rate of fire

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Rate of Fire


the ability of a given weapon to fire a specific number of shots per unit of time (usually one minute).

A distinction is made between the maximum and effective rate of fire. The maximum rate of fire of an automatic weapon (the cycle rate) is defined as the maximum number of shots per unit of time that the mechanism of a given model of a weapon permits. The effective rate of fire is defined as the number of aimed shots that is practically possible per unit of time from a particular weapon when taking into account the time for loading, aiming, changing settings, and so on. The effective rate of fire depends on the maximum rate of fire, the level of training of the rifleman or squad, the degree of automation of loading, and other factors. In view of this, the effective rate is always lower than the maximum rate. The desire to increase the effective rate of fire led to the introduction of automatic weapons.

Table 1. Maximum and effective rates of fire of certain types of weapons
 Rate of fire (number of shots per minute)
Submachine gun..............400–1,00040–120
Automatic rifle ...............400–90040–65
Light machine gun.............500–1,00060–150
Heavy machine gun............600–800150–300
Antiaircraft machine gun.........500–1,00080–300
Automatic antiaircraft gun........200–1,000200–1,000
Howitzer, cannon, recoilless gun ....2–6
Mortar ....................5–25


rate of fire

The number of rounds fired per weapon per minute. The term is applicable to guns, cannons, and rockets.
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