The one great fault of American ordnance is that it can never let well enough alone

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

As designed, the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) weighed less than 16 pounds, Dunlap notes, and was semi- as well as full-automatic. That was back in 1918:

When World War II broke, the gun weighed 19.4 pounds, was full-automatic only, and called the M1918A2 (between the two were three or four experiments in remodeling, including the 1922 machine rifle, one of the worse abortions). The one great fault of American ordnance is that it can never let well enough alone on any item. Rather than redesigning or adopting a new type, the original model is “modified” time and again. With each improvement the BAR got heavier and harder to handle, until even the boys up high began to blush (they got the weight below 20 pounds for the books by forgetting to count the adjustable butt rest, or monopod, a holdover from the machine-rifle job, and used for holding the guns nice and pretty for field inspections).


  1. Neovictorian says:

    Is Dunlap the all-time record holder at Isegoria for number of excerpt posts? I’ve read here quite often for the last several years and can’t remember anything comparable but I haven’t been consistent, nor really long-term.

  2. Kirk says:

    I think the bigger problem that Dunlap didn’t acknowledge with the BAR was that the Army was trying to use a weapon designed as an Automatic Rifle in a Light Machine Gun role–And, that was just a non-starter for a lot of reasons. Bottom-fed magazines being the primary one.

    The Army would have done a lot better to have gotten the UK to go in on .276 Pedersen for the M1, adopted the BREN in .276 as well, and called it good. With a little judicious modification of the magazine system of the BREN and Garand, you could have swapped magazines between them the way the UK did with the FN-FAL and the later models of the BREN in 7.62 NATO.

    Had we done that, we’d have all been a hell of a lot better off, and the odds are that we’d have kept that combination in service for a lot longer than we kept what we did adopt.

  3. Adar says:

    BAR rated as best American small arm of the Korean War. BAR, MI rifle and M1919 light machine gun all using the same ammo. That is a considerable PLUS?

    For those of you interested, Soviet burp gun rated BEST small arm of the Korean War.

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