FM 3-1.1 - The Rifleman


The basis of all armies is the infantry, which is composed of soldiers armed and trained to fight on foot. Many different types of units with various sizes make up the infantry, but the most basic unit is the individual rifleman. Without the individual rifleman, an army would not exist or if it did, have no way to conduct its missions of attack, defense, patrol, pursuit, escort, maneuver, reserve, and construction.

This manual discusses the techniques and procedures on how the individual rifleman fights. Its intended audiences are the infantryman and all infantry leaders. Secondary audiences include staff officers and instructors. The manual is organized in separate sections that discuss hand-to-hand, close range, mid-range, long range combat, medical treatment, gas defense, and anti-tank warfare.

Hand-to-Hand Combat

In the long history of warfare, hand-to-hand weapons were the most accessible to man. Using everything from bare fists to knives to bayonets, man at some point in time had to use these tools to engage an enemy located within an arms length (targets in the subroom or +engaged).

To close with an engage your enemy to fight in hand-to-hand combat, first get close to your enemy or wait for the enemy to comes closer to you (+engage <target>). The enemy may be able to avoid you, so keep trying. If your intent is to injure and capture your opponent, use your rifle butt or fists (+punch <target>). If your intent is to kill your opponent, use your knife or bayonet (+melee <target>). Again, the enemy will be trying to parry or dodge your blows. Also be careful for their counterstrike with a parry or dodge of your own. When you are not in the proper condition to fight in hand-to-hand combat, back away but do not turn your back on the enemy (+disengage <target engaged with>).

Another danger besides the primary opponent is other hostiles that might be in the area. If there is heavy incoming fire, it would be wise to fight while behind cover (+style takecover). Also, if there are multiple opponents, it would be wise to be fast footed (+style sprint) to escape overwhelming odds. When there is little or no incoming fire, it is best to be faster to dispatch the enemy in the least time possible (+style sprint or +style banzai).

Close Quarters Combat

From fighting in cities to being overrun by enemy infiltrators, you may have to fight the enemy in cramped places or being within ten yards of the enemy (same subroom). It is characterized by rapid offensive action and the precise application of lethal force. Because of the proximity of the enemy, the rifleman must make very quick decisions and take appropriate actions in order to limit casualties while maximizing enemy casualties.

Armed with a rifle, shotgun, pistol, or submachine gun, it may be permissible to fire at a target provided that you are able to concentrate and are a good shot (+shoot <target>). It should not be too difficult to see an enemy because they ought to be right in front of you, otherwise you are good as dead (+look, +lookout). A grenade may also be used in desperate situations, but be advised that friendlies in the area can be harmed as well so be careful (+wield <grenade>, +shoot <target>).

Using a pistol, shotgun, or submachine gun, engaging them and getting in closer proximity can neutralize a threat of an enemy armed with a machine gun or rifle, but is riskier as well (+engage <target>, +shoot <target>, +melee <target>, +punch <target>). Another option if wielding a rifle or machine gun is to also engage the enemy in hand-to-hand combat if the opportunity presents itself and you accept the risk (+engage <target>, +melee <target>, +punch <target>). It would be foolish to try to fire the rifle or machine gun because of their weight, bulk, and allows the enemy to be in a better position to engage in hand-to-hand combat with you.

Another danger besides the primary opponent is other hostiles that might be in the area. If there is heavy incoming fire, it would be wise to fight while behind cover (+style takecover). Also, if there are multiple opponents, it would be wise to be fast footed (+style sprint) to escape overwhelming odds. When there is little or no incoming fire, it is best to be faster to dispatch the enemy in the least time possible (+style sprint or +style banzai).

Mid-Range Combat

Fighting between two sides more than 10 meters away can constitute as mid-range combat (same room as you, but not in the same sub-room). In this case, longer range weapons such as rifles, machine guns, and even grenades are more effective. Only those skilled in marksmanship can use a pistol or submachine gun just as effectively within this range.

Armed with a rifleman small arm, it is best to simply shoot and dispatch the enemy (+shoot <target>). Targets ought to be in line of sight so that it will be easier to line up your weapon to fire accurately (#green|+look, +lookout+style takecover, +style stealth). But be warned that the enemy may be intentionally keeping your head down so they can overrun or outflank you. If there is little incoming fire and the enemy is easy pickings, or your position is in danger of being overrun, increase your volume of fire (+style rapidfire, +style banzai). Your accuracy might suffer as a result, but the fire may stop the enemy cold in their assault.

