Browning Automatic Rifle
Overview
 
The Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was a family of United States automatic rifle
Automatic rifle
Automatic rifle is a term generally used to describe a semi-automatic rifle chambered for a rifle cartridge, capable of delivering both semi- and full automatic fire...

s (or machine rifles) and light machine gun
Light machine gun
A light machine gun is a machine gun designed to be employed by an individual soldier, with or without an assistant, as an infantry support weapon. Light machine guns are often used as squad automatic weapons.-Characteristics:...

s used by the United States and numerous other countries during the 20th century. The primary variant of the BAR series was the M1918, chambered for the .30-06 Springfield
.30-06 Springfield
The .30-06 Springfield cartridge or 7.62×63mm in metric notation, was introduced to the United States Army in 1906 and standardized, and was in use until the 1960s and early 1970s. It replaced the .30-03, 6 mm Lee Navy, and .30 US Army...

 rifle
Rifle
A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves cut into the barrel walls. The raised areas of the rifling are called "lands," which make contact with the projectile , imparting spin around an axis corresponding to the...

 cartridge
Cartridge (firearms)
A cartridge, also called a round, packages the bullet, gunpowder and primer into a single metallic case precisely made to fit the firing chamber of a firearm. The primer is a small charge of impact-sensitive chemical that may be located at the center of the case head or at its rim . Electrically...

 and designed by John Browning
John Browning
John Moses Browning , born in Ogden, Utah, was an American firearms designer who developed many varieties of military and civilian firearms, cartridges, and gun mechanisms, many of which are still in use around the world...

 in 1917 for the U.S. Expeditionary Corps in Europe as a replacement for the French-made Chauchat
Chauchat
The Chauchat , was the standard light machine gun of the French Army during World War I. Under the leadership of General Joseph Joffre, it was commissioned into the French Army in 1916. It was also widely used by the US Army in 1917-1918 and by six other nations: Belgium, Greece, Poland, Russia,...

 and M1909 Benet-Mercie
Hotchkiss M1909 Benet-Mercie machine gun
The Hotchkiss M1909 machine gun was a French designed light machine gun of the early 20th century, developed and built by Hotchkiss et Cie. It was also known as the Hotchkiss Mark I and M1909 Benet-Mercie....

 machine guns.

The BAR was designed to be carried by advancing infantrymen, slung over the shoulder and fired from the hip, a concept called "walking fire"—thought to be necessary for the individual soldier during trench warfare.
Encyclopedia
The Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was a family of United States automatic rifle
Automatic rifle
Automatic rifle is a term generally used to describe a semi-automatic rifle chambered for a rifle cartridge, capable of delivering both semi- and full automatic fire...

s (or machine rifles) and light machine gun
Light machine gun
A light machine gun is a machine gun designed to be employed by an individual soldier, with or without an assistant, as an infantry support weapon. Light machine guns are often used as squad automatic weapons.-Characteristics:...

s used by the United States and numerous other countries during the 20th century. The primary variant of the BAR series was the M1918, chambered for the .30-06 Springfield
.30-06 Springfield
The .30-06 Springfield cartridge or 7.62×63mm in metric notation, was introduced to the United States Army in 1906 and standardized, and was in use until the 1960s and early 1970s. It replaced the .30-03, 6 mm Lee Navy, and .30 US Army...

 rifle
Rifle
A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves cut into the barrel walls. The raised areas of the rifling are called "lands," which make contact with the projectile , imparting spin around an axis corresponding to the...

 cartridge
Cartridge (firearms)
A cartridge, also called a round, packages the bullet, gunpowder and primer into a single metallic case precisely made to fit the firing chamber of a firearm. The primer is a small charge of impact-sensitive chemical that may be located at the center of the case head or at its rim . Electrically...

 and designed by John Browning
John Browning
John Moses Browning , born in Ogden, Utah, was an American firearms designer who developed many varieties of military and civilian firearms, cartridges, and gun mechanisms, many of which are still in use around the world...

 in 1917 for the U.S. Expeditionary Corps in Europe as a replacement for the French-made Chauchat
Chauchat
The Chauchat , was the standard light machine gun of the French Army during World War I. Under the leadership of General Joseph Joffre, it was commissioned into the French Army in 1916. It was also widely used by the US Army in 1917-1918 and by six other nations: Belgium, Greece, Poland, Russia,...

 and M1909 Benet-Mercie
Hotchkiss M1909 Benet-Mercie machine gun
The Hotchkiss M1909 machine gun was a French designed light machine gun of the early 20th century, developed and built by Hotchkiss et Cie. It was also known as the Hotchkiss Mark I and M1909 Benet-Mercie....

 machine guns.

The BAR was designed to be carried by advancing infantrymen, slung over the shoulder and fired from the hip, a concept called "walking fire"—thought to be necessary for the individual soldier during trench warfare. However in practice, it was most often used as a light machine gun and fired from a bipod (introduced in later models). A variant of the original M1918 BAR, the Colt Monitor Machine Rifle, remains the lightest production automatic gun to fire the .30-06 Springfield cartridge, though the limited capacity of its standard 20-round magazine tended to hamper its utility in that role.

History

The U.S. entered World War I with an inadequately small and obsolete assortment of various domestic and foreign machine gun designs, due primarily to bureaucratic indecision and the lack of an established military doctrine for their employment. When the declaration of war on Imperial Germany
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 was announced on 6 April 1917, the military high command was made aware that to fight this machine gun-dominated trench war, they had on hand a mere 670 M1909 Benet-Mercies
Hotchkiss M1909 Benet-Mercie machine gun
The Hotchkiss M1909 machine gun was a French designed light machine gun of the early 20th century, developed and built by Hotchkiss et Cie. It was also known as the Hotchkiss Mark I and M1909 Benet-Mercie....

, 282 M1904 Maxim
Maxim gun
The Maxim gun was the first self-powered machine gun, invented by the American-born British inventor Sir Hiram Maxim in 1884. It has been called "the weapon most associated with [British] imperial conquest".-Functionality:...

s and 158 Colts, M1895
M1895 Colt-Browning machine gun
The Colt-Browning M1895, nicknamed potato digger due to its unusual operating mechanism, is an air-cooled, belt-fed, gas-operated machine gun that fires from a closed bolt with a cyclic rate of 450 rounds per minute...

. After much debate, it was finally agreed that a rapid rearmament with domestic weapons would be required, but until that time, U.S. troops would be issued whatever the French and British had to offer. The arms donated by the French were often second-rate or surplus and chambered in 8mm Lebel, further complicating logistics as machine gunners and infantrymen were issued different types of ammunition.

