2 Gun: FG42 vs BAR (Video)

By popular request, this month we are doing a head-to-head match of the awesome FG-42 (second model, in 8mm, made by SMG Guns) and the much-revered Browning BAR (M1918A3, in .30-06, made by Ohio Ordnance). Lots of people suggested that this would be a fair match, since both guns were intended to be support-type weapons.

In reality, though, the FG-42 is a far superior design. The BAR was designed more than 20 years earlier, and the M1918 version used by the US Army was obsolete before WWII ever started. That said, Karl (who is shooting the BAR) is a significantly better shooting than I am – will the FG-42 give me enough of an advantage to actually win the match? One of the fundamental lessons I have learned shooting these matches is that a shooter’s skill is much more important than what firearms he or she happens to be using – but there will come a point somewhere when one firearm is so clearly superior to another than it can outweigh a significant difference in skill.

There is a lot of mythos surrounding the BAR and glorifying it, thanks in large part to war movies. It was a legitimately good weapon when it first hit the battlefield in 1918, replacing (in theory, had there been enough time and enough BARs) the French M1915 Chauchat. It was both more accurate, more durable, and significantly more reliable than the Chauchat. However, it was still one of the first guns of its type to see wide-scale service, and the design left a lot to be desired.

FG42 vs BAR

First of all, it was designed with “walking fire” in mind, as that is what the Allied commanders wanted. The notion is that the gunner would rest the butt in a specially designed cup in his web belt, and fire from the hip as he advanced, walking upright, across No Man’s Land. This concept was a laughable failure – a BAR gunner doing this cannot possibly hope to suppress, say, an dug-in MG08. Other shortcomings include the target-rifle type sights, the slow and very heavy bipod, the clumsy magazine changes, and other general ergonomic deficiencies. This was tolerable in 1918, given the very short development period and the general novelty of light machine guns, but by the 1930s it should have been clear that it was thoroughly obsolete. New designs like the ZB/Bren, Chatellerault, Vickers-Berthier, and others had made a major improvement in the field. Even the Madsen from all the way back to 1902 was in most ways superior to the BAR.

Not that the BAR was a lost cause – FN as able to make significant improvements to it in the form of the FN-D. In this guise it had a much better bipod, a better magazine release and pistol grip, shorter quick-detach barrel, and larger ejection port for clearing malfunctions. Several European armies used the FN-D during WWII, but the US military was uninterested in making the investment to update their BARs.

The FG-42, on the other hand, was a very modern design from its inception. It was designed within strict size and weight limitations, and incorporated several elements to minimize recoil. The side-mounted magazine allowed the mag to use the same footprint as the trigger group, thus shortening the overall length by 5 inches or more. The recoil buffer in the stock and the excellent muzzle brake make the gun quite pleasant to shoot (and the brake doesn’t even kick up dirt when fired prone). The bipod is light and unobtrusive (although being mounted at the end of the relatively thin barrel, it is primarily useful for automatic fire). As Karl mentions in the video conclusion, the FG-42 can easily hold its own against totally modern firearm designs.

96 Comments

  1. Damn your eyes! The more of these videos you put up of the FG-42, the more I want one. I actually have the money to get one for a change, but I REALLY should use it for some other things I need. And just about the time I’ve talked myself into doing the responsible thing, you come up with another FG-42 video!

  2. It is interesting to note that the person involved in making the improvements to the B.A.R. was none other than Dieudonné Saive, the designer of the FN-49 and FN FAL.

    • Not to mention the Browning P-35 a.k.a. Hi-Power, which was the the grand daddy of most modern high capacity combat pistols.

  3. Considering that the BAR was designed to be squad automatic weapon, similar in purpose to today’s M249 and if my memory serves, didn’t have a semi-auto function, trying to use it as an infantryman’s rifle would be a lost cause. It’s weight was probably a plus when used in full auto mode. The MG42, on the other hand, although I had never ever heard of one before watching your superb videos, looks more akin to an Stg44 or a modern “assault rifle” than a squad automatic. Because of their tactics, was not the MG 34 and MG42 basically the German squad automatic? Your critique of the sights and the fact that the American Military was not interested in improvements to the BAR brought about by FN only goes to show how our military has in the past been “penny wise and pound foolish” is a point well taken.
    Thanks for your always interesting posts.

  4. The 1911 was the finest Combat sidearm ever designed by man! Says Col, Jeff Cooper in my 16 year old copy of G&A git dang it Private Pile.

  5. Most effective, something… Words to that effect, it’s in my cupboard.

    Think I’d know it off by heart by now.

    I’ll quit Chewin, when… Something or other.

    Redman chewing tobacco advert “that still going?”

