Firearms

Browning Automatic Rifle/High-Power Rifle in .300 Win. Mag.

Browning BAR rifle with 10-round magazine chambered in .308, right profile

When it comes to hunting rifles and recreational firearms, I have a certain taste. Blue steel and walnut appeal to me. I love older rifles and the face of a historic rifle. The 1895 Winchester is one, although my version is a modern rifle marked Browning. Then there is the Browning High Power rifle, also known as the Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR.

Not to be confused with the war-winning machine rifle. In the event I need a SHTF rifle, I have several good — very good — AR-15 rifles. I appreciate America’s rifle. I don’t always look at the crossover between hunting and personal defense. This certainly exists with lever-action rifles, as they are often useful in many roles.

Browning BAR rifle with blue steel and walnut furniture
Browning still offers a blue steel and walnut BAR.

Single-shot and self-loading hunting rifles are not always as versatile. By the same token, every rifle doesn’t have to have a role to earn its keep. It just has to please me. Among the most engaging and enjoyable rifles in the accumulation is a Browning Automatic Rifle in .300 Winchester Magnum.

Writing about these rifles involves a lot of abstract thought. As in how I might best enjoy such a rifle. That is balanced with the reader’s expectations of concrete logical thought concerning performance. The following review demanded a lot of thought and effort. Firing over 60 rounds in a .300 Winchester Magnum is a little punishing…

I own four handguns for every rifle. However, the rifle is so effective in each role that I don’t need many. The Browning High Power rifle was introduced in 1967. Most of us call the rifle the BAR — and add more than a little respect and affection.

My 1968 rifle is among the first chambered in .300 Winchester Magnum. While there were previous semi-automatic hunting rifles, including the Remington Model 8 and Winchester’s .351 rifle, most were chambered for cartridges in the .30-30 class — at best. The .351 Winchester is about in .357 Magnum category.

Remington’s 742 was proving popular, however, and it chambered full-size hunting cartridges. The BAR is offered in many popular calibers to compete. The .300 Winchester Magnum cartridges give the BAR the power to take on the largest North American game, save for perhaps, the biggest grizzlies.

Short neck .300 Winchester Magnum cartridge compared to a .30-06 cartridge (left)
The .30-06 (left) compared to the .300 Winchester Magnum, right.

But then again, I have no experience with those bears. Unlike some attempts at a sporting self-loading rifle, the BAR has sufficient accuracy for hunting. It isn’t quite as accurate as a good Browning X Bolt, but it is accurate enough for most chores to 300 yards.

Features of the BAR

The rifle illustrated features a steel receiver. The bolt is designed with seven locking lugs. The blue finish is beautiful, and the walnut stocks are gorgeous. There is sufficient checkering to make certain you have a good grip on the rifle. The BAR is supplied with an adjustable rear sight and a hooded post front sight.

When the rifle was designed, there was a desire to have a certain resemblance to the famous Browning Auto 5 shotgun. The rifle resembles the Auto 5, but the receiver hump isn’t as pronounced. The action soaks up some of the recoil of the cartridge and the weight (8 pounds) is comfortable enough when firing the .300 Winchester Magnum.

Three boxes of . 300 Winchester Magnum ammunition from Hornady, amd Federal
150-, 180-, and 200-grain loads were tested in the BAR. The 200-grain loads kicked the most.

You get a whack! for certain. If you find the .308 Winchester a smart kicker, don’t move up to this caliber. On the other hand, with careful load selection, the .30-06 Springfield will nip at the heels of the .300 Winchester Magnum, while using much less powder doing so. In the final analysis, you may not need a .300 Winchester Magnum. It is all in the application.

Browning’s Belgian hammer-forged barrels are the stuff of legend. Quality control and air gauged specifications ensure the rifles are consistent. The BAR’s 24-inch barrel is a good compromise length that is ideal for most hunting chores.

The barrel twist is one turn in 10 inches. This twist will stabilize bullets up to 220 grains, but it is also accurate with 150-grain bullets. Lockup is tight. A rotating bolt has plenty of leverage. All this steel is comforting when you touch off a high-pressure loading.

crop of the Browning BAR bolt and receiver
Browning’s bolt is a robust and effective design.

The Browning Automatic Rifle is a gas-operated action with operating rods that drive an inertia block rearward. Inertia systems are famously reliable, and the BAR is no exception. A three-round magazine is housed in a hinged compartment making for an unusual, but workable, system.

