Most Assault Rifles…Aren’t

The above is not an assault rifle, and neither are most of the firearms now under attack by the left. Today’s offering is a little different than most of my usual pieces. It also has some different objectives. Today’s piece is meant not only to inform, but also to provide some handy source material for conservatives, who already know most of this. The other objective is my continuing effort to take back the language from the leftists, who as we all know, use the language to distort the terms of the discussion to their advantage while manipulating the voting public. The most recent and egregious example of that comes from a retired Army Major General. More on that in a subsequent article. In that regard, this will not be an exciting read, but I do hope it helps our team in the public debate regarding the Second Amendment.

Today, we are going talk about the Modern Sporting Rifle, commonly, erroneously and maliciously referred to by the left as an “Assault Rifle,”  “Military Style Weapon/Rifle,” or more recently, “Weapon of WAR!” “Modern Sporting Rifle,” is the correct, accurate term for semi-automatic rifles in all calibers, built on the AR, AK and other frames like them.

To start off, we need to define, scope and assess…just what does make an ordinary rifle, an “Assault Rifle.” “Military Style” needs to be scoffed at when used and the user, ridiculed. “Style” never killed anyone.

To properly assess features and capabilities that define a real “Assault Rifle,” we need to start with two authors, one fairly famous and one famous only to military historians. I am talking about German Field Marshal and Patton nemesis, Erwin Rommel and Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John English. Rommel and English each wrote books on Infantry tactics, Rommel; Infantry Attacks and English; On Infantry.

Each of these warriors devoted significant ink to the battlefield environment in “the last 300 yards” to the objective. They wrote of an environment that required extreme maneuverability coupled with maximum firepower for an attacking Infantry unit to punch through a defender’s position and if necessary, take that position at bayonet point.

Although never specifically defined, both Rommel and English implied the need for the following characteristics in a standard Infantry weapon: Lightweight, Rapid firing, Rugged, Bayonet Stud and Easily Maintained.

When having these discussions in today’s charged political environment one huge factor almost always overlooked in this analysis of capability; is the era a particular rifle was used in combat. What was once the state-of-the-art Infantry rifle in one era, would be merely an interesting collectible today. One example of this is the Brown Bess Musket, standard issue for British Regulars and quite rightly credited with helping Great Britain establish and maintain a worldwide, Pax Britannica. Back in the day, it was Great Britain’s “assault rifle.”

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Brown Bess, Image: Wikipedia Commons

The Brown Bess shown above was for its time, lightweight and fast loading, enabling British Commanders to maintain a high volume of fire. Of course, it mounted a bayonet…all 17 inches of one.

Moving forward a few decades The U.S. “assault rifle,” was the Springfield Arms 1903. The ‘03 was a bolt action, lightweight (for its time) weapon with a high rate of fire for its era. Note the bayonet lug. The Springfield ‘03 stayed in service throughout World War II as its eventual replacement the M-1 Garand, a semi-automatic rifle, was initially not in sufficient production to equip all U.S Forces.

Assault Rifle

Springfield ’03, Image: Wikipedia Commons

Below is yours truly with my personal, Match Grade Garand. Note the bayonet lug and on the right-hand picture, one of the clips it uses instead of a box magazine (often mistakenly referred to by Leftists as a “clip”).

Assault Rifle

Now we come to Vietnam and the M-16A1. The M-16 is a select fire weapon capable of firing in both the semi and fully automatic modes. It also has a bayonet lug. Notice how the rate of fire has dramatically increased over the decades, going from 3 rounds per minute, to over 800 rounds per minute on today’s more sophisticated weapons.

The M16 has had a number of successors, the most common from my last years in the Green Machine, was the M-4. The M4, pictured below, 3rd from top, is also capable of select fire—semi automatic and 3 round burst. It also has a bayonet lug.

Assault Rifle

Figure 2M16A1, M16A2, M4A1, M16A4 Image Wikipedia Commons

We have discussed the most critical features of an Infantry Assault Rifle—especially the features that make the weapon more lethal. Next up in this discussion, are some other features that the military finds helpful, but really don’t add to the weapon’s lethality, although they do help Leftists scare people with terms like “Military Style Assault Weapons.”

Here are some of those features:

Flash Hiders or Muzzle Brakes: These diminish the flash signature when the rifle is fired. They add not one drop of lethality to the weapon or its ammunition. Using them as a criterion that prohibits civilian ownership is foolish.

Pistol Grip: These make it easier to control the rifle and more accurately engage targets. Again, they do not make the rifle or its ammunition any more lethal.

Threaded barrel: Which makes it capable of mounting a flash suppressor, or silencer, none of which enhance the lethality of the weapon

Folding or telescoping stocks: Make transportation and use in confined areas easier. No impact on lethality.

Detachable Magazines: Enable a higher sustained rate of fire. By doing so, they can have an effect on lethality, but have been around a long time, used on a variety of weapons that don’t have the “scary look” that black metal Modern Sporting Rifles do.

