Just What Is an Assault Rifle?

It is a widely-spread falsehood by the NRA and assault weapon supporters that the AR-15 civilian versions of the M-16 are not “military-style assault weapons” because they are semi-automatic (you have to pull the trigger for each single round), while military versions support full automatic fire.  In fact, M-14s, Most versions of M-16s, and several versions of the newer M-4, do NOT support full automatic fire. The M-14 (predecessor to the M-16) was originally fully automatic, but due to the extreme difficulty soldiers had in controlling the weapon under full auto (due to the large 7.62 x 51 NATO round it was chambered for), the full automatic option was disabled. Making its appearance during the Vietnam era, the M-16 came in several models, only some of which supported full auto on their selector switches. The M-16 was chambered for the smaller, lighter 5.56 x 45 NATO round, so the lighter ammo was easier to carry and the weapon easier to control on full auto. M-16 rifles were made in several models, some of which did NOT support full auto. The original M-16 and M-16A1 had a 3-position selector switch for safe/semi/full automatic. Concerned with the tendency of all but the [More...]