John M. Browning and America’s Guns of WWI
John M. Browning actually started working on the design of the BAR about the time of the US entry into WWI. Mr. Browning was famous for “burning the midnight oil” to get a new gun design into production. From initial sketches to a working model took Browning only a few months. The demonstration of the BAR for military brass and members of Congress in 1917 was a huge success and it was immediately recommended for adoption and mass production.
Again, as often happens in military and industrial history, totally new firearm designs may suffer major challenges as they move into mass production, especially when several different companies are making the same gun in vastly different locations. And so it was with the BAR. Fortunately, these teething problems during mass production were soon worked out, often by Mr. Browning himself working alongside the engineers and machinists at each defense factory.
“Interestingly, (the BAR) was first demonstrated in France by Lt. Val Browning, the inventor’s son,” notes military historian Bruce Canfield. “After familiarization and training, the BAR began to be issued to front line troops and used in actual combat. The first recorded U.S. Army use of the BAR in combat was on September 12, 1918, in the hands of the 79th Infantry Division. The BAR immediately proved to be an unqualified success as a combat arm.”
The fighting in Europe ended at 11:00 o’clock on November 11, 1918. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the guns finally fell silent…at least for a time.
But that’s another story for another day…
Looking back, history has shown that much of the American military success on the ground in WWI, and on the land, sea, and air during WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and even up to the present day, can be traced directly back to the small arms designed and refined by John M. Browning.
And that’s a lasting legacy all Americans can all be proud of.
A special 100th Anniversary BAR
A highly embellished BAR Safari Mk II celebrating the first 100 years of the great 30-06 cartridge. First developed as a military cartridge, and quickly accepted as an all-around big game cartridge. These rifles have highly embellished nickel-plated receivers with gold enhancement commemorating the 30-06’s military origins and its roots in hunting. The buttstock and forearm are Grade 3 Turkish Walnut with skip-line checkering and an oil finish.
Photos are copyright Browning Archives, Browning Arms and/or used with attribution or permission or are in the public domain. Review was written by Browning staff writer Scott Engen. Copyright Browning 2017.