Development

In 1917, prior to America's entry to the war, John Browning personally brought to Washington, D.C. two types of automatic weapons for the purposes of demonstration: a water-cooled machine gun (later adopted as the M1917 Browning machine gun) and a shoulder-fired automatic rifle known then as the Browning Machine Rifle or BMR, both chambered for the standard U.S. .30-06 Springfield cartridge. Browning had arranged for a public demonstration of both weapons at a location outside of Washington, D.C. known as Congress Heights. There, on 27 February 1917, in front of a crowd of 300 people (including high-ranking military officials, Congressmen, Senators
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

, foreign dignitaries and the press), Browning staged a live fire demonstration which so impressed the gathered crowd, that he was immediately awarded a contract for the weapon and it was hastily adopted into service (the water-cooled machine gun underwent further testing).

Additional tests were conducted for U.S. Army Ordnance
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 officials at Springfield Armory
Springfield Armory
The Springfield Armory, located in the City of Springfield, Massachusetts - from 1777 until its closing in 1968 - was the primary center for the manufacture of U.S. military firearms. After its controversial closing during the Vietnam War, the Springfield Armory was declared Western Massachusetts'...

 in May 1917 and both weapons were unanimously recommended for immediate adoption. In order to avoid confusion with the belt-fed M1917 machine gun, the BAR came to be known as the M1918 or Rifle, Caliber .30, Automatic, Browning, M1918 according to official nomenclature. On 16 July 1917, 12,000 BARs were ordered from Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company
Colt's Manufacturing Company
Colt's Manufacturing Company is a United States firearms manufacturer, whose first predecessor corporation was founded in 1836 by Sam Colt. Colt is best known for the engineering, production, and marketing of firearms over the later half of the 19th and the 20th century...

 who had secured an exclusive concession to manufacture the BAR under Browning's patents (Browning's was owned by Colt). However Colt was already producing at peak capacity (contracted to manufacture the Vickers machine gun
Vickers machine gun
Not to be confused with the Vickers light machine gunThe Vickers machine gun or Vickers gun is a name primarily used to refer to the water-cooled .303 inch machine gun produced by Vickers Limited, originally for the British Army...

 for the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

) and requested a delay in production while they expanded their manufacturing output with a new facility in Meriden
Meriden, Connecticut
Meriden is a city in New Haven County, Connecticut, United States. According to 2005 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 59,653.-History:...

, Connecticut. Due to the urgent need for the weapon, the request was denied and the Winchester Repeating Arms Company
Winchester Repeating Arms Company
The Winchester Repeating Arms Company was a prominent American maker of repeating firearms, located in New Haven, Connecticut. The Winchester brand is today used under license by two subsidiaries of the Herstal Group, Fabrique Nationale of Belgium and the Browning Arms Company of Morgan, Utah.-...

 (WRAC) was designated as the prime contractor. Winchester gave valuable assistance in refining the BAR's final design, correcting the drawings in preparation for mass production. Among the changes made, the ejection pattern was modified (spent casings were directed to the right side of the weapon—instead of straight up).

Initial M1918 Production

Since work on the gun did not begin until February 1918, so hurried was the schedule at Winchester to bring the BAR into full production, that the first production batch of 1,800 guns was delivered out of spec; it was discovered that many components did not interchange between rifles and production was temporarily halted until manufacturing procedures were upgraded to bring the weapon up to specifications. The initial contract with Winchester called for 25,000 BARs. They were in full production by June 1918, delivering 4,000 guns and in July were turning out 9,000 units a month.

Colt and Marlin-Rockwell Corp.
Marlin Firearms
Marlin Firearms Co., formerly of North Haven, Connecticut, is a manufacturer of high power, center fire, lever action, and .22 caliber rimfire rifles. In the past, the company made shotguns, derringers and revolvers...

 also began production shortly after Winchester got into full production. Marlin-Rockwell, burdened by a contract to make rifles for the Belgian
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 government, acquired the Mayo Radiator Co.'s factory and used it exclusively to carry out production of the BAR. The first unit from this source was delivered on 11 June 1918 and the company's peak output reached 200 automatic rifles per day. Colt had only produced 9,000 BARs by the time of the armistice
Armistice with Germany (Compiègne)
The armistice between the Allies and Germany was an agreement that ended the fighting in the First World War. It was signed in a railway carriage in Compiègne Forest on 11 November 1918 and marked a victory for the Allies and a complete defeat for Germany, although not technically a surrender...

 due to the heavy demands of previous orders. These three companies produced a combined daily output of 706 rifles and a total of approximately 52,000 BARs were delivered by all sources by the end of the war. Between 1918 and 1919, 102,125 BARs had been manufactured jointly by Colt (16,000 weapons), Winchester (47,123) and Marlin-Rockwell (39,002 units).

By July 1918, the BAR began to arrive in France and the first unit to receive them was the U.S. Army's 79th Infantry Division, which took them into action for the first time on 13 September 1918. The weapon was personally demonstrated against the enemy by 2nd Lieutenant
Second Lieutenant
Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces.- United Kingdom and Commonwealth :The rank second lieutenant was introduced throughout the British Army in 1871 to replace the rank of ensign , although it had long been used in the Royal Artillery, Royal...

 Val Allen Browning
Val A. Browning
Val Allen Browning was a noted Utah industrialist, philanthropist, and third generation gun innovator. His grandfather, Jonathan Browning, opened a gun shop in Ogden, Utah in 1852 and his father, John Browning, is considered by many to be the most important gun inventor in history.-Life:Born in...

, the inventor's son. Despite being introduced very late in the war, the BAR made an impact disproportionate to its numbers; it was used extensively during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive
Meuse-Argonne Offensive
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive, or Maas-Argonne Offensive, also called the Battle of the Argonne Forest, was a part of the final Allied offensive of World War I that stretched along the entire western front.-Overview:...

 and made a significant impression on the Allies (France alone requested 15,000 automatic rifles to replace their notoriously unreliable Chauchat
Chauchat
The Chauchat , was the standard light machine gun of the French Army during World War I. Under the leadership of General Joseph Joffre, it was commissioned into the French Army in 1916. It was also widely used by the US Army in 1917-1918 and by six other nations: Belgium, Greece, Poland, Russia,...

 machine rifle).

Design details and accessories

The M1918 is a selective fire
Selective fire
A selective fire firearm has at least one semi–automatic and one automatic mode, which is activated by means of a selector which varies depending on the weapon's design. Some selective fire weapons utilize burst fire mechanisms to limit the maximum or total number of shots fired automatically in...

