One of the most iconic weapons among those employed in the two world wars by the US Army was certainly the BAR M1918, a powerful .30-06 caliber, gas-operated automatic rifle/light machine gun with selective fire capability designed by John Moses Browning. Although officially adopted by the US military only in 1938 with the official designation of “US Automatic Rifle, Caliber .30, M1918”, the BAR was used experimentally in the last months of World War I and accompanied the G.I.s until the end of the Vietnam War. Very heavy, unwieldy and with a small magazine capacity (20 rounds), this light machine gun was extraordinarily accurate for a combat firearm, and in the hands of a trained infantryman was able to inflict devastating losses on the enemy. In addition to the US Army, between the two wars the BAR M1918 was also used extensively by criminals like Bonnie & Clyde and John Dillinger and by federal agents engaged in hunting them down. In those years Colt also manufactured an improved version of the BAR called the Monitor and intended specifically for law enforcement.
Like all weapons that have been protagonists of the American military history, the BAR M1918 can count on legions of fans and collectors, and like many firearms no longer in production in their original version, is still available as a replica, thanks to the Ohio Ordnance Works of Cradon. Living up to its slogan "preserving the past, engineering for the future", the company manufactures semi-automatic replicas of both the BAR in A3 version and the M240 and M2 machine guns. But that's not all.
HCAR: the modern version of a gun that has made history
With the acronym HCAR, or "Heavy Counter Assault Rifle", Ohio Ordnance Works offers a modernized version of the BAR, with some changes to reduce weight – the real Achilles heel of the original weapon – and to improve operation.
Let's start with the weight: the original version weighed 19 lb/8.30 kg, almost as much as two Garands, its fire power limited by a 20-round magazine. The new version weighs "only" 11.75 lb/5.3 kg with 16" barrel or 12.5 lb/5.6 kg with 20" barrel and that already makes a big difference.
The HCAR. is built around a robust steel receiver, which has been lightened with some millings on the sides, and maintains the adjustable gas-operated system with closed bolt that allows an excellent level of safety and reliability even with high pressure cartridges. An internal hydraulic buffer system helps reduce felt recoil on the shooter's shoulder. In semi-automatic fire the gun fed by a proprietary 30-round double-stack magazine, which is not interchangeable with that of the original weapon. The wooden stock has been replaced with a telescoping AR-15 style buttstock, while the pistol grip, made of carbon fiber reinforced nylon, provides a firm grip without overly adding to the weight of the gun. The HCAR compatible with any mil-spec pattern AR-15 stock. Even the free-floating hand guard, featuring an effective checkering, is made of carbon-fiber reinforced nylon and has three Picatinny accessory rails at 3, 6 and 9 o'clock. There are no factory sights, but the Picatinny rail on the receiver's top allows the mounting of any type of iron, optical or electronic sight.
As we said, the gun is available in two barrel lengths, 16 and 20 inches (405 and 508 millimeters). In both cases barrel twist is 1:10. As usual, the muzzle is threaded for the mounting of accessories such as muzzle brakes or suppressor (where allowed). For the moment, the gun is available only in .30-06 Springfield caliber. In the USA the price of the HCAR is 4,800/5,300 bucks (about 4,300/4,600 euros), while the price of the 1918 A3 model is around 5,500 dollars (4,900 euros).
Watch the HCAR in action in a video
Ohio Ordnance Works HCAR specs and price
|Caliber:||.30-06 Springfield |
|Barrel Length: ||16 or 20 inches (405-508 mm)|
|Overall Length:||38.25”-42.45” (970-1070 mm)|
|Magazine Capacity: ||30 rounds|
|Weight:||11.75 lb-12.5 lb (5,300-5,600 g)|
|Sights:||None, Picatinny rail for optics mounting|
|Price (in the US): ||$4,800-5,300 (about 4,300-4,600 euro)|