Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Idioms, Wikipedia.
Related to rifle: rifle through


see small armssmall arms,
firearms designed primarily to be carried and fired by one person and, generally, held in the hands, as distinguished from heavy arms, or artillery. Early Small Arms

The first small arms came into general use at the end of the 14th cent.
..... Click the link for more information.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a shotgun with spiral grooves in the bore, which give the bullet a spinning motion, providing steady flight, great distance, and greater accuracy of fire. A rifle is an individual weapon for the destruction of the enemy at a distance of up to 2,000 m. The first models of a weapon with spiral rifling in the bore appeared in the early 16th century. However, the difficulty of loading rifled shotguns from the muzzle led to an insufficiently high rate of fire (they were five to seven times inferior to the smoothbore), which prevented their wide introduction into the army. Therefore, in the 17th and 18th century rifled shotguns were used only as so-called fortress shotguns and for arming select riflemen and noncommissioned officers. Only in the 19th century did the rate of fire of the rifle greatly increase, with the invention of the explosive and fuse of the percussion shell, the percussion cap, and later the fixed metal round (metal cartridge case, percussion cap, gunpowder charge, and bullet) and with the improvement of the method of loading—that is, from the breech. The rifle was adopted in the middle of the 19th century as armament in all major armies.

The Russians invented the metal cartridge case. As early as the 1760’s the Russian gunsmith Ivan Lialin made a shotgun into the breech end of the barrel of which he inserted a metal chamber equipped with powder and bullets. (The shotgun is preserved in the State Historical Museum in Moscow.) In 1868, a 4.2 line rifle (1 line = 0.1 inch) with a sliding lever breechblock and a cartridge with a metal cartridge case was adopted as armament by Russia. The Russian engineers A. P. Gorlov and Captain K. I. Gunnius worked on this rifle, but it was incorrectly given the name Berdan No. 1, though even in America this rifle was called the Russian rifle. In 1870 the Russian Army adopted as armament a more rapid-firing single-shot 4.2 line rifle, the Berdan No. 2 with a sliding bolt.

Further improvement of the rifle is related to the appearance of a magazine with smokeless powder and encased bul-lets (instead of bullets of solid lead), which greatly increased the rate of fire. In 1891 in Russia the repeating 3 line rifle of S. I. Mosin, which was guaranteed to provide 60 years of service, was adopted as armament by Russia. In this period the rifle underwent some superficial changes (1910, 1930, and 1933). In 1930 it received the name 7.62-mm rifle of the 1891-1930 model. Its combat rate of fire was ten to 12 shots a minute; its maximum sighting range was 2,000 m. The best results of firing were obtained up to 400 m.; its weight with a bayonet was 4.5 kg and without the bayonet, 4 kg. For excel-lent riflemen in the infantry a telescopic sight was attached to the rifle, increasing its sighting range to 800 m. This type of rifle is called a sniper. With the appearance of automatic weapons in the beginning of the 20th century, the automatic rifle was devised with a practical rate of shot for shot fire equal to 25-30 shots a minute.

After World War II the rifle was replaced in most armies by the submachine gun (automatic) and the automatic (self-loading) carbine, which was a variety of it. Shotguns of the carbine type were first manufactured in Austria at the end of the 15th century as cavalry armament. In 1907 a carbine like the 1891-model rifle was introduced for machine-gun teams and for artillery reconnaissance scouts. In the Soviet Army, armaments include carbines of the 1938 and 1944 models created according to the rifle of the 1891-1930 model. For training and for sport there are sporting rifles, which usually have a caliber of 5.6 mm. They are single-shot, magazine, and automatic (self-loading) rifles.


Fedorov, V. G. Istoriia vintovki. Moscow, 1940.
Fedorov, V. G. Nastavlennie po strelkovomu delu: Vintovka obraztsa 189111930 i karabiny obraztsa 1938 i 1944. Moscow, 1955.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(design engineering)
A drill core that has spiral grooves on its outside surface.
A borehole that is following a spiral course.
A firearm having spiral grooves upon the surface of its bore to impart rotary motion to a projectile, thereby stabilizing the projectile and ensuring greater accuracy of impact and longer range; it may fire projectiles automatically or semiautomatically, or successive rounds may be manually loaded.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in classic literature ?
The fight had opened at long distance, and the rifles were cracking steadily.
There was no more shooting, though the rifles were still cracking merrily from the other boats.
Buried in the smoke of many rifles his anger was directed not so much against the men whom he knew were rushing toward him as against the swirling battle phantoms which were choking him, stuffing their smoke robes down his parched throat.
It seemed to Bradley that he had scarcely closed his eyes when he was brought to his feet, wide awake, by a piercing scream which was punctuated by the sharp report of a rifle from the direction of the fire where Tippet stood guard.
By this time James, Brady and Sinclair were at his heels, each with his rifle in readiness.
When Kerchak came to a halt a short distance from the cabin and discovered that he still held the rifle, he dropped it as he might have dropped a red hot iron, nor did he again attempt to recover it--the noise was too much for his brute nerves; but he was now quite convinced that the terrible stick was quite harmless by itself if left alone.
The dog-musher put the rifle down solemnly, then turned and looked at his employer.
"I am no scholar, and I care not who knows it; but, judging from what I have seen, at deer chases and squirrel hunts, of the sparks below, I should think a rifle in the hands of their grandfathers was not so dangerous as a hickory bow and a good flint-head might be, if drawn with Indian judgment, and sent by an Indian eye."
“That I killed the deer,” answered the young man, with a little haughtiness, as he leaned on another long rifle similar to that of Natty.
With the report of his rifle the tiger stopped short in apparent surprise, then turned and bit savagely at its shoulder for an instant, after which it wheeled again toward Delcarte, issuing the most terrific roars and screams, and launched itself, with incredible speed, toward the brave fellow, who now stood his ground pumping bullets from his automatic rifle as rapidly as the weapon would fire.
Tom, with the butt of his rifle, gave it a gentle shove, whereupon the creature scurried off through the brush as though glad to make its escape unscathed.
But we retained our rifles, every man--Ramon Gallegos, William Shaw, George W.