Long Range Combat

Fighting between two sides more than a hundred meters away can constitute as long range combat (in the next room). In this case, mainly rifles are most effective rifleman small arm that can be brought to bear against the enemy, especially if outfitted with a scope for enhanced accuracy. The best marksmen should maximize their utility by sniping at the enemy at this range while supporting arms can be called in to assist as well.

Armed with a rifleman small arm, it is best to simply shoot and dispatch the enemy (+shoot <target>) after drawing a bead upon the target (+snipe). While firing at the enemy, it may be wise to use cover when faced with heavy incoming fire (+style takecover, +style stealth) but not necessary as the enemy tends to be more inaccurate. Be cautious for excellent enemy marksmen though. If there is little incoming fire, it is best to take you time at aiming at the enemy and take in considerations of the environment (+snipe) while making yourself less of a target as well (+style stealth or choosing +style banzai can increase accuracy).

Medical Treatment

In battle, you may be unlucky enough to be wounded but lucky enough to survive. When this happens, quickly call for a medic to examine you provided that you are able to. Otherwise hopefully a comrade will call one up for you. Do the same for an injured comrade. If you know first aid, do a quick diagnosis of yourself (+medic/diagnose <target> or simply +sheet) and try to work on your injuries (+medic/firstaid <target>).

For more info on damage and medical treatment, see The Injured Soldier

If the amount of damage to your body is low, then you are in the condition to resume fighting. In desperate situations when the most manpower must be brought to use against the enemy, you should try to continue fighting unless you have suffered major damage that prevents you from using your weapon or moving around (see punctures and above). When you cannot use your weapon or move around, you can become a liability to your unit and should be evacuated or kept out of the fight if possible. Try to find cover or else you might get hit some more (+style takecover, or +style stealth, +hide periodically) if your unit is capable of holding the position or moving forward. However, in cases were your unit is in danger of being overrun and retreating, get out of there (+style sprint). If one of your comrades is injured and you are not, extend the same courtesy to them. You might end up in the same predicament as they will in the future and hopefully they will not forget.

Gas Defense

It may be possible that the enemy will resort to using chemical weapons as they did in the Great War. Gas is the most popular form of dispersion of chemical weapons, and may be detectable. A moldy hay scent signals phosgene gas, horseradish smell signals mustard gas, and the overwhelming scent that makes your eyes water and skin burn signals chlorine or tear gas. When detecting gas, it is important to first put on your gas mask then inform the others, assisting those who cannot manage to put their masks on (+style gasdefence and to help others, +assist <target>). It may be difficult to get your mask on in certain situations; in that case, you may have to fall back to a position that is not gassed (+move <safe direction>) to be able to regroup yourself. If your exposure to the gas is high, then it is best to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Anti-Tank Warfare

There may be a time when the armored tank will be used in an enemy’s assault or defense. While heavily armored and seemingly impervious to infantry, a rifleman with great skill can be able to disable and destroy a tank. Because tanks are excellent for long range combat, the rifleman will want to engage a tank at close range due to its crew’s inability to see. Then, by using explosives or specifically anti-tank weaponry such as the towed gun, the tank can be destroyed.

The first course of action is to get rid of infantry escorts of the enemy armor. Then, get within close range of the tank, dodging their coaxial guns and their main weaponry (+engage). Be careful because the enemy tank might be able to call another tank to “scratch their back,” meaning that another tank will target you with their weapons. And the tank can break contact with you if you get too close by simply driving off. Once engaged with the tank, use a weapon with a good penetration capability to destroy or disable the tank (+shoot <vehicle>). Usually these weapons are a quarter less effective at long range, but are a quarter more effective at short range (check +weapons). Incendiary devices such as the Molotov cocktails have a twenty five percent chance of starting a fire, which might be able to burn the crew alive. Another popular tactic is to engage the tank and toss grenades or fire into the openings of the tank to kill the crew (+shoot <vehicle>).

Artillery, Mines, Tactical Bombing

Other methods the enemy may use to dispatch the infantryman is through artillery, mines, and tactical bombing. Artillery is comprised of large bore crew-served mounted firearms, which are typically used in indirect fire roles against armor and infantry. They include howitzers, mortars, and field guns. Mines are self-contained explosive devices which are placed onto or into the ground, exploding when triggered by a vehicle or a person. There are three main types of mines: anti-personnel mines, anti-tank mines, and naval mines. Tactical bombing is the use of aircraft to attack troops and military equipment in the battle zone. Two forms of tactical bombing are close air support and air interdiction.

