The simple, easy to manufacture AK-47 was one of the earliest designs for an assault rifle. Once designed and distributed by the Soviet Union for use by the Warsaw Pact nations, it has become the most widespread, most copied assault rifle design in the world.
In the 1990s, Izhmash designers developed the unified complex of Kalashnikov assault rifles chambered for domestic 7.62 x 39mm, 5.45 x 39mm cartridges as well as the 5.56 x 45mm NATO cartridge to expand the export capabilities of the enterprise.
These assault rifles can be supplied to traditional Russian clients and NATO standard-oriented countries.
The complex comprises assault rifles for general purpose use (AK-74M, AK-101, AK-103) and for auxiliary designation (AK-102, AK-104, AK-105). All of them feature a high degree of unification in the construction of the assemblies and parts as well as the in technology of their manufacture.
The AKM is a redesign of the AK-47 made for ease of mass production. The design is simplified somewhat which also reduced the substantial weight of the AK-47, while adding to its accuracy and reliability.
First born in the early 1970s, its early incarnation (the AR-70/.223) was jointly developed with SIG and saw use only within some Italian Special Forces as well as exports and civilian sales. The design was later modernized to comply with NATO standards, and became in the late 1980s the main assault rifle of the Italian military, retaining such role up to date. The most widely issued version of this weapon is the SC-70/90 folding-stock variant.
The EM-2 was an experimental British bullpup assault rifle. It was designed to fire the experimental .280 British round that was being considered to replace the venerable .303 British. The rifle was never brought into service, but it did help lay the groundwork for the development of later, more successful British bullpup rifles such as the SA80.
The FN CAL was designed to be a lower cost, easier to manufacture alternative to the existing FN FAL, although the two guns are not directly related. The CAL never met with any significant interest and was later dropped in favour of the even less expensive FN FNC.
Widely used for decades, the FN FAL is one of the more successful assault rifle designs with over one million believed to have been manufactured. The FAL has now been replaced in many arsenals by newer weapons, but the design remains popular and is still in service in many countries.
The main service rifle of the Bundeswehr (German armed forces) for several decades. Beginning in 1995, the German army largely phased out the G3 in favour of the newer Heckler & Koch G36, but the rifle remains popular throughout the world and is used, in some capacity, by armies on five continents.
Produced in small numbers as an intended replacement for the Heckler & Koch HK33, the G41 never found the major military market at which it was aimed and the rights to the design were later sold to Italian arms manufacturer Luigi Franchi. Production has since been discontinued.
The HK33 was designed as an addition to the successful Heckler & Koch G3 family of weapons. It was designed mostly for export and was never used militarily by the Bundeswehr (German armed forces.) The rifle has sustained moderately widespread use in various parts of the world for several decades. The weapon is also used by police forces in several countries.
A Bullpup design far ahead of its times, produced with great usage of polymer materials, the LAPA FA-03 was manufactured only in few hundred samples. With both domestic military adoption and foreign sales crippled by Brazilian policy, this rifle is still today kept in stock by some Brazilian Police units.
The Leader Dynamics T2 MK5 represents an attempt to produce Australia's first domestically designed and produced gas-operated auto-rifle for the Australian Army. The rifle was never brought into service.
The L64/65 was an intermediate step in the design of Britishbullpup style assault rifles. Though this rifle was never used by any military force, it helped lay the foundation for the successful SA80 series of weapons.
The M-16 has been the primary service rifle of the United States Armed Forces since its introduction in 1961. The rifle has also been used, in one variation or another, by dozens of other nations making it one of the most popular assault rifle designs ever.
A Bullpup design introduced to replace the ageing AK47-based rifles in Chinese service, the QBZ-95 was first introduced when the United Kingdom returned control of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China. Fires the proprietary 5.8x42mm DBP87 cartridge solely intended for the Chinese military, but the QBZ-97 export variant chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO saw some foreign sales as well as civilian adaptations.
The SA80 is the primary service rifle of the United Kingdom. Its bullpup design springs from four decades of development that saw such earlier, less commercially successful designs as the EM-2 and the L64/65.
Born in the early 1980s out of the cooperation between the Sterling Armament Company of United Kingdom and Chartered Industries of Singapore, the SAR-80 was a conventional design based upon the American Armalite AR-18 fed by STANAG magazines. Saw very little rear-line use in its homeland, but has since been spotted in conflicts and civil wars in eastern Europe, Asia and Middle East.
The Austrian Army's main service rifle, the AUG uses a bullpup design that is modular and very adaptable. The same gun can be quickly fitted with an assortment of barrels and switched for left or right-handed operation. The AUG is used by a number of military forces and government agencies worldwide.
The Stoner 63 was a family of infantry weapons including assault rifles and light machine guns produced in the 1960s for the United States Armed Forces. The US Navy SEALs and the US Marine Corps field tested the rifles in limited numbers, but the weapons system was never widely used and had been completely phased out by the late 1980s.
Considered by many to be the first true assault rifle, the StG44 was the first weapon to see widespread action that combined the portability and powerful cartridge of a rifle with the automatic firing rate of a machine gun. Previous, similar designs such as the AmericanThompson submachine gun and M3 submachine gun had fired less powerful pistol cartridges and were, therefore, not true assault rifles.
Similar in design to the AmericanM-16, the T86 was slated to replace the older T65 model as the service rifle of Taiwan's ROC Army, but the intended replacement was delayed and the T86 was superseded by the T91 and was only deployed in limited numbers.
The Type 81 combines elements of several earlier rifles to create a design that is externally similar to the AK-47 familty of rifles, but with significant internal differences. The Type 81 was the service rifle of the Chinese People's Liberation Army from the mid-1980s until 1995.
The CR-21 is a bullpup design of assault rifle introduced as a proposed successor to the South African Army's current R4 assault rifle. The rifle has not yet been selected by any military force and remains a prototype.
The Vepr is the first assault rifle designed and built in the Ukraine. The weapon--a bullpup modification of the AK-74--is listed by the Ukrainian government as a sub-machinegun, but it fires a rifle cartridge and is, therefore, an assault rifle. The Vepr is slated to be introduced into service with the Ukrainian Ground Forces by 2010.
Jointly designed by German arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch, the United States Army, and the US company General Electric, the XM8 was intended to be the next generation of light assault rifle for the US Army; the project was formally cancelled in 2005, but the prototypes are sometimes still used for comparative testings with other rifle designs.