PDA

View Full Version : BAR provided mobile, automatic firepower



thedrifter
04-27-05, 01:08 PM
The Lore of the Corps
BAR provided mobile, automatic firepower

Charles A. Jones
Special to the Times


Like many famous small arms, the Browning Automatic Rifle came to prominence during World War I, when the dominant infantry weapon was the machine gun.
American troops attacking machine-gun emplacements with standard-issue bolt-action rifles lacked sufficient firepower and, with machine guns too heavy to carry in the assault, lacked an on-site automatic weapon.

Shortly before the United States entered the war, John Browning designed an automatic rifle prototype that would give troops mobile, automatic firepower in .30-06 caliber, the standard U.S. infantry rifle cartridge.

The rifle, which became the famous “BAR,” was a success in World Wars I and II and the Korean War, where it became the automatic weapon for Army and Marine infantry squads.

The original model M1918 BAR and the later M1918A1 offered full or semiautomatic fire. The “A1” had a bipod and hinged buttplate. The M1918A2 was fully automatic only and fired at 300-450 rounds per minute or 500-650 rounds per minute.

Among many Medal of Honor actions featuring the BAR during World War II and Korea, perhaps the most skillful use of the weapon was by Army Pfc. Henry Schauer in Italy in 1944. Standing in the open, he killed five German snipers. Later, he killed machine-gun crews at 60, 80 and 500 yards.

After World War II, the BAR was in a “twilight zone,” since it was neither an assault rifle nor a light machine gun. Assault rifles fired “intermediate” cartridges smaller than full-size rifle cartridges and were meant for general issue (BARs were not issued to everyone). The BAR wasn’t as satisfactory as a light machine gun since it lacked a quick-change barrel. Its true classification is best found in its name — automatic rifle.

Eventually, two weapons filled the BAR’s role. Assault rifles such as the M16 gave individual soldiers fully automatic fire, although assault rifles were not designed primarily for such fire. Squad Automatic Weapons such as the M249 were designed primarily for sustained fully automatic fire and are the true replacements for the BAR.

Many loved the BAR, including Martin Russ, who used one in Korea. In “The Last Parallel: A Marine’s War Journal,” his book about serving there, he wrote that BARs were “completely dependable.”

Not everyone liked the BAR, however. It weighed a hefty 20 pounds, since heavy construction was needed to absorb the recoil of full-size rifle cartridges. To save weight, users often removed the bipod. Also, the magazine capacity was limited to 20 rounds.

John B. George, who wrote “Shots Fired in Anger,” believed BARs were of limited use and most suitable — given their penetrating power — for spraying jungle and engaging surprise targets encountered at the heads of patrols or columns.

Today, BARs are most likely seen in museums, television shows or movies, such as “The Sand Pebbles.” Since they are “machine guns” under federal and state law, public ownership is restricted. In 1996, however, a semiautomatic-only version, the M1918A3, was introduced. At $2,695, it proved to be a legal but expensive way to own a weapon that served well for many years.

The writer is a lawyer and Marine Corps Reserve colonel in Norfolk, Va.


Ellie

CHOPPER7199
04-27-05, 01:29 PM
GREAT WEAPON, I WAS HONORED TO CARRY ONE ON FIRST ASSIGNMENT TO A RIFLE TEAM. I HAVE POSTED SOME OF MY EXPERIANCE WITH IT ON THIS SITE AT ONE TIME OR OTHER. YES THE BIPOD WAS MOSTLY LEFT OFF ON CARRYING IT. I DID HAVE AN ASSISTANT WHICH HELPED WITH THE AMMO. WE WOULD TAPE THE MAGGS TOGETHER LIKE A CROSS SHAPE AS TO CHANGE IT FAST. IN ITS DAY IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST WEAPONS AROUND, JUST DON,T LET THE MAGGS GET DIRTY AND SANDY AS IT PLAYED HAVOK WITH THE SPRING IN IT. LOVED THE B.A.R.