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The concept of the assault rifle is from taking a full power rifle cartridge and shortening it down to a smaller round because the extra power and range was not necessary for most engagements. If you trace the origin of the assault rifle to the STG44 (MP44) and AK47 and their cartridges, you’ll note that the STG44s 7.92x33mm Kurz cartridge is a shortened 7.92x57mm (8mm Mauser) cartridge, and the 7.62x39mm cartridge is a shortened version of the 7.62x54mm Rimmed cartridge. So the distinction between assault rifles and battle rifles are that assault rifles use smaller and shortened cartridges when compared to the full sized rifle cartridges that were the standard of the time.
Now the NATO 7.62x51mm was a shortened .30-06 (7.62x63mm) cartridge, but the reduction in size wasn’t from the same idea that one could reduce the powder load behind the bullet, but rather that advances in gunpowder technology allowed for the same power in a smaller size. Thus the 7.62x51mm is still considered a full sized rifle cartridge and not an assault rifle cartridge.