    • The muzzle brake and the recoil dampening system in the FG42 effectively reduce the recoil as well as the weight does for the BAR.

      The BAR does not recoil much, but it weighs 21.4 lbs unloaded against the Fg42’s 9lbs.

      The BAR’s weight and “flash hider”, however, do nothing to deal with dust kick up or flash so that’s a downside.

  6. “First of all, it was designed with “walking fire” in mind, as that is what the Allied commanders wanted. The notion is that the gunner would rest the butt in a specially designed cup in his web belt, and fire from the hip as he advanced, walking upright, across No Man’s Land. This concept was a laughable failure – a BAR gunner doing this cannot possibly hope to suppress, say, an dug-in MG08.” Awww, what a shame… Blackwatch casualty rate 50% over the period of Great war, industrial age. And they’d just made my favorite sword the 1912 Cavalry model “The grip is of the same 1908 form, but the chequered rubber or bakelite grip was replaced by grey ribbed shark skin, bound with German-silver wire” German silver wire, bet that came to an abrupt halt.

    • Yes, high casualties indeed… I’ve been trying to research my Scottish ancestor’s WWI service… So very many young men with similar names… and very many killed, maimed, wounded, etc.

      As for “German-sivler” that is pewter. Equally confusing, in South America it is often called “alpaca.” (“Huh? I thought that was a furry camel-ish type Andean creature…”)

      I’m not sure if you UK folks did what US Americans did in WWI and changed the names of everything German:
      “Liberty cabbage” vs. sauerkraut
      “Hot dogs” vs. Frankfurters or Wieners–both cities of the Central Powers
      There were even taverns that prohibited the sale of Pretzels!

      • German silver a.k.a. new silver a.k.a. alpacca is actually cupronickel alloy, that is copper base with nickel and zinc. Pewter is tin based. Alpaka and alpacca (or even alpacka) were registered trademarks in some countries for German silver, but not only in South America. At least in Finnish and Swedish they were once quite commonly used and I’m sure in many other languages as well.

        As for the somewhat silly renaming in the US: I suppose “liberty fries” did not stick…?

        • Ah thank you! So nickel, zinc, silver= “German silver/alpaca” thanks for the correction and clarification! I had no idea the same term was used in Scandinavia and elsewhere.

          Yes, those Belgian-invented fried potato stick thingies {“pomme frites”) that Americans consume more than any other vegetable was the “French Fry” and was, erm, uh, “re-branded” unsuccessfully as the “Freedom Fry.” “Liberty fries” does have a nice ring to it. I tried to mock this for a time by calling “French toast” “Freedom Toast” but no one knew what I was getting at…

      • The British Royal Family changed their family name.

        Royals often have the family line name instead of a regular surname; it was Saxe-Coburg-Gotha until George V was so disgusted by his German relations after some twin engined GOTHA bombers attacked London that he permanently changed the Royal families name to Windsor (after a castle).

        As far as I know for food products here in Great Britain they disappeared instead of being renamed, but don’t quote me on that.

          • No worries you touched on the general anti-German sentiment, I can’t imagine what went on inside Britain during those years the gritty things that happen on your doorstep are always glossed over after wars.

          • More data on my personal experiences with an authentic full automatic Army issued 1918A2 BAR.
            I did basic, AIT (Advanced Infantry Traning), and BUT (Basic Unit Training) at For Ord California in 1961.
            I think we were the last classes to be trained with the M1 Gerand, BAR, flame-thrower, 1919A6 MG, and M1 carbine.
            I loved them all.
            On the KD range, at great distances, using the bi-pod legs, the BAR was excellent,
            and yea, I would prefer it when the terrain was open and great accuracy was demanded.
            However–
            hated carrying that unwieldy cow.
            Shooting from the hip and close-n targets (Jungle operations)– could not hit a thing!
            Lousy weapon for Vietnam and guess that we issued the BARs to those poor little short Vietnamese soldiers.
            When wearing my class A uniform (until retirement 10 years ago) I display a BAR bar below the (Expert) badge.
            Mis dos centavos.
            former E5 Sergeant of the California Army National Guard 49th Division (Infantry)

      • I gather that the renaming never got as far as re-designating German Measels to “Liberty Measels”.

        The British royal family changed their Germanic identity to “The House Of Windsor”

        It seems to have been an apalling time for any ordinary person with a German sounding name – with thugs and bullies given official license to harrass them.

  7. When it first hit the battlefield, the BAR did not have a bipod and shoulder rest plate, and had the sight leaf of the M1917 rifle. That rear sight is generally well regarded, despite the fact there is no windage adjustment.

