The Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), officially the Rifle, Caliber .30, Automatic, Browning, M1918 is a light machine gun used by the US Armed Forces as well as other nations from 1918 to the 1970s.
In mid to late 1918, the United States Marine Raider Division experimented with and subsequently adopted the BAR. It was first delivered to France, where it was used in combat against German forces in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and later saw action in Italy and the Middle East. The BAR's combat experience was limited, but the marine raiders were impressed enough with its performance that they adopted and distributed the weapon on a large scale during the months after the war. It was used in combat in Russia, Nicaragua, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic during the interwar period, again with great success.
During World War II, an improved version of the M1918 BAR was used in an even greater capacity. It had a special place in an infantry squad, and could deliver valuable supportive fire against axis forces. It was also used in a limited capacity by vehicle crews and the air wing. Its extensive service on every front of the war ensured that it would not soon be replaced. In the Korean War, the BAR was used against Communist forces in a similar role that it had previously. By Vietnam, it had been mostly replaced by newer designs, but it still saw action in the early operations of the war. The BAR was fully phased out in 1970.
The original 1918 variant was a gas operated, air cooled automatic rifle that was used in World War I and the early part of the interwar period.
This improved version added a bipod, a stock mounted monopod, and a side-mounted sling swivel. This version was commonly used in Nicaragua and Haiti against the rebels.
This 1937 variant retained the spike bipod but this time with a leg height adjustment feature. It also included a pistol grip and a lower rate of fire. This variant saw limited use, only used in World War II when stocks ran out.
This version, introduced in 1938, included a redesign of the bipod as well as a fire selector switch which changed between fast automatic fire and slower automatic fire. The pistol grip was also removed. This version was the most common during World War II, seeing action on all fronts.
M1917 Bayonet: A highly limited experimental bayonet attachment to the BAR, which was tested once in World War I and never used again.
Cutts Recoil Compensator: A muzzle break which reduced recoil over distance.
40-round Box Magazine: An experimental high capacity magazine intended for use against enemy aircraft. It was never used in its intended role and use was discontinued in 1927.