Big Iron Update – The HCAR

I always like when the Ohio Ordnance HCAR rifles crosses the streams if the gunternet. The update to the Browning Automatic Rifle loses weight, adds rails for optics and lasers and has a big curvy magazine.

It looks cools, tacti-cool even, and still fires ‘mA ThirTy AughT SIX’ for maximum .30 cal. That’s the .30 that should exist by the way, it’s the .308 that I will consistently posit that we knew better than to make another .30 caliber round by that point in history.

Modernizing an older platform is nothing new, we’re even familiar with ‘semi’ing a typically full-auto open bolt weapon like the UZI carbines. The HCAR is both of those and came out in a time period where 30.06 had basically been shelved as a hunting round or you’d get some lightweight ‘Garand’ loads for your surplus M1 to go plink.

Yes, fun fact, the Garand wasn’t an ideal 30.06 host since it was originally built around .276 and that rifle both ran better and held two more rounds. The BAR though was built up around 30.06, John Moses Browning had the US standard cartridge in mind when he put these together and his action designs were meant for it.

Is this a practical weapon? No.

Is this a weapon with some niche capability that you’re modern rifle can’t match? No.

Is it affordable? …

So why is it so stinking cool then?

Simple, because it is. It’s a weapon that served several hard decades from then end of First World War, through the American Gangster era, brought US GI’s through the brutality of the Second World War, and began retiring with honors after Korea.

It did work.

The HCAR is a weird offshoot of that because it represents a development branch we could theoretically have ended up at from the M14 trials. The US didn’t want to ditch .30 cal and we had a wonderfully working .30 cal weapon in nearly the configuration we needed it to be with the Colt Monitor variant of the BAR. The Monitor is essentially the M16A2 and the HCAR is then the M16A4.

That’s an over simplification, but it signifies the jump into the ancillary era brought on by durable optic suites. The HCAR can do work, and if you want to shoot 30.06 as your rifle round of choice and have a modernized set of capabilities in the weapon it is the choice. It isn’t a bad choice either. It’s just… inefficient by todays standards.

The HCAR and the 30.06 can be loaded with a little more legs than the 7.62 NATO can be, not a lot but a little. But that begs the questions why not look at .300 WinMag, Norma, 6.5 Creed, etc. if you’re looking for rounds with distance efficiency. The 30.06 and the HCAR aren’t about efficiency, they’re about BAR and 30.06. This weapon is the rule of cool.

The HCAR isn’t doing anything a decent AR-10 build won’t do better, armor defeat even holds true if you get hands on M80A1 in place of M2. The SCAR, MR762, or SPEAR all come in lighter and in 6.5 (or potentially 6.8×51) they can have every inch of the range and then some.

But you you got the HCAR because you wanted an BAR in 30.06.

Keith is the Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. A Certified Instructor since 2009, he has taught concealed weapons courses in the West Michigan area in the years since and continues to pursue training and teaching opportunities as they arise.