    • Yes, I would agree with that. The P-14/17 rear sight is quite good. The 1903 style leaf is awful and that’s what they went to…

      🙁

  8. “the slow and very heavy bipod”
    Original BAR M1918 (without A-number) has no bipod at all. I also doubt about fair of this match – the M1918A3 fire from close bolt when the true BAR fires from open-bolt which bias the accuracy.

    “New designs like the ZB/Bren, Chatellerault, Vickers-Berthier, and others had made a major improvement in the field. Even the Madsen from all the way back to 1902 was in most ways superior to the BAR.”
    As suggest name the BAR is “Automatic Rifle” (single-man weapon) not machine gun (squad weapon). This idea was ahead of time and can’t be done good without cartridge with lower power than rifle but bigger than pistol. The Soviets also produce “one-man full-auto rifle” the AVS-36 and put it into mass-production but it was fast replaced by semi-auto SVT-38 rifle.

    “the French M1915 Chauchat”
    Note the irony that American Forces were equipped with French jam-o-matic Chauchats when the British Forces used properly working Lewis machine gun by the Colonel Lewis of US Army.

    • We always consider fairness and then usually decide against it.

      Let’s put it this way, the closed bolt BAR is more accurate than the open bolt counterpart and it was still woefully challenging to keep up with the FG42….so the open bolt counterpart would have fared even worse.

      • Are you the Karl, from the Video?

        I was under the impression the Fg42 fired from both closed and open bolt, given the bolt/recoil rod lark acting as a “striker”

          • The extra “judder” of a bolt which is closed, but not locked, judder via the “striker” firing it.

        • “Viking” would be my heritage, although I’d refer to them as Norse as the viking era was quite limited in regards to the full history.

          Why do you ask? 🙂

          • Lol – indeed.

            Although I’m the húskarl of my own hús and land so I’m not sure who I serve besides myself.

            In Old Germanic, Karl means “a strong, free man” and I’m willing to accept that description entirely. 🙂

    • I’m glad we pinched that Lewis, shows you doesn’t it “the problems of the upper echelons, and their share price concerns” no wonder there was a black hole in the MOD’s budget.

    • Would the open-bolt BAR have been lighter? Would it have had better sights? No, it would have made no significant change in the performance in this…

    • As an American, I find the long history of America’s Armed Forces occasionally poor weapons choices quite embarrassing! Some times we get it right from the git-go for pennies, sometimes we spend piles of money to get it half right and sometimes we spend humungous truck loads of money and get it so very wrong that it can not be fixed!
      I would point out that the BAR when introduced was the finest automatic rifle on the planet, as long as you did not think of it as a LMG. And I am still mortified that we did not buy the Lewis gun!

  9. Another weakness on the 1918 BAR was their two front bi-pod legs.
    They are weak where they attach to the barrel swivel ring.
    When moving forward-the attack, when one hits the ground, for the prone position, digging in the bi-pod legs (thrusting forward on the ground), one or more of the legs can snap-off.
    I know as I did that with a full auto 1918A2 in 1962.
    Regards
    former E5 Sergeant of the California Army National Guard 49th Division (Infantry)

    • The BAR A2 bipod is one of the worst designs I’ve ever seen on anything ever, in my opinion.

      Thank you for that interesting tid bit!

  10. And so the BAR carrying soldier is expected to carry a bloody wrench along with the rifle?
    What weird things would the FG-42 shooter be required to carry?

  11. A very interesting video and match! Thanks! I don’t envy anyone lugging the B.A.R. that’s for sure… Thank goodness so few Fallschirmjägergewehre 42s wer actually ever made, no? Too bad so many MG42s were!

    I think the prescient aspect of the FG42 was the paratrooper idea that once an air-dropped canister was located and opened, who knew what it contained? Mauser mountain-carbines with loud bark and sharp recoil, MP40 submachine guns, MG34s or MG42s… Why not replace all those with a single weapon that could be a squad support automatic rifle, a full-auto close range weapon, or a rifle.

    As far as I know–which may not be much–the Swiss were apparently quite taken with the FG42 post war. There were a number of prototypes with side mounted magazines (Ian! You cheated! Left hand shooters don’t get the magazine across the plane of vision! Ha-ha!) and the muzzle brake of the FG42 wound up on the Swiss 55 sniper rifle! Arguably the SIG 510 what with bipod and grenade-launcher and so on while retaining the 7.5mm Swiss cartridge is an automatic rifle, service rifle, squad support, and light mortar or anti-vehicle weapon all rolled into one.

    Of course, the StG1944 really pointed the way toward future trends by ditching the old late 19th century full power cartridges for a lighter, handier weapon useful within, say, 300 or 400 yards or so.

