The BAR Rifle

DunnBy Robert Dunn
AGI and GunTech Video Producer,
AGI Pro Course Graduate, GCA Charter Member

Long ago I bought all of the firearms I “needed” and, ever since, I have been buying the guns I want. My latest purchase of a Browning BAR rifle chambered in .30-06 goes back into the “need” category. The last few times I have gone on my morning walk up the mountain, I have been sent back home by big black bears. I always go walking with a rifle, which is usually light in weight and chambered in 5.56 x 45mm.

Recently I was out walking and heard large branches crunching on the other side of the creek. I stood still, then saw a big black bear just as it saw me. Being low on the food chain, I felt underpowered with my measly carbine as the bear crossed the water and curiously continued in my direction. When I got back home I decided I would start carrying a .30-30 lever action. I figured since this was a good choice for hunting black bear in the Pacific Northwest, it would do just fine while out trekking.

I genuinely thought a Marlin 336 was a good rifle choice for the caliber until I came across a big “chuffing” bear and cub several yards away from me the very next morning! I slowly backed up and made my way back home after being stalked for about a half mile by my hungry/curious bear friends. After pondering my morning, in the safety of my warm and cozy home, I decided if the bear or bears had charged me, even if I got off several rounds and killed my attacker, I would probably still have been severely mauled, if not killed. This got me to thinking about a different rifle to carry with me on my adventures, as I am not a world renowned cowboy lever action shooter named Ponderosa Bob.

Since I walk every day my “bad back” will allow, I actually want to stay alive to pass onto you these mundane tales. Thinking about the firearms in my collection, there was not a rifle that fit my evolving criterion for peace of mind during my adventures in “nature.” My new criteria for that firearm would be a well-built semi-automatic rifle, chambered in .30-06, which was very reliable. The only gun I could think of that fit this bill was a Browning BAR sporting rifle, not to be confused with the older Military BAR, the Model 1918 Browning Automatic Rifle select fire machine gun designed by John M. Browning. This military rifle has my utmost respect and will be covered when I finally own one of these American treasures.

The BAR rifle is simply part of my story. This is how I came to the decision to buy a “Modern” BAR rifle. As previously mentioned, I needed a new rifle to satisfy my needs. Living in a remote part of the country, I figured I would only find my rifle of choice on the internet (gunsamerica.com or gunbroker.com).

I will confess… I did my research on pricing and availability on those two sites, but did not find what I was looking for. I googled firearms dealers in my area (within 50 miles) and found a few gun dealers that sold firearms in my area. I ended up finding a gun shop I did not previously know about named Empire Firearms.

I dialed the phone number and ended up speaking with an American Veteran named Chris who had just come back to work the very day I wanted to purchase my Browning BAR. My new friend had returned after 5 weeks of being stuck flat on his back, bedridden from a “disputation” with the VA! Chris said he had the very rifle I was looking for!

I made a quick stop by the bank and was off to purchase my new BAR rifle!

In the above photo we can see the detachable box magazine and the hinged floorplate.

I could not be any happier than I am today. Chris indeed had the rifle I needed, a Belgian born BAR chambered in .30-06! I know my purchase helped a Veteran get back on his feet after a grueling hiatus, for which I am glad.

Oregon allows you to purchase guns and bring them home the same day you pass the “instant background check” required by our paranoid government. They are several steps up from California’s draconian firearm laws I suffered with for decades! It was so nice to be able to make a purchase and actually bring it home the very same day.

My BAR had a scope on it, but I have since removed it. I like iron sights for quick target acquisition at close range, which is what I bought the rifle for. I will put the scope back on for future hunts as required. My new rifle did not like the old Korean War surplus ammunition I first tried to run through it, but loved to cycle any of the current Federal, Hornady and Remington ammo I had laying around. I am confident my BAR will fire when I need it to, using any “new” cartridges I buy. I am also looking forward to working up a good reloading recipe my BAR will happily digest.