, air-cooled automatic rifle using a gas-operated
Gas-operated reloading
Gas-operation is a system of operation used to provide energy to operate autoloading firearms. In gas-operation, a portion of high pressure gas from the cartridge being fired is used to power a mechanism to extract the spent case and chamber a new cartridge. Energy from the gas is harnessed...

 long-stroke piston rod actuated by propellant gases bled through a vent in the barrel. The bolt is locked by a rising bolt lock. The gun fires from an open bolt
Open bolt
A semi or full automatic firearm is said to fire from an open bolt if, when ready to fire, the bolt and working parts are held to the rear. When the trigger is pulled the bolt goes forward, feeding a round from the magazine into the chamber and firing it...

. The spring-powered cartridge casing extractor is contained in the bolt and a fixed ejector is installed in the trigger group. The BAR is striker fired (the bolt carrier serves as the striker) and uses a trigger mechanism with a fire selector lever that enables operating in either semi-automatic or fully automatic firing modes. The selector lever is located on the left side of the receiver
Receiver (firearms)
In firearms terminology, the receiver is the part of a firearm that houses the operating parts. The receiver usually contains the bolt carrier group, trigger group, and magazine port. In most handguns, the receiver, or frame, holds the magazine well or rotary magazine as well as the trigger mechanism...

 and is simultaneously the manual safety (selector lever in the "S" position – weapon is "safe", "F" – "Fire", "A" – "Automatic" fire). The "safe" setting blocks the trigger.

The weapon's barrel is screwed into the receiver and is not quickly detachable. The M1918 feeds using double-column 20-round box magazines, although 40-round magazines were also used in an anti-aircraft role; these were withdrawn from use in 1927. The M1918 has a cylindrical flash suppressor
Flash suppressor
A flash suppressor, also known as a flash guard, flash eliminator, flash hider, or flash cone, is a device attached to the muzzle of a rifle or other gun that reduces the visible signature of the burning gases that exit the muzzle. This reduces the chances that the shooter will be blinded in dark...

 fitted to the muzzle end. The original BAR was equipped with a fixed wooden buttstock
Stock (firearm)
A stock, also known as a buttstock or shoulder stock, is a part of a rifle or other firearm, to which the barrel and firing mechanism are attached, that is held against one's shoulder when firing the gun. Stocks are also found on crossbows though a crossbow stock is more properly referred to as a...

 and closed-type adjustable iron sight
Iron sight
Iron sights are a system of shaped alignment markers used as a sighting device to assist in the aiming of a device such as a firearm, crossbow, or telescope, and exclude the use of optics as in telescopic sights or reflector sights...

s, consisting of a forward post and a rear leaf sight with 100 to 1,500 yard range graduations. Bayonet
Bayonet
A bayonet is a knife, dagger, sword, or spike-shaped weapon designed to fit in, on, over or underneath the muzzle of a rifle, musket or similar weapon, effectively turning the gun into a spear...

s for the BAR were not manufactured in great quantity and are thus extremely rare. They consisted of a spike form with a slat on the top side, attaching to the bottom of the barrel in the conventional fashion.

As a heavy automatic rifle designed for support fire, the M1918 was not fitted with a bayonet
Bayonet
A bayonet is a knife, dagger, sword, or spike-shaped weapon designed to fit in, on, over or underneath the muzzle of a rifle, musket or similar weapon, effectively turning the gun into a spear...

 mount and no bayonet was ever issued. Only one experimental bayonet fitting was ever made for the BAR by Winchester. This was a standard, M1917 bayonet
M1917 Bayonet
The M1917 bayonet was designed to be used with the US M1917 Enfield .30 caliber rifle, as well as with the Winchester Model 1897 and M12 trench shotguns. The blade was 16 inches long...

 fitted at the Winchester factory with a special muzzle ring. The bayonet was attached to a standard M1918 BAR by means of a special experimental flash hider assembly. This prototype bayonet/flash hider assembly came from the Winchester in-house factory museum in New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven is the second-largest city in Connecticut and the sixth-largest in New England. According to the 2010 Census, New Haven's population increased by 5.0% between 2000 and 2010, a rate higher than that of the State of Connecticut, and higher than that of the state's five largest cities, and...

 with a tag printed on one side Winchester Repeating Arms Co./New Haven Conn., and handwitten on the other side: Combined Flash Hider, Front Sight and Bayonet Mount for Browing Automatic Rifle Model 1918 with Bayonet and Scabbard and the date - September 7, 1918. There is no evidence whatsoever of military adoption nor a military stock number, name, or classification.

Variants and subsequent models

During its lengthy service life, the BAR underwent continuous development, receiving many improvements and modifications. The first major attempt at improving the M1918 resulted in the M1922 light machine gun, adopted by the United States Cavalry in 1922. The weapon used a new heavy profile ribbed barrel, an adjustable spiked bipod (mounted to a swiveling collar on the barrel) with a rear, stock-mounted monopod, a side-mounted sling swivel and a new rear endplate, fixed to the stock retaining sleeve. The handguard was changed, and in 1926, the BAR's sights were redesigned to accommodate the heavy-bullet 172-grain M1 .30-06 ball ammunition then coming into service for machine gun use.
In 1931, the Colt Arms Co. introduced the Colt Monitor Automatic Machine Rifle (R 80), intended primarily for use by prison guards and law enforcement agencies. Intended for use as a shoulder-fired automatic rifle, the Colt Monitor omitted the standard bipod, instead featuring a separate pistol grip and buttstock attached to a lightweight receiver, along with a shortened 458 mm (18 in) barrel fitted with a 4 inches (101.6 mm) Cutts compensator. Weighing 16 lb. 3 oz. empty,, the Colt Monitor had a rate of fire of approximately 500 rpm. Around 125 Colt Monitor automatic machine rifles were produced; of these ninety were purchased by the FBI
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

. Eleven rifles went to the U.S. Treasury Department in 1934, while the rest went to various state prisons, banks, security companies, and accredited police departments. Although the Colt Monitor was available for export sale, no examples appear to have been exported to other countries.

In 1932, a greatly shortened version of the M1918 BAR designed for 'bush warfare' was developed by USMC Major H.L. Smith, and was the subject of an evaluative report by Capt. Merritt A. Edson
Merritt A. Edson
Major General Merritt Austin Edson , known as "Red Mike", was a general in the United States Marine Corps. Among the decorations he received was the Medal of Honor, two Navy Crosses, the Silver Star, and two Legions of Merit...

, Ordnance officer at the Quartermaster's Depot in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The barrel was shortened nine inches (229 mm) at the muzzle, and the gas port and gas cylinder tube were relocated. The modified BAR weighed 13 lb. 12 oz. and was only 34.5 inches (876.3 mm) long overall. Though it proved superior to the M1918 in accuracy when fired in automatic mode using the prone position, and equal in accuracy to the standard M1918 at ranges of 500-600 yards when fired from a rest, it was less accurate when fired from the shoulder, and had a loud report combined with a fierce muzzle blast. Attaching a Cutts compensator materially reduced the muzzle blast, but this was more than offset by the increase in smoke and dust at the muzzle when fired, obscuring the operator's vision. Nor did it improve control of the weapon when fired in bursts of automatic fire. Though the report recommended building six of these short-barrelled 'jungle' BARs for further evaluation, no further work was done on the project.