At the Range

The rifle is accurate, no question there. A rifle that has proven accurate from the benchrest gives you confidence in offhand fire. Just the same, my first shots with this rifle were offhand.

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I had previously fired a bolt-action .300 Winchester Magnum that kicked like a kangaroo and untied my shoelaces. Well, it felt like it. The BAR has recoil, certainly, but it is manageable. It is about a pound heavier than the offensive bolt-action rifle, and the added modulating effect of the gas operation is a big plus.

After assuring the rifle would not knock my eyeballs out of socket in offhand fire, I rested the rifle as comfortably as possible and tested the rifle with several loads. Iron sights are good to a bit past 100 yards. I would love to have a set of aperture sights, similar to the 1895 Browning rifle, on the BAR. The BAR rifle sights are very precise, however.

As it was, the rifle is capable of three-shot groups in two inches at 100 yards. I found the rifle to be about as accurate as the average Springfield M1A, after some acclimation and trying different loads. A three-shot group of 1.5 inches isn’t out of the ordinary, while a 2.0-inch group on demand is realistic. This is under perfect shooting conditions on the rifle range. I suspect mounting an optic would make a huge difference.

Browning BAR rifle with the hinged magazine in the open position
The Browning Automatic Rifle is easily loaded and unloaded. The floor plate is hinged.

My favorite game is wild boar. Deer meat, however, is more palatable. I base my practice on field experience. Nothing like sitting in a stand with this rifle, watching the sun rise ready for a hunt. Better yet, there’s nothing to settle the digestive system like fresh wild meat.

I like to practice with a rifle at distances of 50–100 yards. This includes quickly taking a shot standing at the shorter distance and going to a sitting position using available bracing — usually a column at the range shed.

Caliber: .300 Winchester Magnum
Barrel: 24 inches
Length: 45 inches
Weight: 8 pounds
Stock: High-grade walnut
Sights: Fixed post front adjustable rear
Capacity: 3+1

The .300 Winchester Magnum Cartridge

With lighter bullets, the .300 Winchester Magnum is deadly on deer and boar. I don’t like to comment on game I haven’t taken and things I have not done — I suppose I am an exception — but the .300 Winchester Magnum enjoys an excellent reputation for elk, moose, bear, and other game. I have handloaded the cartridge, carefully full-length resizing cartridges in the autoloading rifle is necessary with some success.

PPU brand .300 Winchester Magnum ammunition box and two loose rounds
PPU loads are inexpensive, costing about half what the major maker’s loads cost. They are not as accurate as American makers, however, and the bullets are not highly developed. They are good practice loads.

With 150-grain bullets, 3,300 fps is possible. With 165-grain bullets, 3,100 fps and this seems a sweet spot for accuracy. 180-grain bullets may reach 3,050 fps. This is real power.

The heavy 210–220 grain bullets are useful for some chores. I have not tested these, but loading manuals state these heavy loads will reach 2,600 fps. This is a powerful and accurate number. While it isn’t for everyone, the world is better for such an awe-inspiring cartridge.

Conclusion: Browning Automatic Rifle

The BAR has rifle accuracy but handles somewhat like a shotgun. The BAR gets on target quickly with an outstanding natural point. The rifle swings from one target to the other quickly and offers fast handling and shooting for hunting in the woods. The BAR is comfortable in every firing position.

Browning BAR rifle with camouflage furniture, topped with a Leupold scope
Browning offers several variations on the BAR.

In practical accuracy, the rifle is the equal to anything I have fired. An experienced hunter, much my senior, remarked that he used a single-shot rifle when hunting, and felt that misses were less than with a bolt action. He noted that a follow-up shot on game was about as fast with a single shot as a bolt gun. Well, maybe and maybe not, but I get his point. The BAR actually offers a useful rapid follow-up shot.

The BAR is easily handled. Open the magazine plate and load the magazine. Close the plate and rack the bolt. Place the safety on. It is that simple. The rifle is also easily unloaded. If climbing the deer stand, chamber empty is my rule.

I like the old BAR very much. A friend tells me that modern Browning Automatic Rifles are even more accurate. I own only the one BAR, and it certainly serves my needs.