When a whining sound can be heard, it is likely that artillery is on its trajectory downwards. The best thing to do when artillery is raining down is to take refuge in bomb-proof shelters or at least foxholes (+join <shelter number>, +style takecover). In bomb-proof shelters, the infantryman will be almost completely protected but in foxholes, they will be protected only from shrapnel but most likely will not survive a direct hit. This applies to tactical bombing by the enemy as well, which is suggested by the sound of enemy aircraft in the region.

At times, the enemy may have laid mines as a method of channeling the movement of attacking troops in ways that permit the defenders to engage them more easily and also causing destruction if possible. A skilled combat engineer is trained to spot evidence of mines, and should be used to search for minefields (+minefield/search) then clear the minefield if time permits (+minefield/clear). Though, regular riflemen can do so as well, but will most likely not have the training offered to combat engineers. They may also lay mines to channel the enemy if the mines are available (+minefield/lay <antipersonnel or antivehicular>).

Discussion on Weapons

The rifleman is the soul of the army. While the rifle is his primary weapon, the rifleman will encounter many different weapon types on the battlefield, and may well be expected to cast down his rifle and take up some other weapon temporarily as the situation demands. There are a variety of weapons available to the infantry, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages, with its own specific part to play in the squad.


The rifle, of which the Garand, Lee Enfield or Kar98k make good examples, is the most common infantry weapon, with the bulk of the squad being outfitted with rifles. Every soldier should be competent with the use of a rifle. Rifles are effective weapons at mid to long range, but their length and bulk make them rather less effective when dealing with enemies within arms reach, although the bayonet most rifles carry makes up for this deficiency somewhat. As single shot weapons, rifles use relatively little ammunition so are readily available even when ammo is scarce.

Heavy Machine Guns

The heavy machine gun, such as the 0.5 calibre M2, or the Vickers gun, is a large, heavy weapon which is essentially too heavy to be moved after battle begins. Like all machine guns the HMG needs to be set up properly on its tripod or bipod before it can be effectively used (+deploy). Heavy machineguns typically are belt fed and are designed for continuous, sustained fire at medium and long ranges. At these ranges they are devastating to exposed infantry, far more so than rifles are. However, the heavy ammunition use and lack of mobility are serious flaws, making heavy machine guns poor weapons for anything other than defensive tasks, where ammunition can be stockpiled and the lack of mobility is irrelevant. The effectiveness of a machinegun, heavy or light, can be increased greatly if the machinegun has a 2 man team, with an assistant to help change barrels, reload, and spot enemies, as appropriate (+reload <name>, +unjam <name>, +assist <name>).

Light Machine Guns

The light machine gun, such as the Lewis gun, Bren gun or BAR, is a smaller, more mobile version of the heavy machinegun. As such it is not considered a static weapon (though it is much more cumbersome than a rifle) and can be used to support an advance. In combat, such weapons are not usually noticeably inferior to heavy machine guns, with the proviso that most of them are magazine fed which means more time must be wasted reloading them, and they have a somewhat higher propensity to jam than their heavy equivalents. The main limitation on their use is ammunition, especially in the attack, when the infantry must carry all their supplies. When a light machinegun is in use all riflemen should carry as much ammunition as possible for it and be prepared to provide ammunition to their machine gunner. The effectiveness of a machinegun, heavy or light, can be increased greatly if the machinegun has a 2 man team, with an assistant to help change barrels, reload, and spot enemies, as appropriate (+reload <name>, +unjam <name>, +assist <name>).

Submachineguns and Pistols

Submachineguns and pistols are effective at short range. Their lightness and handiness mean they are good choices when in close quarter battle, when rifles and machineguns are too cumbersome to easily bring to bear. The fully automatic fire of a submachinegun can be devastating in such circumstances. However, these weapons are ineffective at long range, being too underpowered for accurate long range shooting.

Antitank Weapons

There are a variety of small arms available to the infantryman which may prove useful against enemy armor. That said, such weapons tend to be far inferior to antitank guns and the best antitank weapon of all - a friendly tank. Grenades are moderately effective against the lighter tanks, and some armies field antitank grenades specially designed to cut through armored vehicles (check their penetration value on +weapons) but they have very short ranges and so getting into firing position can be hazardous. Rocket launchers, when available, are much more deadly if they hit the tank but their ranges are typically little better than that of a grenade.

Antitank rifles are heavy, cumbersome weapons which are nevertheless useful due to their very long effective ranges. Unfortunately for the infantry, the penetration of the bullet from an AT rifle is not high enough to greatly faze an enemy medium or heavy tank, though the AT rifle can still prove effective against lighter tanks and armored cars.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.