The M1918A1, featuring a lightweight spiked bipod, with a leg height adjustment feature, attached to the gas cylinder and a hinged steel butt plate, was formally approved on 24 June 1937. The M1918A1 was intended to increase the weapon's effectiveness and controllability firing in bursts. Relatively few M1918s were rebuilt to the new M1918A1 standard.
In April 1938, work was commenced on an improved BAR for the U.S. Army. The latter specified a need for a BAR designed to serve in the role of a light machine gun for squad-level support fire. Early prototypes were fitted with barrel-mounted bipods, as well as pistol grip housings and a unique rate-of-fire reducer mechanism purchased from FN Herstal. The rate reducer mechanism performed well in trials, and the pistol grip housing enabled the operator to fire more comfortably from the prone position. However, in 1939 the Army declared that all modifications to the basic BAR be capable of being retrofitted to earlier M1918 guns with no loss of parts interchangeability. This effectively killed the FN-designed pistol grip and its proven rate reducer mechanism for the new M1918 replacement.

Final development of the M1918A2 was authorized on 30 June 1938. The FN-designed pistol grip and rate-reducer mechanism with two rates of automatic fire was shelved in favor of a rate-reducer mechanism designed by Springfield Armory, and housed in the buttstock. The Springfield Armory rate reducer also provided two selectable rates of fully automatic fire only, activated by engaging the selector toggle. Additionally, a skid-footed bipod was fitted to the muzzle end of the barrel, magazine guides were added to the front of the trigger guard, the handguard was shortened, a heat shield was added to help the cooling process, a small separate stock rest (monopod) was included for attachment to the butt, and the weapon's role was changed to that of a squad light machine gun. The BAR's rear sight scales were also modified to accommodate the newly standardized M2 Ball ammunition with its lighter, flat-base bullet. The M1918A2 walnut buttstock is approximately one inch longer than the M1918 BAR buttstock. The M1918A2 barrel was also fitted with a new flash suppressor, and fully adjustable iron sights. Late in the war, a barrel-mounted carrying handle was added.

Because of budget limitations, initial M1918A2 production consisted of conversions of older M1918 BARs (remaining in surplus) along with a limited number of M1922s and M1918A1s. After the outbreak of war, attempts to ramp up new M1918A2 production were stymied by the discovery that the World War I tooling used to produce the M1918 was either worn out or incompatible with modern production machinery. New production was first undertaken at the New England Small Arms
New England Small Arms
New England Small Arms Corporation was a consortium of small manufacturers who coordinated their facilities for production of M1918 Browning Automatic Rifles during World War II. The company was an unusual variation of United States conversion of small manufacturing plants from civilian goods to...

 Corp. and International Business Machines Corp.
IBM
International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

 (a total of 168,000 new weapons were manufactured). In 1942, a shortage of black walnut for buttstocks and grips led to the development of a black plastic buttstock for the BAR. Composed of a mixture of Bakelite and Resinox, and impregnated with shredded fabric, the buttstocks were sandblasted to reduce glare. Firestone Rubber and Latex Products Company
Firestone Tire and Rubber Company
The Firestone Tire and Rubber Company is an American tire company founded by Harvey Firestone in 1900 to supply pneumatic tires for wagons, buggies, and other forms of wheeled transportation common in the era. Firestone soon saw the huge potential for marketing tires for automobiles. The company...

 produced the plastic buttstock for the U.S. Army, which was formally adopted on March 21, 1942.

Production rates greatly increased in 1943 after IBM introduced a method of casting BAR receivers from a new type of malleable pig iron developed by the Saginaw division of General Motors
General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...

, called ArmaSteel. After successfully passing a series of tests at Springfield Armory, the Chief of Ordnance instructed other BAR receiver manufacturers to change over from steel to ArmaSteel castings for this part. During the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

, M1918A2 production was resumed, this time contracted to the Royal McBee Typewriter Co.
Royal Typewriter Company
The Royal Typewriter Company was a manufacturer of typewriters headquartered in New York City with its factory in Hartford, Connecticut.-History:...

, which produced an additional 61,000 M1918A2s.

Contemporary models

In 2008, one firearms manufacturer introduced a modern, semi-automatic version of the Browning Automatic Rifle known as the 1918A3 SLR ("self-loading rifle").

Export models

The BAR also found a ready market overseas and in various forms was widely exported. In 1919, the Colt's company developed and produced a commercial variant called the Automatic Machine Rifle Model 1919 (company designation: Model U), which has a different return mechanism compared to the M1918 (it is installed in the stock rather than the gas tube) and lacks a flash hider. Later the Model 1924 rifle was offered for a short period of time, featuring a pistol grip
Pistol grip
On a firearm or other tool, the pistol grip is that portion of the mechanism that is held by the hand and orients the hand in a forward, vertical orientation, similar to the position one would take with a conventional pistol such as the M1911....

 and a redesigned handguard. These Colt automatic rifles were available in a number of calibers, including .30-06 Springfield (7.62x63mm), 7.65x53mm Belgian Mauser, 7x57mm Mauser, 6.5x55mm, 7.92x57mm Mauser
7.92x57mm Mauser
The 8×57mm IS is a rimless bottlenecked rifle cartridge. The 8×57mm IS was adopted by the German Empire in 1905, and was the German service cartridge in both World Wars...

 and .303 British (7.7x56mmR)
.303 British
.303 British, or 7.7x56mmR, is a .311 inch calibre rifle and machine gun cartridge first developed in Britain as a blackpowder round put into service in December 1888 for the Lee-Metford rifle, later adapted to use smokeless powders...

. All of the 6.5x55mm-caliber Colt automatic rifles appear to have been sold directly to FN.

An improved version of the Model 1924, the Model 1925 (R75) would achieve the highest popularity in export sales. It is based on the Model 1924 but uses a heavy, finned barrel, a lightweight bipod and is equipped with dust covers in the magazine well and ejection port (some of these features were patented: refer to US patents 1548709 and 1533968). The Model 1925 was produced in various calibers, including .30-06 Springfield (7.62x63mm), 7.65x53mm Belgian Mauser, 7x57mm Mauser, 7.92x57mm Mauser
7.92x57mm Mauser
The 8×57mm IS is a rimless bottlenecked rifle cartridge. The 8×57mm IS was adopted by the German Empire in 1905, and was the German service cartridge in both World Wars...

