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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. eaglestar78

    eaglestar78 New Member

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    Unlike the Thompson M1A1 and the M-1 carbine that were given 30 round extended mags the 50 and 100 round drums for the Thompson were dropped due to weight concerns for an Army using fire and manuver offensive tactics rather than static defensive tactics. Still a 30 or 40 round mag or 50 or 100 round drum after market accessory might be cool
     
  2. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    The BAR was already a very heavy gun even without a full 20 round magazine (nearly 20 pounds), so making any bigger than that would be difficult to carry around anywhere for a long time. A belt feed system could work?
     
  3. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Lacking any way of cooling the barrel and having no way to swap it out, I suspect larger magazines were excluded to reduce the number of rounds down the barrel, to prevent overheating. Both of the weapons you referenced were semi-automatic and could be fired to overheating, but was less likely to as would an BAR.
     
  4. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Has anyone mentioned the ability to fire in a prone position? The reason the Bren was a top loader was so it could be fired whilst laying down...the large magazine prevented that.
     
  5. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    I guess the greater question is, why on earth was the BAR fully automatic to begin with? It was so heavy and hard to control in full auto and expended it's rounds so fast, that it was really quite impractical in most situations. As CAC mentioned, being prone with a bi-pod was probably the only way full-auto was remotely successful.
     
  6. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Reminds me of the M-16 in Vietnam...full auto and the shooter would be shooting into the sky! So a three round burst was ordered...from memory.
     
  7. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

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    Actually, not so. In the hands of a well trained gunner it was controlled and accurate. In fact during WWII the Marine Corps went through a number of structural TOE changes to increase effectiveness and lethality. The first change from the D to the E series TOE was to add an additional BAR man to each squad going from one per squad to two. With the series F TOE it was changed to a squad broken down into three for man fire teams, each with a BAR man for a total of three per squad. This was retained in the late war G series and into the post-war TOE's. The US Army started WWII with one BAR per squad and late in the war many infantry units added a second one to squad. Post war during Korea the second BAR became an official part of the TOE. During Korea in a report by SLA Marshall on Infanty Operations and Weapons Usage, Marshall noted the particular effectiveness of the BAR, it's deleterious effects on the enemy and positive effect on nearby riflemen.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  8. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I brought that up ages ago in this thread. The rifle is simply not controllable in full auto unless prone or otherwise braced up with the bipod. It's no different than the lessons re-learned in the fifties with the FAL or M14, which also used twenty round magazines, for the same reason. Unless you wanted to just shoot at the sky you had to get prone and a double-column box magazine becomes too long to allow you to do that after about twenty rounds.
    The other reasons offered; overheating barrels, weight and so on, are also sound, but when all is said and done a squad light machine gun is only effective if it can deliver accurate bursts on target. The BAR (and a host of other similar guns) can only do so effectively from the prone position with bipod extended.


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  9. harolds

    harolds Member

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    I remember now that in my training with the M-16 for full-auto fire, we were taught to use the bipod (or prone/supported) and also pull down on the sling in front. During that time the Army was having one man in a fire-team have a full-auto capable M-16 and using 30 round mags, while the rest had the full-auto capability blocked off and issued 20 round mags. So a squad would usually have one M-60, (assigned from the heavy weapons squad), two men with full-auto M-16s, two men with a grenade launcher/rifle combo, and the rest with semi-auto M-16s. A little later they went to the 3-shot burst rifle but by then I was out of the service.

    What USMCPrice said about the moral boosting effects of full auto-fire is true. That was one justification the Heer had for bringing out the StG. Soldaten so armed had a lot more confidence in their effectiveness as shooters. The newbies would at least fire the StGs while they had little confidence in the K98. Unfortunately for them, the Germans lost the ability to keep them supplied with 7.92 Kurz ammo so they had to go back to the K98. Full-auto fire is moral-boosting for the soldier with the full-auto weapon and moral suppressing for those being shot at. It takes a while for soldiers to learn that all that noise isn't as deadly as it sounds. Last summer I got to fire a BAR from the hip standing position. I used short bursts but had a hard time seeing where I was hitting. Lots of fun but not very accurate!
     
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  10. superbee_57

    superbee_57 New Member

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    I am the original poster of this thread. I lost my login password and was unable to retrieve it, as the email account that I created my original account with no longer exists. So it was necessary for me to create a new account.

    I thank all who have participated in this thread discussion, and am pleased that the thread still continues to generate comments.

    At this point, I would like to respectfully respond to / comment on / question some of the responses given thus far (in no particular order), as they pertain to my original question.

    1) A 30 round magazine would make the BAR excessively heavy. I tend to reject this theory. Obviously, a 30 round magazine is going to increase the weight of the weapon. But I doubt excessively so. Casual internet research on WW2 squad automatic weapons (BAR, MG42, Bren, Japanese Type 99, Russian DP series) seems to show that all these weapons weigh within 2-3 pounds of one another, with the BAR actually on the lighter end of the weight spectrum.

    2) The 30 round extended magazine would make it difficult to fire the BAR from a prone position. Could the bipod legs be lengthen to compensate for this? Could a snail drum magazine or saddle drum magazine been developed, so that the increased capacity magazine would not hang so far down below the weapon? Could the position of the bipod been moved further back towards the receiver instead of out at the end of the barrel?

