The Browning BAR Mark II Safari .270 Rifle

By Randy Wakeman

BAR Safari Grade
BAR Safari Grade. Illustration courtesy of Browning.

The tested gun is the steel receivered BAR Mk II in .270 Winchester. The tested model has no "BOSS" or "BOSS-CR."

When it comes to gas operated sporting rifles, the Browning BAR has ruled the roost in the hunting department for many years. From the original sporting BAR to todayís newer MK II Safari, all have been manufactured in Belgium. The only minor distinction for collectors is the "made in Belgium, assembled in Belgium" stamping a few wear. This is more a matter of trivia than tangibility.

The tested gun was fitted with Talley steel quick release scope rings on Talley bases holding Sightronís most popular scope: the SII 3-9 x 42. This Sightron SII has the factory dot in the center of the reticle. Shooting this example alongside a classic BAR .270, the improved magazine, tasteful engraving, upgraded wood, and softer shooting all became quickly apparent. In fact, with 130 grain factory loads, this rifle is so soft-shooting you might find it hard to believe you are shooting a big game rifle. As dead caribou and an equally dead Newfoundland moose can attest, you certainly are.

The accuracy, as far as Iím concerned, has been remarkable; perhaps thatís why Iím remarking about it? It shoots 150 grain Winchester Partition Golds into 1 inch to 1-1/8 inch with regularity, and with 130 grain Nosler Ballistic tips it really hums, shooting below ĺ inch @ 100 yards. As mentioned, this particular example has no "BOSS." Iím glad for that, and have no idea what could live on the difference.

I should mention the Talley steel rings that really are works of art, being both strong and lightweight. The Sightron SII 3-9 x 42, like most Sightron SII scopes, has an excellent image, a generous internal adjustment range (95 inches in this case), and superb tracking. You can draw a square shooting with this scope, and I have.

In freezing rain and covered with ice, this BAR has never failed to function. All scoped up and ready for the hunt, the fully outfitted BAR as configured weighs 9 lbs. 14.5 oz. This is both a blessing and a curse. It is superbly easy to shoot, and shoot well. Recoil is practically non-existent in the field, and pleasant at the bench. Yet, as most BAR lovers admit, it is a bit heavy for long treks across the tundra. For those who prefer to shed a little weight, the new alloy-receivered "BAR LongTrac" gets you there at a touch under seven pounds, sans scope.

The trigger as supplied on this BAR breaks at 4 pounds, 4.5 ounces after a short amount of initial take-up. It is actually better than most factory triggers today, needing no tuning for its intended purpose.

Every once in a while you hear a senseless debate about cycle time on short vs. long bolt actions, or perhaps bolt throw. Spending a little time with the BAR reveals how absurd these debates really are. You can throw three shots into the vitals of an animal that might bite back, or a large animal that doesnít react to a vital hit, before the bolt is so much as unlocked on common bolt actions. If you ever need a follow-up shot, the BAR gets you there faster than any other action can hope to.

On an Arctic Quebec caribou hunt near the Labrador border, after I shot my caribou the pilot asked, "How many shots, Rambo?" I answered, "Twenty-two." My guide was quick to answer, "Yes, and they all went through the same hole." Though a follow-up is shot is rarely (and hopefully never) needed, hunting with a BAR makes it a possibility.

My father has hunted with a Browning BAR .270 since they first came out. It was the .270 that made him put his Mauser in the gun case for good. Once you shoot one, youíll likely understand why the Browning BAR has become a classic in its own right, and remains the zenith of todayís semi-auto hunting rifles. In this case, the "Best There Is" advertising slogan is aptly applied.

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Copyright 2006, 2012 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.