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GUNS Magazine January 2012 Digital Edition - Page 24
STORY: Mike “Duke” Venturino PHOTOS: Yvonne Venturino The .30-06 BAR 1918A2 & A3. ast year after my article titled “Guns Of The Pacific” ,a reader wrote in saying I had short-changed the BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle). Editor Jeff rightly replied it wasn’t I who gave BARs short shift in the HBO miniseries, but rather the moviemakers themselves. Due to lifelong reading, I did know the Model 1918A2 BAR was indeed the most prized infantry weapon carried into combat by the US Marine Corps in both World War II and the Korean War. I also judge the same to be true, but perhaps to a lesser extent, with US Army infantry troops in both conflicts. the BroWninG AutomAtiC rifLe L the bipod is missing. Being so overburdened anyway, BAR-men often just tossed them. Aside from the weapon itself, a fully-loaded BAR ammo belt with 12 magazines holding 20 rounds each weighed 25 pounds. the A2 Arrives By 1943 two firms took up production of new BARs in the “A2” form. They were IBM and an outfit named New England Small Arms Corporation. When production ceased for each, the former company had produced only 20,017 BARs while the later one made 163,363. (Figures taken from the book Rock In A Hard Place, The Browning Automatic Rifle Browning Comes through Designed in a hurry during World War I by America’s most famous firearms inventor, John M. Browning, the BAR was first adopted by the US Army as the Model 1918. It fired the standard American .30-caliber cartridge (.30-06) from a 20-round detachable box magazine and was select fire. That is, it could be switched from semi-auto to full-auto by the flick of a finger. As with most fullauto military weapons of that time, BARs fired from an open bolt. Its weight was about 16 pounds. Then it got heavier. Ordnance officers decided the BAR needed a bipod and for some reason the selectfire capability was changed. Instead the shooter was given the option of two rates of fullauto fire. Those were nominally 350 and 550 rounds per minute. Now about a 20-pound, shoulder-fired weapon, BARs were re-designated Model 1918A2. Interestingly, Model 1918 BARs had been made by Winchester and MarlinRockwell, and until the beginning of 1943 all Model 1918A2s in the hands of troops Firing the full-auto BAR brought a look of pleasure to were converted Model 1918s. Duke’s face. However it must be noted there exists many photos of un-converted by James L. Ballou.) Compared to Model 1918 BARs being used in over 4 million M1 Garands, 6-1/4 combat in WWII. Also worthy of million M1 Carbines and 1-1/2 mention is that most photographs million Thompson submachine guns of BARs in action in WWII show made during the war years, BAR production was relatively small. deployment The manner in which the US Marine Corps and the US Army handed out their Model 1918A2s is also interesting. In the army one BAR was issued per squad of about nine men but by the latter half of WWII, Marine squads consisted of three BAR fire teams of four men each. There was the gunner, the assistant gunner and two ammo carriers. The latter three marines carried M1 Garand rifles. It has been written that when a marine rifleman was hit, his M1 was placed on the stretcher with him and carried to the rear for refurbishment and reissue. Conversely when a BAR- In the spring of 2011 Duke finally got to shoot a “real” World War II vintage BAR Model 1918A2. 24 W W W. G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 2