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Browning Automatic Rifle

Browning Automatic Rifle. Responding to the need to counter massed German machine guns in World War I, renowned American arms inventor John M. Browning developed his Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) in 1918. This was a 16‐pound, gas‐operated weapon that fired .30‐caliber bullets from a twenty‐round detachable box magazine. The BAR had a selector switch that allowed the user to fire individual shots or in a fully automatic mode that would empty the magazine in about two seconds. The muzzle tended to rise during automatic fire, making it difficult to stay on target. Sustained automatic fire also tended to overheat the barrel.

Various firms produced some 85,000 BARs during World War I. By World War II, modifications had increased its weight to almost 20 pounds, but it remained in use as the principal squad automatic weapon of the U.S. Army during World War II and Korea. Some indigenous forces on both sides during the Vietnam War also used these weapons.


Joseph E. Smith and and W. H. B. Smith , Small Arms of the World, 9th rev. ed., 1969.
Ian V. Hogg and and John Weeks , Military Small Arms of the 20th Century, 4th rev. ed., 1981.

James M. McCaffrey

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