New Jovian Thunderbolt has written about his past love for the BAR (M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle)

The BAR was always my dream gun. Or it was. Back when I knew nothing and only looked at capabilities on paper, and then not looking TOO closely.

I have loved the look of the BAR. It just looks so solid.

800Px-Browning Automatic Rifle Cropped
A beautiful looking rifle.

I don’t really like the concept. My opinion is that the US forces should have adopted a true light machine gun such as the Bren.

Advantages of the Bren

  • Standard magazine capacity was 30. BAR held 20.
  • Top loading magazine. Better for prone firing.
  • Swappable barrel

800Px-Bren Wog
An ugly machine gun (Click to expand image)

On the other hand it would be foolish to say one is better than the other. The BAR served for 30 years through three major wars (WWI, WWII and the Korean war).

According to Wikipedia other countries modified the BAR to make it more like a LMG:

Poland (Browning wz.1928), Belgium (FN M1930) and Sweden (Kulsprutegevär m/21 and m/37) developed and issued BAR variants during the 1930s which had pistol grips and quick-change barrels.

Picture 1-8
From an A-Team episode

Read more at the New Jovian Thunderbolt’s excellent blog.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • CrazyFool

    That A-Team BAR comes from the pilot episode. The guy weilding it is the 2/ic of the enemy team

  • digger

    the bren is a beutiful brilliant lmg

  • root man

    “I don’t really like the concept. My opinion is that the US forces should have adopted a true light machine gun such as the Bren.”

    Good thing you don’t make decisions for anybody.
    Folks that used them loved the BAR.
    Look what the USMC is doing with the IAR.
    “True Light Machine guns” are not so light or practical.

  • Whatever

    The BAR does live on in a way as the FN MAG (aka M240) is basically an inverted BAR action that is belt fed.

    If I ever win the lottery I am going to make a smaller version of the BAR which fires 223 Remington.

    • Whatever, you known what, I don’t think anyone has done that before. You would be the first!

    • charles222

      You mean the IAR? :p

  • that second picture is a type99!!!!! look it up.

  • Graham

    #~111~#, dude that is a Bren Mk1, not at Type 99.

  • scott

    The bar was amazing!

    And when I look at what other countries did to make it even better it makes me sad to know that we couldn’t adopt at least some of these mods ourselves.

    Pistol grip stock: Multiple nations added a pistol grip
    quick change barrel: as was noted in the article multiple nations added these as well.

    Most importantly though I think if we had made a magazine that fit the garand and the BAR we would have had something truly magical!

    And even with the heavy weight and subpar ammo capacity the bar was still loved by it’s users and their squadmates.

  • Destroyer

    I have always respected the design and manufacturing of the BAR, though would say its purpose as a automatic rifle is flawed to say the least.

    A lack of a quick change barrel and 20 round magazine severely hamper its firepower potential, though it was known to be a reliable weapons platform. I believe the Germans had eclipsed America during that era, however, with the development of the MG42.

  • charles222

    BAR=MG42 is wrong; the true MG42 equivalent is the M1919A6. The BAR lies more in the class of the FG42 and works with fundamentally different squad doctrine than the MG42 did.

    The BAR was used as a support weapon and wasn’t the centerpiece of the team/squad the way the MG42 was; it’s an individual weapon and as such, is a pretty good one. Yes it doesn’t have a quick-change barrel or much ammunition capacity, but the emphasis is on MOBILITY, not world-shattering firepower. An infantry squad’s lethality comes from its capacity to maneuver virtually anywhere by foot; the BAR allows for this while giving the squad *some* automatic firepower (which is greatly increased by M1919/M60/M240 gun crews who don’t need to keep up with individual riflemen.)

  • Lolinski

    The BAR looks really like a modern retro hunting rifle. But I still like the Bren look better. I would like one in 7.62x54r or 308.

  • Lolinski

    The BAR looks really like a modern retro hunting rifle. But I still like the Bren look better. I would like one in 308.

  • idahoguy101

    I look at the BAR as the first successful Automatic Rifle adopted by any Military. But being that it fired the 30/06 it had to be twenty pounds to be a controllable automatic firing weapon.
    Fast forward to 1944 and 1947 the intermediate 8mm Kurz and the 7.62×39 Russian cartridges came into their own in Automatic Carbines.

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  • idahoguy101

    The Bren gun replaced the WW1 Lewis gun. The BAR was adopted in 1918. Twenty years before the Bren. WW2 was a war of production and the United States wasn’t going to switch production in the middle of WW2.