One piece of military equipment that we feel doesn’t always get the respect it deserves is the BAR or Browning Automatic Rifle. While in the throes of World War 2, facing off against the advanced weaponry of the German military, the BAR was a rocking rolling, heavy hitting automatic rifle that U.S. infantryman used to spray .30-06 into Nazis. It’s time for happy hour at our favorite BAR.
The BAR was designed by the same guy that developed the M-2 Browning Machine Gun, or the “Ma Deuce”. It seems as if Mr. Browning had a thing for automatic weapons. Good job on that front John Browning. Initially, there was only one BAR per squad, which proved to be hardly enough, the men needed more BAR in their lives. The task organization of the rifle squads was changed and organized around three fire teams each with their own BAR. This made much more sense!
As the Allied forces fought against Nazis who were extremely well equipped with automatic weapons, the BAR made an impact as an extremely man-portable (compared to other heavy hitting automatic weapons) automatic weapon. Chambered in .30-06, the same round as the M1 Garand, there was hardly ever a shortage of ammo despite the limited capacity of the 20 round box magazine that fed the weapon.
While it was heavy and cumbersome to some soldiers, there was a distinct comfort that one felt when they heard the BAR start chewing through enemy soldiers. The Browning Automatic Rifle was like that big brother you love to hate. Sure it whips your ass from time to time, but when someone else picks a fight with you, you’re glad the BAR is on your side.
This distinct American design stayed in service till the 1970’s proving that despite it’s few flaws, the venerable old automatic rifle still got the job done. Like a crusty, bitter and angry Clint Eastwood sitting on the front porch wielding a shotgun.