Book Review
The Browning Automatic Rifle
Osprey Publishing LTD book The Browning Automatic Rifle
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]


This is a review of the Osprey Publishing LTD book The Browning Automatic Rifle by author Robert R. Hodges Jr. and illustrators Johnny Shumate and Alan Gilliland with Series Editor Martin Pegler.

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**Combining much of the handiness of a rifle and the firepower of a machine gun, the Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR, was a major step forward in light automatic weaponry. Introduced to the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I, the US infantry used BAR-teams as a counter to the prolific German machine guns on the Western front. In the 1930s the BAR’s deadly punch and portability made it a favorite of both gangsters and law enforcement, and during World War II its firepower was so important that by 1944 the Marine Corps had tripled its rate of issue **

** Author’s words quoted from the back cover of the book.


Osprey Publications Ltd has released The Browning Automatic Rifle as Number 15 in their Weapon series. It is a paperback book with 80 pages. Included with the text are color and black and white photographs, color illustrations and detailed captions. It has a 2012 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-84908-761-2. The book examines and discusses the Browning Automatic Rifle (B.A.R.).

the contents

- Introduction
- Development
- America’s automatic rifle
- Use
- Four decades of the BAR-man
- Impact
- The heart of squad firepower
- Conclusion
- Bibliography
- Index

the text

The text in the book is well written and extremely detailed. I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors as I read through the book. Hodges covers the Browning Automatic Rifle (B.A.R.) from its development, to its introduction, to its use in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam very well. Also discussed is the use of the Browning Automatic Rifle (B.A.R.) by law enforcement agencies such as the FBI in its war against the American gangsters such as Bonnie and Clyde in the 1930s. Several of the Browning Automatic Rifle (B.A.R.) variants are shown and discussed such as the Commercial Colt M1925 Browning Automatic Rifle in 7mm and the Browning Automatic Rifle (B.A.R.) in .303 caliber for the British military. One of the most interesting variants discussed is the R80 Colt “Monitor” Automatic Machine Rifle. The Monitor featured a shorter barrel and a slotted Cutts compensator and was developed with the intention of selling it exclusively to law enforcement agencies, banks and other companies that employed armed guards. Anyone interested in the development of the Browning Automatic Rifle (B.A.R.), its use and variations will find this book very informative and interesting.

the photographs

There are a total of 52 black and white photographs and 10 colour photographs throughout the book. The majority of the photographs are nice clear, centered and focussed images. The majority of the featured photographs were new to me and I was pleased with this. I definitely consider that a bonus as it is nice to have a reference book that contains several lesser known photographs as opposed to the same old over used photographs that many books tend to contain. The photographs of the Browning Automatic Rifle (B.A.R.) being used by law enforcement and the variations of the BAR were a nice addition. The colour photographs show things such as close up details of the Browning Automatic Rifle (B.A.R.) as well as the method of operation for the weapon.

the colour illustrations

There are 4 colour illustrations by illustrators Johnny Shumate and Alan Gilliland and they are very well done. As with the photographs the illustrations come with well written captions that provide detailed information about each illustration.

The colour illustrations are of the following:

- The BAR Exposed
- The AEF’s machine rifle
- The BAR on both sides of the law
- The anti-sniper BAR

the informational charts

- BAR Ammunition
- US Military BAR Variations
- Squad Automatics, 1903-53: a comparison

variations of the browning automatic rifle (bar) and other weapons shown and discussed

- French 8mm Chauchat Machine Gun
- Commercial Colt M1925 Browning Automatic Rifle in 7mm
- R80 Colt “Monitor” Automatic Machine Rifle
- Browning Automatic Rifle (B.A.R.) in .303 caliber
- Polish WZ.28
- FN Modele 30
- United States M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW)

the captions

The captions are well written and are very detailed and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations well. I didn’t notice any major spelling or grammatical errors however I did notice some incomplete sentences and run on words. These were are few and minor and take nothing away from the book.


All in all I am very impressed with the book. This is a very nice reference book that contains many interesting photographs and well detailed captions. It details the Browning Automatic Rifle (B.A.R.) very well. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal military reference library.


The Military Book Club Encyclopedia of Infantry Weapons of WWII
Ian V. Hogg
Saturn Books Ltd.

Winchester An American Legend
The Official History of Winchester Firearms and Ammunition from 1849 to the Present
R.L. Wilson
Chartwell Books, Inc.

Classic Weapons Series
Browning Automatic Rifle
Terry J. Gander
PRC Publishing Ltd.

Weapons Of The Vietnam War
Edited By Anthony Robinson
Bison Books

Great Weapons Of World War II
John Kirk
Robert Young
Introduction by Bernard E. Trainor
Walker And Company

Highs: A very nice history of the Browning Automatic Rifle (B.A.R.)Nice photographs and artwork
Lows: A few grammatical errors
Verdict: This is a very nice reference book that is well researched and written and contains many interesting photographs and well detailed captions.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: 978-1-84908-761-2
  Suggested Retail: US $17.95
  PUBLISHED: May 24, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Randy L Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2021 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. All rights reserved.


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