The term battle rifle can have different meanings. Usually, it refers to rifles firing a full-sized cartridge, such as .303 British, .30-06 Springfield, 7.62 x 54 mm R, or 7.62 x 51 mm NATO, from a full-length barrel. A main battle rifle is a battle rifle that is used as a military service rifle. Battle rifles may be bolt-action, semi-automatic, burst fire, or full-automatic. Modern battle rifles are capable of selective fire. Almost all battle rifles have a long barrel and fire a large caliber round.
During the latter half of the 20th century, the assault rifle (firing an "intermediate" cartridge) has gained in popularity and superseded the battle rifle as a general infantry weapon in most modern armies. Tacticians during World War II noted that small-arms engagements rarely occurred at distances greater than 300 meters. This meant that the great range and penetration power of the battle rifle was mostly wasted. The assault rifle presented a smaller and lighter package more suitable for close quarters combat, while still delivering accurate fire at the maximum range generally required. The lighter intermediate rounds enabled the user to fire more quickly due to reduced recoil, and also to carry more ammunition.