John Browning designed a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) series, which included a number of automatic rifles and light machine guns - one of which was the United States M1918.  These weapons were used extensively by the US military as well as a number of other countries throughout the world.  The M1918 was first put into US service in 1918 and variants continued to be used into the 1960s.


The Firearms and Ordnance Gallery at the Armed Forces History Museum contains an extensive collection of military weapons.  Feel the power of these authentic pieces from around the world.  Included in this incredible display is an M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle. 


Browning designed the M1918 to replace two French made machine guns - the Chauchat and the M1909 Benet-Mercie for the US Expeditionary Corps in Europe.  The design of the M1928 allowed it to be easily carried by infantryman by slinging it over their shoulder.  This rifle could also be discharged from the hip, a tactic considered crucial for those involved in trench war.



When the United States became actively involved in World War I, their assortment of machine guns was minimal.  When this was brought to the attention of those in command, it was decided that rapid domestic weapon rearmament would be necessary.  In the meantime, US soldiers were to be issued whichever rifles were available from the French and the British.


In 1917, just before the US entered WWI, John Browning had brought two different automatic weapons to Washington DC.  He demonstrated each.  One was water-cooled, which later became the M1917, and the second was an automatic rifle, should-fired – also known as the BMR, Browning Machine Rifle.  Both weapons were chambered for the .30-06 Springfield cartridge, which was standard for that time.  Browning used live fire in a demonstration, which resulted in an immediate contract.  The US Army Ordnance did some additional testing of their own and within a few months, both of Browning’s weapons were chosen to be immediately adopted into the service.


Specifications on the M1928

  • Classification:  Light machine gun
  • Used in Service:  1918-1960
  • Production:  1917 to 1950s
  • Action:  Gas-operated, tilting breech block
  • Rate of Fire:  500 to 650 rounds per minute
  • Muzzle Velocity:  2,822 feet per second
  • Effective Range:  100 to 1,500 yards (sight adjustments for maximum effective range)
  • Overall Maximum Range:  Average 4,500 to 5,000 yards


A number of variants arose from the M1918 design and used by a number countries throughout the world.  In all the United States M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle participated in over ten conflicts, including World War I, World War II and as recently as the Palestinian Civil War.