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The Browning Automatic Rifle: A Short History

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    The Browning Automatic Rifle: A Short History

    The Browning Automatic Rifle: A Short History


    by Philip Schreier - Tuesday, March 3, 2020



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    In early 1917, the United States began its inevitable path to being pulled into the Great European War that began in 1914. John M. Browning of Ogden, Utah, foresaw the need for lighter machine guns and took a working example of his new automatic rifle to Hartford, Conn., to demonstrate to the directors of Colt’s on Feb. 27, 1917.

    Exactly a year later, in Washington D.C., 300 American military officers and assorted Congressional leaders were able to personally try out Browning’s new automatic rifle chambered in .30-’06 Sprg. Dubbed the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), Winchester was given the initial order for 25,000 BARs, and Gen. John J. Pershing’s troops began to take delivery of them in France in June 1918. The U.S. Model of 1918 Browning Automatic Rifle’s first combat use was recorded on Sept. 22, 1918, by the men of the 79th Infantry Division.

    The rest, as they say, is history. The BAR and its successor variants saw service from the Meuse-Argonne to Vietnam. More than 500,000 were produced, and it remains one of Browning’s most amazing contributions to the U.S. military’s inventory of small arms that helped win two World Wars. For a more in-depth look at the original Model of 1918, check out Bruce Canfield's extensive look covering this first model in "The U.S. Model of 1918 Browning Automatic Rifle."

    Of course, that wasn't the end for the Browning Automatic Rifle. Following WWI, the BAR served well in the U.S. Military, seeing action around the globe over the next two decades in places like China, Haiti and Nicaragua. A commercial model of the BAR entered the market under the name "Colt Monitor," which saw action not in a strange land overseas but in America's backyard as gangsters and FBI agents battled it out during the Prohibition Era. You can read about one such encounter in Barrington, Ill. here in "A Battle At Barrington: The Men & The Guns."

    This wasn't the end for the Browning Automatic Rifle, though. Not by a long shot. Just prior to U.S. entry into WWII, the U.S. Military adopted the final and most widely produced version of the BAR: the M1918A2. Much had changed from the original BAR. The gun featured a hinged bipod, a modified buttstock and was capable of firing in full-automatic only, with a slow and fast rate of fire of 300-450 r.p.m and 500-650 r.p.m., respectively.

    It wasn't only M1918A2 BARs that saw service during WWII. Many original Model of 1918 Browning Automatic Rifles went overseas to arm the British under Lend-Lease, escaping conversion into the M1918A2. After WWII, the BAR continued to see service in the U.S. Military in Korea, and many remained in inventory well into the 1960s, long past the adoption of the M60. For more details on the Browning Automatic Rifle's service, check out "John Browning's Automatic Rifle."

    The NRA National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Va., the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro Shops In Springfield, Mo., and the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, N.M., offer the opportunity to learn the story of firearms, freedom and the American experience. nramuseums.com

    IN THIS ARTICLE
    BROWNING AUTOMATIC RIFLE JOHN M. BROWNING BAR NRA NATIONAL FIREARMS MUSEUM PHILIP SCHREIER

    #2
    The M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle


    by Martin K.A. Morgan - Thursday, March 19, 2020



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    Normandy
    June 9, 1944

    By dawn, the men of the 1st Battalion, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division were in no condition to continue their attack. Although the engagement had begun with them attempting to drive the enemy out of the village of Cauquigny, things had gone wrong and the Americans were forced to pull back to avoid disaster.

    But, in the confusion of the pre-dawn darkness, one squad did not receive the order to withdraw. This squad had penetrated an outer perimeter of defending German troops during the first phase of the assault and it was still moving as the sun began to rise. The direct result of its far-forward position was that this squad was cut off as the rest of the platoon it belonged to fell back.

    The isolated men sought cover in a shallow ditch just to the Southwest of the objective, but hostile fire was being directed at them by rifles to the left in the direction of the village and from a machine gun in a farm compound in front of them. They were pinned down and their only hope was to fall back through a break in a hedgerow on the other side of a dirt road, but it was obvious that such a move would be greeted by a swarm of bullets.

    The situation had turned critical, but then PFC Charles N. DeGlopper went to work. A native of Grand Island, NY, DeGlopper was big: 6 feet, 6 inches tall, 240 pounds with size 13 feet. He had the perfect stature for hefting the considerable weight of the weapon he carried to Normandy: the 19.4-pound M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle.

    PFC Charles DeGlopper was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his efforts at the village of Cauquigny.

    The BAR that Charles DeGlopper shouldered during the fight for Cauquigny on June 9, 1944 was an evolution of a weapon that had, by then, armed the U.S. military for more than a quarter of a century. Born during the great crisis of the First World War, John M. Browning’s Automatic Rifle went into production in 1917 just after the United States entered the conflict.

    Designated the Model of 1918, it was an air-cooled, gas-operated selective-fire weapon weighing slightly less than 16 pounds and feeding the .30-caliber cartridge from a 20-round, detachable-box magazine. Although Colt held the patent, the company’s assembly lines were producing other guns at the time, so Winchester Repeating Arms built the first examples. Colt and the Marlin-Rockwell Corporation would ultimately enter wartime production as well.

