Special Report

This Was the First, Effective Automatic Infantry Rifle Used by the US Military

This article was written with the assistance of A.I. technology, and has been edited and fact-checked by Melly Alazraki.

The Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR, was introduced as a fully automatic infantry rifle at the end of World War I. It was first deployed in combat in September 1918, according to the Survey of U.S. Army: Uniforms, Weapons, and Accoutrements.

The preceding French attempt was the unreliable 8x51mm Chauchat light machine gun, the BAR was chambered for .30-06 Springfield ammunition and proved to be a much more effective weapon than its predecessor.

The main difference between an automatic rifle and a semi-automatic rifle is the rate of fire because, while both reload automatically, the automatic fires continuously until the trigger is released and the semi-automatic fires one shot each time the trigger is pulled. An automatic rifle can therefore fire a much higher number of rounds per minute than a semi-automatic rifle. The BAR’s rate of fire was adjustable, from 300-450 to 500-650 rounds per minute.

The BAR saw plenty of action during World War II and was used by the U.S. military until the 1960s. Since then, it has been replaced in military inventories by more modern firearms, like the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and M4 Carbine.

Click here to see how automatic rifles have evolved in the U.S. Army.

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