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Benelli R1 and Browning BAR: An Informal Comparison.


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I recently bought a new BAR short trac in .308, due to the non-existent available R1's or barrels in .308, and the fact that I "needed" an all weather rifle with a coated finish and synthetic stock. Now that I've shot the BAR a fair amount, I feel the need to compare the two. They are both dedicated deer, black bear, and hog rifles that are mostly shot in thick timber under 300 yards.


I've had my R1 about 10 years, and had bought it used, so I'd say it's an early model, with walnut stock. I have a .30-06 20" barrel and .300 win mag 24" barrel. Both I think have a 1:11 twist. This is my go-to rifle, and I have shot it a lot. I replaced the gas piston (due to corrosion), and the recoil assembly (wore out, FTE's) about 2 years ago. Nikon Monarch and Leupold VX-6 sit on top for good sight pictures. In short, the R1 is a much finer rifle. As you all know, the machining and craftsmanship on all aspects of it are incredibly high quality. I've hunted for days in pouring rain and poured water out of the barrel, and it cleans up like new. Very durable blued finish and walnut stocks. Also, I don't think there is a production rifle on the market that has a barrel comparable to the excellent crio-barrel. I can shoot dozens of rounds and really heat it up, with no change in POI. It eats maybe 5-6 different factory loads in 165 or 180 grain while maintaining a 1.5" group or less at 100 yards. It does hate 150 grain bullets. I have the short recoil pad on it, and it still soaks up recoil well, even in .300 WM with a wooden stock. Gas piston and recoil assembly issues aside,the R1 is a slightly better rifle all the way around (and less expensive).


The BAR is a short trac synthetic model in .308 winchester. It has a 22" barrel with a 1:12 twist, with a Steiner GS3 scope on top. It is a cool looking rifle and lighter than my R1, but the fit and finish are not even close to that of the R1. More MIM parts, a little rougher action, imperfections in the plastic stock, and stupid hinged floor plate with removable box magazine. However, it is very similar to the R1 in how it shoots. Recoil in the .308 BAR is similar to that of the .30-06 in the R1. Accuracy is the same with the R1 when the right 4-5 factory loads are found. A few 180 grain rounds and a 165 grain shot the best. In reality, I want to dispel the notion that the R1 is very finicky on ammo. My R1 in both calibers will shoot a larger variety of ammo more accurately than the BAR. The BAR really shines on quick, successive shots. I know it's not an A/R and it doesn't have the ARGO system, but it feeds, fires, and ejects spent brass quickly, reliably, consistently, and comfortably. The barrel heats up after 4-5 shots, and there's a slight degradation in accuracy with the hot barrel, but nothing to get riled over. Reliability-wise, this rifle makes me confident that it will do its job in the field under a variety of harsh conditions. It does not collect powder residue all over the action and gas system like the R1 does either. And of course, you can't tear it down like the R1 for cleaning. The front stock and trigger assembly are the only two parts that are easily removable for cleaning the BAR.


In summary, I wish I could have bought a new R1 in .308 with Comfortech, but they're extinct. The R1 is a slightly less expensive and better rifle. It does seem like Benelli no longer does the crio treatment on the R1 barrels, shotguns only. However, the Browning BAR is also a fine rifle. It feels more production-like, but it shoots great and reliably, and I think is a good substitute for us Benelli R1 fanboys.

Edited by Planetcat
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