, and .303 British (7.7x56mmR)
.303 British
.303 British, or 7.7x56mmR, is a .311 inch calibre rifle and machine gun cartridge first developed in Britain as a blackpowder round put into service in December 1888 for the Lee-Metford rifle, later adapted to use smokeless powders...

 (no Colt-manufactured Model 1925 rifles in 6.5x55mm appear to have been sold). A minor variant of the Model 1925 (R75) was the R75A light machine gun with a quick-change barrel (produced in 1924 in small quantities for the Dutch Army
Royal Netherlands Army
The Royal Netherlands Army is the land forces element of the military of the Netherlands.-Short history:The Royal Netherlands Army was raised on 9 January 1814, but its origins date back to 1572, when the so-called Staatse Leger was raised...

). Between 1921 and 1928, FN Herstal imported over 800 Colt-manufactured examples of the Colt Machine Rifles for sale abroad.

All of the Colt automatic machine rifles, including the Colt Monitor, were available for export sale. After 1929, the Model 1925 and the Colt Monitor were available for export sale in Colt's exclusive sales territories per its agreement with FN. These Colt territories included North America, Central America, the West Indies, South America, Great Britain, Russia, Turkey, Siam (Thailand), India, and Australia.

Belgium

A variant known as the FN Mle 1930 was developed in 7.65x53mm Belgian Mauser by FN Herstal and adopted by the Belgian Army. The Mle 1930 is basically a licensed copy of the Colt Automatic Machine Rifle, Model 1925 (R 75). The Mle 1930 had a different gas valve and a mechanical rate-reducing fire control mechanism designed by Dieudonne Saive, housed in the trigger guard/pistol grip housing. Some of these FN rate reducer mechanisms and pistol grip housings were later purchased by Springfield Armory for evaluation and possible adoption on a replacement for the M1918. The weapon also had a hinged shoulder plate and was adapted for use on a tripod mount. In 1932, Belgium adopted a new version of the FN Mle 1930 allocated the service designation FN Mle D (D—Demontable or "removable") which had a quick-change barrel, shoulder rest and a simplified take-down method for eased cleaning and maintenance. The Mle D was produced even after World War II in versions adapted for .30-06 Springfield and NATO-standard 7.62x51mm ammunition.

The final variant in Belgian service was the Model DA1 chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge and feeding from the 20 round magazines for the FN FAL rifle.

Poland

Production of the BAR in Belgium began only after signing an agreement with Poland (on 10 December 1927) involving the procurement of 10,000 wz. 1928 light machine guns chambered in 7.92x57mm Mauser, which are similar to the R75 variant but designed specifically to meet the requirements of the Polish Army. Changes to the base design include a pistol grip, different type of bipod, open-type V-notch rear sight and a slightly longer barrel. Subsequent rifles were assembled locally in Poland under license by the State Rifle Factory (Państwowa Fabryka Karabinów) in Warsaw
Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

. The wz. 1928 was accepted into service with the Polish Army
Polish Land Forces
The Polish Land Forces are a branch of Poland's Armed Forces. They currently contain some 65,000 active personnel and form many components of EU and NATO deployments around the world.-History:...

 in 1927 under the formal name 7,92 mm rkm Browning wz. 1928 ("7.92 mm Browning hand-held machine gun model 1928") and – until the outbreak of World War II – was the primary light support weapon of Polish infantry and cavalry formations (in 1939 Poland had a total of approx. 20,000 wz. 1928 rifles in service). Additional detail modifications were introduced on the production line. Among them was the replacement of the iron sights with a smaller version and reshaping the butt to a fish tail.

In the mid-1930s, Polish small arms designer Wawrzyniec Lewandowski was tasked with developing a flexible aircraft-mounted machine gun based on the Browning wz.1928. This resulted in the wz. 1937. Changes included increasing the weapon's rate of fire to 1,100 rounds/min, eliminating the buttstock, adding a spade-type grip to the rear of receiver, moving the main drive spring under the barrel and most importantly – changing the feed system. Sustained fire was practically impossible with the standard 20-round box magazine thus a new feed mechanism was developed, which was added to the receiver as a module. It contains a spring-loaded bolt-actuated lever, which would feed a round from a 91-round pan magazine located above the receiver and force the round into the feed path during unlocking. The machine gun was accepted in 1937 and ordered by the Polish Air Force
Polish Air Force
The Polish Air Force is the military Air Force wing of the Polish Armed Forces. Until July 2004 it was officially known as Wojska Lotnicze i Obrony Powietrznej...

 as the karabin maszynowy obserwatora wz. 1937 ("observers machine gun model 1937"). 339 machine guns were eventuality acquired and used as armament in the PZL.37 Łoś medium bomber and the LWS-3 Mewa
LWS-3 Mewa
-Bibliography:* Glass, Andrzej. LWS 3 Mewa, Wydawnictwo Militaria 11. Warszawa, Poland: Wydawnictwo Militaria, 1996. ISBN 83-86209-61-5.* Glass, Andrzej. Polskie konstrukcje lotnicze 1893-1939 . Warszawa, Poland: Wydawnictwa Komunikacji i Łączności , 1977. .-See also:...

 reconnaissance aircraft.

Sweden

In 1920, the Belgian
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 arms manufacturer Fabrique Nationale
Fabrique Nationale de Herstal
Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal — self identified as FN Herstal and often referred to as Fabrique Nationale or simply FN — is a firearms manufacturer located in Herstal, Belgium....

 (FN) acquired sales and production rights to the BAR series of firearms in Europe from Colt. The first BAR model sold by FN was the Kg m/21 (Kg—Kulsprutegevär or "machine rifle") chambered for the 6.5x55mm m/94 cartridge. The m/21 is a variant of the Model 1919 designed to Swedish
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 specifications and manufactured initially by Colt's and later under license at the Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärsfaktori in Eskilstuna
Eskilstuna
Eskilstuna is a city and the seat of Eskilstuna Municipality, Södermanland County, Sweden with 60,185 inhabitants in 2005. Eskilstuna has a large Sweden Finn population....

. Compared to the Model 1919, the Swedish weapon has—apart from the different caliber—a spiked bipod and pistol grip. The m/21 would become one of Sweden's main support weapons in the interwar years together with the water-cooled belt-fed Ksp m/1914 medium machine gun (Swedish adaptation of the Austrian M07/12
Schwarzlose MG M.07/12
The Maschinengewehr Patent Schwarzlose M.07/12 was a medium machine-gun, and was used as a standard issue firearm in the Austro-Hungarian Army throughout World War I. It was also used by the Dutch, Greek and Hungarian armies during World War II...

