Skip to content

Browning BAR vs. BAR MK2 vs. BAR MK3 vs. BAR MK3 DBM

Browning BAR M1918

The acronym BAR stands for ‘Browning Automatic Rifle’ and is a name for a family of rifles designed by Browning. The original BAR design was developed in 1917 by John Moses Browning, the renowned inventor. This was a fully automatic rifle and was manufactured from 1917 up until 1945 for military use. It is also known as the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle.

It is a gas-operated firearm featuring a tilting locking mechanism with the back end of the bolt lifting and locking up with the receiver. The top of the receiver has a removable piece so that the locking shoulder can be replaced or repaired if necessary. The 20-round box magazine is released by a button which is positioned in the front of the trigger guard. There is a three-position fire selector placed on the left side of the receiver with the acronyms F for fire, A for automatic and S for safe.

BAR was initially chambered for a .30-06 Springfield cartridge; however, in 1924 it was replaced by a .30 M1 Ball which offered better ballistic performance. In 1932, the M1918 was redesigned – the weight was significantly reduced. However, only six years later, in 1938 the designers decided to upgrade the rifle once again, incorporating a rate-reducer mechanism that offered two different rates of automatic fire. Additionally, the bipod was added to the muzzle at the end of the barrel.

M1918 BAR
M1918 BAR, Source:

Browning BAR

In 1966, Browning introduced a semi-automatic hunting and sporting rifle and decided to stick with the BAR acronym – still standing for ‘Browning Automatic Rifle’. Despite having nothing in common with the original, fully automatic BAR model, it continued the BAR branding and the company decided to keep the name up until today.

The rifle features a piston-driven autoloading system and a bolt with seven locking lugs. The receiver which is drilled and tapped for mounting purposes is a one-piece unit made of high-strength steel, except for some variations which feature an aluminum-alloy receiver. Primarily, the rifles were produced in Belgium only; however, that changed in 1977 when a part of the production was moved to Portugal. Today, most Browning firearms are either produced in Belgium, Portugal, Japan or the United States.

There were two BAR versions: the models made before 1976 are called Type 1, and the model made between 1976 and 1992 are known as Type 2.  No major distinctions can be noted between the models – different denomination mostly refers to the date of production. However, some minor differences in the design can be spotted in the bottom receiver area of the stocks. Type 1 has a narrower cut-out for the receiver and sits level with the receiver end of the stock, whereas Type 2 features a wider and shallower cut-out, thus the receiver end does not sit completely flush with the stock. Since the mounting surface is the same on both versions, BAR Type 1 and Type 2 are suitable for the same scope mounts.

You can see our scope mounts offer for Browning BAR here:

Browning BAR
Browning BAR Type 1
Browning BAR Type 1, Source:
Browning BAR Type 2
Browning BAR Type 2, Source:

Browning BAR MK2

In 1993, the BAR MK2, also known as Browning Automatic Rifle Mark 2, was introduced as the second generation of the BAR series. It was manufactured until 2016 when the company presented the third-generation model – Browning BAR MK3.  

BAR MK2 features a piston-driven gas autoloading system and a bolt with seven rotating locking lugs, making it structurally on par with the first-generation BAR. The rifle comes with a single-stage trigger and a detachable box magazine with a hinged floorplate. The mounting surface on BAR MK2 is identical to the one used on the BAR gen. 1, making the scope mounts interchangeable between the two.

Although BAR MK2 did not change much visually, the rifle was offered in various grades like its predecessor. Grade 1 usually meant no engravings on the receiver sides and standard wood quality, whereas grades 4 and higher came with premium wood, handcrafted checkering, and often had gold inlays. Regardless of the grade, the receivers were always machined out of a single block of steel or aluminum. The barrel lengths on Browning BAR MK2 are 508 mm (20-inch), 559 mm (22-inch) and 610 mm (24-inch).

If you are thinking of purchasing scope mounts to fit on your Browning BAR MK2, you can look through our offer here:

Browning BAR MK2

Browning BAR vs. MK2

To all appearances, BAR and BAR MK2 are nearly identical rifles. No significant changes in design were made on MK2 except for a few structural improvements. The trigger system is simplified on MK2, held in by two pins which allow it to be fully removed for easier maintenance. Additionally, BAR Mark 2 comes with an added bolt locking lever, an improved gas pressure-operated system and a recoil limiter.

Since the production of BARS was partially moved from Belgium in 1977, the BAR MK2 series was mostly manufactured in Portugal compared to the first generation. However, the mounting surface remained unchanged, meaning that scope mounts that fit BAR will also fit BAR MK2.

Browning BAR MK2
Browning BAR MK2, Source:

Browning BAR MK3

Browning BAR MK3 which stands for Browning Automatic Rifle Mark 3, was introduced in 2016. It differentiates from BAR MK2 in its stock and fore-end design. Like its predecessors, the MK3 consists of a short-stroke, piston-driven gas autoloading system and a bolt with seven rotating locking lugs that lock into the barrel. The magazine still sits in the hinged floorplate but can be removed. It has a capacity of three magnum or four standard cartridges.

