Here’s Art Alphin, then at West Point, presenting a video for the cadets (and for all of us) comparing the weapon the US Army and Marine rifle squad used as a base of fire, the M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle, to its Wehrmacht counterpart, the MG34 general purpose machine gun.
The two weapons are technically different, of course, with the BAR more akin to the ZB 26 / ZB 30 LMGs that the German forces used as substitute standard. But they’re also tactically different, and Alphin covers that.
The MG34 barrel swap in the range-test in the video was triggered by the extractor ripping apart a casing. A failure like that in the BAR would down the gun until the residue of the case could be removed by other means. In the MG34, it simply means you have to do the barrel swap sooner (and your assistant gunner needs to get the ruptured case out before the other barrel gets too hot.
Which was better? As an infantry officer or NCO, it didn’t matter. Because your side only had one, and that was the one you had. And it was up to you to deploy it tactically in a way that best exploited its characteristics.
A great deal of discussion in the gun world is tribal/fanboy posturing, reminiscent of the hot-rodder t-shirts that were popular with grade school boys in the 1960s: “Chevies Eat Fords” or vice versa. An infantryman does not have the luxury of preference. He gets the bayonet handle the Republic/King/Commissar has provided for him, and he might as well like it because the decision is out of his hands just as much as the rifle is in them.
But even if he doesn’t like it, he has to use it. Sometimes his really will be better. Sometimes it won’t. And either way, it doesn’t matter. Good leadership with crap weapons beats good weapons with crap leadership.
Looking at the guns from a logistician’s point of view, the BAR wins. It burns less ammo, requires a smaller fire team, get by without belted ammunition. And, as complicated as it is (soldiers of a certain vintage, or who cycled through Light Weapons or 18B school, will remember “cups and cones!”), it’s still much simpler to machine and assemble than the fiendishly complicated parts of the MG34.
That may explain why, despite the recognized high quality of the MG34, nobody really used it after 1945, and why the most successful post-war GPMG was based on its arch-rival, the BAR.