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Why wasn't the BAR given an extended magazine?

Discussion in 'Small Arms and Edged Weapons' started by superbee, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. ww2fan15

    ww2fan15 Member

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    sounds relly smart and cool but the bar was too dang heavy ha! but maby if they had bar teams it might have been effective.
     
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Too Heavy? At least the Marines did have teams but often ended up with the smaller men in the platoon carrying the BAR so it wasn't all that heavy. (WWII combat load was significantly lighter than that carried by today's soldiers and Marines). I knew a Marine BAR man that was on Iwo. He weighed in at around 130lbs when he was in the service. Wasn't a big man when I knew him either.
     
  3. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    The BAR itself weighed in at approximately 19.8 lbs. By contrast, the M-60 LMG that I carried was merely 23.15 lbs. I didn't consider it to be too heavy except when running with full gear over uneven terrain, like to and from a Huey. But at that point, everything seemed heavy. The weaknesses of the BAR was that it didn't have an interchangeable barrel, a slow cyclic rate of fire, and small 20 round magazine that always seemed to get empty at the most inopportune time (from what I've read), not it's overall weight. I've also read the the Marine Corps and the Army adopted two BAR teams per squad late in the war. They worked together. One team would concentrate it's fire on the target, and when it's magazine became empty, the other team picked up the fire while the 1st team re-loaded and or changed locations. This process was repeated as necessary until the target was liquidated. Even with the BARs limitations, a little field expedience and ingenuity kept it in the field.
     
  4. sf_cwo2

    sf_cwo2 Member

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    The shortest person out of a group was always chosen to carry the BAR. The rationale being he made a smaller target.
     
  5. MikeRex

    MikeRex Member

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  6. JGarman

    JGarman Member

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    Great info guys. I think I would prefer to carry the m1. Just seemed much easier to move.
     
  7. CPL Punishment

    CPL Punishment Member

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    LOL! Look at that anti-aircraft sight! Judging by the cap that picture is from WWI or shortly thereafter, back when planes were wood and canvas. That 40-round mag would have made the BAR extremely unwieldy in the prone position. I rather imagine the increased height and weight was the deciding factor to keep the 20-round box. A 40-round box would have been 120% heavier than the 20 (twice the ammo, more metal in the box, heavier spring, etc.) which might have unforeseen defects as well. An example is the Thompson SMG. The M19291A was an early military version issued with 50, 30 and 20 round mags. It was too heavy with the 50 or the 30 installed, but too quickly emptied with the 20. The weight issue was address by the blowback Thompson M1 SMG, a considerably simplified and lighter (and cheaper) weapon than the M1929A1, but the magazine retainer spring was too weak to use the 30-round box routinely, a fully loaded mag would sometime just drop off the weapon. They cheapified the Thompson once again with the M1A1 version by making the bolt carrier from a stamping, making the firing pin just a projection on the bolt face, rather than a separate screw-in part, and some other changes, but they fixed the magazine fall off issue by going back to a spring designed for the 50-round drum.

    I would imagine that a magazine retainer spring on the BAR sufficiently strong to hold a 40-round box with total reliability would make changing magazines more arduous and slow.
     
  8. MikeRex

    MikeRex Member

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    Magazine retention doesn't work the way you're thinking it works, not in most designs anyhow. The magazine isn't held to the receiver by spring pressure and friction. There's a positive mechanical catch. The catch is held in place by spring pressure, but the strength of the magazine's retention to the receiver is not a function of the strength of that spring for the same reason that the strength with which a door is held close by the deadlatch is not a function of the strength of the spring inside the doorknob.
     
  9. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

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    Don't know the BAR that well in detail enough to comment specifically, but although you're quite correct that the magazine retention catch spring strength shouldn't affect what sized magazine it might hold, when they first introduced the SA80 in UK the catch spring was designed to hold a 20 round mag and did it well enough to last to the production version with a 30 round mag. Whereupon the mag kept falling out - just happened the retention catch was easily pressed open against the body, and the 20 round didn't fall out so nobody noticed, the 30 did, regularly, in fact almost daily. Don't know what they've done now to solve it, but at the time they just welded a little 'U' of steel around the catch rather than change the spring.

    I think there have been designs where the actual spring holds the magazine though, can't think of any off the top of my head, but you're right in most cases.
     
