What Are “Military Grade” Firearms?

In reference to a post on Cartel arms purchases, Calicut asks what “military grade weapons” are.

Military grade weapons may have something such as “tropicalization,” “ruggedizing” or some other modification to better suit it to military use. But where firearms are concerned it almost always means burst fire or fully automatic fire, or both, has been enabled.

Burst fire refers to the ability to fire a few, usually three, rounds with one pull of the trigger. Fully automatic describes a firearm that will fire until the trigger is released or the magazine is empty.

On the other hand, “civilian grade” firearms fire one shot with one pull of the trigger. They may, or may not, reload themselves after a round is fired, but no matter how long you pull the trigger, you can only fire one shot with one pull of the trigger.

So while a civilian grade rifle such as the AR-15 may look exactly like the fully automatic M-16, it is not a military grade weapon.


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Extranos Alley is a Collaborate effort to provide up to information on the relationship between restrictive gun laws and violent crime; as well as other related topics. While emphasis is on United States gun laws and crime, we also provide data on crime trends world wide.
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