View Full Version : Modern Clone of M1918 Browning?

August 3, 2012, 09:40 PM
Does any company make one? Not like the BAR Safari, like a true clone, a semi-auto, box magazine-fed, rifle based on the WW1(Is it WW1?) design. But perhaps with modern features, such as synthetic forearm/stock. The BAR is one of my favorite guns and the barriers of availability and price and the whole full-auto aspect of the actual gun are too much.


August 3, 2012, 09:48 PM
Ohio Ordnance Works. $4300 to start.


August 4, 2012, 06:15 AM
How many meals of hot dogs and beans would it take to buy take?

August 4, 2012, 07:25 PM
Now some say I have funny tastes- but that right there would be the only thing I'd want a bi-pod on... and it would tickle my fancy oh so well!

August 6, 2012, 11:52 PM
If the historical accounts are true (why wouldn't they be)... the BAR was a damn hard weapon to control. It weighed less than an M60 or an M240, but it fired a more powerful cartridge.

The Army used it because it was available, but it never was applied in combat as it was originally intended. It ended up being a very light duty machine gun on some days, and on other days it was a very heavy battle rifle. All in all, it was inferior to the 30 cal air cooled machine gun and the 30 cal water cooled machine gun (which was an outstanding weapon).

3 guys with M1 Garrands could put more sustained fire on a position than 1 guy with a BAR, but the BAR would chew through the ammo faster.

August 7, 2012, 02:43 PM
Three Nazis walk into a BAR...

The end.

August 8, 2012, 08:09 AM
off topic, but still interesting...

The best machine gun of that era was the M1917 Browning Machine Gun

This weapon was chambered in 30-06, belt fed, and water cooled. It had a higher rate of sustained fire than any other weapon at the time. The air cooled guns of that era needed frequent barrel changes, but the water jacket of the M1917 kept the barrel cooled down to a nice safe 220 - 250 degree F range. As the water was boiled off, more was added from any source available.

It was introduced late in WW1, but it served in WWII and Korea.

August 8, 2012, 08:21 AM
M1917 = 103 lbs. of water cooled, belt-fed 30-06 fire power.

450 rounds per min, 600 rounds per min for M1917A1

August 8, 2012, 03:39 PM
Funny how the internet experts tell you how bad the BAR was and all its faults but those that actually used or needed one love the BAR!


Bob Wright
August 8, 2012, 04:30 PM
The BAR was used in the squad assault. There were two BAR men per squad. Later BARs had the wooden carrying handle on the barrel.

Prone, and using the bi-pod, I could keep a whole magazine full on a Jeep at 800 yards or so. Firing across a wide valley, I could get off three shots before the first round kicked up dust. And I wasn't a BAR man.

And, didn't Frank Hamer use a BAR (Colt Monitor) in his ambush of Clyde Barrow? And Clyde had one stashed away in his Ford.

Bob Wright

Bob Wright
August 8, 2012, 04:36 PM
As to the M1917A1, nobody I knew who was around one in combat liked it. The cloud of steam coming from the position soon brought mortar fire down on your position. Most preferred the air cooled M1919A4 or M1919A6.

With neither of these guns did I ever see a fabric belt, al I ever saw were metllic linked belts. Did find some fabric belts, unused, and these made perfect bandaliers for .45 ACP ammunition.

Bob Wright

Bob Wright
August 8, 2012, 04:53 PM
Incicentally, the selector switch on the BAR had three positions, "F", "A", and "S." Never knew exactly what those letters meant, but when I was in high school ROTC, and old sergeant told me to remember :

"Fast, Awfully Fast, and Safe" Still remember that to this day.

Bob Wright

August 8, 2012, 07:04 PM
the BAR was cherished by everyone that used it and every squad leader was certain that they had at least one guy with one at all times. the 30 cal machine gun may have had a faster rate of fire and being belt fed was capable of longer bursts but here's where the BAR beat the 1917...

James K
August 8, 2012, 07:33 PM
The three letters stand for "Fire" (semi or slow fire), "Auto" (fast or full auto) and "Safe."

The WWI guns had no bipods. The intent was that they be used either as rifles or in so-called "walking fire", a French tactic in which lines of men moved toward the enemy trenches, firing from the hip as they went. (It was sometimes called "marching fire" - I would call it suicide.)

They also were selective fire, hence the markings.