  12. Just a few words in defense of the ol’ BAR. Please keep in mind that the BAR had one redeeming feature. It worked. Yes it had all the faults listed above and a few others besides but when one pulled the trigger it went Bang twenty times and would do it over and over again. In the 1920s and 30s the Army faced the reality that they could upgrade the BAR or have a self loading rifle – choose one, not both. In retrospect they made the right choice. Does anyone really think the WW11 GI would have been better off with Model D BARs and bolt action rifles? The real failure of US small arms development occurred after 1945 when the attitude of “Hey, we won the biggest war in history with the – fill in the blank – why change anything?” took over and lasted at least through the Korean war.

    • Well, both Britain and Germany made the opposite choice and they seem to have done okay all things considered.

      • Well actually, I do not think they “Did OK” with the Bren gun/MG-42 and Bolt action rifles, at least if you take a hard look at casualty figures in both armies. For all it’s hype, the Mg-34/42/3 is only a so-so weapon. It burns through ammo that is heavy to carry for little actual effect. It is more accurately a very long range shot gun with a very large dispersion that can keep somebodies head down, but is not likely to actually hit them except at very close range.
        I would love to see a video of someone shooting at reactive target arrays 3-400 meters away with both the Bren, (good) and Mg34/42/3 (Bad) and other Lite Machine Guns for comparison? Along that same line of inquiry, has anyone here asked why no army has adopted a muzzle break for a infantry service weapon? You do not wear ear plugs in combat. Tell me what the FG-42 sounds like fired inside cover when you are not wearing plugs?
        Lastly, I’d like to see a match between the M-14E2 and the FG-42, both with either iron, or scope sights, especially if it included longer ranges! Say to 4-500 meters? Will supply M-14E2, M-14NM and SR-25 clones for comparison, if you like. PS My gun club has a new 500M NBS range if you come out this way to be my guest.

    • Sticking to the BAR in the 1920s and 1930s might have been justified, but with 20-20 hindsight, in 1941 the US army should have chosen either the FN D or the Johnson M1941 LMG to replace the BAR. Switching production to the FN D might have been somewhat easier, but the Johnson was overall the better weapon, because it offered slightly better firepower and reliability in a much lighter package.

      • They could upgrade the rifle or the BAR; not both. In hindsight, choosing the Garand was the correct upgrade to make in the late ’20’s/ early ’30’s.

  13. I understand that the US military had severe budgetary problems in the ’20’s-’30’s, but I don’t see that as a viable excuse for not moving to an improved BAR. Most of the development work had already been done for them. The FN Model D as mentioned above, for one. And in the mid-20’s Colt produced the Colt Monitor, used by the FBI. One would think that when they started ordering BAR’s again before WWII someone in authority could have said “We’re going with the FN model” or “the Colt model.” Instead, when the money became available they spent it on a less effective weapon.

  14. I’ll always remember the few things my Grandfather said about the army in general, and the BAR in specific. He was an airborne ranger, and, although it was difficult to persuade him to talk about the war, even so many years after, we shared an interest in firearms, and I pried a few details lose.

    He told me that when he held his BAR, he feared no man, and that when he let lose with it, people tended to put their heads down.

    He also told me he left the bipod in England, and was never once sorry that he did.

  15. Been perusing this website for a while and usually really enjoy it.
    Seems the author of this post missed a few things about the good old BAR.
    The original 1918 Browning Machine Rifle did NOT have a bipod or the shoulder rest. Did not have the mag guides either. So the weight was more like 16 & 1/2 lbs NOT 21 lbs !
    My guess is the shooter might have done better if he had lost his bipod and ran it like a Machine Rifle.
    When Browning designed the BAR it was meant to be used as a self loading rifle with full auto capabilities NOT to be used as a Light Machine Gun.
    The US Army “improved” the BAR just prior to WWII. This added the bipod, slow fire rate, etc and increased the weight. Tried to make the BAR into a LMG which is not what it was meant to be.
    Have used both the original 1918 and 1918A2 BARs and the OOW semi auto 1918A3. The closed bolt of the 1918A3 improves accuracy potential but with practice and a good hold the open bolt F/A versions can do good work out to 600 yards.

    • John,

      We were as closely comparing the WW2 BAR to the WW2 FG42.

      As a result, while it was semi auto and had the A1 forward handguard, it was otherwise the closest we could get to the WW2 “improved” 1918A2 BAR with that wonderful bipod, similar weight and those craptastic sights.

      I fail to see what relevance the original WW1 BAR configuration has for this discussion?