The bolt lock function which locks the bolt in the rearmost position is activated after the last cartridge has been fired. The top of the receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mounts, featuring an identical mounting surface to the previous models.  This means that the same scope mounts will fit on all three generations of the Browning Bar series. The barrel lengths on Browning BAR MK3 are 508 mm (20-inch), 559 mm (22-inch) and 610 mm (24-inch).

If you are looking for Browning BAR MK3 scope mounts, you can see our offer here :

Browning BAR MK3

Browning BAR MK2 vs. MK3

Whereas the difference at the first glance is not too obvious when comparing BAR with the MK2, one can hardly confuse the latest BAR MK3 with its forerunners as it comes with some noticeable design changes.

Compared to the MK2, BAR MK3 uses a lighter aluminum receiver which is visually changed for an updated, more refined look. Furthermore, various modifications can be noticed in the design of the receiver shape, fore-end, and buttstock. The wood on the fore-end blends in with the receiver housing and the buttstock uses softer, oval lines in comparison to the older models. Moreover, there is an upgraded Super Feather Trigger with a pull weight of approximately 1100 g (2.4 lbs.) and an Inflex recoil pad for a more comfortable shooting experience altogether.

Although the rifle’s design has been altered, the receiver profile remained the same, meaning that the MK3 has scope mounts interchangeable with the first-generation BAR and BAR MK2. There is, however, a variant of BAR MK3 named BAR MK3 DBM which comes with a Picatinny rail; thus, it will not fit the same mounts.

Browning BAR MK3
Browning BAR MK3, Source:

What is Browning BAR MK3 DBM?

Browning released numerous Variants of BAR MK throughout the rifle’s production period. Browning BAR MK3 DBM which stands for Browning Automatic Rifle Mark 3 with Detachable Box Magazine, is one variant of the BAR MK3 series that stands out. Most of the built components such as the gas autoloading system, trigger and safety are identical to those used on other MK3 variants.

One dissimilarity is the magazine used on MK3 as it can hold up to ten rounds compared to other variants that usually have the capacity of three or four cartridges. In addition, the barrel length on BAR MK3 DBM is reduced to 457 mm (18-inch) and the rifle is only chambered for the .308 Winchester caliber.

Finally, it is worth noting that the BAR MK3 DBM comes with an integrated Picatinny rail instead of having the receiver drilled and tapped for mounting purposes. Therefore, it does not fit the same scope mounts as BAR, BAR MK2 and other BAR MK3 variants, unless they have a Picatinny base mounted.

Browning MK3 DBM
Browning MK3 DBM, Source:

If you are in a search of scope mounts suitable for Browning BAR MK3 DBM, feel free to have a look at our offer here:

Browning BAR MK3 DBM

Which Browning BARS Have Interchangeable Scope Mounts?

In summary, Browning BAR and BAR MK2 are almost indistinguishable rifles featuring the same mounting surface; meaning that scope mounts that fit BAR will also fit BAR 2. Moreover, apart from the BAR MK3 DBM variant that features an integrated Picatinny rail, the mounting surface on other BAR MK3 models is the same as that on BAR and BAR MK2 which means that all three generations of Browning BAR are suitable for the same mounts.

Finally, the BAR M1918 and Browning BAR MK3 DBM do not fit the same mounts as BAR, BAR MK2 and other BAR MK3 variants.

These are the versions of the BAR rifle with the same mounting surface and interchangeable scope mounts:

The following versions of Browning BAR have a different mounting surface; therefore, the mounts that fit them are not interchangeable with the abovementioned models:

Browning BAR vs. BAR MK2 vs. BAR MK3 vs. BAR MK3 DBM
Article Name
Browning BAR vs. BAR MK2 vs. BAR MK3 vs. BAR MK3 DBM
The original BAR design was developed in 1917 by John Moses Browning, the renowned inventor.
Publisher Name
Optics Trade Blog
Publisher Logo



  • I just purchased a Mark 3 BAR , DBM and intend to use it for thick brush hunting. In NYS the magazine capacity is limited to 6 maximum. I am looking for a solution as the DBM comes with a 10 round magazine. Can you tell me if there is a 5 round magazine available? If not can the 10 round mag be blocked to accept 5 rounds?

  • Hello,
    I have a Browning Bar Rifle that I purchased in 1992, a 7mm Magnum rifle. I would like to find out which gunsmith can install a larger competition type rifle barrel so I can begin to enter some of the Precision Rifle Tournaments.
    Could you please provide me with the contact information to reach the individual who either modifies the twist rate or preferably can replace the entire barrel with a large quantity type competition style rifle barrel with a twist rate to get a 150 grain to a 168 grain out to 700 to 1000 yards.

    Best Regards

    Lance Ledet

    • The bar is a great sporting rifle but not the best choice for easily changing barrels like on a ar type or bolt gun because of the gas system.

    • Thank you for reaching out. Unfortunately, we don’t have specific information on a service provider for your needs. However, we believe that any knowledgeable gunsmith should be able to perform the modifications you’re looking for. It might be a good idea to consult with local experts or gunsmiths in your area.

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *