,000 to 1,600 feet), assault rifles have replaced repeating rifles. and high-powered semi-automatic machines of the WWII era as the standard infantry weapon of modern armies.
A clue to this new weapon was provided during World War I, when Vladimir Grigorevich Fyodorov, the father of Russian automatic weapons, married the 6.5mm cartridge of the Japanese Arisaka rifle with an automatic rifle. In 1916 he presented his new weapon, the Avtomat Fyodor ova. Due to the turmoil of the Russian Revolution of 1917, only about 3,200 Fyodorov weapons were delivered. However, they pointed the way to the future infantry weapon design.
During World War II, Hugo Schmeisser designed a light rifle for firing with the German 7.92mm Kurz (“short”) cartridge, which was the same caliber as the Mauser rifle cartridge but was lighter and shorter and, therefore, smaller in size. powerful “intermediate” power. The weapon, known as the MP43, MP44 or Sturmgewehr (“assault rifle”) 44, was loaded with a curved box magazine that held 30 rounds and was designed to fire most effectively at around 300 yards (270 meters) . Only between 425,000 and 440,000 of these rifles were produced, too few and too late for the German war effort, but they were based on a concept that would dominate infantry weapons in the 21st century.
At the end of the war, the Soviets also began the search for a rifle to fire with its intermediate 7.62mm cartridge, which produced an initial speed of 710 meters per second. Historical evidence suggests that they were influenced by Sturmgewehr, but the extent to which it remains uncertain. In 1947 they adopted a weapon designed by Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov, calling it Avtomat Kalashnikova (“Automatic Kalashnikov”). Like the German weapon, the AK-47 (AK family weapons had the suffix of the year of their development) was operated by deflecting some of the propellant gases into a cylinder above the barrel. This pushed a piston which pushed the bolt back against its spring and cocked the hammer for the next round. With the rotation of a selector, the action could be switched from semi-automatic to fully automatic, firing at a rate of 600 rounds per minute. The AK-47 was made from forged and milled steel, which gave it a weight of 10.6 lbs (4.8 kg) with a loaded 30-round magazine. The receiver of the AKM version, introduced in 1959, was made from lighter sheet metal, reducing the weight to 8.3 pounds (3.8 kg) and the AK-74 version, following later trends in the West, switched to a cartridge from 5.45 mm. .