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M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) and Manuals

The BAR was an air cooled, gas operated automatic rifle, with a 20-round magazine, either High or Low rate of fire (650rpm,450rpm) of Caliber .30 (30-06) rounds, at 2800 fps. In Korea, its range and penetrating power usually more than offset its lack of a quick-change barrel and weight (19 pounds empty,w/o bipod) against the light weight rapid firing enemy submachine guns.

TM9-1005-208-12: M1918A2 BAR Op & Maintenance Manual

TM9-1005-208-35: M1918A2 BAR Depot Maintenance, 3/70

USMC: Browning Automatic Rifle, 1951

Tech Manuals: FM7-10: Rifle Company, Rifle Regiment

TM9-2200: Technical Manual for WWII Small Arms

Marine BAR fire team in action

Marine BAR teams of I Company, 3rd Battalion 5th Marines, assaulting Hill 125 in the drive to recapture Seoul after our victory at Inchon. I Co. took heavy casualties in this frontal attack (one of their dead is in the foreground.)

September, 1950.

Browning Automatic Rifle

Note Magazine Guide Rib
M1918A2 BAR

At Taepyong-ni

Full Auto or Safety
Browning Automatic Rifle

Operation Air cooled, gas operated, magazine fed, shoulder type
M1918A1 selective fire (fully and semi-automatic)
M1918A2 fully automatic
Caliber .30 (30-06)
Muzzle velocity 853.4 mps (2800 fps)
Capacity (1) 20-round detachable box magazine
       Magazine changeable in 2-4 seconds
       (but averaged 6-8 seconds in combat)
(2) Bandoleer (BAR belt): 12 magazines (2 per pouch)
BAR Magazine belt
Weight 8.33 kg (18.5 lbs)
Overall length 119.4 cm (47 in.)
Rate of fire 550 rounds per minute
Effective range 550m (600 yds)
Ammunition (1) Ball M2; 150 gr bullet, 50 gr charge
(2) Tracer M25, M1: for designating targets and signalling
(3) Armor piercing M2 (black tip); 165gr/53gr
(4) Armor piercing incendiary: for lightly armored flammable targets

The initial M1918A1 version of the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was first used in combat by American soldiers during World War I, and many saw service in World War II. The BAR received high praise for its reliability under adverse conditions.

In 1940, the model M1918A2 was adopted. Unlike earlier models, it could only be fired in two automatic modes--slow (300 to 450 rpm) or fast (500 to 650 rpm)--but not in semiautomatic mode. Both versions were widely used in the second world war. The USMC preferred the semiautomatic mode in some tactical situations, and modified most of the M1918A2 guns to include that capability. A buffer spring in the butt greatly reduced recoil, to the advantage both of firing accuracy and shooter endurance

The M1918A2 also mounted its folding bipod (2.38 pounds!) on a special flash hider near the end of the barrel. Since the bipod could easily be detached in this model, it very frequently was! but not often in defensive positions, where it was very effective. The flash hider, which was the point of attachment for the bipod, was not usually removed. Hiding the flash from enemy troops when firing on them isn't the purpose of the hider, all automatic weapons are easily visible when fired at night. It blocks the muzzle flash from the vision of the shooter, maintaining his night vision. That's important!

The Army infantry squad of nine men was tactically organized around a single BAR. The Marine squad of thirteen men was organized around three fire-teams, each organized around a BAR. The much greater fire power of a Marine platoon with its nine BARs over the Army platoon with its four BARs was a great combat advantage.

The BAR was a popular weapon in WWII and Korea, because it was very reliable and offered an excellent combination of rapid fire and penetrating power. The BAR's only serious drawbacks were its lack of a quick-change barrel (to reduce the chance of overheating), and its weight (BAR, with bipod and a loaded bandoleer, came to about 25 pounds).

In Korea, the much greater range and penetrating power of the BAR and the .30 caliber air cooled machine gun, firing rifle ammunition, usually more than offset the light weight and rapid fire capability of the variety of submachine guns the North Koreans and Chinese used, including their burp guns modeled on Soviet weapons such as the Shpagin PPSh41 , which fired pistol ammunition.

Posted by Thomas Gray
Wednesday, June 06, 2007 at 13:55:35


One vexing aspect of the BAR was the Magazine-Cartridge-Belt's design. The "lift-a-dot" snaps would damage the Magazine. It was a grommet, fited with a spring loaded retainer which engaged a ~ 3/8 inch post. In the assault, when hitting the deck while rushing a position, this Marine found that sometimes the force of impact would center on the post. The post/snap would cause a small dent in the Magazine's metal side. If the dent was deep enough, it would stop the Magazine Follower's upward movement; causing a failure to feed malfunction of the BAR.

BAR Belt Pouch

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