September 23, 2010
Browning's BAR sporting rifle dates back to 1963 when the company decided it wanted to add a semiauto to its line of hunting rifles. While some of the design team wanted the classic Auto-5 humped receiver, others wanted the more modern styling of the Double Automatic receiver. The result was a compromise incorporating features of both designs, and the BAR was introduced to the market on July 17, 1967.
When I was in my early 20s and hunting out West for the first time, it was fun to see the hackles go up on the veteran hunters when a sport brought a semiautomatic rifle into camp. Semiautos were frowned on by many, branded as too inaccurate for longer shots in the West. Curiosity got the best of me, though, so I did some detailed testing of a Browning BAR I had back then, a 7mm Remington. I tested 38 different handloads and commercial loadings and discovered this gun could produce three-shot groups as small as 3/4 inch.
Recently, Browning decided to update the BAR design with ShortTrac and LongTrac versions, and with that came new features and a new look. The gun is available in both right- and left-hand models, in cartridges up to the .325 WSM, and with stock offerings that include Mossy Oak camo, black synthetic and upper-grade wood.
I asked Browning to send a sample in the new Grade II rifle, chambered for .30-06. I wasn't disappointed. The LongTrac's lines are clean, and fit and finish are what we expect from Browning--from the tight clearances on the wood-to-metal fit to the overall quality and finish of the wood. Although the figure of the Grade II wood was rather plain, the color and grain structure still make this gun a standout. The wood is treated to an oil finish, and the fore-end and the buttstock matched in color.
The stock boasts an ample amount of skip-line checkering interspaced with diamonds, which add depth to the pattern. The fore-end is long and tapered from the receiver to the front sling swivel, which doubles as the fore-end release. The pistol grip has a nice feel to it as Browning has removed just a bit of wood in this area.
The receiver on the Grade II is made from aircraft-grade aluminum alloy and is satin nickel-finished with a Browning logo and floral artwork in high-relief engraving. The traditional Browning profile is there, but the famous "hump" has been slimmed so it flows into the buttstock.
The gun comes without sights and is drilled and tapped for scope mounts. Browning sent a pair of branded aluminum mounts made by Talley, in which I installed a Bushnell Elite 3-9X scope that matched the finish of the high-gloss barrel.
The new BARs feature an adjustable shim system that allows you to customize both the drop at the heel and the cast-off of the stock via six shims that are included with each rifle. Simply separate the stock from the receiver as outlined in the instruction book and install the correct shim for your needs. The gun ships with the No. 2 neutral shim installed.
Browning also offers a choice of a 1/2-, 3/4- and one-inch interchangeable recoil pads to fit shooters with different arm lengths or to adjust for heavy or light clothing.
The BAR is gas-operated and employs a seven-lug, rotating bolt with recessed face that locks directly into the barrel. Extraction and ejection were flawless during testing. The action incorporates a rigid action bar and an inertia block.
The BARs feature a detachable magazine, and this Grade II model sports a handsome alloy receiver with high-relief engraving and upper-end wood.
The BAR's stock offers users a choice of six different shims to drop and cast-off, as well as three thicknesses of recoil pad to change length of pull.
The bolt release is located on the bottom right-hand side of the receiver, and Browning recommends you load the gun by this method (slamming the bolt) to make sure the cartridge is fully seated into the chamber.
If you want to let the bolt follow forward slowly so as not to spook game, be sure that when you close it the bolt handle is forward of the red dot on the bottom of the ejection port.
Both the LongTrac and ShortTrac are equipped with detachable magazines that, depending upon the cartridge, hold four or five rounds of ammunition. The magazine release is forward of the trigger guard; rear of the guard is the cross-bolt safety. On my gun, the trigger has the feeling of a two-stage mechanism, breaking at just over five pounds of pull.
The forward sling swivel stud does double duty as a fore-end release, allowing you access to the mechanism for cleaning and maintenance.
At the range, the BAR LongTrac performed as expected with factory ammo. I thought it recoiled more than my old BAR, but it is less recoil than you would expect on a bolt-action rifle. Accuracy was on par with other Browning BARs I have used, and Remington and Winchester ammo both produced 1.5-inch groups at 100 yards.
In short, Browning's new BAR LongTrac offers flawless operation, great accuracy and good looks--plus fast follow-up shots in the field and softer recoil than you'd get with a bolt action.
While Browning recommends closing the bolt with the bolt release, you can also ride it forward quietly with the bolt handle. A red indicator lets you know if it's completely closed.
|Accuracy Results | Browning Bar Longtrac
|Bullet Weight (gr.)
| Muzzle Velocity (fps)
|Avg. Group (in.)
| Remington Core-Lokt
| Winchester Power Point
|Notes: Average accuracy is the average of three three-shot groups fired at 100 yards. Velocity clocked with an Oehler Model 35P Chronotach 10 feet from the muzzle.