The service rifle (also known as standard-issue rifle) of a given army or armed force is that which it issues as standard to its soldiers. In modern forces, this is typically a highly versatile and rugged assault rifle, battle rifle, carbine, or designated marksman rifle suitable for use in nearly all theatres and environments. Service rifles are also often selected for their upgradability (e.g., the addition of underslung grenade launchers, sights, torches, laser sights, etc.)

Although certain weapons issued to special forces units are rarely considered "service weapons" in the truest sense, certain specialist rifles and submachine guns are categorized as such if issued as per standing operating procedures upon entering special environments or scenarios. These may include urban warfare (FIBUA/MOUT) and jungle warfare environments.

Most armies also have service pistols.


Originally, rifles used in combat were not standard-issue weapons like the service rifles of today. Rifles were for specialist marksmen only, whilst the ordinary infantry were issued less accurate smoothbore muskets which had a higher rate of fire, with bore diameters as high as 19 mm, or 0.75 inch. By the middle of the 19th century, however, rifles were becoming more and more common on the battlefield, with muskets being phased out. Originally, these combat rifles were single-shot muzzle-loading weapons, but as technology advanced through the 18th and 19th centuries, so too did the technique of loading rounds. First, breech-loading firearms, like the Prussian Needle gun of the mid-19th century came to prominence, which then evolved into repeating weapons, such as the bolt-action Mosin-Nagant rifle used by Imperial Russia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the Soviet Union in World War II. By this time almost all prominent armies in the world had some sort of standard service rifle.

During the Second World War, there was yet another leap forward in rifle design which was to influence service rifles even today. That is, the use of a fired cartridge's gas emissions to automatically rechamber rounds into the breech once a bullet had been fired, as well as expelling the old cartridge. These "battle rifles", as they were called, usually fired a "full-sized" (as opposed to an intermediate) rifle cartridge, such as the .30-06 Springfield or .303 British. Another type of commonly issued rifle which was to become well known during this time was the assault rifle, a (usually) fully automatic rifle firing a lighter "intermediate" cartridge, as opposed to the full-sized cartridges used by battle rifles. The first of these was the Sturmgewehr 44, used by Nazi Germany in the later stages of the Second World War. The StG44 was not issued in large numbers, and was never adopted as Germany's service rifle. However, this weapon was to serve as the precursor to other assault rifles such as the Soviet AK-47, the American M-16/70, the Belgian FN FAL, the German G3 and the Swiss Sturmgewehr 57, which today supersede battle rifles as the service rifle of choice for militaries the world over.

Service rifles by nationEdit


Firearm Type Calibre Service Notes
AK-47Selective fire7.62×39mm1973-


Firearm Type Calibre Service Notes
Heckler & Koch G3Selective fire.280 British1960s-
Beretta ARX160Selective fire.303 British2016-


Firearm Type Calibre Service Notes
Heckler & Koch G3Selective fire.280 British1961-


Firearm Type Calibre Service Notes
Heckler & Koch G3Selective fire.303 British1968-
Steyr AUGSelective fire.280 British1980-
Heckler & Koch G36Selective fire.280 British2008-


Firearm Type Calibre Service Notes
Remington EN M1879Rolling block.43 Spanish1879-1891
Mauser Modelo Argentino 1891Bolt-action7.65x53mm Argentine1891-1909
Mauser Modelo Argentino 1909Bolt-action7.65x53mm Argentine1909-1970s
M1903 SpringfieldBolt-action.30-06 Springfield1940s-1970s
FR M-16/70Selective fire5.56×45mm American1978-


Firearm Type Calibre Service Notes
Lee-EnfieldBolt-action.303 British1901-1950s
L1A1 SLRSelective fire.280 British1957-


Firearm Type Calibre Service Notes
Lorenz RifleRifled musket.541854-1867
Wanzl RifleTrapdoor breechloader14mm Wanzl rimfire1854-1867
M1867 Werndl-HolubRotary block11x42mm1867-1886
M1886 MannlicherBolt-action11x42 mm/8x52 mm1886-1895
Steyr-Mannlicher M1895Straight-pull8x50mm Mannlicher/8x56mm Steyr1895-1938
Lee-EnfieldBolt-action.303 British1950-1958
FN FALSelective fire.303 British1958-Currently in limited use for drill/display
Steyr AUGSelective fire.280 British1978-


