Another photograph of Val Browning posing with his father's M1918 as it was originally designed to be fired (from the hip).

A US Soldier takes cover behind a tank to return fire during the Korean War.


2nd Lt. Val Browning (son of John Browning) used a M1918 in combat During WWI.

  • M1918 selector levers had 3 different positions: "S"– "safe", "F" – "Fire", "A" – "Automatic".  M1918a2 BARs also had 3 positions, but semi-automatic fire was disabled.  The user could choose between safe, and two different rates of fully automatic fire.

  • The average combat lifespan of a World War II BAR gunner was 30 minutes.

Origin:                                United States
Military Service:                      1918 - 1970s
Wars:                                  WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam
Cartridge:                             .30-06 Springfield
Action:                                Fully-Automatic Piston Rising Bolt Lock
Magazine:                              20 Round Detachable

First light machine gun adopted by the United States Armed Forces.

Tactical Doctrine

In WWII, U.S. Army tactical doctrine called for one M1918A2 per squad, using either one or two men to support and carry ammunition for the gun. This doctrine received a setback early in the war after U.S. ground forces encountered German troops well-armed with automatic weapons, including fast-firing, portable machine guns. In some cases, particularly in the attack, every fourth German infantryman was equipped with an automatic weapon, either a submachine gun or a full-power machine gun.​

In an attempt to overcome the BAR's limited continuous-fire capability, U.S. Army combat divisions increasingly began to specify two BAR fire teams per squad, following the practice of the U.S. Marine Corps. One team would typically provide covering fire until a magazine was empty, whereupon the second team would open fire, thus allowing the first team to reload. In the Pacific, the BAR was often employed at the point or tail of a patrol or infantry column, where its firepower could help break contact on a jungle trail in the event of ambush.

After combat experience showed the benefits of maximizing portable automatic firepower in squad-size formations, the U.S. Marine Corps began to increase the number of BARs in its combat divisions, from 513 per division in 1943 to 867 per division in 1945. Instead of supporting the M1 riflemen in the attack, Marine tactical doctrine was focused around the BAR, with riflemen supporting and protecting the BAR gunner.

Historic Photographs

Interesting Facts

The BAR was designed to be carried in WWI 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 as the M1918a2).​​

The M1918a2 BAR saw extensive service as the United States standard issue light machine gun in WWII, Korea, and the early stages of Vietnam. 

The Example below is a non NFA M1918a2 built from a USGI parts kit.

M1918a2 Browning Automatic Rifle