Browning Automatic Rifle, Caliber .30 - M1918A2
Designed by John Moses Browning and first seeing action during WWI. The M1918 BAR was intended to replace the French Chauchat light machine gun, which required three men to operate. The primary role of the BAR was to provide walking support fire on the battlefields of WWI.
Although first presented to Congress in 1917, the BAR wasn't put into production until 1918, this was in order to avoid confusion with the already commissioned belt-fed M1917 machine gun.
Between wars, the BAR underwent numerous upgrades in order to improve the combat effectiveness of the Rifle. This resulted in the M1918A1, and the M1918A2 variants.
In 1938, the model M1918A2 was adopted, this would be the last official overhaul of the weapon issued by the US.
The A2 version featured a Bipod which was attached to the muzzle, Magazine guides where added to the front of the trigger guard, a small hinged shoulder rest was added to the rear of the stock in order to evenly distribute the weight while in the prone position. A shorter re-designed flash hider was also added. All of these modifications did little more than add extra weight to an already heavy weapon. It wasn't uncommon to see BAR gunners ditch the bipod, and remove the Magazine guide in order to make the weapon a little lighter
Unlike earlier models, the A2 could only fire in two automatic modes - slow (300 to 450 rpm) or fast (500 to 650 rpm)- The semiautomatic mode was removed. The mode of fire could be selected via a thumb switch above the trigger
During WWII a BAR squad consisted of a 3 man team
- Assistant Gunner (whose job was to take over the operation of the rifle if the gunner was taken out of action
- Ammo bearer
The standard Magazine could hold 20 .30-06 rounds. The gun belt had 6 pouches designed to hold two magazines per pouch. Resulting in 240 rounds per gun belt.
In addition a bandoleer could also be issued holding an additional 6 magazines in 3 pouches. One or two of these bandoleers could be issued to each member of the BAR team, resulting in an impressive amount of fire.
The assistant gunner would have a similar loadout to that of the gunner, but would often carry extra ammunition for his issued M1 Rifle. The same would go for the Ammo bearer.
In the ETO the primary function of the BAR gunner was to provide overwhelming fire support to the rifle company.
The only exception to this was in the Pacific, where the rifle company was organised to provide fire support BAR gunner, due to it's greater fire power.
The BAR was a popular weapon in WWII, because it was reliable and offered an excellent combination of rapid fire and penetrating power. The BAR's only serious drawbacks were its lack of a quick-change barrel, which could result in the weapon overheating during extended use, and its weight. The BAR, with bipod and a loaded magazine came to about 40 pounds.
The 1918A2 was used extensively in WW2, Korea, and last saw operational use early in the Vietnam War. It was eventually replaced by the M16/M60 machine gun.
- Weight 8.33 kg (18.5 lbs)
- Overall length 119.4 cm (47 in.)
- Rate of fire 450 or 650 rounds/min, selectable
- Effective range 550m (600 yds)
- Air cooled, gas operated
- Magazine fed .30-06
- Muzzle velocity 853.4 mps (2800 fps)
- 20-round detachable box magazine
- The BAR belt holds 12 magazines (240 rounds in total)
Pronunciation - The BAR is short for Browning Automatic Rifle. A common mistake is to call this weapon the bar (as in bar of gold/place to buy a Beer). It is in fact B.A.R, with each syllable being pronounced individually.
The BAR was able to fire Tracer, Armor-piercing, and Incendiary rounds from the standard box magazine
There is a rumour that the BAR was only issued to the big guys (soldiers over 6ft tall/stocky guys). This wasn't the case, BAR gunners where picked at random.
It was expected that each man in the unit had a basic operational knowledge of how to use this weapon in the event of the Automatic Rifle team being killed/incapacitated.
The average life expectancy of a BAR gunner in World War II was just 30 minuets.
On D-Day, 1st Infantry veteran Sargent Clarence Colson crossed Omaha Beach hip firing his BAR. Such was the intensity of his firing, his own assistant gunner struggled to keep him supplied with ammunition.
John Wayne credited his signature style of firing from the hip to the walking fire that the BAR was famous for. Specifically that of Wilson Watson
Private Wilson Watson served in the USMC. During the Iwo Jima campaign he single-handedly took out over 60 enemy Japanese soldiers while shooting the BAR from the hip. His actions resulted in him earning the Medal of Honour.