|M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle|
|Industry:||Winchester Repeating Arms Company|
|Barrel Length:||18 in (460 mm)|
|Region of Origin:||United States|
|Cartridge:||.30-06 Springfield (7.62x63mm)/|
|Range:||100–1,500 yd sight adjustments (maximum effective range)|
|Rate of Fire:||
500–650 rounds/min (M1918,)
|Action:||Gas-operated, tilting breech block|
The Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was a family of United States automatic rifles (or machine rifles) and light machine guns 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 rifle cartridge and designed by John Browning in 1917 for the U.S. Expeditionary Corps in Europe as a replacement for the French-made Chauchat and M1909 Benet-Mercie machine guns.
The BAR was designed to be carried by advancing infantrymen, slung over the shoulder or 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.
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 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, 282 M1904 Maxims and 158 Colts, M1895. 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.
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 in southern 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, 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 officials at Springfield Armory 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 who had secured an exclusive concession to manufacture the BAR under Browning's patents (Browning's U.S. Patent 1,293,022 was owned by Colt). However Colt was already producing at peak capacity (contracted to manufacture the Vickers machine gun for the British Army) and requested a delay in production while they expanded their manufacturing output with a new facility in Meriden, Connecticut. Due to the urgent need for the weapon, the request was denied and the Winchester Repeating Arms Company (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).
- Though Production in the United States was over after the Second World War, The BAR Is still known to be manufactured and used in military forces from around the globe...