The Browning Automatic Rifle certainly enjoys a storied reputation and should be more than worthy by most any standard. The real question is whether you have a BAR story or would add one to your collection. Which caliber would you choose and why? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • rear sight on the browning BAR rifle showing the wide degree of adjustment
  • rear sight on the browning BAR rifle in the up position
  • crop of the Browning BAR bolt and receiver
  • hooded front post sight on a rifle barrel
  • Browning BAR rifle with the hinged magazine in the open position
  • Short neck .300 Winchester Magnum cartridge compared to a .30-06 cartridge (left)
  • Three boxes of . 300 Winchester Magnum ammunition from Hornady, amd Federal
  • Browning BAR rifle with wood furniture and leather sling
  • PPU brand .300 Winchester Magnum ammunition box and two loose rounds
  • Browning BAR rifle with camouflage furniture, topped with a Leupold scope
  • Browning BAR rifle with blue steel and walnut furniture
  • Short neck .300 Winchester Magnum cartridge compared to a .30-06 cartridge (right)
  • Browning BAR rifle with 10-round magazine chambered in .308, right profile
  • rear sight on the browning BAR rifle
  • Browning BAR rifle receiver with engraving
  • Browning BAR rifle .300 magnum with sling

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.


Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Handloader
Rifle Magazine
Handguns
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns



Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (16)

  1. Bought my Grade 2 BAR IN .338 in 1970. Just back from the Nam with money to burn. Accurate enough for me and, as was mentioned, reliable if kept clean. Missed one deer by not doing so, never again. Picked up a lot of rifles since, including two other .338s, but the BAR probably means more to me than any of the others.

  2. I have a BAR in 7mm Mag with the BOSS. Soft shooting and the last time I took a deer with it was at 360 yards. Punched a hole through her the size of my fist.

  3. I have 4 BARS with wood stocks. 1) .270 with a Leopold Vari 111 3×9 using Federal premium Nosler partition 150 gr. Zeroed at 200 yds used for deer. 2) 30.06 with Leopold Vari 111 3×9 using Nosler Partition 180 gr. Zeroed at 200 yds.used for deer and elk and the 3 rifles are within a 1″ drop out to 500 yds @ sea level. 1) 300 Win. Mag. with muzzle brake set for 200 gr. BTSP. The Shepard scope is set to a bullet coefficient of .05 and used for elk and moose. My notes are plasticized and fit in my pocket and reviewed in the early am before leaving. These Excellent Browning BARS have NEVER let me down over the years and even with game on the dead run. All my shot guns are Browning and used for pheasant.I love my Maxis with wood stock, 28″ bbl with choke tubes and shoots 23/4 ‘ to 31/2″. Just keep them clean and lightly lubed. John Moses Browning was quite the GENIUS. I had to stop hunting due to knee replacement and lower back issues.

  4. Inherited Grade 2 BAR .30-06 awhile ago. It hadn’t been fired in 30yrs at least. Cleaned and lubed. Scope was zeroed at 200yds for a long ago Wyoming muley and antelope hunt. Took to range day with my friends and put all my rds in the kill zone on a life size paper deer target at 100yds without changing zero. Since I’m not that great a shot I gave all the credit to John Browning & the Leupold scope.

  5. I have a BAR in .243. It’s very accurate with 100 grain bullets. I have taken coyotes with it. There is a problem with the magazine, though. The upward spring pressure on the magazine follower is too far forward. This causes the top cartridge to tip up in the front and down in the rear. The bolt will then override the head of the round, causing a jam. To be fair, this only happens when charging a round by hand. If you really “rack” it briskly it’s usually OK. I also have the FNAR version (look it up) in .308. This has a much improved detachable magazine ($70) but, alas, it’s not nearly as accurate as the BAR. God bless and stay safe.

  6. I inherited my father’s Belgium BAR grade 2 made in 1971 chamber in .338 wm. He used it on moose hunts in northern Ontario back in the day. I’ve become a fan of the.338 over the.300, especially when I started hand loading it with 180 grain bullets. Especially elk hunting out west when I took a 7×7 just shy of 400 yards and he dropped where he stood.

  7. I have a BAR .270 made in Belguim in the early 1970’s. It is new in the box and has never been fired. Any idea what it is worth?
    Thanks

  8. I love my BAR in 30-06 that I purchased in the 70’s and have enjoyed hunting with it. But one must keep the action clean and lightly oiled for otherwise the action might not lockup like it should and of course it won’t fire. I made this mistake early on and missed a big rack whitetail when the action didn’t lockup. I pulled the trigger, and nothing happened, I ejected the shell thinking it had misfired, nope. While I had the magazine down, I had two more big bucks run by my stand. I learned my lesson; a semiautomatic rifle needs some tender loving care of the action to be ready to hunt. After that I never had a problem with the BAR. The BAR is an awesome hunting rifle.

