The assault rifle is a rifle skill weapon in Deus Ex. It can fire two distinct types of ammunition: 7.62x51mm rounds and 20mm HE grenades. The assault rifle is commonly used by military and paramilitary forces throughout the world in 2052. Its formal name is ZHL-U1953, as shown on blueprints and the rifle itself.
The assault rifle fires in bursts of five rounds. Consecutive bursts are continuous, resulting in fully automatic firing when the fire button is held down. Each bullet has a base damage of 3, for a total damage of 15 per burst.
Due to its high rate of fire, the assault rifle has a higher overall damage per second than the pistol and stealth pistol. However, the assault rifle is initially limited by its recoil and bullet spread. Recoil is very high at the untrained skill level, with each burst causing the view to pitch up approximately 10° per burst. Once the advanced skill level is attained, recoil is reduced to zero. Bullet spread can be reduced to zero by attaining 100% accuracy or by attaching a laser modification, which provides perfect accuracy when the laser sight is turned on. When perfect accuracy and zero recoil have been obtained, the assault rifle's advantages in high damage per second becomes far more practically useful.
The 20mm HE is the assault rifle's secondary ammunition. It is a grenade that is launched in an arc. As an explosive, the 20mm HE can serve as an alternative to the GEP gun without requiring the inventory space of the latter.
With a base damage of 150, the 20mm HE is only half as powerful as GEP gun rockets, but is still capable of destroying military bots in two hits (and any other robot in a single hit) at the master skill level. It is also useful for destroying objects such as turrets and destructible doors. The damage of the 20mm HE grenade scales with the rifle skill, thus reaching a damage of 300 at master skill level.
- The assault's rifle low damage per bullet does not scale well at the trained and advanced skill levels because damage bonuses are rounded down to the nearest integer. Thus, while the trained and advanced skill levels provide 20% and 50% bonus damage, respectively, the rounding error results in actual increases of 0% and 33%. The master level bonus of 100% does not suffer from rounding error.
- While the assault rifle is one of the most common weapons encountered in the game, only 1 to 5 bullets are rewarded when searching the body of a character who was wielding an assault rifle.
- The maximum amount of 7.62mm ammunition that can be stored in the inventory is low compared to other ammunition types when normalized to base damage. Only 300 7.62mm rounds can be stored in the inventory at any given time. With a base damage of 3, a full stock of 7.62mm rounds corresponds to only 900 base damage. By contrast, a full stock of 10mm pistol rounds (150 rounds maximum) corresponds to 1200 base damage with the stealth pistol, or 2100 base damage with the standard pistol.
- As in the case of all explosive projectiles, the 20mm HE inflicts damage five times over five separate explosions, the most potent of which has a base damage that approaches 40% of the weapon's overall base damage if the explosion is close to the target. Therefore, at the untrained skill level, the 20mm HE is not capable of destroying doors that have a minimum damage threshold of greater than 60.
- Since the 20mm HE is a projectile ammunition, its range is not affected by the range modification. The range modification does affect the assault rifle when it is firing 7.62mm ammunition, however.
- Liberty Island, killing or knocking out the UNATCO troop that appears after you find Leo Gold at the Statue of Liberty. This is the first obtainable appearance of the assault rifle.
- Widely used by the UNATCO and Majestic 12 troops, such as UNATCO troopers in Hell's Kitchen, the MJ12 troops in the New York City sewers, and the UNATCO occupying the NSF Headquarters.
- Hong Kong, used by the Chinese military police.
- The gun's ammo is 7.62x51mm. However, the real-world 7.62x51mm NATO is generally not used in weapons as compact as this assault rifle.