    The BAR and Browning’s other masterpiece, the Model of 1917 heavy machine gun, were intended to replace the foreign machine guns equipping the American Expeditionary Force, and both guns were used in combat for the first time during the Meuse-Argonne offensive in September 1918. By the time of the Armistice of November 11th, a little more than 50,000 BARs had been built.

    Meant to stabilize the BAR under rapid-fire conditions, the stock had a shoulder plate that went up, over the shooter’s shoulder • The M1918A2’s fire controls differentiate it from earlier, World War I-era models • A three-position gas regulator allowed the BAR to run under a wide variety of conditions.


    In 1922, a new cavalry model was introduced that included a bipod with spiked feet mounted on the gas tube, but the design for the military BAR changed again with the adoption of the M1918A1 in 1937. This model introduced an improved bipod and a hinged buttplate, but it was replaced the following year by the M1918A2, a variant that introduced a skid-footed, adjustable bipod now mounted at the muzzle on the flash hider, a cyclic-rate reducer and fire-control components that differed from the World War I BAR.

    That model allowed the shooter to select between semi-automatic and full-automatic fire, but the new M1918A2 provided full-auto fire only in either a fast mode of 650 or a slow mode of 400 rounds per minute thanks to the rate reducer. In 1942, a composite buttstock made by Firestone and a carrying handle became parts of the design. New England Small Arms and International Business Machines produced 188,380 M1918A2s during World War II, one of which armed PFC DeGlopper the morning of June 9, 1944.

    With his squad pinned down, DeGlopper realized that the only way his comrades stood a chance was if someone were to draw the enemy’s fire while they made their escape. Without being ordered to do so, DeGlopper shouted to the others to pull back while he covered them, and then he walked out to the middle of the road and opened fire. Exposed and in the open, the big 23-year-old instantly attracted the enemy’s attention.

    German fire was directed at DeGlopper from several different sources and within moments, he was hit. Ignoring his wound, he remained on his feet and continued firing his BAR at the enemy. But when DeGlopper was struck by German bullets again, he began to stumble. Although he dropped to one knee, he nevertheless steadied himself, then found strength enough to load a fresh 20-round magazine into his M1918A2 and level it at the enemy one last time. Despite multiple wounds, he continued to fire burst after burst at the Germans while the men of his squad fell back through the break in the hedgerow. By drawing the enemy’s fire, he had saved his entire squad.

    PFC Charles N. DeGlopper was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his efforts at the village of Cauquigny.

    IN THIS ARTICLE

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      #3
      There's a fully functional one that's local - but was damaged in Hurricane Sandy. Such a shame....
      "The Open Carry guy is my decoy."

      Comment


        #4
        https://www.horntip.com/mp3/1960s/19...y_cadence).htm



        Honey Baby
        circa WWII


        Lift your head and hold it high, honey
        Lift your head and hold it high, baby
        Lift your head and hold it high
        The Fifth Marines are passing by, honey, baby mine.

        I don't want a B.A.R., honey
        I don't want a B.A.R., baby
        I don't want a B.A.R.
        I'll get me a babe with a candy bar, honey, baby mine.

        The Captain's got a heavy pack, honey
        The Captain's got a heavy pack, baby
        The Captain's got a heavy pack
        Oh, Lord I hope it breaks his back, honey, baby mine.

        Don't want hashmarks on my sleeve, honey
        Don't want hashmarks on my sleeve, baby
        Don't want hashmarks on my sleeve
        All I want's a ten year leave, honey, baby mine.

        You don't have to call me Sarge, honey
        You don't have to call me Sarge, baby
        You don't have to call me Sarge
        All I want's a quick discharge, honey, baby mine.

        The WACS and WAVES will win the war, honey
        The WACS and WAVES will win the war, baby
        The WACS and WAVES will win the war
        So what the heck are we marching for, honey, baby mine.

        Lift your head and hold it high, honey
        Lift your head and hold it high, baby
        Lift your head and hold it high
        The Fifth Marines are passing by, honey, baby mine.
        "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." Martin Luther King, Jr.

        Comment


          #5
          My father was assistant BAR man, 41st Infantry, 186th Reg, I Company, "The Jungleers." He carried two bandoliers for the BAR, in addition to his M1 and an 8-clip bandolier (I was surprised they made landings with only 68 or 76 rounds, but that's what he said).
          As a good Catholic boy, alter boy at Saint Killians and all, he had volunteered to be chaplain's assistant. That was until they had to clean up the battle field and process the casualties. He switched to BAR assistant.
          Last edited by Pat M; 06-06-2021, 08:17 PM.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Pat M View Post
            My father was assistant BAR man, 41st Infantry, 186th Reg, I Company, "The Jungleers." He carried two bandoliers for the BAR, in addition to his M1 and an 8-clip bandolier (I was surprised they made landings with only 68 or 72 rounds, but that's what he said).
            As a good Catholic boy, alter boy at Saint Killians and all, he had volunteered to be chaplain's assistant. That was until they had to clean up the battle field and process the casualties. He switched to BAR assistant.
            "Bloody Butchers" nickname given to the 41st by Tokyo Rose
            http://freepages.rootsweb.com/~romm/...tryDiv-Bde.htm
            Exercise the Bill of Rights. It's good for your Constitution.

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