Firearm Type Calibre Service Notes
FN FALSelective fire.303 British1948-1989
Kbk wz. 1988 TantalSelective fire.280 British1989-


Firearm Type Calibre Service Notes
Albini rifleHinged breechblock11mm1867-?
FN Mauser M1889Bolt-action7.65x53mm Argentine1889-1940
FN Mauser M1936Bolt-action7.65x53mm Argentine1936-1949
FN Model 1949Semi-automatic.303 British1949-1956
FN FALSelective fire.303 British1953-1995
FN FNCSelective fire.280 British1979-
FN SCARSelective fire.280 British2015-


Firearm Type Calibre Service Notes
Vz. 24Bolt-action7.92x57mm1932-1970s
FR M-16/70Selective fire5.56×45mm American1978-


Firearm Type Calibre Service Notes
M1873 Brazilian ComblainFalling block11x53mm1873-1892
M88 German Commission RifleBolt-action7x57mm Mauser1892-1894
Mauser M1894 RifleBolt-action7x57mm Mauser1894-1908
Mauser M1908Bolt-action7x57mm Mauser1908-1954
Itajuba M954 MosquetãoBolt-action.303 British1954-1968
FN Model 1949Semi-automatic.303 British1950s-1968
FN FALSelective fire.303 British1964-
Itajuba M968 MosquefalBolt-action.303 British1968-
IMBEL MDSelective fire.280 British1985-
IMBEL MD97Selective fire.280 British1997-
IMBEL IA2Selective fire.280 British2013-


Firearm Type Calibre Service Notes
MAS-36Bolt-action7.5x54mm French1940s-1985
Arisaka Type 38Bolt-action6.5x50mm Arisaka1941-1945
Arisaka Type 99Bolt-action6.5x50mm Arisaka1941-1945
Lee-EnfieldBolt-action.303 British1950s-1985
FN FALSelective fire.303 British1960s-1985
AK-47Selective fire7.62x39mm1960s-1985
FN FNCSelective fire.280 British1985-


Firearm Type Calibre Service Notes
Ross RifleBolt-action.303 British1905-1916
Lee-EnfieldBolt-action.303 British1916-1954
C1A1 SLRSelective fire.280 British1954-2014
C15 GrizzlySelective fire.280 British2014-


Firearm Type Calibre Service Notes
Mauser Model 1895Bolt-action7x57mm Mauser1895-1970s
Mauser Model 1912Bolt-action7x57mm Mauser1912-1970s
SIG SG 510Selective fire.303 British1960s-
Heckler & Koch G3Selective fire.303 British1970s-
SIG SG 540Selective fire.280 British1980s-
IMI Galil ACESelective fire.280 British2014-

People's Republic of ChinaEdit

Firearm Type Calibre Service Notes
SDI M-1/36Semi-automatic.30-06 Springfield1949-
FDI M-16/70Selective fire5.56×45mm American1981-
QBZ-95Selective fire5.8x42mm DBP871995-
QBZ-03Selective fire5.8x42mm DBP872003-

Republic of ChinaEdit

Firearm Type Calibre Service Notes
Hanyang Type 88Bolt-action7.92×57mm Mauser1888–1949
Gewehr 98Bolt-action7.92×57mm Mauser1911–1949
Vz. 24Bolt-action7.92×57mm Mauser1924-1950s
Karabiner 98kBolt-action7.92×57mm Mauser1935–1950s
Chiang Kai-shek rifleBolt-action7.92×57mm Mauser1935–1950s
Lee-EnfieldBolt-action.303 British1936-1968
L1A1 Self-Loading RifleSelective fire.303 British1968-2003
T65 assault rifleSelective fire.280 British1976-
T91 assault rifleSelective fire.280 British2003-


Soviet Union and RussiaEdit

Firearm Type Calibre Service Notes
Model 1857 Six LineRifled musket.60 calibre1857-1867
M1867 Russian KrnkaTrapdoor breechloader15mm1867-1869
Berdan rifleBolt-action10.75×58mm1869-1891
AK-47Selective fire7.62×39mm1949–1974
AKMSelective fire7.62×39mm1959–1974
AK-74Selective fire5.45×39mm1974–2012
AN-94Selective fire5.45×39mm1994-
AK-12Selective fire5.45×39mm2012-


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