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Differences between Assault Rifles and Assault Weapons Explained

Assault Rifle

The terms “assault rifle” and “assault weapon” are often interchangeably used by people and the media, but there are notable differences between the two. Below is a quick look at what an assault weapon is, how it works, and how it differs from an assault rifle. In this article we’ll also cover some of the misconceptions between the two often overlooked or flat out stated incorrectly in the media.

Assault Rifles

The term “assault rifle” refers to a magazine-fed and rapid-fire rifle, which is designed for use by the military. It is one of those shoulder-fired weapons which lets the user choose between three modes: semi-automatic, fully-automatic, and three-shot-burst. When used in the first mode, the user has to pull the rifle’s trigger for every shot; in the second, all he or she has to do is hold the trigger and it continuously fires. The third allows three rounds to be fired before the trigger must be depressed the repeat the three shot burst.

What Does the Term “Assault Weapon” Refer To?

There is technically no “assault weapon” sold to the common public. It is a political term that mainly anti-gun advocates developed to convince the public that some weapons are way too effective, ergonomic, and scary for the American civilian to own. Technically, you can own and operate a semiautomatic assault rifle. What is referred to as an “assault weapon” in media reports look similar to the military’s assault rifles. An AR-15-style rifle is one example of a so-called “assault weapon”.

What is the Difference Between Semiautomatic and Automatic Weapons?

An assault rifle can shoot multiple rounds when the trigger is pulled, but a semiautomatic does not have that capability.

Does “AR” in “AR-15” Represent “Automatic Rifle”?

No, it does not. “AR” actually represents Armalite Rifle. Armalite is the company that produced this model alongside many other weapons. It is not possible to configure an AR-15 rifle to be a fully automatic one. That means it cannot be a full-auto weapon — it is only semiautomatic, and the trigger is pulled it fires only once. When it comes to the question of how some AR-15 can hold so many rounds, the answer is AR-15-style rifle or a Sig Sauer usually hold 20 to 30 rounds each, but there are magazines and modifications available on the market which can hold more.

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