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.
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