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A battle rifle is a military service rifle that fires a full-power rifle cartridge, such as 7.62x51mm NATO. While the designation of battle rifle is usually given to post-World War II select fire infantry rifles such as the FN FAL, the M14 and the H&K G3, this term is also used to describe older military full-powered semi-automatic rifles such as the M1 Garand, the MAS-49 and the FN-49.
The term 'battle rifle' is a neologism. It was first used in the late 1990's by various firearms publications and by several notable firearms writers. It is not defined or frequently used in military field manuals and government documents. There are some U.S. government requisition requests that do make mention of the "MK14 Enhanced Battle Rifle", but those documents may just be using the manufacturer's designation. Prior to the 1990s, the term was not well defined and was used as a general description for all types of military rifles.
The term 'battle rifle' was coined, largely out of a need to better differentiate intermediate-power assault rifles (StG-44, AK-47 & M16) from full-powered automatic rifles (FN FAL, M14 rifle & H&K G3). 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'.
- Charles Karwan (December 1999), "Military Guns Of The Century", Guns Magazine
- "Department of the Navy, Budget Estimates, Weapons Procurement page P-1 Line Item No. 28 (page 3 of 5)". U.S. Navy. February 2007. Retrieved 2009-12-24.(Approximately page 155 on scroll tab)