The BAR was heavily modified between wars, mainly because the "walking fire" tactic was dropped and the gun used purely as a light machinegun. The selector system was changed from semi and full to slow and fast, the gun firing at two different rates (350 and 550 rpm), but full auto. There were experiments with a bipod back against the foreend, but that proved to have a "defect" in that the gun, with no bipod or a bipod mounted at the foreend was TOO accurate. Most gun owners would not see that as a defect, but in combat there would be little point in shooting the same man a dozen times.

So the bipod was moved to the end of the barrel and held on by the flash hider, also a new addition. The muzzle weight and additional bouncing spoiled the accuracy and, one might say, spread the blessings around.

The BAR was not a bad gun, but like all Browning designs, it was heavier than necessary; it also did not have a quick change barrel, which limited its usefulness as a fixed position gun. (The Swedish and Polish guns did have quick change barrels, but the U.S. never adopted that idea.)

The semi-auto versions now on the market work quite a bit differently from the military version and cannot be feasibly converted to full auto. They fire from a closed bolt, again unlike the military version that fires from an open bolt.


Bob Wright
August 8, 2012, 09:13 PM
So the bipod was moved to the end of the barrel and held on by the flash hider, also a new addition. The muzzle weight and additional bouncing spoiled the accuracy and, one might say, spread the blessings around.

As I said, I was no BAR man, but I never experienced the "bouncing" and generally found the BAR pretty accurate. Did try "walking fire" holding the BAR at the hip and by the carrying handle mounted out on the barrel, with the sling over the shoulder, and did pretty well on the pop-up targets.

But three riflemen with M1 rifles putting more fire on target, well, I'd have to see that.

BARs had an adapter that permitted their use with a pintle so they could be mounted on the pedestal mount of Jeeps and armored vehicles.

Bob Wright

Bob Wright
August 8, 2012, 09:17 PM
The Colt Monitor, a commercial version of the BAR, enjoyed some popularity with law enforcement agencies in the roaring 'Twenties. The reason it gained popularity was that it would penetrate automobile bodies whereas the Thompson SMG would not penetrate reliably. At one time the Memphis Police Department had some in their museum.

Bob Wright

Bill DeShivs
August 8, 2012, 09:31 PM
It would be interesting to see where those old MPD (and SCSD) guns are today!

August 9, 2012, 12:17 PM
Bob Wright,

I really appreciate the insight you bring to this discussion on the BAR. Military history is written by Historians. When Historians write about a weapon or ship or aircraft, they tend to focus on the influence of that weapon on the course of battle. Did the weapon contribute the win or loss of a battle? Whether or not the weapon, ship, or aircraft was well liked by the troops is of some interest to Historians, but it is quite a bit less important than how the weapon influenced the outcome. Historians are not without bias, and this bias can sometimes influence their writings. First hand accounts are incredibly valuable, and I want to thank you for sharing yours.

The context of battle is often very important to how historians view a weapon or war implement. An example is the M1 Carbine in WWII. Historians note that the little carbine was quite well thought of by troops who carried it, until they had to use it in battle. Once in battle, European theatre troops had complaints about the effectiveness, whereas Pacific theatre troops found it quite useful and effective. Korean war experience was less positive. Context matters. The M1 Carbine was used differently by Pacific theatre Marines and Soldiers. The Japanese generally were wearing light clothing. The German soldiers and the North Korean soldiers by contrast had many layers of high density clothing. Pacific theatre M1 Carbines were much more likely to be the full auto variant, and they were more likely to be fitted with telescopic sights, and in some cases an early version of night vision optics. As I said, context matters.

Another example is the P-47 thunderbolt aircraft. By objective standards it was not a great combat aircraft, but because the allies had already destroyed the German Luftwaffe by D-day, the P-47 could operate as a ground support aircraft with impunity. It was also deployed in such large numbers that it DID have a profound impact on the course of the war from D-day to VE day.

Back to the BAR discussion...

Many historians maintain that during WWII in Europe, US troops did not have as much automatic weapon capability as they should have had. The German MG42 was an outstanding machine gun, and the Germans had a lot more of them per infantry soldier than the US did (in 30 cal / 50 cal). They had a lot more SMGs also. I don't remember the ratio of German to US automatic weapons, but it was more than 2:1 advantage to the Germans.

US war planners thought that two factors would offset the German advantage: (1) the M1 Garand was semi automatic and capable of rapid, sustained, accurate fire. (2) One BAR per squad, and later two BARs per squad, would provide adequate automatic weapon capability to the infantry.

