"Phase-charging energy projectile rifle."
The charge rifle is a somewhat heavy, fully automatic futuristic pulse rifle in RimWorld which deals considerable damage, has a rather short time between shots, short range, and high accuracy. Considering all of the stats, the charge rifle is one of the best weapons in the game and by far the best in its class (with the exception of the LMG that can sometimes trade blows); excellent damage output owing to its high fire rate and stopping power, combined with superior accuracy in its class, the only 'weakness' that the charge rifle has is its short range. The charge rifle is arguably the best weapon for individual opponents, but there are better weapons out there when it comes to tearing apart large crowds.
The charge rifle's main strength (as already mentioned) is its superior damage output combined with the best accuracy in its class.
Charge rifles can be purchased from outlander and orbital weapon traders for a hefty price, or obtained from pirate raiders in the mid-late game onwards. Charge Rifles can also be crafted at a machining table once the machining and charged shot researched have been completed; from 20 steel, 40 plasteel, 7 components, and 50,000 (833.33 secs) of work.
You will also start with a charge rifle in the rich explorer scenario.
Conclusion & Comparison
As previously mentioned, the charge rifle shadows most other weapons in its class with the exception of the LMG which comes close to it. The heavy SMG and pump shotgun offer better stopping power for each shot, but the charge rifle demolishes it with superior fire rate and a 3-round burst, accuracy and also range. The LMG cuts it a lot closer though: the charge rifle will generally come out on top in common combat scenarios (unmodified shooters against humans), but the LMG has a chance of pulling ahead in the hands of a fully augmented trigger-happy shooter (bionics and luciferium) - especially against larger enemies and also small groups of enemies, as LMGs can cause minor collateral damage.
On the subject of collateral damage, a minigun is arguably just as effective as a small firing squad of charge rifle gunners against crowds of enemies: while the minigun is terrible against individual targets owing to its forced miss radius, it'll happily tear several new holes into anybody that stands in the way of this target, or around the target for that matter.
One weakness of the charge rifle is its range of only 24 tiles, which makes it unable to hit distant targets. In comparison, the assault rifle, survival rifle and sniper rifle may not deal nearly as much damage as the charge rifle, but make up for it with their much longer firing range of 32, 37 and 45 tiles respectively.
An ideal firing squad (in non-killbox situations) would be a combination of charge rifles to dispose of close-range enemies, and then perhaps assault rifles to gun enemies down at mid-range, and then survival and/or sniper rifles to pick off enemies at medium-long or long range. Perhaps mix a few trigger-happy minigunners in to rip grouped enemies apart - although you'll want to be careful with miniguns as they can just as easily dispatch of your own pawns.
The charge rifle remains a useful weapon throughout all stages of the game.
Charged-shot weapons are also referred to as Tokamak weapons in the fiction primer. They fire projectiles coated in a matrix of magnetically-contained charged particles. On impact, the energy in the particles is released in a very efficient explosion. These require high amounts of power to fire and are powered by hex-cells at small scales (like Charge Rifles), or fusion reactors in the case of large cannons.