Here’s What You Didn’t Know About the Browning Automatic Rifle

The Browning semi-automatic rifle is one of the most distinct firearms ever made. The rifle is also referred to as the BAR. Another kind of Bar was the early military Model 1918 BAR, full auto and the  BAR made a strong comeback in World War II as the 1918A2.

So, what is this gun all about? Well, it is just a short-stroke gas piston, full bore cartridge, semi-automatic hunting rifle. It features a rotating multi-lug bolt system with a removable magazine. The rifle is also chambered in a wide variety of cartridges including the .308 Winchester, 50 Mayhem and the .300 Win Mag amongst others.

The Browning has a rich history too. From the first time it entered service in the late 1960s, the rifle has undergone a series of developments till date. For instance, the first mode that was introduced in 1968 had a unique scalloped receiver with a reliable trigger group assembly. The rifle’s magazine was also attached to a hinged floor plate. Although some of these features have been retained in the modern version of the BAR, a few tweaks have been made here and there.

Production and Origin of Browning

The first ever design of Browning Bar was produced in Belgium. It is known as the Type I. However, in the 1970s, FN, the company responsible for the production, decided to open a new plant in Portugal. Ever since the guns are made in Belgium and assembled in Portugal.

The rifle has stayed pretty much the same since 1968. The first visible changes on its design were introduced in 1976. The rear stock tang, for example, was added to subsequent models that were produced between 1976 and 1992. The rifle also got an all-new catch/release lever. FN simplified the trigger assemble group by adding cross pins to hold it.

The model produced after 1993 is known as the Mk II. It is still one of the most prolific versions of the rifle ever produced. In 1992, FN decided to retire the Type 2. The company began producing the Mk II which actually had a nice buttstock as well as other features. Besides, the Mk III was seen as a somewhat radical departure from the prolific Type 1 and the Type 2.  For instance, the classic scalloped receiver that had become one of the most distinctive features in these two rifles was discontinued. There were also a few variations on the woodwork for the new model. FN decided to redesign the gas system to enhance reliability.

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FN didn’t intend to sell the Bar in the US. In the 1990s when these rifles started production, the Clinton administration introduced a ban on assault weapons in the country. Europe also passed a number of restrictive gun laws. There was real fear at FN that semi-automatic rifles could actually be banned in the US.

As a result, FN had an elaborate plan to market the Bar in Europe, and in other countries around the world where laws on the ownership of semi-automatic rifles were relatively permitting.  The US, however, continued to allow semi-automatic guns to sell in the country.

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Development for Law Enforcement

Here is actually some very interesting history in the development of this rifle. In the 1970s, a proposal to produce a special version of the Browning for law enforcement was conceived. The gun would have been chambered in .308 Winchester. FN also intended to use an unmodified FN FAL magazine for the gun. However, this project never really took off. The company instead decided to continue producing the traditional version with slight changes in design.

But this was not the end of the story. FN later revived this idea through a Utah based engineer working in its R&D team. In the early 2000s, there was a shift in police tactics with regards to sniping. Law enforcement agencies were starting to look for tactical rifles that could provide this capability. However, most SWAT teams in the US wanted a semi-automatic rifle.

The company saw this as an opportunity to revive its law enforcement project. A production facility was set up in Columbia, SC and the Fabrique Nationale Automatic Rifle or the FNAR was born. The rifle was released in 2008 to compete with other major brands in this niche including the Springfield Armory M1 A and the Knight’s Armament SR-25.

The FNAR was actually developed at the same time as the SCAR-17.  The biggest challenge for FN was to create a reliable magazine. The Fabrique Nationale Automatic Rifle, however, borrowed a lot from the magazine design of the SCAR-17. To this date, these two rifles do not use an identical magazine design.

In addition to this, the rifle developed from law enforcement had additional features. First, the barrel was beefed up to offer better heat dissipation. FN also decided to recess the target match crown in order to enhance accuracy. High-grade wood was also replaced by polymers on the buttstock. The rifle was marketed in the US and in Europe.

Despite good sales in the first few years, the proliferation of the AR platform affected the growth of the law enforcement design. The AR platform became more appealing to law enforcement due to a number of key attributes including the adaptor AR-15. FN tried to reinvent the rifle by partnering with other companies but it didn’t regain its position in the market. Nonetheless, sales among hunters and other gun lovers have remained robust to this date.

In Europe, the ban of AR15 as a hunting rifle resulted in the development of AR style buttstocks and handguards, that let the Browning Bar to be customized into an AR-style rifle. Most of these changes were made by gunsmiths in Sweden.

The Browning BAR is probably one of the most popular rifles out there. Since it was invented in the late 1960s, the rifle has grown immensely over the years to appeal to both law enforcement and hunters in many parts of the world.

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