When at the last edition of EOS I had a chance to see it and take it in my hands for the first time, I must admit that I was not quite "capable of making judgments". No, I hadn't been drinking nor hit my head, just that one fixed thought was swirling around in my mind like an obsession: "But how on earth could the guys at Browning have thought of improving... perfection!?"
Yes, because it must be said that since its inception, the BAR has always been this and nothing less: the state-of-the-art semi-automatic rifle.
Originally a civilian application of a military project – and that already says a lot – the BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) rifle quickly managed to win over the world's wild boar hunting enthusiasts (above all), eventually becoming a true best seller with its subsequent versions, selling more than 1.2 million examples worldwide. A testimony to an absolute customer satisfaction by tough people as real boar hunters are: badasses who want no nonsense, and what they are looking for is always and only a safe rifle, that always shoots well with any ammunition and in all conditions, without much talk!
Now, I had been left with the fact that its penultimate version called Reflex constituted the Pillars of Hercules of the project: the ultimate border beyond which there could only be the unknown, which so often means making disasters or fouling up. Like putting a mustache on the Mona Lisa!
Well, I hadn't done the math with Browning's RD department...
Face to face with the Browning BAR 4X and its creators
Picking up the rifle and rearranging my thoughts a bit, I began to understand. At first glance, two things immediately sticked out:
- to begin with, it was undoubtedly still a BAR, 100 percent...
- ...but with several extra features, to the discovery of which two dear friends, Frédéric Colombié and Alessandro Colinelli, guided me step by step under the amused gaze of big boss Martin Bouchè, enjoying the spectacle of my amazement as I was shown and explained in detail all the pluses of the new BAR platform called 4X.
So there were two aspects that they had worked on in Herstal with full knowledge of the facts – and in a way that I would say was ingenious:
- improving what was already great, taking it to the perfection level for absolute versatility and practicality of use;
- offering the possibility of ferrying the mass-produced semi-automatic rifle towards the realm of custom guns, to give everyone the opportunity to have a customized and dedicated rifle, but staying in the range of popular prices. Two impossible missions for everyone, but not for Browning.
This is how they did it.
Technical innovations common to the whole BAR 4X platform
Improvements to the design involve four key technical aspects, corresponding to as many interventions on mechanical parts.
- Accuracy and precision in shooting: in this regard, a new barrel thread assembly, screwed directly into the receiver, which therefore has been slightly resized and strengthened as needed. As in the finest bolt-action sniper rifles.
- Comfort of use and safety: the former is achieved by reducing the hand cocking system travel by 25 per cent of the usual length, with a slight oversizing of the bolt knob itself; the latter, by working on further refinement and use of the multiple safety system on the proprietary trigger guard.
- Practicality and versatility of use: regardless of what we will see next, in the BAR 4X all barrels of every possible version are muzzle threaded and fluted. In addition, with the possibility to have a battue rib and fiber optic sight on request, or a K1 Reflex red dot from Kite Optics, or whatever other optics you want. These pluses make it possible to mount muzzle brakes or sound suppressors (where allowed) without any problems. All this, using the modular barrel-mounted sighting system that can be re-configured in seconds. The rifle will still be perfectly zeroed according to our wishes.
- Various stock options: at present the options only include a wood stock in two key variants to meet the needs and tastes of different users. The classic one, available for both right- and left-handed users, with a more Mediterranean flavor is available with wood grades 2 and 3, while with the "Nordic" Bavarian-style or boarback stock version we get to the beautiful and precious grade 4. This is where you already enter modularity territory!
The secret of the Browning BAR 4X is modularity
Therein lies the second key feature of the new BAR 4X, the one that carries the mass-produced semi-automatic rifle into the universe of tailor-made custom guns.
The way all this was made possible is extraordinary. The key was all in the skillful use of new technologies, applying what has long been done in automotive to the world of hunting guns-- a revolution.
How it works is quickly said: thanks to an online configurator, you can build your BAR to your own specifications according to your needs. With the help of your trusted gunsmith, if you want. Or from the comfort of your home and printing the final design or sharing it online with your gunsmith, and then finalizing the order.
There are so many possibilities for accessories and finishes that over 600 different versions can be chosen for the same platform. The basic models to bring each configuration to life are 4 - gradually going up in value determined by the class of materials used and starting from:
- BAR 4X Hunter (priced at 1,938 euros);
- BAR 4X Elite (from 2,094 euros);
- BAR 4X Ultimate (from 2,298 euros);
- BAR 4X Platinum (from 2,910 euros).
To wrap up: starting with the base Hunter model going up to the top of the range, the Platinum model, with the Elite and Ultimate in between. You can play with accessories and type of finish, from wood grades to engravings, up to technical features and calibers, which for all models are currently:
- standard calibers: namely .308 Win, .30-06 and 9.3×62, all with 530-mm barrels;
- Magnum calibers: currently available only .300 Winchester Magnum with a 610-mm barrel.
The final price is automatically determined basing on what you added or not.
Believe me: harder said than done – and much less pleasant. You can find out everything else by visiting the Browning website.
To learn more please visit the Browning website.
Here you will find the BAR 4X online configurator.