    3) Firing in short, controlled bursts seems to be the key to preserving barrel life, whether firing from a magazine or from a belt.Lacking a quick barrel change procedure made fire discipline especially important when operating the BAR, it would seem. Would 10 extra rounds per magazine really exacerbate the overheating problem that much?

    4) Would the slower firing rate of the BAR slow barrel heating somewhat, and thus compensate for firing from higher capacity magazines?
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
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  11. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Well then, thank you Price for the info, all of the newsreel and documentary videos I've seen with the BAR in action show troops struggling with it at at full auto while standing. Being prone with the bi-pod extended absolutely changes everything, and the accuracy is considerably better when short bursts are used. As Kodiak mentioned, my family own an M14 with a bi-pod, though it is not fully automatic, at the prone and semi-auto position and setting, the M14 is extremely effective even when you fire quickly.
     
  12. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    If the bipod legs are lengthened, then you're putting the shooter in an awkward position trying to keep his cheek weld and sight picture. 20 rounds isn't much of a drawback when a gunner is trained to use 3, 4, 5, round bursts. Or at least not enough of a drawback to engineer some unsatisfactory "fix."

    I shoot a couple of AR rifles and even with a squirrel shooter like that, I find the 20 round mags are the way to go just for general handiness. I also have a FAL and though there's no fun switch, firing semi-auto is enough to demonstrate that it would be difficult to keep on target in full auto.

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  13. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I can reset your password on the old account and roll this one back into it if you want to.

    PM if you do, but you'll need to do so before 14 March, as I will be out of pocket for about 2 weeks. Otherwise, you will have to approach Otto about it.
     
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  14. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

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    This is one of my pet peeves, everyone always comments about "full auto", I take that to mean "pray and spray" which is something most civilians like to do at the range but happens very infrequently in real life in the military, except for ill disciplined, half-trained troops. This is true of a belt fed or magazine fed, if you're a machine gunner or an automatic rifleman or whatever. You fire in bursts when in automatic, this is for a number of reasons, accuracy, ammo conservation, barrel heating etc., with the exception of final protective fire it just almost never occurs. Employment with the bipod is the most stable, optimal employment, just as the tripod is with the GPMG; tactical factors though often precludes this.

    I disagree. My dad was a BAR man early in his career, he's told me numerous times, and when fired in 3-4 round bursts, as you're trained to do, the weapon is controllable and accurate. The bipod is the most stable employment, just as the prone position is the most stable for the rifleman. As stated earlier, civilian shooters when trying the weapon out on a range most frequently pull the trigger and empty the mag. They think it's cool, but that's not how it's used by a trained military shooter that's fired thousands of rounds downrange trying to learn to fire in bursts and keeping his rounds on target. If as you state, the BAR was only effectively employed with the bipod, why was it common practice for BAR gunners in combat to carry it without the bipod attached? These were trained, combat veterans whose survival depended upon them being most effective with their weapon.

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    6th Division Marine Okinawa, no bipod.

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    Marine, no bipod.

    Some additional photos, some US Army, some Marine, various battles, WWII and Korea

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    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
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  15. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

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  16. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

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    [​IMG]

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  17. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    I don't know how deeply I dare venture into this, but I too have read more than once that many BAR men preferred to use the weapon without the bipod. I think John Weeks describes the bipod as heavy and clumsy, though no doubt it was an asset when firing prone or in defense. It may be worth remembering that the BAR was not designed to have a bipod or to be an LMG like the contemporary Lewis gun, but to provide 'walking fire' (assault fire?) for infantry crossing no-man's land. That being the case, I imagine that John Browning figured that the fixed barrel, 20-round magazine, and lack of a bipod were not liabilities at all. Certainly the many pictures of WWII BAR men using it sans bipod suggest that they did find ways to make the weapon effective, perhaps in the fashion originally envisioned in WWI. Presumably experienced shooters knew enough to employ short bursts only. The police version, the Colt Monitor, didn't have a bipod either.

    Part of the problem in discussing this, it seems to me, is that the BAR really was an odd, almost unique weapon. It wasn't quite an LMG, it wasn't a modern assault rifle, and yet it had some characteristics of both.
     
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  18. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    Though this was never official, the British Army moved in the same direction during WWII. By 44-45 it was common for rifle sections to add a second Bren on an unofficial basis.
     
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  19. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    I would defer to USMCPrice's knowledge anyday...the man knows his stuff. The KEY to what he is saying is short bursts...you can see US marines in Vietnam doing exactly the same thing with an M60...even despite the belt fed system and even in prone position they fire short controlled bursts...quickly mind you, with a fast correction in between bursts.
    I would imagine that a quick full auto burst upon contact with the enemy might be a tactic to get the enemy hunkering down...but beyond that its short bursts for actually hitting something.
     
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  20. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    With or without the bipod, your automatic rifle is most effective from the prone. The standard infantry tactic at the squad level was to use a stationary base of fire (the BAR) while other men flanked. That doesn't mean it couldn't be used standing or advancing, just that it was less effective.

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