). Dissatisfied with the rapidly overheating fixed barrel of the m/21, Carl Gustaf began to design a new quick-detach mechanism for the barrel which mates the externally grooved chamber to a series of rotating flanges in the receiver operated by a locking lever. The barrel also received cooling fins along its entire length. These enhancements were incorporated into the fm/1935 prototype which was favorably evaluated during trials in 1935. The final version was the Kg m/37, adopted for service in 1937, which uses a smooth contour, unfinned barrel. Numerous m/21 guns were retrofitted with the screw-on receiver extension and quick-change barrel, and renamed the Kg m/21-37. The m/37 remained in service until being replaced by the FN MAG, but was still in second-line use until 1980. Carl Gustaf also developed a belt-fed prototype; however it was never adopted.

Civilian use

With the cessation of hostilities, Colt Arms Co. received the Browning patents to produce the BAR that had been withheld from issue during the war. This allowed Colt to make the BAR available for commercial sale, including sale to civilian owners. The Colt Automatic Machine Rifle Model 1919, initially made up of overruns from the M1918 military production contract, was the first of several commercial Colt BARs that would follow. However, the high price of the weapon and its limited utility for most civilian owners resulted in few sales. Ad Topperwien, a famous trick shooter of the early 1920s, purchased one of the first Colt-produced BARs to perform aerial target shooting exhibitions. Occasional BAR sales were made to civilian owners through distributors such as the Ott-Heiskell Hardware Co. In 1931, the new Colt Monitor was made available to civilians during the Depression at $300 each, including spare parts kit, sling, cleaning accessories, and six magazines, but Colt records indicate no domestic sales occurred to individuals. After passage of the National Firearms Act of 1934, civilian BAR ownership was restricted even further. Importation of machine guns for U.S. civilian transfer was banned in 1968, and U.S. production of machine guns for civilian transfer was banned in 1986. However, some transferable civilian-owned BAR models exist in the United States, and occasionally come up for sale to registered owners.

Criminal and Law Enforcement Use

Although the Colt Monitor version of the BAR failed to interest U.S. civilian buyers in the midst of the Depression, the underworld was a lot more interested: in 1936, the going price for a black-market Colt Monitor was $5,000, with military BARs going for somewhat less. The Army's M1918 was a favorite of gangster Clyde Barrow, who obtained his examples through periodic robberies of Army National Guard armories in the midwest. Barrow liked to use armor-piercing (AP) .30-06 ammunition he obtained from armory stores, and frequently modified his BARs to suit his own needs. Barrow taught his 90-lb. girlfriend Bonnie Parker to fire the M1918 as well, and by all accounts the latter was an excellent BAR operator. Parker used a M1918 on full-automatic to pin down unsuspecting law officers after the latter confronted the gang at a house in Joplin, Missouri. A Missouri highway patrolman at the scene, forced to dive for cover behind a substantial oak tree after Bonnie Parker opened up on him, would later state: "That little red-headed woman filled my face with splinters on the other side of that tree with one of those damned guns!".

As the use of automatic weapons by gangster elements in the United States became more widespread, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover
J. Edgar Hoover
John Edgar Hoover was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972...

 ordered the FBI to acquire and commence regular training with automatic shoulder weapons, including the Thompson submachine gun and the BAR. For its BARs, the FBI turned to Colt, which sold 90 Colt Monitor automatic machine rifles to the agency. Some of the FBI's Monitors were distributed to FBI field offices for use as support weapons if needed on a particular operation, while the remainder were retained at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia
Quantico, Virginia
- Demographics :As of the census of 2000, there are 561 people, 295 households, and 107 families living in the town. The population density is . There are 359 housing units at an average density of .-Racial composition:...

 for training purposes. Colt sold an additional 11 Colt Monitors to the U.S. Treasury Department in 1934, while 24 guns were sold to state prisons, banks, security companies, and accredited city, county, and state police departments.

Although it has sometimes been alleged that the M1918 or M1918A2 Browing Automatic Rifle was used by members of the Symbionese Liberation Army
Symbionese Liberation Army
The Symbionese Liberation Army was an American self-styled left-wing urban militant group active between 1973 and 1975 that considered itself a revolutionary vanguard army...

 (SLA) in their wild shootout with Los Angeles police on 17 May 1974, no SLA members ever used such a weapon. The confusion arose out of Browning's decision in the 1970s to also designate its semiautomatic hunting rifle the Browning BAR
Browning BAR
The BAR is a gas-operated, semi-automatic rifle produced by the Browning Arms Company first in Belgium and later in Japan. The rifle loads from a box magazine detachable from a hinged floor plate. This rifle should not be confused with the M1918 military rifle, which is a completely different...

. The SLA converted a .30-06 Browning BAR hunting rifle and a .244 Remington Remington Model 742 to automatic fire by crudely filing down the sear, and it was these weapons that were used in the shootout.

World War I

At its inception, the M1918 was intended to be used as a shoulder-fired rifle capable of both semi-automatic and fully automatic fire. First issued in September 1918 to the AEF, it was based on the concept of "walking fire", a French practice in use since 1916 for which the CSRG 1915 (Chauchat
Chauchat
The Chauchat , was the standard light machine gun of the French Army during World War I. Under the leadership of General Joseph Joffre, it was commissioned into the French Army in 1916. It was also widely used by the US Army in 1917-1918 and by six other nations: Belgium, Greece, Poland, Russia,...

) had been used accompanying advancing squads of riflemen toward the enemy trenches, since the machine guns were too heavy to follow the troops during an assault.

In addition to shoulder-fired operation, BAR gunners were issued a belt with magazine pouches for the BAR and sidearm along with a "cup" to support the stock of the rifle when held at the hip. In theory, this allowed the soldier to lay suppressive fire
Suppressive fire
In military science, suppressive fire is a fire that degrades the performance of a target below the level needed to fulfill its mission. Suppression is usually only effective for the duration of the fire. Suppressive fire is not always a direct form of fire towards targets; it can be an effective...

 while walking forward, keeping the enemy's head down, a practice known as "marching fire". The idea would resurface in the submachine gun
Submachine gun
A submachine gun is an automatic carbine, designed to fire pistol cartridges. It combines the automatic fire of a machine gun with the cartridge of a pistol. The submachine gun was invented during World War I , but the apex of its use was during World War II when millions of the weapon type were...

 and ultimately the assault rifle
Assault rifle
An assault rifle is a selective fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles are the standard infantry weapons in most modern armies...

.

It is not known if any of the belt-cup devices actually saw combat use. The BAR saw little action in World War I, in part due to the Armistice
Armistice
An armistice is a situation in a war where the warring parties agree to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, but may be just a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace...

, and also because the U.S. Army was reluctant to have the BAR fall into enemy hands; the gun saw its first action in September 1918. 85,000 BARs were built by the war's end.

