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British EM-2: The Best Cold War Battle Rifle that Never Was

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The EM-2 was the rifle that the British pushed for NATO trials in 1950. It was a rifle well ahead of its time in several areas – as a select-fire bullpup rifle, it was intended to replace both the infantry rifle and the submachine gun. Its .280 caliber cartridge was designed with combat ranges of 600 yards and less, acknowledging the reality that engagements beyond even 300 yards were extremely rare, and not important enough to base rifle design on. It was also designed to use primarily optical sights, long before this concept would be embraced elsewhere. Unfortunately, the potential of the EM-2 was lost to the political decision that compatibility with American ordnance choices was a more significant benefit than an improved infantry rifle.