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Browning BAR: Svelte Sporting Rifle Royalty

By Todd Burgreen

With “black rifles” dominating the gun media of late it is easy to forget that other firearm types exist. Sometimes a little inspiration is needed to get an article idea out of one’s head and down on paper. Memories never disappeared of family members carrying something “different” during West Virginia and South Carolina hunts compared to others using lever or bolt action rifles. The same rifle type used in Colorado for elk further served to intrigue and anchor it in my psyche as something special. The rifle being talked about is the Browning BAR. The BAR being referenced is NOT John Browning’s legendary M1918 Light Machine Gun. However, John Browning is connected to the sporting BAR via his grandson, Bruce, who teamed with FN engineer Marcel Olinger in designing it. The sporting BAR was introduced in 1967 to compete with Remington’s semi-auto offerings. Browning had decided to increase its presence in the US hunting/sporting market. Semi-automatic rifles in the hunting arena were a new proposition in the late 1960s. What we take for granted now with the preponderance of ARs (Modern Sporting Rifles) afield was not dreamed of back then.

It is hard to resist the svelte lines of the BAR. The slab side solid receiver is sandwiched between graceful buttstock and forend. The BAR had the “it” factor from its inception in terms of aesthetics. The BAR’s appeal was further cemented by its ability to handle a wide range of cartridges from .243Win to .338WinMag. The BAR is still unique as being a semi-auto that can accommodate magnums such as the 7mm Mag, .300WinMag and .338WinMag. The forend surrounds the simple, yet ingenious, gas operating rod actuating system that contributes to the BAR’s effectiveness. An operating rod acts on an inertial block that drives action rods rearward working the action. Research literature draws comparisons between the BAR semi-automatic being a pump action minus the required hand manipulation. Browning engineers created a gas system capable of handling the different levels of gas pressure associated with a wide range of cartridges. Cartridges are fed from...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N6 (July 2017)
and was posted online on May 19, 2017

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