The BAR sporting rifle was first manufactured in 1967. The rifle was designed by John Browning’s grandson, Bruce Browning, along with a team of engineers from the Fabrique Nationale factory in Herstal, Belgium. The BAR was first built in Belgium, but in the early 1970s the rifle was assembled in the then new manufacturing plant in Viana, Portugal. The rifles made from 1967 through 1975 are called Type 1 rifles. Type 2 rifles were made from 1976 through 1992. From 1993 and on, the rifles are called Mark II rifles. There have been changes throughout the years, but the basic rifle design has remained the same. Things like a manual bolt stop and cross pins to hold in the trigger assembly were added features, as well as some changes in the gas system.

Looking in from the bottom of the magazine well, we can see the locking lugs of the bolt in the unlocked position

The BAR is a gas operated, semi-automatic rifle. The box magazine, which is detachable from its hinged floorplate, holds four rounds (of .30-06 cartridges). I like the magazine design because you can load the magazine in the field while it is still attached to the hinged floorplate. You can have additional magazines in your pocket, already loaded, and quickly snap them on and off the floorplate. The front sight is ramped and has a detachable hood, and the rear sight is a flip up type adjustable for elevation. Its windage can be adjusted by drifting the sight in its dovetail. The rifle utilizes a cross bolt safety that blocks the trigger. The BAR rifle uses a rotating bolt system with seven locking lugs that fit precisely into recesses machined into the rear of the barrel itself. The crisp trigger pull is set at around 4 pounds. The gun itself weighs in at 7.5 pounds. To me, the shape and feel of the gun is perfect. It has only taken a couple of days for me to get used to loading and shooting it. I also like that it has a sling and is easy to carry on my adventures.

My rifle was manufactured and assembled in Belgium and is considered a Grade II rifle as it has hand-engraving on its blued receiver. The engraving consists of fairly simple scroll work with what looks like an elk on the left side and a goofy looking deer that looks more like a dragon on the right side of the receiver. The Grade I rifles are blued and have no engraving on them. The buttstock and forearm are made of French Walnut and are checkered for a secure grip, a great feature when out during a typical rainy Oregon day. I couldn’t be happier with my new BAR rifle, it was exactly what I was looking for. Now when I go out exploring, I am truly loaded for Bear!


9 Responses to The BAR Rifle

  1. I so thought I was going to see a M1918 and have to get really jealous. Both guns are on my bucket list! My uncle had one of these I deer hunted with when I was younger. His was a Safari grade with Boss compensator dialed in for some Federal Gold Medal Match. Recoil was nil and the rifle kept pace with or out shot all of his bolt guns.

    I wish you the best. I would give the Hornady M1 match load a shot in it. I’ve handloaded 30-06 so long I’d be hard pressed to find any commercial ammo in my stash, but about eight or so years ago Federal changed propellants in the 30-06 GMM I was test firing things with and I found Hornady’s M1 Match was the closest match for the old GMM. I’m willing to bet I have a few recipes it’d eat up.

    Keep up the good work and keep the critters at bay!

  2. I agree with you 100% on your sentiment for the Browning BAR.
    Mine is in 300 Win. Mag. and I trust it more than any of my bolt action rifles. The problem is that in a panic situation against a charging bruin the limited round count that’s offered might not be enough to prevail.
    Sitting next to my BAR is a Sig AR10 7.62 (308) with a 20 round mag.
    I feel a lot more comfortable when carrying this slightly less powerful round knowing that I have the option to quickly hail all the additional fire power down range. Enjoyed your article,,,,,,,,

  3. I would like the security of having the AR10 around as well. Bears are interesting and crafty creatures, fast movers.

  4. I also have a 30-06 BAR I bought in 1985 & it is a tack driver. An old guy told me to go to a well stocked gun store and shoulder everything they have & eventually one or 2 will feel better than the others and he was right.
    I had friends say “you should have gotten the more accurate bolt action”. I had them shoot my BAR and every time they shot better with the BAR than their bolt action.

    • Good advice from the old guy! I have a Remington 700 in .30-06 for deer, but I have been thinking about bringing the BAR.