The Browning Automatic Rifle, or simply BAR, proved to be one of the most reliable weapons of the Second World War. Developed on the eve of America’s entry into WWI by John Browning, in 1917.
They were to replace the French-issued Chauchat and M1909 Benet-Mercie light machine guns that were given to the American Expeditionary Corps in Europe, its functionality and design evolved during the 1920s and 1930s.
It became a standard issue light machine gun of the US Army in 1938. In the years following its creation, this light machine gun saw service mostly with the police and the FBI.
Before it was accepted as the Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), the gun was developed into a variant called Colt Monitor Automatic Machine Rifle (R 80) and was in use with the law-enforcement units, especially prison guards in 1931.
It utilized a pistol grip and a shortened barrel to be used as a shoulder-fired automatic rifle, thus abandoning the original bipod design. Following its use in the law-enforcement, the gun became the weapon of choice of the crime duo, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Burrow, the notorious Bonnie and Clyde.
Besides the Thompson SMG and the M1 Garrand rifle, the BAR M1918A2 light machine gun was certainly one of the iconic weapons of the US arsenal.
From the islands in the Pacific to the beaches of Normandy, the BAR rifle supported the Marines everywhere.
Its variants were also used in the British, Polish and Belgian armies. The Belgian model, FN Mle 1930, became very reliable and popular, as it was used by Swedish Army and the Chinese Nationalist Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
This video offers a full demonstration of what the Browning Automatic Rifle can do, and how effective it is even today.