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on 6 April 2005
Knowing the authors work with the comprehensive russian guns website, I expected just as high quality from his first book, and I got it.
Containing comprehensive sections on ammunition development, assault rifle design/ballistics and the varying weapons themselves. The previous two sections suprised me greatly, expecting just individual specs for each countries rifles the ammunition and design sections are a real gem. Ammunition covers not only the development of the current NATO calibres but also exotic ammunition (such as caseless ammo) and other experimental ammunitions such as the new remington 6.8 SPC round. The design section discusses the benefits of the main rifle layouts (bullpup and traditional) and goes into great detail breaking down the assault rifle to look at mechanisms, ballistics and the various sections.
The second half of the book is what most readers will be interested in, the weapons and it does not disappoint. Drawing on the authors work done on the website and further expanding on the weapon histories and desciptions this is a definitive guide to the assault rifles available in the world today. Having read (the frankly flawed) latest edition of Janes and a variety of other sources on Assault rifles, I have to say this is the best list so far. The section on USSR weapons in particular is excellent, even bettering certain books specifically dedicated to looking at AK and russian assault rifle variants.
If there is any gripe about the book at all it is the lack of colour printed photos, however this is only a minor point.
In conclusion a brilliant read and essential to any assault weapon enthusiast.
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on 24 February 2007
Anyone who has played first-person shooters on the PC like myself will already know their MP5s from their Steyr AUGs, and if you're anything like me you will wonder how they work. How can something so powerful run without batteries or any kind of fuel? How does the complex mechanism work? How can they be taken into hostile environments with the minimum of maintenance and still operate reliably?

I don't own a firearm myself and frankly have no interest in owning one, and if you're looking for a practical guide to operating firearms then this book is not for you. This is a theoretical work about design and history, though if you want to find out a little about the background of assault rifles and how they operate, then this is a superb introduction.

I approached the text knowing very little about assault rifles, their mechanisms and their history. I was surprised to find that the historical development of the assault rifle depended almost entirely upon something I would have thought largely insignificant - the ammunition it fires. NATO assault rifles work off of an American-backed standard calibre, and in the text it makes plain that the American calibre was actually an inferior choice compared to the British proposal. American commercial interests essentially led to the take-up of the inferior ammunition, and one wonders how much better NATO assault rifles would have been had politics not got in the way.

The book begins by giving a history of the assault rifle, and equally as important, its ammunition. It does go into a little detail about the mechanisms used for assault rifles, but frankly, the illustrations in this area are very poor. Text alone is unlikely to give you a feel for the complex mechanisms used, and the confusing illustrations do not shed any light.

The second part of the book is then taken up with describing individual firearms. Now, normally I find this kind of thing dull: after all, some of these weapons are very obscure and I defy anyone to display interest in some of the less well-known and unfamiliar rifles. However, the author does his best to avoid making the text repetitive, and you can dip into it now and again and learn something of interest if you so desire.

To summarize, this book is very informative, but let down by a second half that is rather dull. The first part is an excellent section of the history and mechanisms/ammunition of the assault rifle, let down by the occasional poor illustration. The second part of the book, consisting of an almost encyclopaedic run through of every assault rifle known to man, is largely dull and unnecessary, and looks suspiciously like 'filler'. I wouldn't be surprised if the second half took longer to research and write, however, and if you do need a reference guide then this is about as good as it gets. I would have been happier had more time been spent on the mechanisms and science of the rifle, and less time making an anal list. But that's just my opinion, and I am aware some people love that kind of thing.

Recommended, but with reservations ...
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on 3 January 2011
Assault Rifle, by Anthony G. Williams and Maxim Popenker, is head and shoulders the best resource out there for anyone who's interested in or needs to know more about assault rifles. Much attention is given to the development of assault rifle ammunition, an understanding of which is essential to understanding the assault rifle and its role. This is an excellent book, with no gee whiz--just solid, well thought out information. Alex Doster
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on 28 December 2012
This is up to the croewood great standards the info is first class and I can't find one word out place the pictures are at the top and the text is very easy to understand. Not to mention the types of ammo as well as the history of each country is first rate.
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on 3 January 2016
Pretty much covers what I wanted to know. I'm glad it included battle rifles as well. Some quibbles - some of the tables didn't have units in their columns which as a engineer who writes reports was irritating. I still don't know what gizmo grabs the spent shell casing and turfs it out the rifle. A comparison of the bullet groupings of key rifles on full auto at say 300m would have been good. Not much on the different sights of assault rifles.but it does have a picture of the adjustable peep rear sight of an M16. But these are just quibbles - overall it's a geat read for me.

At long last someone has quantified why battle rifles on full auto are so difficult to use compared to true assault rifles (answer - 4 times the recoil energy).
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on 4 November 2008
This is a very well researched, very thorough and totally accurate account of the development of modern assault rifles. The authors clearly know their subject.

All the basics are covered: from the grandfather of them all, the original German STG 44 to the iconic Russian AK-47 and up to the latest systems from Heckler & Koch. As you'd expect, the book includes reviews of the US M-16/ M-4 family, the innovative Austrian AUG Steyer, the Belgian FN FAL and FNC, the brilliant German G-36 and G-11, the French FAMAS, and the embarrassing British contribution to modern small arms, the SA-80. There is a useful discussion of future weapon designs, including the OICW XM-29 and the XM-8. It was also interesting to see older less well-known designs discussed, including the British EM-2 of the 1950s.

What really gives this book its technical edge is the discussion of ammunition types that is a significant part of it. The interesting conclusion is that neither full-bore 7.62 mm nor 5.56 mm assault rifle ammunition represent the optimum means of incapacitating a human target at most combat ranges. Anthony Williams discussion of the optimal assault rifle calibre is an important contribution to the future small arms debate. Perhaps less allied soldiers would have been killed if the basic ammunition used by both UK and US soldiers had better stopping power.

Politicians responsible for military procurement would do well read this book. The world authority on military technology is Jane's and there can be no doubt that this book will have caught their attention, not least because it provides a similar level of granular fact at a fraction of the cost. If this is a subject that you need to know about for professional reasons or because you are a military technology enthusiast, this is an invaluable resource tool.
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on 6 October 2015
Costs a lot and doesn't quite hit the spot but handy if you're suffering from a shortage of gun facts.
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on 4 February 2015
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