The Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) is a family of United States automatic rifles (or machine rifles) and light machine guns used by the United States and numerous other countries during the 20th century. The primary variant of the BAR series was the M1918, chambered for the .30-06 Springfield rifle cartridge and designed by John Browning in 1917 for the U.S. Expeditionary Corps in Europe as a replacement for the French-made Chauchat and M1909 Benet-Mercie machine guns.
The BAR was designed to be carried by advancing infantrymen, slung over the shoulder or fired from the hip, a concept called "walking fire"—thought to be necessary for the individual soldier during trench warfare. However, in practice, it was most often used as a light machine gun and fired from a bipod (introduced in later models). A variant of the original M1918 BAR, the Colt Monitor Machine Rifle, remains the lightest production automatic gun to fire the .30-06 Springfield cartridge, though the limited capacity of its standard 20-round magazine tended to hamper its utility in that role.
Although the weapon did see some action in World War I, the BAR did not become standard issue in the U.S. Army until 1938, when it was issued to squads as a portable light machine gun. The BAR saw extensive service in both World War II and the Korean War and saw some service early in the Vietnam War. The U.S. Army began phasing out the BAR in the late 1950s and was without a portable light machine gun until the introduction of the M60 machine gun in 1957 and later M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in the mid-1980s.
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