Interwar use

During the interwar years, the BAR was standard issue to U.S. naval landing forces. The weapon was a standard item in U.S. ship armories, and each BAR was accompanied by a spare barrel. Large capital ships often had over 200 BARs on board. Many of the U.S. Navy BARs remained in service well into the 1960s.

The BAR saw action with U.S. Marine Corps units participating in the Haitian and Nicaraguan interventions, as well as with U.S. Navy shipboard personnel in the course of patrol and gunboat duty
Yangtze Patrol
The Yangtze Patrol, from 1854 to 1945, was a prolonged naval operation to protect American interests in the Yangtze River's treaty ports. Initially the patrol was carried out by ships of the United States Navy's East India and Asiatic Squadrons. In 1922, the "YangPat" was established as a formal...

 along the Yangtze River in China. The First Marine Brigade stationed in Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince is the capital and largest city of the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The city's population was 704,776 as of the 2003 census, and was officially estimated to have reached 897,859 in 2009....

, Haiti noted that training a man to use the BAR proficiently took a full two days of range practice and instruction, compared to half a day with the .45 Thompson submachine gun.

World War II

After the outbreak of World War II, Ordnance belatedly realized it had no portable squad light machine gun, and attempted to convert the M1918 BAR to that role with the adoption of the M1918A2 by the U.S. Army on 30 June 1938. The BAR was issued as the sole automatic fire support for an eight-man squad, and all men were trained at the basic level how to operate and fire the weapon in case the designated operator(s) were killed or wounded. At the start of the war, most infantry companies designated two- or three-man BAR teams, a gunner and one or two assistant gunners (ammo bearers) who carried extra loaded magazines for the gun. By 1944, some units were using one-man BAR teams, with the other riflemen in the squad detailed to carry additional magazines and/or bandoliers of .30 ammunition. Throughout the war the U.S. Army continued the tradition of issuing the BAR to the smallest man in the rifle squad because "he makes a harder target." Despite this, the average combat lifespan of a World War II BAR man was estimated to be 30 minutes. In reality, the BAR was issued to soldiers of various heights.

As originally conceived, U.S. Army tactical doctrine called for one M1918A2 per squad, using either one or two men to support and carry ammunition for the gun. Fire and movement tactics centered around the M1 riflemen in the squad, while the BAR man was detailed to support the riflemen in the attack and provide mobility to the riflemen with a base of fire. This doctrine received a setback early in the war after U.S. ground forces encountered German troops well-armed with automatic weapons, including fast-firing, portable machine guns. In some cases, particularly in the attack, every fourth German infantryman was equipped with an automatic weapon, either a submachine gun or a full-power machine gun.

In an attempt to overcome the BAR's limited continuous-fire capability, U.S. Army combat divisions increasingly began to specify two BAR fire teams per squad, following the practice of the U.S. Marine Corps. One team would typically provide covering fire until a magazine was empty, whereupon the second team would open fire, thus allowing the first team to reload. In the Pacific, the BAR was often employed at the point or tail of a patrol or infantry column, where its firepower could help break contact on a jungle trail in the event of ambush. After combat experience showed the benefits of maximizing portable automatic firepower in squad-size formations, the U.S. Marine Corps began to increase the number of BARs in its combat divisions, from 513 per division in 1943 to 867 per division in 1945. A thirteen-man squad was developed, consisting of three four-man fire teams, with one BAR per fire team, or three BARs per squad. Instead of supporting the M1 riflemen in the attack, Marine tactical doctrine was focused around the BAR, with riflemen supporting and protecting the BAR gunner.

Despite the improvements in the M1918A2, the BAR remained a difficult weapon to master with its open bolt and strong recoil spring, requiring additional range practice and training to hit targets accurately without flinching. As a squad light machine gun, the BAR's effectiveness was mixed, since its thin, non-quick-change barrel and small magazine capacity greatly limited its firepower in comparison to genuine light machine guns such as the Bren or the Japanese Type 96
Type 96 Light Machine Gun
The was a light machine gun used by the Imperial Japanese Army in the interwar period and in World War II. - History and development :Combat experience in the Manchurian Incident of 1931 and subsequent actions in Manchuria and northern China reaffirmed the Japanese army of the utility of machine...

. The weapon's rate-reducer mechanism, a delicately balanced spring-and-weight system described by one Ordnance sergeant as a "Rube Goldberg
Rube Goldberg
Reuben Garrett Lucius Goldberg was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer and inventor.He is best known for a series of popular cartoons depicting complex gadgets that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways. These devices, now known as Rube Goldberg machines, are similar to...

 device", came in for much criticism, often causing malfunctions when not regularly cleaned. The bipod and buttstock rest (monopod), which contributed so much to the M1918A2's accuracy when firing prone on the rifle range, proved far less valuable under actual field combat conditions. The stock rest was dropped from production in 1942, while the M1918A2's bipod and flash hider were often discarded by individual soldiers and Marines to save weight and improve portability, particularly in the Pacific Theatre
Pacific Theater of Operations
The Pacific Theater of Operations was the World War II area of military activity in the Pacific Ocean and the countries bordering it, a geographic scope that reflected the operational and administrative command structures of the American forces during that period...

 of war. With these modifications, the BAR effectively reverted to its original role as a portable, shoulder-fired automatic rifle.

Due to production demands, war priorities, subcontractor issues, and material shortages, demand for the M1918A2 frequently exceeded supply, and as late as 1945 some Army units were sent into combat still carrying older, unmodified M1918 weapons.

After a period of service, ordnance personnel began to receive BARs with inoperable or malfunctioning recoil buffer mechanisms. This was eventually traced to the soldier's common practice of cleaning the BAR in a vertical position with the butt of the weapon on the ground, allowing cleaning fluid and burned powder to collect in the recoil buffer mechanism. Additionally, unlike the M1 Garand
M1 Garand
The M1 Garand , was the first semi-automatic rifle to be generally issued to the infantry of any nation. Called "the greatest battle implement ever devised" by General George S...

, the BAR's gas cylinder was never changed to stainless steel. Consequently, the gas cylinder frequently rusted solid from the use of corrosive-primered M2 service ammunition in a humid environment when not stripped and cleaned on a daily basis. While not without design flaws (a thin-diameter, fixed barrel that quickly overheated, limited magazine capacity, complex field-strip/cleaning procedure, unreliable recoil buffer mechanism, a gas cylinder assembly made of corrosion-prone metals, and many small internal parts), the BAR proved rugged and reliable enough when regularly field-stripped and cleaned.