  9. Won my first BAR in 243 on a football pool on a construction job. Won it for $ 10.00 in 1981. Have collected guns for years and have 2 of every original caliber in the first BAR’s. Accurate? You bet. Benn killing White again Deer ever since, 300-350 yards is no problem. When you hunt 3-4 hundred acre corn fields, you learn to shoot distance or you don’t shoot.All my BAR’s shoot less that a monster of angle, but I load most of my ammo. 2010 my son was being deployed to Afghanistan as a U S Marine so I decided to take him on an elk hunt before he deployed. I shot an elk an 525 yards with my 30-06. Shot him in the neck. Yes they are accurate and in may opinion, the best semi automatic hunting rifle ever built. It wasn’t broken, don’t know why Browning changed it. Love my BAR’s

  10. Won my first BAR in 243 on a football pool on a construction job. Won it for $ 10.00 in 1981. Have collected guns for years and have 2 of every original caliber in the first BAR’s. Accurate? You bet. Benn killing White again Deer ever since, 300-350 yards is no problem. When you hunt 3-4 hundred acre corn fields, you learn to shoot distance or you don’t shoot.All my BAR’s shoot less that a monster of angle, but I load most of my ammo. 2010 my son was being deployed to Afghanistan as a U S Marine so I decided to take him on an elk hunt before he deployed. I shot an elk an 525 yards with my 30-06. Shot him in the neck. Yes they are accurate and in may opinion, the best semi automatic hunting rifle ever built. It wasn’t broken, don’t know why Browning changed it. Love my BAR’s

  11. I don’t have a bar but I have two rem 742’s, a 6mm and a 280 both are great pig and deer rifles. I do have a fn ar which I think might be a type of bar rifle except with a pistol grip, it is a 308, I have not shot it yet and my not just to keep it new. My 308 browning is a blr from 1972 and it is a very good shooter wth handloads. I have searched for a 6mm, 7mm08 or 243 bar for quite awhile but haven’t found one yet.

  12. About 20-years ago, an uncle living in Germany sent me a Waffen-Greger BAR II .30-06 Bullpup Rifle, which is ~31-inches long and still sports a 22-inch barrel! Shoots great, but is limited to a 5-round magazine given to the unusual recessed feature of where the magazine well is located…

  13. I bought myBAR 300 win mag in 1972 and have been in love with this gun ever since. While working for Carters’s Country in Spring Tx, a very well known gun store in the Houston area, a friend and I developed a load of 73gr IMR 4831 behind a 180gr Nosler partition that would put 5 shots at a 100 yards that you could cover with a quarter. I have used this to take many, many whitetail and mule deer and it remains my favorite long range weapon . I once shot a mule deer on my ranch in West Texas with at a verified 800yds, I was very young back then and didn’t realize I had no business shooting at a deer at distance without proper training. All I can is the first shot hit directly under beneath him and the next one dropped him in his tracks. As I’ve gotten older I prefer shooting deer out of my bow stand from 10-50yds, lots safer that way.

  14. I am an 81 yo gun lover and totally agree, that is something about the blue steel and warm real wood stocked vintage or even modern guns like that. I have both but I do not have anymore plastic varmint rifles. I got rid of two that I had, swapped them with a buddy for a boatload of H&R SS barrels and stuff, but that another story.

    My comment here is that the Browning BAR is really exceptional in the old configuration, but I would think, that it will in all likely hood it will be on the next list of terrible rifles that scare people, When they use words like Hi Power, large caliber, and high velocity, high capacity, then it gets mangled by the biased media, you have a by product of the media that is even worse than the AR’s. The gun violence problem has not been solved by the politicians, and there will be more laws and more bans and less freedom coming down the road. The camel has already gotten his nose under the tent, get prepared for more bad gun news!

  15. I only shot the BAR once, in high school in 1972. It was loaned to a couple of us by one of our ROTC instructors, who, incidentally, passed away this April. His was a beautiful new rifle chambered in 30’06 and sported a scope. We didn’t see any deer that day, so we did a bit of plinking afterward. I regret to say it jammed on every shot. That completely soured me on the Browning and on hunting with a semi auto rifle. In retrospect I was being much too harsh in my judgment, but I was 17 and quite impressionable. I’m glad your experience has been so enjoyable.

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