Gun collection gets even bigger with a World War II era oversized Browning Automatic training rifle
- "We need you to come down to the museum ... we've got something big."
That was all Senior Curator Doug Wicklund had to say. Something big. I had no idea it would be something so humongously big.
With an equally big grin upon his face, Wicklund greeted me at the museum door. Prodding me to guess, there were hints of a historic firearm, World War II era, known by its acronym rather then the proper name. What else could it be? A BAR, right?
"No," replied Wicklund. "It's an oversized BAR training rifle."
Standing roughly eight feet tall, this training/cutaway model of the BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) arrived at the National Firearms Museum on Halloween ... fitting for such an overblown edition. But there's good reason for such a size.
"The BAR oversized trainer was designed to be seen by audiences," Wicklund explained. "Mainly for GIs so they could see how the BAR operates. It was also provided to armorers so they could see how the internal mechanisms could be worked, how parts interchange, how trigger pull is adjusted and essential parts be replaced if need be."
Barrel end view of the NRA Museum's new BAR training rifle
Then he dropped a real doozy on me.
"They made it bigger because it's easier to see see something big then something small."
Apparently he was saving that one.
The Browning Automatic Rifle, created by firearm virtuoso John Browning, was a gas operated automatic rifle that fired up to 650 rounds per minute. With a twenty round magazine, it was a favorite for infantry squads throughout the European and Pacific theaters in World War II. An icon highlighted in the entertainment industry of the day.
"It was the squad selected fire rifle throughout World War II," Wicklund said. "If you watch those old reruns of Combat, the BAR guy was the one everyone looked to to provide sustained automatic fire. He would keep the bad guys down while his friends provided flanking fire."
With a little work and care, this training rifle will soon go on display in the NRA National Firearms Museum's Ever Vigilant Gallery. So when you finally make your way to the friendly confines of the Fairfax, Virginia, do yourself a favor and check out the inner workings of a BAR.
Editor's Note: The oversized BAR was donated by Mr. Stephen Michaels who is now an NRA Museum volunteer.