The Browning BAR Mark II Rifle

By Chuck Hawks

BAR Safari Grade
Safari Grade BAR Mk. II w/BOSS. Illustration courtesy of Browning.

The Browning BAR Mark II is the most popular of all semi-automatic hunting rifles. It comes in three basic models: Safari, ShortTrac/LongTrac, and Lightweight Stalker.

All BAR Mark II rifles feature advanced self-cleaning gas operation, seven lug rotary bolt, dual action bars, removable trigger assembly, bolt lock release lever, ambidextrous crossbolt safety with an enlarged head, hinged floorplate with removable box magazine, gold plated trigger, and studs for detachable sling swivels. The magazine capacity is 4 for standard calibers, 3 for belted magnum calibers, and 2 for WSM calibers. Unfortunately, all of the BAR Mk. II triggers that I have ever tried are creepy and too heavy; this is something that the factory should correct.

Open sights are standard on the Lightweight Stalker model, and no longer available on other models. BOSS is an option available on the Safari model only.

The Browning BOSS (Ballistic Optimizing Shooting System) is an accuracy enhancing and recoil reducing system that includes an adjustable muzzle brake/weight. It can be adjusted to optimize barrel vibration for enhanced accuracy with any bullet weight. The vented muzzle brake is claimed to reduce recoil by about a third. There is also an optional non-vented BOSS CR muzzle weight. The BOSS system is available for standard calibers .270 and .30-06 plus all magnum calibers. The BAR's gas operation noticeably reduces perceived recoil, even without the ventilated BOSS muzzle brake.

The top of the line Safari model has an engraved, forged steel receiver and a genuine walnut stock and forearm with generous areas of diamond pattern cut checkering. All metal surfaces are highly polished and deep luster blued, and the wood has a beautiful high gloss finish. The barrel lengths are 22 inches in standard calibers, 23 inches in WSM calibers, and 24 inches in belted magnum calibers. The Safari has the best lines, best finish, and is by far the most attractive BAR Mk. II model.

Safari standard calibers include the .22-250 Remington, .243 Winchester, .25-06 Remington, .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester, and .30-06 Springfield. Magnum calibers include the .270 WSM, 7mm WSM, 7mm Remington Magnum, .300 WSM, .300 Winchester Magnum, and .338 Winchester Magnum. Average weight for standard caliber Safari rifles is 7 pounds 6 ounces. Safari magnum rifles weigh 8 pounds 6 ounces (8 pounds 4 ounces for WSM calibers). Overall length is 43 inches for standard calibers, 44 inches for WSM calibers, and 45 inches for belted magnum calibers.

The Lightweight Stalker model has an aircraft grade aluminum alloy receiver without engraving and a 20 inch barrel in standard calibers. WSM calibers come with 23" barrels and belted magnum calibers come with a 24 inch barrel. Open sights are standard. The metal finish is a low glare black matte and the stock is a weather-resistant black synthetic. This is essentially a lighter and very plain utility version of the Safari model.

Lightweight Stalker standard calibers include .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester, and .30-06 Springfield. Magnum calibers are .270 WSM, 7mm WSM, 7mm Rem. Mag., .300 WSM, .300 Win. Mag., and .338 Win. Mag. Weight is 7 pounds 2 ounces to 7 pounds 12 ounces, depending on caliber. Overall length is 41 to 45 inches, depending on barrel length.

The LongTrac and ShortTrac models (long action and short action--get it?) feature Euro-trash styling. This includes the blocky lines, odd stock and forearm angles, squared trigger guard, and small checkered panels typical of this firearm style. The clumsy stocks are, surprisingly, walnut. The Trac models are built on an aluminum alloy receiver sans engraving and are supplied with a plastic trigger guard and magazine floor plate. (Those Europeans are so sophisticated!) They come with a set of six shims that can be used to adjust the angle of the butt stock. The MSRP is similar to Safari models, so all the shortcuts don't save the consumer any money--but undoubtedly they do increase Browning's profit margin.

ShortTrac calibers are .243 Win. and .308 Win, plus .270, 7mm, and .300 WSM. Barrel lengths are 22" (standard calibers) and 23" (magnum calibers). Weight is 6 pounds 10 ounces for standard calibers and 7 pounds 4 ounces for magnum calibers.

LongTrac calibers are .270 Win., .30-06, 7mm Rem. Mag., and .300 Win. Mag. Barrel lengths are 22" (standard calibers) and 24" (magnum calibers). Weight is 6 pounds 15 ounces for standard calibers and 7 pounds 8 ounces for magnum calibers.

I own a Safari grade BAR Mk. II (with BOSS) in .338 Win. Mag. caliber. It has proven to be an accurate and reliable rifle. This is one autoloader that literally shoots as well as a bolt action. I particularly appreciate the recoil reduction effect provided by the gas operated action, which makes it faster than other rifles of similar power to get back on target for repeat shots.

The BAR Mark II Safari is a handsome and deadly autoloading hunting rifle. I consider it to be, as Browning advertises, "The best there is."

Note: Two complete reviews of BAR Mk. II rifles can be found on the Product Reviews page.

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Copyright 2005, 2013 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.