A glance at the Browning BAR LT Tracker HC .30-06 caliber rifle
Hunters using short-barrelled, easy-to-handle semi-automatic rifles (eg. so-called "battue" rifles) generally expect to be able to put a third, fourt or even fifth shot on target as quickly as possible should the need arise. That's what the new Browning BAR LT Tracker HC centerfire semi-automatic rifle has been conceived for: providing maneuverability, practical use and quick follow-up shots when needed.
The main difference between the the LT Tracker HC model and the Short-Trac or Long-Trac versions of Browning's quintessential BAR platform with manual cocking system − an optional that has been available for some time now on the design − lays in the barrel, whose overall lenght has been reduced from 51 to 47 centimetres.
This rifle model has been created for hunting specialties that may require quick follow-up shots at relative short distances, 20 to 50 metres; that's the case for driven or battue hunting. More and more hunters in Europe and elsewhere now prefer semi-automatic rifles and carbines over more classic bolt-action or combination designs, just like safety clothing beyond the typical bright orange caps and jackets are more and more widely accepted.
An already extremely comfortable rubberized grip features horizontal "grooves" to help shooters maintain a firmer hold on the gun in all conditions. The stock comes with a 21 mm-wide rubber buttpad, which can be replaced with any of the two spares provided (7 mm and 14 mm wide, respectively) that will reduce the stock lenght by up to 14 mm, although the shorter the spacers are, the harder they get in order to maintain good shock-absorbing capabilities.
The front handguard retaining nut also dubs as a mounting point for one of the two factory-issued sling swivels; another can be found under the buttstock. The Browning BAR LT Tracker HC semi-automatic rifle is also provided from factory with a high-visibility HiViz® battue front sight.
The rear sight is located on a ramp track equipped with a white line that helps the shooter to keep his/her eyes focused on the "rear sight - front sight" axis, allowing for faster target acquisition; game trackers and drive or battue hunters that don't use optics will probably find this feature extremely helpful.
The overall mechanical design of the Browning BAR LT Tracker HC semi-automatic rifle is in no way different from any 2nd Gen. Browning BAR rifle with the HC manual cocking system. It should be pointed out that – apart from the name – the second generation Browning BAR has barely anything in common with its predecessor, which was based on the open-bolt, gas-operated M-1918 "Browning Automatic Rifle" prominently used by the U.S. military during World War II.
Today's Browning BAR rifles have been optimized for hunting purpose, and are based upon a short-stroke gas piston system and a rotary bolt head with seven locking lugs that lock directly in the barrel extension. The cocking handle and hold-open release lever are both located on the right side of the receiver.
The magazine release catch lies conveniently in front of the trigger guard. Upon pressure, it will travel for approximately two millimetres without noticeable resistance before releasing the magazine; there will be a slight scratch sensation at this point, but no further creep or any otherwise unpleasant feedback upon removal or reinsertion.
At the range with Browning BAR LT Tracker HC
A 50-metre distance seemed the most suited for the intended purpose of this gun, so we equipped the rifle with a reflex sight that would just do.
In terms of overall designs, the SightMark Pro looks like a more sophisticated holographic sight, and offers a total of four reticles, all adjustable for brightness.
The testers zeroed the reflex sight on a target consisting of a standard dot enclosed between a horizontal and a vertical line, adjusting brightness to its lowest setting, as the reticle illumination would otherwise be excessive and look blurry at their eyes. Once adjusted to its lowest brightness level, the illuminated dot delivered an astonishingly sharp target image. Despite weighing just over 3.3 kg when equipped with the reflex sight, the Browning BAR LT Tracker HC semi-automatic rifle provided a pleasant shooting experience, with the thick, soft buttpads absorbing a substantional portion of recoil energies.
The Browning BAR LT Tracker HC semi-automatic rifle had no difficulty in cycling with all the selected loads. Nevertheless, the patterns – although fairly tight – ended up "scattering" somewhere around the third shot: probably a sign that the distinctly fluted short barrel heated up too quickly.
Before switching to 100-metre targets, we equipped the Browning BAR LT Tracker HC rifle with a 600-grams Walther PSR 1-6x24 battue scope with selectable and adjustable illuminated red or green dots. Zeroing required a couple of warm-up shots, after which a Bore-Snake was run through the barrel – which was left to cool down for a few minutes; the fluting provided a quick heat dissipation.
After what we witnessed at the 50-metres lane – with patterns becoming wider after the third shot or so – we decided to run only three-shot groups this time.
The magnified scope greatly improved target acquisition, but nevertheless, the first two shots were noticeably closer one another while the third always seemed to stray a bit.
Indeed, every single time the first two shots of each group almost managed to hit the same spot, using 165-grains GECO Express and Hornady Interbond loads. This would indicate that the Browning barrel delivers a high intrinsic level of accuracy; overall, all three-shot groups would fit a coaster-size area, more than enough for battue or drive hunting purposes. It's worth pointing out that, even with groups becoming wider after the third shots, even the first two five-shots warming-up groups would be just as tight.
Shooting test results: Browning BAR LT Tracker HC in .30-06 Springfield
|Nr.||Factory loads||D from 50 m*||D from 100 m**|
|1||165 grs GECO Express||43 (22) mm||32 (4) mm|
|2||165 grs Hornady Interbond||61 (17) mm||72 (3) mm|
|3||165 grs RWS Doppelkern||45 (10) mm||52 (23) mm|
|4||180 grs Remington Express Core-Lokt||90 (21) mm||55 (29) mm|
|5||185 grs Lapua Magnum||47 (22) mm||96 (39) mm|
Notes/abbreviations: group spread at 50 and 100 metres; shooter in seated and supported position (sandbag; the "*" mark indicates the groups shot using a Sightmark pro reflex sight; the "**" mark indicates the groups shot using a Walther PSR 1-6x24mm battue scope set to a 4x magnification factor).
Measures are in millimetres, starting from the centermost point to the position of the second and third shot. Values in brackets are obtained after subtracting a flier.
Test summary for the Browning BAR LT Tracker HC rifle
With the Browning BAR LT Tracker HC semi-automatic rifle, trackers and hunters will receive a modern, easy to handle autoloader with a reliable manual cocking system, fully meeting − and often exceeding − the "mission requirements" for its category. Browning International advertises the BAR LT Tracker HC rifle at a manufacturer's suggested retail price of €1590, but the actual street price may vary from Country to Country, and even from shop to shop, depending on factors such as availability, individual price policies, VAT and other local taxes, import fees, and so on.