A phaser rifle is the Star Trek Federation's phaser-based equivalent of a modern sub-machinegun or assault rifle. Several different styles have appeared in the course of the series. They are presumably more accurate over long distances than a hand phaser, and they probably have larger power supplies.
- "We captured a lot of [Cardassian phaser rifles] during the occupation. It's a good weapon, solid, simple. You can drag it through the mud and it'll still fire. Now this. This is an entirely different animal. Federation standard issue. It's a little less powerful, but it's got a lot more options: sixteen beam settings, fully autonomous recharge, multiple target acquisition, gyro-stabilised... the works. It's a little more complicated, so it's not as good a field weapon. Too many things can go wrong with it."
- --Major Kira, DS9 "Return to Grace"
Much like hand phasers, Phaser III is an ergonomic disaster that lacks proper sighting features and safety devices like a trigger guard. According to Major Kira, this Federation weapon has several extra features that have questionable value in a combat situation, making it inferior to Cardassian phaser rifles, which have fewer features but are more reliable. The additional features include the following:
- Gyroscopic stabilization, which presumably makes it easier to hold the rifle steady on a target.
- "Multiple target acquisition", which is a mystery. One speculation is that the weapon has tricorder features for detecting enemies.
- "Fully autonomous recharge", which is also a mystery. Presumably the power supply can recharge from a variety of power sources.
- Sixteen beam settings, a feature that Phaser III has in common with Phaser II.
Phaser rifles made during the Dominion War have trigger guards and scopes, features that previous models lacked. During the war emergency, Starfleet presumably did not have the luxury of sending every recruit through years of Academy training, prompting them to design weapons that were easier to use.