  16. a new production FG_42 “tactical version”:

    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2012/04/26/fg-42-tactical-take-a-deep-breath/

    “The new FG-42 will feature polymer furniture, a spring-powered recoil reducing buttstock, AR-15-compatible pistol grip, picatinny rails a fancy muzzle brake. It will be chambered in 7.92x57mm Mauser, the same cartridge as the FG-42.
    The felt recoil is said to be reduced to about the same as a .223 Remington. The company is working on constructing a magazine with a higher capacity than the standard 20-round FG-42 magazine. “

  17. The objectivity is what I value most on these reviews involving foreign firearms. This is in contrast to some pretty xenophobic ones elsewhere, pushing American originated gun for any cost. I myself, while appreciating advanced thinking and thorough approach incorporated in FG-42, still value Browning 1918 highly.

  18. How about running the FG42 against a modern 7.62 rifle (FN SCAR, or even an AR10-style rifle, or even an M14 in tricked out fiberglass stick)? That would make it more about practical accuracy, handling, and ergonomics.

    In fairness to the BAR, the contest was for rifles, not for light machine guns rebuilt as semi-autos. But still very interesting and fun to watch.

    • Jacob, I think that would be an interesting video actually.

      The very, very first time I ever shot the FG42 was in the January (FG42 VS M1) match video.

      In the scores (see link below), everyone below me was running a modern rifle and most of them with red dot sights.

      Out of 45 shooters, I came in 11th and I was using a P38 while all those other people were using modern handguns:

      https://twogunaction.squarespace.com/january-2014/

      I can’t afford one of these FG42s myself but I am absolutely positive that if I could, I don’t think being in the top 10% of the match would be an unusual occurrence.

      • Hi Karl,
        We have planned since the beginning to update this rifle a little – much to the chagrin of many out there. It will probably be sans bipod, front and rear sight assemblies, mag doors etc etc in an effort to reduce weight and cost. It will feature an attachment point for more modern optics as well as utilizing an AR15 grip so users have a broad range of choices.
        As well the barrel will be bobbed off to 16 1/4″ and if you think the standard rifle feels lively and points fast I will just say the one I describe does the same only more so.
        At first it will still have many other items carried over from the original as this will be a “what do you think about the basic idea” and we will take the feedback from tht and keep making changes.
        Our end result/desire is an updated rifle that will be more user friendly for matches like this, lighter weight, and quit a bit less expensive as well. And I would love to have you help evaluate the test rifle if you are willing.
        This is still a few months off but as a random thought what do you think?

        Rick

        • Rick,

          I was literally talking to some of my shooting buddies as well as Ian about this very idea today – an FG42 “modernized”, even without some of the weight reduction benefits of bipod removal and barrel shortening would be an amazingly formidable carbine against even lesser power intermediate cartridge firing competitors. Coupled with a standard picatinny interface on top and a modern optic, I’m confident this would be *amazing*.

          I’d be beyond myself to T&E such a configuration and would indeed use it as my primary match rifle, not only for 2G-ACM but other 3 gun events as well.

          This will definitely bring out the kinks as well as promote the idea!

          Please ping me when you can to chat, I’m already excited about the opportunity!

        • Rick,

          That sounds like a very cool idea! Would you do it in 8mm or 7.62×51? Every other month I start saving up for the FG42, but my resolve is weak… I will get there one day though!

          • Also, if the wood (which I love), were replaced with polymer, it would reduce weight, lower production costs over time, and would probably be as strong or stronger.

        • I’d put the mag on top, offset, 7.62 Bren mags.

          Or how about a over the shoulder version, like a Bazooka aye.

          Make a link to the recoil buffer, for a shoulder stock, M60 belt feed, from a rucksack.

          Walk and fire, offset sights.

          • Ares stoner 86, style mag, something, offset.

            Bazooka version, in conjunction with electronic sights, target acquisition system frickin lasers.

    • It would probably end up as embarrassment for mentioned “modern rifles”. They really did not bring that much new if you think about it.

      Straight line layout – check.
      Reduced perceived recoil – check.
      Iron sights for easy acquisition – check.
      Ease of maintenance – check.
      Variable mode of fire – ouch; this is the only one to have it.

  19. Boy some BAR and 1911 hate. Don’t run into that very often but its a good change of pace.

    First, as was pointed out we have two different eras of warfare represented. Lets look at the others. If we compare the Springfield Bolt action rifle to the most advanced standard issue German WWII rifle… the STG44. No comparison there. Lets put the 1917 Browning MG up against the MG42… boy again, a world of difference! However if you walked onto the battlefield in 1918 with a BAR and a 1911, you would have represented the pinnacle of power of any individual in WWI! A Squad gun or Artillery or battleship would obviously have more firepower, but as far as weapons designed for the individual soldier, you had the most firepower ever possessed by a single soldier in the history of the world up to that point.