The first factor was generally true. Infantry with the M1 Garand were far more effective than the opposing infantry with bolt action Mausers. German troops often thought they were receiving fire from well-hidden machine guns, when in fact it was just a fire team of dug-in infantry maintaining constant fire with M1 Garand.

The second factor proved to be optimistic. The BAR was a fine weapon, but it could not substitute for a real crew served machine gun. It was not belt fed, and it did not have quick interchangeable barrels.

So when historians declare the BAR to be somewhat lacking, what they are really criticizing is the War planners decision to buy fewer 30 cal machine guns and more BARs. I was overly harsh when I said that the BAR "was a damn hard weapon to control"... A more fair statement would be that the BAR was a shoulder fired full auto rifle, but it was pressed into service as a medium duty machine gun, and was found somewhat lacking in that role. That is certainly not the fault of the gun or of John Browning.

August 9, 2012, 03:38 PM
I had a chance to examine one of the semi-auto versions of the BAR and it is certainly heavy. In fact, that was my biggest impression of the thing. It's long, too. The one I was permitted to touch did not have a bipod, as I recall. However, I've also examined a semi-auto heavy barrel FAL, which was just as heavy and likewise had no quick-change barrel. But just the same, it was used in some armies that were also using the standard FN rifle, including the Canadians and Israelis.

According to Tables of Organizations for an infantry battalion, there were nearly as many .30 caliber Browning machine guns in an infantry battalion during WWII, at least in 1945, as there were BARs. I believe the US alone used three different machine guns in a battalion, counting the BAR. The main differences were in the mobility of the different guns. However, I think the BAR as used by the US was the only squad automatic weapon not (officially) considered to be a crew served weapon. In other armies, there was nearly always a no. 2 man and sometimes a no. 3, all serving mainly as ammo carriers. Organization at company level in most armies changed throughout the war and actual, on-the-ground organization would start to change as soon as the shooting started, after a fashion.

Even today, the role and weapon of the so-called squad automatic seems to be problematic in all armies and they seem to be constantly experimenting, again, after a fashion. The Russian squad automatic is nothing more than a heavy barrel AK with a longer magazine, unless it's been changed again. They don't seem to show up in photos where the fighting is, however, a PK or PKM belt-fed machine gun usually appears instead. Neither one has a quick-change barrel.

August 11, 2012, 11:20 PM
The BAR and M249 weigh almost the same. The BAR is extremely heavy for what it is/does. I do like the gun though.
here were experiments with a bipod back against the foreend, but that proved to have a "defect" in that the gun, with no bipod or a bipod mounted at the foreend was TOO accurate.
Interesting you say this. I think I read somewhere once that Germans moved the MG-42 bipod to the front in order to increase accuracy and that US preferred more of a mid gun placement to increase the area effect. THe US and Germans employed entirely different tactics with their automatic weapons, well, at least on paper.

Bob Wright
August 13, 2012, 04:13 PM
One last thought,from me, the BAR was highly portable. After firing covering fire, along with additional riflemen, the firing team could quickly move up while the other firing team provided covering fire, or "fire and maneuver" tactics. The BAR could be grasped by the carryining handle and the BAR man chogie forward to assume a new position.

Belt fed guns, such as the M1919A6, either trailed a partial belt of ammunition, or were cleared while the assistant gunner grabbed the ammo box. If he made it to the gun, firing resumed. If he didn't, firing halted until someone could get to the ammunition supply.

The M1919A6 was sort of a tricked out M1919A4, fitted with a metal shoulder stock, bipod, and flash hider. Some ammo cans could be attached to the left side of the receiver, but when the gun was picked up, the gun flopped over to the left, usualy spilling out the ammo.

Bob Wright

(Its been over fifty years since I've used the word "chogie.")

August 14, 2012, 02:41 AM
Most BAR men had a love/hate relationship with the BAR. When a BAR went into action, it was admired and respected, but BAR crews, like most machine gun crews, drew concentrated fire from enemy troops in an attempt to silence them. It was an accurate weapon, and the slower rate of fire allowed for controlled, aimed fire. The second man crewing the BAR had to operate as ammo carrier and had to carry his own rifle, spare magazines, and ammo cans.

August 14, 2012, 03:01 AM
n all, it was inferior to the 30 cal air cooled machine gun and the 30 cal water cooled machine gun (which was an outstanding weapon).
Not a fair comparison. A one man Mg will never equal a crew servered weapon.

