Battle rifle is a term used to describe a military service rifle that fires a full-power rifle cartridge, such as 7.62×51mm NATO or 7.62×54mmR. Compared to assault rifles and their intermediate cartridges, the higher-caliber rounds provide greater power and range, though they render magazine capacity low and produce stronger recoil, making them less than ideal for fully automatic fire.
The designation of battle rifle is usually given to post-World War II select fire infantry rifles such as the FN FAL, the M14, BM59 and the H&K G3. This term also describes older military full-powered semi-automatic rifles such as the M1 Garand, the MAS-49 and the FN-49.
The term "battle rifle" was created largely out of a need to better differentiate the somewhat lower-power assault rifles (such as the StG-44, AK-47 and M16) from the full-powered automatic rifles (FN FAL, M14 rifle and H&K G3) as both classes of firearms have similar appearances and share many of the same features. Prior to the 1990s, the term was not well defined and was used as a general description for all types of military rifles.
- Charles Karwan (December 1999), "Military Guns Of The Century", Guns Magazine
- Tilstra, Russell C. (21 March 2014). The Battle Rifle: Development and Use Since World War II. McFarland. pp. 2–6. ISBN 978-1-4766-1564-6.
- Taylor, Chuck (1996). Fighting Rifle. Boulder, Colorado: Paladin Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-87364-297-2.
- Zabecki, David T. (28 October 2014). Germany at War: 400 Years of Military History [4 volumes]: 400 Years of Military History. ABC-CLIO. p. 644. ISBN 978-1-59884-981-3.
Since World War II, Battle Rifle is the term given to standard infantry weapons that fire full-sized rifle cartridges in either semiautomatic or automatic mode.