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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.
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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
We both laughed at the absurdity, and he dropped down to the deck and rested his rifle across the rail.
The steel ramrods clanked and clanged with incessant din as the men pounded them furiously into the hot rifle barrels.
They saw him run, stooping to recover his rifle as he passed the spot where it had fallen.
The skipper of the Flibberty-Gibbet arrived in the thick of it, in the first throes of oncoming fever, staggering as he walked, and shivering so severely that he could scarcely hold the rifle he carried.
Leather-Stocking stood, in the mean time, leaning upon his long rifle, with his head turned a little to one side, as if engaged in sagacious musing; when, having apparently satisfied his doubts, by revolving the subject in his mind, he broke silence.
As we talked, Snider joined us, and I returned his rifle to him.
But Kennedy no longer heard him; he was pushing on, his eye blazing; his rifle cocked; fearful to behold in his daring rashness.
Onward the two stumbled toward the point from which the single rifle shot had come.
The Hun, evidently satisfied with his observations, laid aside his binoculars and again took up his rifle, placed its butt in the hollow of his shoulder and took careful aim.
Presently he halted before the rifle. Slowly he raised a huge hand until it almost touched the shining barrel, only to withdraw it once more and continue his hurried pacing.
"All right, I'm willin'," Matt agreed, leaning the rifle against the woodpile
A pouch and horn completed his personal accouterments, though a rifle of great length**, which the theory of the more ingenious whites had taught them was the most dangerous of all firearms, leaned against a neighboring sapling.