Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Browning Automatic Rifle: Loved by Soldiers and Gangsters

Image: Creative Commons.
Browning Automatic Rifle

Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) Profile: “I don’t want a B.A.R., honey/I don’t want a B.A.R., baby/I don’t want a B.A.R./I’ll get me a babe with a candy bar, honey, baby mine.”

That is one of the verses from the humorous World War II vintage song “Honey Baby” as sung by legendary folk singer Oscar Brand on his Tell It to the Marines album.

The “BAR” in question doesn’t refer to the bars of a military brig but rather one of the iconic firearms of the first half of the 20th century, the M1918A1 Browning Automatic Rifle.

Browning Automatic Rifle: History and Specifications

As some of you have probably already figured out from the first word in the weapon’s moniker, it was named for its inventor, the late John Moses Browning, arguably the greatest firearms designer of all time. This was the same gentleman who gave us the M1911 .45 ACP auto pistol, the M2 “Ma Deuce” .50 caliber machine gun, the P-35 Hi-Power 9mm pistol, and so forth.

Mr. Browning designed this weapon in 1917 – the same year that America officially entered the First World War — replace the French light machine-gun Chauchat, then in service in the U.S. Army. The Chauchat has had a longstanding reputation for poor reliability, though some experts say that it’s been unfairly maligned.

Be that as it may, the Browning Automatic Rifle managed to make it into service with the “doughboys” right at the end of World War I, though it was during the Second World War that the gun fully cemented its reputation.

Upon further consideration, the BAR made a name for itself during the interwar years, but alas not always in the right hands. Yes, it was issued in large numbers to U.S. Marines and Navy sailors, but as some experts point out was used by criminals in the U.S. during the great depression – like in Bonnie and Clyde.

In that sense, one can draw parallels with the contemporaneous Thompson submachine gun AKA the “Tommy Gun,” which was also designed by the Good Guys for the Good Guys, yet got the most public notoriety for its usage by the bad guys. Even though the Tommy Gun is more heavily associated with mobsters thanks to movies like Scarface (the 1932 original, that is, not the F-bomb-laden sequel starring Al Pacino) and The Untouchables, it was pointed out by renowned firearms expert Chuck Taylor several decades ago that it was the BAR that was used by the gangsters far more often than the Tommy Gun because the former was so easily obtainable by looting National Guard armories.

However, “Dubya-Dubya Two” saved the reputation of the BAR from being permanently stigmatized as a “gangster’s gun.” As the D-Day Overlord website notes:

“In 1940, a new BAR model was created, called M1918A2, with a removable bipod and two different firing modes, a slow one (300-450 rounds per minute) and a fast one (500-650 rounds per minute). It is also equipped with a firewall device that suppresses the firing flames and allows the shooter during a night fight not to have his position detected…Also used during the Korean War, the BAR allowed the American forces’ platoons to have a large firepower. But its main fault lies in the fact that its magazine contains only 20 cartridges. The BAR has been so equipped to avoid overheating. The shooter, while pulling the trigger, empties the magazine in less than four seconds.”

Long story short, in WWII and Korea alike, the BAR repeatedly proved itself as a rugged, reliable, and effective weapon…true to form for a John Moses Browning-designed piece.

Browning Automatic Rifle

Browning Automatic Rifle. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The M1918A2 had an empty weight of 19 pounds, with an overall length of 47.8 inches and a barrel length of 24 inches. Nearly 250,000 of these guns were produced.

The BAR Today

An American civilian wanting to own a genuine full-auto Browning Automatic Rifle will have to bring a bankbook to purchase one, not to mention jump through all the legalese hoops of the ATF Form 4, National Firearms Act (NFA) tax stamp, and so forth.

For gun owners who do not want to deal with that expense and hassle, semiauto-only versions are available for purchase.

Bonus Photo Essay: Sig Sauer Firearms Throughout the Years

SIG Sauer P238

SIG Sauer P238. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Sig Sauer P938

Overall, the Sig Sauer P938 micro-compact is a great addition to your concealed carry collection. The quality you’re getting.

Sig Sauer Legion P226

Sig Sauer Legion P226. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

SIG Sauer P229

SIG Sauer P229. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

MORE: Joe Biden Won’t Send F-16 Fighters to Ukraine

MORE: Why Putin Should Fear the F-16 Fighter

Christian D. Orr has 33 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.  In his spare time, he enjoys (besides shooting, obviously) dining out, cigars, Irish and British pubs, travel, USC Trojans college football, and Washington DC professional sports.

Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).