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Browning Automatic Rifle R80 Colt Monitor Machine Rifle

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In the event you just lately watched The Highwaymen on Netflix, you’ll have observed using the Colt Monitor. If you weren’t conversant in the identify, don’t feel too dangerous. The Monitor is among the rarest of all of Colt’s firearm designs.

Think of the Monitor as an “upgraded” B.A.R. modified and lightened for regulation enforcement use.1 It is referred to, in truth, as the first official “preventing rifle” of the FBI.2

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The Colt Monitor

by Mike Searson and David Reeder

Colt Monitor - Rock Island Acutions imageryThe Colt Monitor, from Rock Island Auctions, with a concentrate on the distinctive muzzle system.


Colt Monitor shouldered by Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons.Colt Monitor shouldered by Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons – like the one from the present, besides he actually is gonna shoot it. 

Browning Automated Rifle

One of the crucial iconic infantry weapons of the early 20th century was the Browning Automated Rifle. Developed in 1918 it saw restricted use in WW 1 and have become normal challenge to the US Military in 1938 as a transportable mild machine gun. The BAR saw in depth service in both World Warfare II and the Korean Conflict and even noticed restricted service in the Vietnam Struggle. The US Military began phasing out the BAR in the late 1950s when it was meant to get replaced by a squad automated weapon (SAW) variant of the M14 and was with no moveable mild machine gun until the introduction of the M60 machine gun in 1957.

Initially developed when mounted cavalry was nonetheless a thing, the BAR was heavy, with some variants weighing over 20 pounds. Spare ammunition, bipods, barrels, and different elements have been meant to be carried by way of horses.

Some makes an attempt have been made to make the BAR extra ergonomic comparable to adding a pistol grip, larger forend, and finned barrel. Nevertheless, they still proved to be a bit heavy and, for probably the most part, unwieldy.

Colt Monitor from a book by J.T. Mullins.Colt Monitor from a e-book by J.T. Mullins.

Colt Monitor Machine Rifle

In 1931 Colt Patent Hearth Arms Co. tried to deal with these shortcomings and launched the Monitor Automated Machine Rifle (R 80). Meant for use as a real shoulder-fired automated rifle, the Colt Monitor eliminated the bipod and mounted a pistol grip and buttstock to the light-weight receiver. Additionally they shorted the barrel to 18 in. and fitted with a four in. Cutts compensator made by Lyman.

Cyclic price of fireside was about 550 rounds per minute and the Cutts Compensator eliminated much of the recoil of the 30-06 Springfield round when fired on full-auto.

Shooting the Colt Monitor with Forgotten Weapons Ian McCollum.

What was the Colt Monitor?

It was an advanced version of the B.A.R., nevertheless it was still a beast. Tipping the scales at 16 lbs. 3 oz. empty, the Monitor had a price of fireside of roughly 500 rpm.

Colt R80 Manual

Sometimes, the top of the receiver will probably be marked: “COLT AUTOMATIC MACHINE RIFLE/MODEL R 80 CAL. .30/BROWNING PAT FEB. 4. 1919/APR. 14. 1925, AUG. four. 1925/COLTS PAT FIREARMS MFG. CO./HARTFORD, CONN. USA”. The raised area behind the ejection port is marked “COLT/MONITOR”. It is fitted with a blade entrance sight with an integral front sight protector and a tangent rear sight, just like the Lyman/Thompson SMG sight, that is graduated 2-6 (200-600). It has an all blued metallic finish with a walnut stock, forend and pistol grip plates.

Colt Monitor - Brownells

Colt Monitor from Forgotten Weapons

Colt Monitor - Rock Island Auctions

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Colt only produced 125 Screens. From manufacturing unit data it may be proven that 90 have been purchased by the FBI3 , 11 have been bought by the US Treasury Division and the remainder ended up at state prisons, banks, security corporations, and police departments.

Colt Monitor adopted by the FBIModern doc displaying Colt Monitor FBI situation. [Special thanks to Historical G-Men.]The Monitor answered the problem most regulation enforcement businesses have been dealing with in regard to penetration or lack thereof by the 45 ACP spherical fired from the Thompson SMG. When 45 ACP would not penetrate a automotive physique, the 30-06 most definitely wood.

Colt Monitor like the one from The Highwaymen on sale at Guns America. A Colt Monitor just like the one Kevin Costner (as Frank Hamer) purchased; from a current public sale seen on Weapons America.

Colt Monitor

Frank Hamer’s Colt Monitor

One of the more famous Colt Screens was introduced to retired Texas Ranger Frank Hamer from Colt for his mission to trace down Bonnie & Clyde. It bears the serial number C-103168. This was (supposedly) the one depicted in the movie.

This was one of the flaws in The Highwaymen film. Whether or not Colt introduced Hamer with a Monitor, he undoubtedly didn’t buy one “off the shelf”.  Because none of the 125 Screens manufactured ever went to a civilian gun store or sporting items store, a minimum of not in 1934.

