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Colt Automatic Machine Rifle Model 1919: the First Commercial BAR

DEADLINE to ENTER is TONIGHT 04/26/24 @ 11:59pm (PST).

Several patents were taken out on the BAR during World War One, but they were all kept unpublished and secret during the war. Just days after the Armistice, Colt patent attorney CJ Ehbets wrote to the US Patent Office requesting release of the secrecy restrictions. They responded just two days later sending formal publication of the patents, and Colt was able to move directly into commercial export sales of the BAR.

The model being sold by Colt was officially the Colt Automatic Machine Rifle, Model of 1919. It was nearly identical to the regular M1918 US military BAR, but without the cylindrical flash hider and with the recoil spring moved from the gas tube into the buttstock. The first sale was made on April 11, 1919 (serial number C-100251) and a total of 1,003 of these guns were purchased by the end of 1923. In 1924, Colt released a new model, with a pistol grip and some other improvements.

Of the 1,003 Model 1919s, 701 were chambered for 6.5mm and sold to FN – almost certainly for resale to a European client, as FN was not yet set up for BAR manufacture. The remaining 302 were made in a variety of calibers (.30-06, 7.92mm Mauser, 7.65mm Mauser, 7mm Mauser), and also included a small batch in .303 British purchased by the UK and used in the light machine gun trials that ultimately let to the Bren.

This particular example is fully transferrable, but was at some point rebuilt by a prior owner in World War Two, M1918A2 configuration. It retains the original style hand guard and trigger assembly and is a proper Model 1919 receiver, and would be an ideal project for someone to properly return to Model 1919 configuration (IMO).

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