  10. MikeRex

    MikeRex Member

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    I've heard a number of explanations for the SA-80's magazine catch problems. Some claim that the parts just weren't manufactured to tight enough specs and all the tolerance stacking can lead to tenuous magazine retention. The fact that not all SA-80 users have reported this and the fact that the rifle has many other problems lends this explanation some weight.

    Others have suggested that:

    -The sheet metal of the magazine well is too thin and too flexible and can twist in such a way that the catch no longer engages the notch on the magazine.

    -The magazine well, being a separate part welded to the THM distorts or is misaligned during the welding process (welding sheet metal is tricky) causing erratic dimensioning.

    -The magazine catch design was garbage to begin with.

    -It bears noting that the old XL64 prototype design for the SA80 had a very different magazine catch design. In fact, the XL64 was practically an entirely different rifle, I'm not sure why they made most of the changes.

    To the best of my knowledge, none of this was a problem in the BAR. It was designed before stamping from good, strong, dimensionally consistent machined parts (which would be considered far too heavy and expensive to countenance on a modern design!) by John Moses Browning, who absolutely knew what he was doing.

    There probably are designs which use friction and/or spring pressure to retain the mag. Off the top of my head, I forget how the mag catch on a thompson works, but I distinctly recall it being hard to use and silly.

    In most designs the limitation on magazine size has nothing to do with the magazine well or magazine catch, it has to do with issues in making really big magazines work well, bulk and weight. The luger "snail drum" magazines are a pretty good example of what you can accomplish if you have a burning desire for more firepower and little or no restraint.
     
  11. BoltActionSupremacy

    BoltActionSupremacy Member

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    The most obvious factor i think is that a larger magazine would be hugely more difficult to use in the field because as the BAR's magazine loads into the bottom, if you increase the magazine capacity you obviously increase the size of the magazine. You couldnt afford to have a bigger mag that feeds in from the bottom it would be hell to change over in a firefight with any degree of swiftness!!

    Then naturally there are problems with the spring inside
     
  12. dbar1918

    dbar1918 recruit

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    While this is an old thread, it seems that there is still a lot of interest in the Browning Machine Rifle (BAR). The problem stems from comparing apples to oranges. The BAR is not a light machine gun- it is an automatic rifle.

    The original Model 1918 Browning Machine Rifle introduced in World War I weighed a little less than sixteen pounds and was meant to be fired from the shoulder, hip, or prone-supported. The autorifle team in the Great War had three members- the autorifleman, the 1st Assistant, and the 2nd Assistant. Each wore a unique web belt or bandolier. The fifty-nine man rifle platoon had up to four autorifle teams (a Chauchat, a Lewis {27th and 30th Divisions}, or a BAR, in each team or section), and the Infantry platoon was not based on the rifle squad as it was from 1919-on. In fact, aside from four liaison privates, hand bomber and rifle grenade teams, and the autorifle teams, there were only two pure rifle squads in the 2nd Half Platoon as the maneuver element. The BAR was designed to provide "walking fire" or other forms of suppressive fire for fire-and-maneuver, or to quickly emplace for a counterattack or for the holding attack. It was preeminent in this role.

    After the Armistice, the BAR became the squad automatic weapon when the US Army Infantry settled on the eight-man squad containing a BAR Autorifleman and an Assistant Autorifleman. By 1940, rather than replace the BAR in front-line service, it was "upgraded" so it would operate as a light machine gun. A bipod, heavier flash hider, and sight protector were added to the muzzle. The forearm was cut down to save weight (the barrel will still burn your fingers with either forearm!) and the wooden buttstock was replaced with a bakelite (plastic) version complete with a hinged shoulder rest for prone supported fire. The fire selector was altered from "Safe", "Auto", and "Semi-Auto", to a new "Safe", "Fast Auto", and "Slow Auto" rate. The faster rate of fire was for deliberate prone, bipod-supported fire, while the slow-fire was designed for shoulder or hip fire. The wooden handle added late in World War II is not a "carrying handle". It is to allow hip fire by holding the weapon with the left hand by the handle with the thumb forward and the fingers upwards.

    Most of the World War II BAR Riflemen I've interviewed admitted that they removed the bipod and handle shortly after an amphibious assault as not important enough to justify the weight. As a burst-and-move suppressive fire weapon, it wasn't considered a handicap not to have a sustained fire light machine gun at the squad level in World War II or Korea- all other squad members had a semi-automatic or automatic weapon.