    Second and maybe most importantly, these were Fully Automatic guns. Running them in semi auto is to concentrate on what they were created to replace. Slower fire was available. These were the guns there to lay down suppression fire. I have fired the BAR from a standing position in FA many times. The weight of the gun in not something you can appreciate without the FA function. The reason the FAL, G3, and M14 handle FA so poorly is the lack of weight. This is not the problem with the BAR. With a BAR, you must fire to counter the weight. If you get the gun up and pull the trigger, the weight of the gun counters the recoil and makes the shoulder fired full size rifle cartridge very controllable. You don’t hold a BAR up on your shoulder without pulling the trigger for very long.

    The BAR is always seen as a Light MG, which it is not. It always reminds me of the HMS Hood, a British Battlecruiser. It was a battlecruiser, not armored to take on a Battleship. However it looked to much like a battleship and so it was used as one which ended up in disaster when it faced the most modern generation of German battleships in the Bismarck. The BAR had a bipod added to it making it just that much harder to shoot from a standing position and moved it into the LMG role which it was never designed for. Yes the FND did complete the transformation into a LMG adding the pistol grip and quick change barrel. I have also fired that a lot and its a fine gun with limited mag capacity. I have never fired a FG42, so I can not comment other then I would love to get the chance.

    As for the malfunctions, its not the typical for those guns. Both the 1911 and BAR function near flawlessly. As for liking the modern Glock… well I don’t know what to say there except these guns will still be shooting when those Glocks have been recycled into plastic deck planks and a few screws to hold them down. 🙂 The idea of using a wrench on the BAR wing nuts is very odd. I have also fired one off the bipod plenty and this is completely unnecessary! Either the bipod needs to be replaced or you need to stop taking a wrench to the wingnuts! The way the bipod sides up into the bipod head means its not going to come loose under fire. The wingnuts are just there to keep them up, not take the force of recoil. Fine design that never should have a wrench put to it…

    Still a very interesting look at the two guns. I also have to admit, while I am not buying any more expensive semi autos, watching the video sure does make me want to!

    • Without cranking down on the wing nuts when the bipod is folded up, the bipod shoots lose under fire and the legs start wobbling about.

      I used the wrench to ensure the bipod was securely “locked down” when not deployed subsequent to stage 1. In fact, if you look at stage 1, you’ll see the bipod is starting to wiggle lose and the legs are flopping around a bit.

      I’d agree that the wing nuts would not need a wrench when being tightened into the deployed position…which is fine if you want the bipod deployed all the time. If that was the case, why bother allowing them to fold at all?

      The bipod is absolutely terrible, sorry.

    • Funny thing — the M1917 heavy machine guns were used against MG42s, so that comparison may not be as outlandish as you assume.

      Water-cooled machine guns were still in wide use during the Second World War, and they served solidly despite the fact that nobody wanted to be stuck toting one around.

      Also, for those who are rising to defend the BAR against “BAR haters” might want to check out the _Mail Call_ episode where the Gunny compared a M1918A2 to a Bren gun. Even with his well-known bias in favor of all guns American, Gunny reluctantly conceded that the Bren was easier to shoot effectively. A .30-06 Bren firing support for a squad equipped with Garands would have almost certainly been very persuasive in the eyes of the German correspondents.

    • Do keep in mind that the main reason we put these two guns up against each other is because of comments from people suggesting that it would be a more appropriate and fair matchup than M1 Garand vs FG42. Clearly, that is not the case – the FG is much more practical in the shoulder rifle role than the BAR. That said, I would be curious some day to compare full-auto versions of both guns in the LMG role.

      • I agree entirely.

        The M1 Garand vs the FG42 was actually the more “equal” match in regards to a direct comparison than this one; the BAR really served a different role. There were tactics devised around it which were clearly effective; superior training and tactics can overcome technical “shortcomings” and I do feel that was the case with the BAR historically speaking.

        There’s no hate from me on any cool guns, I just provided my insight and input as someone who literally picked them up and put them both through the 2G-ACM as a litmus test.

        It is also impossible to be entirely objective, some things work better for some people than others and vice versa. I would take a P38 or P08 over a 1911 any day, for example, but I realize I’m in the minority on that opinion.

        Anyone who admires the BAR would do themselves well getting one of these from OOW; they’re truly beautiful works of art and it was a privilege to get to shoot one in the match.

        My admiration of SMG’s FG42s doesn’t need to be repeated; I love ’em.

    • Guys, I was just using the term “Hate” as a fun term. I did not really think you guys hated the BAR. I think its good to have a critical look at guns as they do start to take on an idealize role like they were perfect. For me I love the 1911 and BAR but I am not a fan of the Garand! Never really liked it and its 8 round bing.

