Bren vs BAR

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by gjs238, Jun 27, 2009.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Should the Americans have switched to the Bren (or some other incarnation of the ZB vz. 26)?
     
  2. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    The US had a light machine gun which served at least somewhat the same role as the Bren. The Bren and BAR were not exactly the same kind of weapon.
     
  3. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    Yes
     
  4. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    The BAR was not really an LMG - more of a proto-asault rifle in many ways, and perhaps influenced by the US Army's employment of the French Chauchat automatic weapon during WWI. The M1919 .30 cal LMG was bigger and havier than the Bren, and not, IMHO, as practical in the SAW role. Having said that, the MG34 and 42 LMGs were along similar lines and successful, while the Russian DP and Japanese Type 99 were more along the lines of the Bren.
     
  5. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    The Bren was supposedly a crew served weapon although it was used often by a single man. It was mostly fired from the prone position with a bipod. The BAR was always a single man weapon and was shoulder fired and fired from the hip in a line of skirmishers. The Bren was a light machine gun while the BAR was an automatic rifle. The BAR was more portable while the Bren carried a few more rounds and had a quick change barrel. They both had advantages and drawbacks. I don't believe the US Army would have benefitted by subbing the Bren for the BAR.
     
  6. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    #6 Colin1, Jun 27, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2009
    The magazine capacity of the BAR was a little restrictive for it to really punch its weight as a true support weapon and coupled with the high rate of fire, the BAR could use itself up in quick time if the BAR gunner wasn't prudent. I don't know if the BAR came with a bipod arrangement but I can't help wondering if a lack of one didn't see the muzzle 'climbing' during fully automatic operation. It had a tendency to overheat in full auto. At 20lbs, however, it was day-to-day portable by one man.

    The Bren comes with 30-round clips and a bipod, both elements for me make it a more dedicated support weapon, more capable of providing the 60%-of-the-platoon-firepower for longer (and probably more effectively). I would expect (and hope) to see my support weapon in the prone position pouring effective fire into the target allowing the rest of the platoon to pepperpot in and take it out; I think a line of skirmishers is no place for a support weapon - its loss could/probably would be devastating on the rest of the platoon. Overheating could be negated with a barrel change. Shame on me, I can't remember what the Bren weighed but unlike the BAR it was a minimum of 2 men to port it (and its ammo) around.

    In fairness, the BAR was a fair bit older as a design than the Bren and as its name implies, it is an Automatic Rifle; it can do the work of an LMG though not as well, trading some of that effectiveness for greater mobility.
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    The Bren was superior to the BAR but not enough of an improvement to warrant a switch. Both Britain and the USA would have benefited by changing to a modern belt fed LMG similiar to the German MG34 and MG42.

    Which makes me wonder....
    Why didn't the British produce the Bren with a belt feed rather then a magazine feed?
     
  8. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    I think the Bren was about 4 pounds heavier than the BAR. The BAR did come with a bipod that could be attached. The Bren fed from the top which might have made it difficult to modify for belt feed. The BAR was so handy that bank robbers in the 20s and early 30s used it. ( see Clyde Barrow) LOL
     
  9. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    The Bren and the BAR weighed about the same (the Mk1 was a bit heavier) and although the Bren was designed as a platoon LMG it was often used as a SAW. The BAR was effectively a SAW and its unfair to compare it to any LMG. The BAR was included in the UK tests to find a new LMG to replace the Lewis and didn't make it to the second round of tests.

    Would switching to the Bren make a difference, the reply has to be yes if only for the additional magazine capacity and the ability for sustained fire with the replacement barrel. However, its fair to point out that the UK needed the Bren more than the US. The Lee Enfield was a first rate bolt action rifle, but the US forces had the Garrand a much better weapon.
     
  10. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    The BAR, Bren, MG-34 and MG-42 were all squad level weapons. About as good a comparison as you could ask for.
     
  11. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    My understanding is that the Bren, MG-34 and MG-42 are LMG's, the BAR was not.
     
  12. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    As a fire support weapon the Bren takes it, but as a single infantry weapon I think the BAR is superior. The BAR is certainly easier to wield, although both are pretty darn heavy.
     
  13. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Those terms are meaningless. What counts is that all 4 weapons provided fire support at the infantry squad level.
     
  14. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    According to wiki, the Bren weighed 22.83 pounds while the BAR-1918A2 with bipod weighed 19 pounds. That is a significant difference in combat although I would not like to tote either very far. My weapon was the M1 carbine and it was not, IMO, much use in combat but was good for carrying.
     
  15. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    I don't disagree with the figures but the 22lb figure is for the MK 1. The Mks 3 and 4 which saw extensive service weighed around 19.5lb.
     
  16. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Still the Bren wasn't as easy to wield as the BAR. The plus side was the extra ammo.
     
  17. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    I think for the Bren is the better weapon, it can be fired by one man, at the hip if required was reasonable portable and gave the British infantry the punch they needed in combat However my point is that for the US the BAR was a better option, the American squads were equipped with M1 Garands which could put out a high rate of fire and suppress an enemy. They gave the American infantry squads a firepower advantage. The British with their slower firing Lee Enfields bolt actions really needed the punch that the Bren gun have them. So for the US the BAR was a good weapon, a good assault weapon that could be used to assist in laying down suppressive fire.

    As a British Infantry squad I would be more than happy to carry around a Bren given the piece of mind it would have offered. The Bren offered a level of squad support that the BAR couldn't hope to. They were both fine guns which suited their respective infantry setups well. So in answer to original question, the US didn't really need it that badly to warrant producing it.
     
  18. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Seems the BAR was more of a rifle than a machine gun. If you look at pics from the war, both Pacific and Europe, in the later part of '44 to '45, it seems there are a lot more BARs than on the TOE. Good design for a rifle, not so much for a squad weapon.

    The Bren was a squad weapon. Better design for a squad weapon. Larger capacity magazine. Fed over the top. Also, I think the barrel could be replaced. Not as handy as the BAR (noted above) but better base of fire weapon. Not as good as a belt fed, but better than the BAR.
     
  19. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Agreed and useful summary Tim, so

    Bren noticeably better than the BAR for platoon cover
    Belt-fed (esp MG42) streets ahead of the Bren for the same role
     
  20. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    For clarification, which automatic weapons were deployed at squad level by the different combatants?

    UK: Bren
    US: BAR (at what level was the M1919 issued at?)
    Germany: MG-34/MG42?
     
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