    Until recently, there was only one automatic rifle in common use around the world- the RPK. Both the US Marine Corps and US Army are currently testing the M27 IAR (the Marines have purchased over 4,000 already, while the Army is still just testing) and other lighter automatic rifles to possibly replace the M249 SAW at the fire team level. The M249 and M240 are still valuable weapons for the rifle platoon, but the fire teams need a lighter weapon to provide short periods of suppressive fire that is "good enough" at the sharp end of the spear that will keep up.

    My BAR is a Winchester "Browning Machine Rifle" made during the Great War. It was used by the British military at one time, perhaps as a 1940 Home Guard :lend-lease". While I have all the later "modified" and M1918A2 livery, I prefer to fire it and display it in the original form. About ten years ago, I fired 500 rounds from it in less than twenty minutes. The barrel began to "click" like the one at the bombed RADAR site in the movie, "Saving Private Ryan". I had to stop because I ran out of loaded original blued magazines!

    Dave Stieghan
    aka, dbar1918
    US Army Infantry Branch Historian
     

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  13. Jadgermeister

    Jadgermeister Member

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    Especially after that last post, Im fairly certain the BAR was not upgraded for the same reason the M-16 is not. Its simply that the weapon needs a way to regulate the rate of fire, and having small mags is that way. Otherwise, you can bet that soldiers would use them as MGs. I suspect strongly that the second reason it was not upgraded was because it would encourage unfavorable tactics. The man with the BAR is not supposed to be an MG, thats what the mgs are for. If the BAR was capable of being an MG, it would quickly have become a stationary weapon when it was intended to move with riflemen.
     
  14. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Not very sure if that's valid. Surely the decision to add unallocated BARs to every rifle battalion during Normandy, enough to equip almost every rifle squad with a pair of BARs, reflected the understanding that automatic firepower was sorely needed. I don't think the US Army was remotely interested in tinkering a weapon that was working well-enough when the obsession was to produce weapons and equipment in massive numbers (a lesson learned from WWI, mediocre weapons in adequate quantity is the first priority in total war).
     
  15. Hufflepuff

    Hufflepuff Semi-Frightening Mountain Goat

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    Twenty rounds or fifty goes by fast in combat, but either way the .30 round is a heavy hitter... both to the enemy and the shoulder. With more than a 20 round box it would have been more of a light machine gun than a squad automatic. True, the Germans had the .34 and the 42, but the BAR isn't meant to fire that many rounds so fast. It's a suppression weapon that relies on heavy rounds, rather than the other way around, where the volume of fire becomes a priority. Either way, the gun is already a hefty twenty pounds
     
  16. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Gonna burn the barrel if you shoot that many bullets that quickly. The BAR, as I understand it, was a dedicated anti-machinegun weapon in the Great War when attacking.
     
  17. Hufflepuff

    Hufflepuff Semi-Frightening Mountain Goat

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    It was designed for just that purpose. It was essentially a "quick shooter" automatic where the men could apply suppression to an enemy machine gun and then advance on a position with the rest of the section. None of that extended-magazine stuff was really thought about much in WWI...
     
  18. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    I don' think we should ever underestimate how carefully a weapon is designed for the needed application. Many who stood at the receiving end of short bursts of automatic fire with 30.06 ammo may feel very intimidated by what could be used against them quickly in a firefight. At the same time with today's expectations of weaponry, so many ask the typical questions about the large ammo supplies available today. It could be that if they had to utilize a very large capacity magazine then they would also have to design switch out barrels for this rifle which would have been possibly a bigger problem than the slightly smaller ammo supply. Perhaps we would do well to study Mr. Browning instead to understand what he was tasked with in providing this weapon that has always impressed me with what it could do in its own day on the battle field thanks to exactly the way Mr. Browning responded in design. I would say by leaps and bounds you may increase your knowledge of weaponry just with a study of Mr. Browning and his contributions over time. Most often a contract for a gun would be awarded after satisfying a very large list of specific requisites that may have included the size, and number of clips, number of times a barrel can be fired etc. in order to secure a gun making contract. Perhaps it was not perfect but over time there are many who cherish its development over what may have been available before. No doubt there is always a great deal of interest in how these special old weapons can remain impressive for so many, as this rifle has been. The threads always endure for the many observations. Mr. Browning's contributions will always be remembered.
     
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  19. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Besides, even modern rifles of comparable caliber use 20 round detachable mags. As SF said it earlier, it's going to be a huge mag to hold 40 big bullets.
     
  20. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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