      I have not had the problem with the bipod coming loose. Maybe its because you over tightened it and now its loose unless you do tighten it just as much… like old faucets. I do agree with the criticism on the mag release. I don’t like its position. I actually find the BAR bipod to be pretty good. Its those damn MG34/42 bipods that seem to cause issues at our FA shoots. Ever see a run-a-way MG42 pop off its bipod? I have…

      I really did like the comparison. The BAR is really an automatic rifle as I said before. The FG42 is a very light LMG. Its odd for a LMG at that stage to be 20 round mag fed with no quick change barrel. Of course once you toss in the paratrooper role, you understand. However it does really become more of an automatic rifle of its day. I do understand that today, its very expensive to really compare these two guns seeing that the FA versions would represent what about 200K worth of guns combined. However if Rick could do a Post sample and you could get a FA BAR and strip the bipod off… I think it would give a much more realistic comparison. I would really like to see some do some comparison using the BAR in the Automatic rifle/trench broom type role rather than a LMG/bipod mounted role.

      Here is some video of one of the BARs at our range shooting at fast and then slow speed:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXWTjc2URZ0&list=UU1Dfo8oaRSRI2Z808tGeQkQ
      Note how well the bipod is holding the front of the gun!

      • The bipod is fine, when already proactively deployed, in a relatively static position.

        Once you start dynamically moving with it deployed, or have it locked up when you want to use it, or locked down when you don’t want to use it, it starts becoming less wonderful.

        It spins around and throws off your stability if you need to fire offhand. It interferes with the sight picture if you’re not holding it directly at 90 degree angle. It can’t be deployed quickly or put away quickly, it’s heavy.

        It is not reasonable to expect it to be usable all the time in a dynamic environment nor is it reasonable to expect the user to know when they’ll need it or not.

        These issues, coupled with the weight, are probably good indicators of why many BAR gunners removed them in WW2. These issues just do not reveal themselves in a static range environment.

  20. Last I will say on it but the loaning of the two rifles was not to hate on or prove anything. I had just observed the requests to see the two pitted against each other and when we took one of the fine OOW BAR’s in on a trade it looked like a good chance to do it.
    The BAR was one of my favorite of all time weapons from the first time I got to pull the trigger on one – a full auto one but regardless. Heavy yes, but man lay down behind it and hose anything you can see with no recoil to punish you.
    No real way to predict the outcome and it was to be a good thing no matter how it turned out. And we do intend to keep the BAR – everyone should have one!
    Each weapon has it’s merits and problems/weaknesses but this was all meant to be entertaining and man Karl and Ian put in the effort – as always! Many thanks to the both of them!

    Rick

    • Now you’ve got the right attitude!!! Almost every gun I’ve ever shot or owned had some virtues and vices. The idea is to maximize the good points and use tactics to minimize the bad ones.
      I would like to see a more formal test of your FG-42 Clone, to include group accuracy at 100 yards and hit rate at unk distances fired WO adjusting the sights. IE, Battle sight Zero and the number of rounds and or time required to knock down all the targets?
      PS. How much does your FG-42 clone cost, both in 7.92X57 and 7.62X51?
      PPS. Also how about a match between it and the Keltec RFB?

  21. And yet, despite the BARs shortcomings compared to newer offerings, there are still companies making a modernized, tacticool BAR… and charging an arm and aleg for it too!

  22. Such an exciting comments section! So many strong feelings about our fathers and grandfathers arms.

    When i see weapons like the BAR the first thing i think of is how much tougher stuff they were made of back then! I am constantly in awe of those brave men.

    Some years ago i knew a gentleman who was a paratrooper during the Korean war. He was a large fellow so apparently that was a good reason to issue him a BAR. On his first training jump with the BAR the weight of the gun was enough to cause him to land hard and break his right leg. That was of course the end of his paratrooper career. He cursed that weapon for years, however by the time i knew him he had come to love the BAR as he by then he felt that it had saved his life (and by extension the lives of his children and grandchildren).

    P.S. Karl, Ian, how about BAR V.S. MADSEN? That should be a close race between two WWI era designs that served for many decades past their intended conflicts.

      • SVT-40 vs. FG-42 would be interesting. Or SVT-40 vs. G43, but I suppose that would be too fair… For added unfairness you could always give the one with the SVT-40 a Nagant revolver as a handgun ;-D

      • I would have to also vote for an svt40 vs G43 match. Also, another lighter weight match could be say, Sks vs Cz52 or vs Rasheed?