During World War II, the BAR saw extensive service, both official and unofficial, with many branches of service. One of the BAR's most unusual uses was as a defensive aircraft weapon. In 1944, USAAF Air Transport Command Captain Wally A. Gayda reportedly used a BAR to return fire against a Japanese Army Nakajima fighter that had attacked his C-46
C-46 Commando
The Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando was a transport aircraft originally derived from a commercial high-altitude airliner design. It was instead used as a military transport during World War II by the United States Army Air Forces as well as the U.S. Navy/Marine Corps under the designation R5C...

 cargo plane over the Hump
The Hump
The Hump was the name given by Allied pilots in the Second World War to the eastern end of the Himalayan Mountains over which they flew military transport aircraft from India to China to resupply the Chinese war effort of Chiang Kai-shek and the units of the United States Army Air Forces based in...

 in Burma. Gayda shoved the rifle out his forward cabin window, emptying the magazine and apparently killing the Japanese pilot.

Korean War

The BAR continued in service in the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

. The last military contract for the manufacture of the M1918A2 was awarded to the Royal Typewriter Co. of Hartford, Connecticut, which manufactured a total of 61,000 M1918A2s during the conflict, using ArmaSteel cast receivers and trigger housings. In his study of infantry weapons in Korea, historian S.L.A. Marshall interviewed hundreds of officers and men in after-action reports on the effectiveness of various U.S. small arms in the conflict. General Marshall's report noted that an overwhelming majority of respondents praised the BAR and the utility of automatic fire delivered by a lightweight, portable small arm in both day and night engagements.

A typical BAR gunner of the Korean War carried the twelve-magazine belt and combat suspenders, with three or four extra magazines in pockets. Extra canteens, .45 pistol, grenades, and a flak vest added still more weight. Once again, company commanders typically picked the smallest infantryman in the company to carry the BAR, with preference for men that were aggressive and could demonstrate a mastery of the big gun. As in World War II, many BAR gunners disposed of the heavy bipod and other accoutrements of the M1918A2, but unlike the prior conflict the flash hider was always retained because of its utility in night fighting.

The large amounts of ammunition expended by BAR teams in Korea placed additional demands on the assistant gunner to stay in close contact with the BAR at all times, particularly on patrols. While the BAR magazines themselves always seemed to be in short supply, Gen. Marshall reported that "riflemen in the squad were markedly willing to carry extra ammunition for the BAR man."

In combat, the M1918A2 frequently decided the outcome of frenzied attacks by North Korean and Chinese Communist forces. Communist tactical doctrine centered around the mortar and machine gun, with attacks designed to envelop and cut off United Nations forces from supply and reinforcement. Communist machine gun teams were the best-trained men in any given North Korean or Chinese infantry unit, skilled at placing their heavily camouflaged and protected weapons as close to U.N. forces as possible. Once concealed, they often surprised U.N. forces by opening fire at very short ranges, covering any exposed ground with a hail of accurately sited machinegun fire. Under these conditions it was frequently impossible for U.S. machine gun crews to move up their Browning M1919A4 and M1919A6 guns in response without taking heavy casualties; when they were able to do so, their position was carefully noted by the enemy, who would frequently destroy the exposed gun crews with mortar or machine gun fire while they were still emplacing their guns. The BAR gunner, who could stealthily approach the enemy gun position alone (and on his stomach if need be), proved invaluable in this type of combat.

During the height of combat, the BAR gunner was often used as the 'fire brigade' weapon, helping to bolster weak areas of the perimeter under heavy pressure by Communist forces. In the defense, it was often used to strengthen the firepower of a forward outpost. Another role for the BAR was to deter or eliminate enemy sniper fire. In the absence of a trained sniper, the BAR proved more effective than the random response of five or six M1 riflemen.

Compared to World War II, U.S. infantry forces saw a huge increase in the number of night engagements. The added firepower of the BAR rifleman and his ability to redeploy to 'hot spots' around the unit perimeter proved indispensable in deterring night infiltration by skirmishers as well as repelling large-scale night infantry assaults.

While new-production M1918A2 guns were almost universally praised for faultless performance in combat, a number of malfunctions in combat were reported with armory-reconditioned M1918A2s, particularly weapons that had been reconditioned by Ordnance in Japan, which did not replace operating (recoil) springs as a requirement of the reconditioning program. After decades of complaints Ordnance addressed the problem of maintaining the problematic gas piston on the BAR by issuing disposable nylon gas valves. When the nylon valve became caked over with carbon, it could be discarded and replaced with a fresh unit, eliminating the tedious task of cleaning and polishing the valve with wire brush and G.I. solvent (frequently in short supply to line units).

Vietnam War

The M1918A2 was used in the early stages of the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, when the U.S. delivered a quantity of 'obsolete', second-line small arms to the South Vietnam
South Vietnam
South Vietnam was a state which governed southern Vietnam until 1975. It received international recognition in 1950 as the "State of Vietnam" and later as the "Republic of Vietnam" . Its capital was Saigon...

ese Army and associated allies, including the Montagnard hill tribespeople of South Vietnam. U.S. Special Forces advisors not infrequently chose the BAR over currently available infantry weapons. As one Special Forces sergeant declared, "Many times since my three tours of duty in Vietnam I have thanked God for . . . having a BAR that actually worked, as opposed to the jamming M16. . . We had a lot of Viet Cong infiltrators in all our [Special Forces] camps, who would steal weapons every chance they got. Needless to say, the most popular weapon to steal was the venerable old BAR."

Post-Vietnam use

Quantities of the BAR remained in use by the Army National Guard up until the mid-1970s. Many nations in NATO and recipients of U.S. foreign aid adopted the BAR and used it into the 1990s.

Users

A large number were seized from Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 during the Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

.: The Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 captured a number of Polish-made Browning wz. 1928 guns and used them until the end of World War II under the designation of IMG 28(p).: Used by the SPLA.: A number of wz. 1928s were seized from the Poles by the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 and used during the war.: Locally known as the ปลก.88 or ปืนเล็กกล 88. (1950–1980): Issued to the Home Guard in World War II

See also

  • Bren gun
  • Model 45A
    Model 45A
    The Model 45A was a battle rifle / light machine gun developed by the United States Army in the Philippines in 1945. The weapon existed in prototype or mockup form, but never entered production...

  • FM24/29
  • Kg m/40 light machine gun
  • Mendoza RM2
    Mendoza RM2
    The Mendoza RM2 was a light machine gun similar to the M1918 BAR manufactured in Mexico by Productos Mendoza, S.A. It was chambered in .30-06 Calibre and had a 20 round magazine fed from the top....

  • Weibel M/1932
    Weibel M/1932
    The Weibel M/1932 was a light machine gun concept of Danish origin and was considered to supplement the Madsen gun in Danish service. It was fed from a 20 round box magazine chambered in the intermediate 7x44mm round. This calibre was considered underpowered for its day but shares the same...


External links

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