An icon for wild boar hunters (and others), all over the world. And for more than fifty years it has been synonymous with the gas-operated, semi-automatic rifle.
From “military” to “civilian” BARs
The BAR acronym in the name of the Browning automatic rifle is the only thing it has in common with the military BAR M1918 designed by John Moses Browning towards the end of the First World War, for trench warfare in the battlefields of France and Belgium.
But, in fact, even the “civilian” hunting BAR has the genes of John Moses, because it was designed in 1966 by his grandson Bruce Warren Browning (1928-2019) in collaboration with a design team led by Marcel Olinger. It was then presented in the 1968 Browning catalogue. Today, more than 1,200,000 BAR rifles have been produced.
A positive modernisation through the years
A rifle born perfect and now adult, very reliable, even more than capable of keeping up, thanks to subsequent modernisations that have improved its already very valid performance. Ten years ago, Browning also added the Maral version, which is almost identical, but which features a straight-pull linear manual reloading: the breech is contained inside its casing, making for easy reloading and a seven-lug bolt, renowned for its robustness, and guaranteeing exceptional safety and accuracy.
The company always recommends cleaning the gas recovery system every thousand shots fired.
From Type 1 to Type 2 BAR
BAR rifles made before 1976 are generally called “type 1”, those made between 1976 and 1992 are often known as “type 2”, although they are very similar to the originals.
1993 marked the introduction of the Mark II versions, when Joseph Rousseau made the rifle even more reliable, with a redesigned trigger system that made it easier to remove for cleaning, and the bolt locking lever.
The Lightweight and Safari
Then the Lightweight version with light alloy frame and the luxurious Safari appeared, with the possibility of mounting the BOSS muzzle brake, in calibres .25-06, 7mm Remington Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum, .338 Winchester Magnum in addition to the more usual ones: .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield.
Then came the LongTrac/ShortTrac, the Zenith and finally the MK3
In 2004, Long trac arrived for magnum calibres and Short trac for the standard and WSM calibres. In 2009, the Zenith model arrived, with various options, while in 2015 the MK3 was completely redesigned, with a single action for all calibres and also a hand cocking system. Barrels are always 22” or 24” long.
A European rifle with the most reliable mechanics
With optimal ergonomics and aesthetics, the Browning BAR MK3 has every reason to be the reference “platform” of semi-automatic hunting rifles, with the most reliable mechanics of all time.
The MK3 series is also totally produced in Europe, assembled in the Viana plant (Portugal) while the barrel is cold hammer-forged by the armaments giant FN Herstal (Belgium).
The MK3 is optimized to achieve the perfect compromise between performance and handling, with new ergonomics and a lighter trigger. The Reflex version is also available: it allows immediate availability to hunt, out of the box, for hunters who prefer to use the red dot collimator.
I have owned a Zenith BAR for years which has given me great satisfaction while hunting. The new BARs have an even “easier”, more comfortable, light and predictable trigger system. The recoil is perfectly manageable, the rifle is precise and constant, living up to its reputation. It can easily digest all types of cartridges and the accuracy is legendary. It should be noted that the first catalogue already reported that the rifle was zeroed at 200 meters with metal sights!
Do you own a BAR? Which model? Which generation?