  23. Thanks for posting this
    I don’t think I’d ever really appreciated just how big the BAR actually was until I saw it in comparison with another rifle.
    Also I found the rundown on the BAR’s deficiencies’ very informative; I never knew that the sights would cause so many problems for example. I think that this must be the first time I’ve seen such a considered explanation of a particular weapon’s shortcomings. Generally I’ve either heard the BAR described as the greatest thing since sliced bread or a pile of muck. It was nice to get a sensible explanation.
    By the way does anyone know if the location of the magazine on the FG-42 causes any problems with accuracy, handling etc.?
    I was wondering why no one else has really tried that particular layout for a rifle. it seems like a good way to shorten the weapons length while avoiding some of the misgivings people have with bull pups and given that almost every example of German technology was poured over post war i would have though at least one organisation would have tried making an FG-42 derivative. plus its not like it was an unknown concept the Sten and Sterling SMG’s had a side mounted magazine.

    • Sten mags were thinner, being 9mm, 7.92 side mounted… On the face of it, it sounds a bad idea in my opinion because they are longer, heavier cartridges.

      • So the extra weight of the magazine would likely cause problems that don’t crop up with the Sten or Sterling. Thanks Pdb that makes sense
        Now you mention it I can imagine the weight might upset the balance of the weapon, cause it to tilt to the side if you’re not careful.

        • Well I don’t know if it caused any problems Kb, as such… But the weight would make it kinda tilt towards the mag, presumably. Some guy on here had one, he was firing it at bomb bags for a laugh he confirmed it. I don’t think they were 30 rnd mags, so if you imagine a Bren mag sticking out the side of Bren “you would think it would be wonky” plus unlike a Sten, cuz it’s wider you can’t grip it like a handle.

    • The TRW Low Maintenance Rifle use side mounted magazines back in the ’60s, IIRC. It was also very inexpensive to make and own.

  24. Fantastic video.

    Karl, you’re becoming better and better in front of a camera. I hope to see more appearances on FW.

    • Thank you for your kind comments, and I’m thankful to participate for as many times as Ian sees fit! 🙂

  25. Nice….I can just add that BAR was on duty in the Greek Army until the end of the 1990s and its original sight looks identical to the one I have on my P14 in .303.
    Hey Ian, how did you feel to handle FG42 with LH ? Am lefty too… 🙂

    • I’m not surprised, Normann – most other militaries that used the BAR had a better understanding of it than the US Ordnance Department did.

      Shooting the FG-42 left-handed is no problem at all. There is a shell deflector to prevent the brass from hitting you, and with the SMG reproductions the brass is actually tossed out far enough forward that it never hits the deflector. Magazine changes are a bit slower than right-handed, but the charging handle is more easily accessible left-handed.

  26. Ian,

    Just saw this newest BAR video (noted that you were using the 1918A3 that I put together with the OOW receiver and traded to Rick for one of his excellent Bren Guns). The BAR bipod is junk, and Karl would have had a much easier time if he had just left it off, as that not only substantially reduces the weight, but the point of balance is thereby much improved.
    As always, very impressed with the quality of work on the FG42 that Rick and the guys at SMG put into all of their products, and I’m still amazed that they can make the FG42 for that price point.
    Always enjoy your videos, even if I sometimes have a different opinion.

  27. The BAR was with out much doubt too heavy that the War Dept. decided interwar to make it HEAVIER says a lot, in particular that the man caring it was not consulted a lot.

    In the field a fair number “lost” the bipod. Which of course Ian covered in his BAR write up.

    The closest thing to the FG42 that the US made might be the Colt R80 “Monitor” BAR.

  28. sirs/friends:

    give a choice, i take the fn model d of the b.a.r. hands down.

    first off, in actual use, i doubt too many are scampering about and shooting single shots at individual targets. secondly, i like the b.a.r. for the same reasons as the marines did in wwii … it is accurate, dependable, and kills people in a decidedly final manner.

    all things considered, it would be nice to see a skinny b.a.r. in a lesser cartridge, say a .260 remington, or the like: works on deer, would work quite well on any bipedal mammal up to 200 lbs. working weight.

    i would recommend anyone read the books on the chosin reservoir battle involving the u.s. marines. there the virtues of the virtues of the b.a.r. were fully displayed. the worth of the rifle is fully endorsed by the marines … they stole every one they could get there hands on, and deployed them 3 to 1 over the army standards.

    it hits what it shoots at.–

    in the match, karl was betrayed by his use of the 1911, when in malfunctioned on him. and, in another match, he simply tired out when he had to handle the rifle standing with his off hand, and couldn’t lift the b.a.r. any more. those two matches aside, the b.a.r. was fully the equal of the model 42.

    p.s. btw, the army had the chance to use an mg42 “look alike,” and turned down the johnson light machine gun. stupid army. the israelis adopted the dror (the johnson lmg, for all intents and purposes.) for a bit, in a pinch. smart israeli’s. then they dropped it. dumb israeli’s.

    to conclude. i take the fn model d. but, in .308, or .260 remington.

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