My youngest son’s rabid passion for hunting has allowed me to revisit my own youth were my progressive grandfather and dad separated themselves in deer camp by using Browning BAR MKIII rifles chambered in .270 Win. My uncle had to rock the boat by using a .338 Win. BAR! When I spotted the recently updated Browning BAR in the form of the MKIII, I knew my boy had to experience deer hunting with one chambered in .270 Win — if he could get it out my hands that is.
Neither the .270 Win nor the BAR sporting rifle are newcomers. The sporting BAR was introduced in 1967 to compete with Remington’s semi-auto offerings. Browning had decided to increase its presence in the US hunting/sporting market. The .270 Winchester has been around since 1925 and has a cult-like following of its own. What’s not to like with a lithe semi-rifle chambered with a round pushing a 130-grain bullet at nearly 3,100 feet per second.
The BAR MKIII was introduced in early 2017. It features an aluminum receiver and new styling that sets it apart from the MKII. The aluminum receiver isn’t a new phase for Browning. In 1997, aircraft aluminum alloys receivers were introduced (ShortTrac for 308 Winchester length cartridges and LongTrac for 30-06 Springfield length cartridges) in the BAR MKII. BAR Safari and White Gold Medallion models remained steel. The BAR has always had the “it” factor from its inception in terms of aesthetics.
The MKIII is available in the most popular hunting calibers from .243 Winchester to the hard-hitting .300 Winchester Magnum. The BAR has always been unique as a semi-auto that can accommodate magnums such as the 7mm Mag, .300 Win Mag, and even .338 Win Mag in the Safari model.
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It’s hard to resist the svelte lines of the BAR. The seven lug-rotating bolt locks up tight into the receiver. Similar to an AR, the BAR’s rotating bolt head makes sure the bolt is centered and aligned with the bore with the perpendicular breech face. Similar to a bolt action, the BAR’s bolt face is recessed. A chambered cartridge is surrounded by three rings of steel — receiver, barrel, and bolt face. All of this makes for a rock-solid design, especially important considering the powerful upper end of cartridges available to use in the BAR. The BAR’s forend surrounds the simple, yet ingenious, gas operating rod actuating system that contributes to the BAR’s effectiveness. An operating rod acts on an inertial block that drives action rods rearward working the action. Research literature draws comparisons between the BAR semi-automatic being a pump action minus the required hand manipulation.
Bruce Browning (legendary designer John Browning’s grandson) teamed with FN engineer Marcel Olinger in the BAR’s operating system. They created a gas system capable of handling the different levels of gas pressure associated with a wide range of cartridges.
Hard to imagine a more flexible hunting rifle than a Browning BAR MKIII chambered in .270Win with a variable power optic. This perhaps is the optimum rifle/cartridge combo for the lower 48 states. Most BAR’s are more than capable of 1.5 MOA or better accuracy. The Browning BAR’s longevity and reputation as a hunting rifle is gained from combining semi-automatic speed of follow-up shots with bolt-action accuracy. BAR barrels are hammer forged by FN in Belgium. Barrels are also air gauged to monitor quality as well as checked for straightness with interior rifling finish also hand inspected.
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The BAR was ahead of its time as being drilled and tapped for scope use. The stock design was also based on the assumption of optic use. A Nightforce SHV 3-10×42 optic was mounted to the BAR via Talley Manufacturing one-piece 30mm medium rings/bases. The compact, yet wide power range, Nightforce mated to the lightweight Talley rings compliments the BAR both in performance and aesthetics.
Good marksmanship in the field starts with confidence. Confidence is built through firing a rifle that’s not overly punishing (Each of us has different standards and tolerances with this.) and is inherently accurate as demonstrated from the bench. A rifle that shoots well off the bench offers the shooter no excuses or alibis when serious practice starts using field shooting positions or in the woods.
Testing was conducted with Black Hills Gold 130-grain GMX, 130-grain Triple Shock, and Hornady 130-grain SST loads. I’ve lost track of the number of successful hunts I’ve been on thanks to both brands of ammunition.
The bench testing was done off a Champion tripod front rest and rear sandbag. The accuracy figures are based on firing five three round groups and averaging group sizes. The Black Hills and Hornady loads produced groups no larger than 1″ with most in the ¾” range. Not a lot of time was spent at the bench on the 100-yard range. There are more indicative evaluations for a hunting rifle than merely firing from a bench at a 100 yards target.
The BAR MKIII proved potent on the “Jungle Walk” range at Echo Valley Training Center (EVTC) with targets placed at 30 yards out to 220 yards. The BAR’s matte nickel receiver and glossy oiled Turkish walnut stock was not the normal fare for the “Jungle Walk” experience. The ability to move through its varied terrain and engage randomly placed targets hidden within cover suited the Browning BAR perfectly. The emphasis was on accurate shot placement while using different field shooting positions. If needed, the BAR’s smooth recoil impulse facilitated fast follow-up shots.
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The 7 lbs. 22″ barrel BAR MKIII proved easy to handle with no searching for target required when the rifle was brought up to the shoulder. A spare magazine on the belt or pocket allowed for efficient reloads by simply releasing the BAR’s hinged floorplate and swapping out detachable magazines. Cartridges are fed from a detachable box magazine recessed inside the receiver on hinged floorplate. BAR magazine capacity is either three or four depending on caliber. Another option was to insert rounds directly into the empty magazine after exposing it via dropping the floorplate. The BAR proved just at home on EVTC’s Known Distance Range # 2. Steel targets out to 320 yards were engaged with the BAR from the prone position with second rounds sent downrange with the echo from the first round hitting steel still audible.
Hunting is a passion of mine. Guns, particularly rifles, are another joy. My youngest son has inherited both traits. When I look at him afield with the Browning BAR MKIII memories rush back of my own experiences with grandfather and Dad — both who have passed. Rifles like the Browning BAR MKIII have a way of uniting generations of hunters who can appreciate what it offers.
For More Info:
Browning North America www.browning.com
Talley Manufacturing www.talleymanufacturing.com
Nightforce Optics www.nightforceoptics.com
Black Hills Ammunition www.black-hills.com
Echo Valley Training Center www.echovalleytraining.com
Shop for Browning BAR MKIII rifles on GunBroker.com.