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Light, short-barreled rifle. The first carbines, from the muzzle-loading muskets of the 18th century to the lever-action repeaters of the 19th, were chiefly cavalry weapons or saddle firearms for mounted frontiersmen. During World War II carbine versions of standard bolt-action or semiautomatic infantry rifles were carried by some officers, artillerymen, and other specialists. Carbine versions of modern assault rifles (such as the Russian AK-47 or the U.S. M16 rifle) are intended for close-quarter fighting, partly replacing the submachine gun. Carbine versions of hunting and target rifles are also made.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on carbine, visit Britannica.com.