Bob Wright
August 14, 2012, 09:26 AM
n all, it was inferior to the 30 cal air cooled machine gun and the 30 cal water cooled machine gun (which was an outstanding weapon).

In what way was it inferior? Those killed with the BAR were just as dead as those killed by a M1919 LMG. And the BAR got where the LMG couldn't go.

Bob Wright

August 15, 2012, 01:53 AM
"Another example is the P-47 thunderbolt aircraft. By objective standards it was not a great combat aircraft..."

Yet more P-47's were built than the P-51 I guess think was the perfect aircraft.

Amazing what you hear on the internet. Like the BAR, those that actually used it, those with REAL EXPERIENCE like it.


August 17, 2012, 04:01 PM
I knew I should never have brought up an aircraft example to demonstrate my point. If we turn this into a vintage aircraft discussion, this thread will get closed.

But anyhow...

Tim, you missed my point. The P-47 had a major impact in the war. It was hugely successful. But why was it so important and succesful?

By the objective performance parameters considered important in 1942, it was fairly conventional (rate of climb, turning radius, etc). It was outclassed (on paper at least) by both the supermarine spitfire and the BF-109, both of which were designed in 1936-1938. Remember that at this time, the pace of aviation advancement was very quick, and a 1942 fighter should have been much better than a 1936 fighter. So why was the P-47 so successful?

It had a few advantages over the BF-109 and FW-190, and circumstances allowed the P-47 pilots to capitalize on those advantages... such as superior speed in a dive and being able to pull more g's at the bottom of a dive. As an air-to-air fighter, it held it's own against the enemy.

But it was the P-51 that destroyed the Luftwaffe, and once it was destroyed, the P-47 could operate as a fighter bomber. It was the best fighter bomber in the world at that time. and it was just exactly what the allies needed in western Europe.

So my point is that circumstances and context matter when evaluating the historical impact of a weapon system. Sorry I was not more clear.

August 18, 2012, 05:56 AM
Referring here now to the original post, how many modern features can a firearm have before it is no longer like the original firearm? Synthetic stock and forearm? That's a good start. In British service many of the SLR (FAL) rifles eventually were fitted with plastic stocks and Springfield Armory does offer some of their rifles with synthetic stocks. Perhaps some of the old M14s being used now have synthetic stocks.

Apparently some would have used them during WWII had the technology been around by then. The Germans did a lot of experimenting with laminated stocks, probably as much because of shortages of wood as it might have been because it was better than plain wood. It certainly wasn't done for appearance's sake.

I also notice the Sig P-210, if I"m remembering the model number correctly, was also "modernized" when it was reintroduced, producing a version that is unmistakingly contemporary. I just wonder. What would a Luger look like if it were produced again?

August 19, 2012, 11:54 AM
What would a Luger look like if it were produced again?

I would say it would look kind of like a Ruger 22/45 that was in 9mm.

August 19, 2012, 03:31 PM
Then it wouldn't even be a Luger, would it?

August 19, 2012, 11:47 PM
If the Luger P-08 had been in continuous production through the present day, it would probably have evolved into many varients, just like the 1911.

There would be the classic all steel toggle-action.

There would be aluminum frame versions in 22LR, 32 ACP and 380. Perhaps the Luger pistol would have kept alive the 30 Luger cartridge?

There may even be polymer framed varients with the classic toggle action.

The toggle action is not very efficient, and it is expensive to make. So who knows how successful it would have been.

August 20, 2012, 08:52 AM
While I can understand someone saying the toggle action of a Luger is not a good design, there now being better one, I can't understand it not being "efficient."

The Colt .45 has been around since 1911, ignoring previous versions of the same, and for more than half of that time, it has been available in 9mm and with an aluminum alloy frame as the Commander model. So the Commander model Colt has had a longer production run than Lugers.

I still like the original A1 model Colt best. Still available, too, sort of.

August 20, 2012, 09:14 AM
Efficient from a cost and weight standpoint. Sorry I was not more clear.

August 20, 2012, 11:55 AM
Expensive I can understand. That's just one of the reasons it was replaced, although production continued until 1942 in Germany, I believe, and it was a regular army service pistol in a few places well into the 1950s and beyond, in one instance actually replacing .45 automatics, believe it or not.

A Luger with a 4" barrel weighs 30 ounces.

August 22, 2012, 05:59 AM
Ohio Ordnance makes a semi auto BAR.