Weapons from the final gunfight with Bonnie & Clyde, from the Texas Ranger Museum. Weapons from the final Bonnie & Clyde gunfight, Texas Ranger Museum, unknown PC. 

The movie confirmed Hamer’s companion, Manny Gault utilizing the Colt Monitor in the ambush of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Hamer truly loaned the Colt Monitor to Dallas Deputy Ted Hinton.

Hinton was a part of the posse as a result of he knew and will determine on sight each Barrow and Parker.

Some sources say that Hinton borrowed the Monitor from a National Guard Armory, when actually he borrowed the Monitor from Hamer. The Monitor was never a part of any US Army inventory, much less a Texas National Guard Armory.

If yow will discover one immediately that’s transferable the worth can range from $90,000 to $140,000 and one with a provenance similar to Hamer’s would easily double that. You possibly can see what’s obtainable at Rock Island Public sale, but you’re gonna need to ask for a rise in your allowance first.



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Colt Monitor: The First Official FBI Preventing Rifle

Forgotten Weapons

Study extra about different “Forgotten Weapons” online. You may think about supporting Forgotten Weapons on Patreon (we do, institutionally and individually; you need to too). 


Browning BAR & Colt Monitor

Brownells | From the Vault

There is a entire slew of historical movies on the Brownells YouTube channel. Just take a look at the From the Vault collection. 

Browning Automated Rifle R80 – on the range

You’ll see Frank Hamer (Costner) laying down the hate with a Colt Monitor within the trailer, under.

However first, a take a look at Gun Historical past Jesus capturing one for actual:

Ian McCollum firing the R80 Colt Monitor



1 In fact, it wasn’t just for regulation enforcement use. A few of the dangerous guys had them too. John Paul Chase used a Colt Monitor through the 1934 gunfight that ended the career of Lester Joseph “Baby Face Nelson” Gillis. Particular Agent Herman E. Hollis and Inspector Samuel P. Cowley of the Division (later Bureau) of Investigation have been murdered in that encounter (Hollis was killed on the scene and Cowley died shortly thereafter.

Cowley engaged, however he can’t have executed too nicely, capturing from one racing vehicle at another racing vehicle on a ribbon of bouncing freeway at high velocity whereas the gangsters evaded—they tended to be excellent drivers and Les was no exception—and answered in variety. That they had three full- or semi-automatic arms: a Thompson in .45 ACP, a Winchester 1907 semi-automatic chambered in .351 Winchester Self-Loading (WSL) and eventually, and most terrifyingly, a Colt Monitor, in high-powered .30’-06 Sprg., capable of shredding automobiles, “bulletproof” vests, most barricades and all the things else on earth in need of vault steel. However Chase, who was firing the Monitor, by no means scored the engine hits that might have put the brokers out of the sport.

However, the gun can’t have been straightforward to handle. Although built by Colt and referred to as a “machine rifle,” it was a tactically modified Browning Automated Rifle, meant for police work, jail guards and industrial security. Colt had built 125 of them in 1931. And nearly as good because it was for regulation enforcement, it was perhaps even better for regulation breaking. In response to an FBI interview with Child Face affiliate Joseph “Fatso” Negri, Les had sent two minions to New York to purchase “this new machine gun, this new sort.” You possibly can readily see why: it was ultimate for bank work. The Colt engineers had shortened the stock and barrel, hooked up a stubby pistol grip behind the set off guard, enlarged the fore-end, usually lightened it to 14 lbs. and hooked up a swollen, 12-slot Cutts Compensator to cut down on the muzzle rise that unleashing 20 .30-’06s in two seconds should inevitably generate.

Battle at Barrington, Stephen Hunter:

2 In case you’re researching the Colt Monitor, you in all probability should read Ballou.

In 1931, Colt introduced a BAR specifically geared for the regulation enforcement group. It was a business Browning Automated Rifle with a pistol grip, shortened barrel and an elaborate compensator. The primary two have been shipped to Charlestown Jail (later to grow to be Bunker Hill Group School) in Boston, MA on March 25, 1931. (Serial No’s C-102792, C-102793). The official manufacturing unit designation was R-80 and generally referred to as the “Monitor”.

The FBI bought approximately 90 Screens and put them on display in a collection of propaganda films depicting Mr. Hoover overseeing some of his agents firing (with tracer) at automobiles. The Monitor did its job properly and soon the automobiles have been chopped to items by the armor piercing .30-06. This was Mr. Hoover’s weapon of mass destruction as it put his men on equal footing with the likes of Bonnie and Clyde. The Monitor was the primary official “Preventing Rifle” of the FBI.

Small Arms Assessment, J. Edgar Hoover’s WMD, James L. Ballou.


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three Early Dept. of Investigation coaching and courses of fireside, to include the Colt Monitor.

Shooting the BAR Colt Monitor - courses of fireShooting the BAR Colt Monitor - courses of fireShooting the BAR Colt Monitor - courses of fire


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