When it comes to encapsulating the essence of Ohio Ordnance, their motto “Preserving the Past, Engineering for the Future” says it all. This company, nestled in Chardon, Ohio, stands out as one of the foremost firearms manufacturers. My journey into their world began with a tour of their facility alongside my son Owen, an experience that left a lasting impression.

Ohio Ordnance is not a retail store but a highly secure manufacturing facility not accessible to the public. Made up of several buildings, this manufacturer produces fully automatic weapons for the U.S. and other military units around the world. Their repertoire includes heavy artillery like the OOW249 5.56mm Machine Gun and the iconic “Ma Deuce” .50 Caliber Browning Machine Gun, among others. With more than 40 CNC machines, their manufacturing prowess is unmatched.

At NRA conventions, Ohio Ordnance’s displays are eye-catching. Beyond their impressive weaponry — often complete with vehicle-mounted machine guns — it’s the warmth and hospitality of their staff, particularly toward kids like my son, that set them apart. This prompted me to delve deeper into their offerings, realizing the relevance of their products, especially amid rising concerns about crime and personal safety. For those with the means, Ohio Ordnance’s high-end arms can offer advantages in defending large areas of real estate.

The Model 1918A3 BAR

The most remarkable arm in Ohio Ordnance’s lineup is the Model 1918A3 BAR, a civilian-legal semi-automatic-only version of the rightfully celebrated .30-06 caliber Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) 1918A2. The original full-auto squad machine guns saw a lot of action in WWII.

Adapting the WWII classic to semi-automatic operation was a remarkable feat of engineering. The full-automatic M1918A2 operates from an open bolt position. Ensuring compliance with legal regulations, Ohio Ordnance retained the essence of the original while adapting the BAR to fire from a closed bolt. Aside from that change, the M1918A3 is true to the original. Its receiver is machined from AISI 4140 steel billet with walnut stocks, and all metal parts are made in-house.

Ohio Ordnance provided three BAR variants and plenty of 20-round magazines for testing during our tour. Despite being pretty close ballistically, I favor the .30-06 over the .308 (7.62 NATO) for precision rifles as it can handle heavier bullets due to the greater length.

Despite its hefty 20-pound frame, the rifle’s built-in buffering system, a tribute to John Moses Browning’s ingenuity, mitigated recoil, offering a surprisingly smooth shooting experience. I started with testing from the bench, resting the magazine in the palm of my hand. Squeezing the smooth trigger, I was rewarded with a gentle push from the A3 and a large clang on the 25-meter silhouette. This was perhaps the coolest gun I’ve ever had the chance to fire, and the experience left me grinning from ear to ear.

Comparing the M1918A3 to the Original M1918A2

I was also offered the opportunity to compare the Ohio Ordnance BAR to an original full-auto M1918A2. With the BAR set up on a bipod on the ground, I got into a prone position and inserted a magazine. The A2s have just two full auto settings as opposed to the semi-auto settings the M1918 and M1918A1 had. Its slow auto setting has a cycling rate of 300-450 RPM, while fast auto has a rate of 500-650.

I fired first from the slow setting before moving up to the fast setting. The stock buffer did its job again. We then set up Owen with his own magazine. With supervision from the Ohio Ordnance team, he settled into a good prone position. Owen was a natural, demonstrating excellent burst fire control, and his smile was larger than mine. If an 85-pound 9-year-old can handle the recoil of an M1918 BAR, most adults should be able to as well.

If that M1918A2 were transferable, it would be priced somewhere around $25,000. The Ohio Ordnance 1918A3 is a more-than-acceptable substitute. With components that are 105 years newer, the MSRP of the OO 1918A3 is $7,616.85. It ships with two 20-round magazines and a military bipod. Additional magazines and other parts are available as well.

A Lighter, More Compact Rifle Option

For those who prefer a semi-automatic rifle based on the BAR but lighter and more modern and compact, consider the M3 Heavy Counter Assault Rifle (HCAR) from Ohio Ordnance. The HCAR is a 21st-century BAR based on the semi-automatic action of the M1918A3 and available with a 16- or 20-inch barrel plus a 30-round magazine. I tested the 16-inch version; however, the 20-inch version would maximize the power of the .30-06 cartridge. With the same all-steel action as the BAR, it weighs 11.75 pounds. Shooting the HCAR is similar to the BAR due to its hydraulic recoil buffering mechanism. MSRP is between $6,400 and $7,100, depending on model.

Ohio Ordnance Firearms

My exploration of Ohio Ordnance unveiled a world of innovation and craftsmanship that’s been in my backyard since 1964. Beyond their semi-automatic rifles, their inventory includes a range of firearms catering to diverse preferences, including belt-fed semi-autos. For those interested in Class III arms, they have a museum-quality inventory of full-auto arms. Ohio Ordnance also has an extensive list of conventional arms of all types through the Gunbroker.com link on its website.

Ohio Ordnance: OOWinc.com