Modern Sporting Rifles are not “Weapons of War” as touted by Democrats and other leftists (including a certain flag officer who as far as I can determine, has no combat decorations). They are missing the two most important features and capabilities that are required in today’s era Military Assault Rifle, Bayonet Lugs and select Semi/Full/Burst fire.

Here is a picture of my AR-15. As you can see, it has no Bayonet Lug and you can see by the close up, has only one firing mode…semi-automatic. It is a Modern Sporting Rifle. At no time, has any army anywhere used this platform as its standard Infantry weapon.

Assault Rifle

Assault Rifle

Conclusion. Leftists use scary language to manipulate the voters into banning weapons that are no more lethal than a standard hunting rifle. They lie, obfuscate the truth and misuse emotion. They truly have absolutely no regard for the welfare of Americans. They believe it’s just fine and dandy to deny law abiding American citizens the means of self-defense. Their objective is quite clear, to disarm the populace in order to make it easier to control.

One way we can resist this, is to take back control of the language. Stop using their terms. No conservative should ever use the term “assault rifle” unless in quotes, along with a phrase that states that the term is a false, leftist term. The term we all need to start using is, “Modern Sporting Rifle.” Remember, when we cede the terms of the debate to the leftists…we lose.

Modern. Sporting. Rifle.

As I said in the beginning, this article isn’t much on entertainment. Its real purpose is to be a container of useful information to Conservatives. I hope it serves that purpose for you. In any case, please drop “assault rifle” from your lexicon (unless you are scoffing at a leftist pajama boy).

Modern. Sporting. Rifle.

And remember; Most “Assault Rifles”…Aren’t.


**Hat tip: BG(R) Jeffrey Marshall who pointed out that John English was Canadian. Error has been corrected.

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17 thoughts on “Most Assault Rifles…Aren’t”

  1. Thanks Mike Ford for a very informative and structurally sound article. It’s framework for “the argument” is simply the easiest way to maintain our language and I think it’s the perfect start.

    Modern sporting rifle!!!

    • We have a lot more writers here who are way smarter and more erudite than I. Check them out. If you like our stuff, please pass it around. Encourage your like-minded friends to follow us.



  2. Excellent post. Modern Sporting Rifle sounds like wonderful nomenclature for the thing the dems abhor most.

    Agree completely, with one exception:

    ” “Style” never killed anyone.” Really? I think bell-bottom pants, ‘Nehru’ jackets, white loafers and mullets just might have a different opinion.

  3. The 1903, 1903A3 and the M1 Garand were not really considered assault rifles. They were considered battle rifles, not quite the sam.

    The German STG-44 was considered the first assault rifle.


  4. Good history, however I take exception to installing a “forward handgrip” via a “threaded barrel”. I’ve been around a good while, and I can say for sure that I’ve never seen that happen.

  5. Worth noting that some completely civilian legal (most, actually, outside of ban states) AR’s with A-frame front sights DO have a bayonet lug–when we were doing the compliance work to bring my contract-overrun M4 upper up to legal length, I had my gunsmith take great pains making sure that the shimmed and pin/welded flash hider would still allow by-the-book Bayonet Drill.

    Eight inches of good Ontario Knife Co. steel with a rifle muzzle above it makes a heck of a “Get Out of My House,” ya gotta admit…

    OTOH, on my girlfriend’s C8A3 we’re having some problems figuring out how BCM added the 0.3″ stretch on their barrel to raise it from Canadian mil-spec 15.7″ to US-legal 16.1… Canucks use a weird grenade-adapter sleeve that as BCM copied it pushes the bayonet about 1/3″ too far forward to lock onto the lug. (Tried to attach a pic, but boardware wouldn’t let me.)

    • I’d say it is a draw. The main difference between the two actions is that the lever action has a few extra wearing parts to contend with, which gives an edge to the bolt action, especially the Mauser, which seems to be the strongest ever made, and as reliable as can be.
      I love the lever action rifle, especially with short cartridges, like a .44 magnum.

  6. While every firearm is capable of being used as an assault weapon, I don’t really care what the left calls any of them. I, or just about anyone with a brief experience with a rifle, or pistol, can do a lot of damage, or a lot of good, depending on who is behind the trigger. If the left wishes to continue demonizing firearms, I want to see what they all look like when one gets aimed at them. To date, all the violence has been one-sided, with leftists and their usual idiots in ANTIFA/BLM and other violent radicals on their political side being the ones using weapons against those of us on the right. I will pray for all those lost souls, but will have no pity for them past the prayer.

    What I said also applies to the RINOs who are now in support for “Common Sense gun control”, because all of them have so little common sense as to be gullible enough to side with all the evil that caused the problem.

    Gun, or long gun is good enough for me. But let them play all their games until they learn the lesson, from the business end of whatever anyone wishes to call a firearm. That’s how this will end, if it ever does. I have a strong feeling that this is a battle that God is the only one capable of really sorting out.

    I have an assault baseball bat in my firearm inventory, only for when I run out of ammunition.

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