Introduction to the Deactivated Bren Gun
The Bren Light Machine Gun was one of the most highly acclaimed weapons of its category throughout WW2. It was adapted by the British military from the series of light machine guns produced by the Chzech company, Brno Zb. The gun got its Anglicized name, ‘Bren’ from the Chzech ‘Brno’ (Br…), and the English ‘Enfield’ (en…) where it was made, although during the war it was often nicknamed the ‘Bloody Accurate’ by troops who valued its impressive capabilities in the field.
The light machine guns that were in use by the British Army prior to adoption of the Bren gun were the Lewis and the Vickers machine guns.
The Vickers gun was a heavy machine gun that used a tripod and a cumbersome water cooling system. This made it completely unsuitable for a section weapon as war evolved into fast moving attack and retreat style campaigns as opposed to the static trench warfare of WW1. The Lewis gun was a lighter machine gun that was highly effective however it was so prone to blockages and stoppages that it had to be replaced with something more reliable.
The Bren gun was utilised as a support weapon for a team of 10 men. The Bren was operated by a two man team, one carrying the weapon and firing while the other carried extra ammunition and helped to reload and change over heated barrels. Additionally, every man in the 10 man squad carried 2 extra magazines for the Bren gun. The magazine could hold 30 rounds however they were usually loaded with 27 rounds, or sometimes 28, to prevent stoppages during combat.
The Bren is a fantastically accurate weapon at up to 500 metres making it an ideal support weapon for attacks and with its rapid rate of fire of up to 500 rounds per minute also makes it a formidable tool for militaries in defensive positions as well.
The Bren gun was gas operated and one of the most widely used weapons that found its way into the arsenals of militaries all over the world, including the British, the Australian, the French and the Polish armies.
Why is the Bren Gun so popular?
The Bren gun was the trusted companion of the Allied forces during WW2 that helped the troops to win some of the bloodiest battles in modern warfare. The Bren was extremely accurate, had a high rate of fire and required very low levels of maintenance in the field. It was easy to keep clean, with its simple construction, and was reliable in all conditions including wet and muddy or even in the sandy deserts of North Africa.
- Easy and fast to strip and clean, even in the field.
- Highly Accurate up to a range of 500 metres.
- Extremely reliable weapon that would rarely block or stop even in muddy and wet combat conditions.
- The barrel was quick to change, taking only a few seconds, even when it was hot.
History of the Deactivated Bren Gun
First developed and produced by the British Royal Small Arms Factory in 1937 having been adapted from the Chzech Brno Zb light machine gun series.
Production of the Bren increases rapidly during the war years:
- 1937 – RSAF produces 400 Bren guns per month as it comes into active military service.
- 1943 – RSAF produces up to 1000 Bren guns per week.
The Evolution of the Bren Light Machine Gun – Mark 1 to Mark 4 – The War Years
Features of the Bren Mark 1 (MK1) in 1937
The original Bren gun was known as the Bren Mark 1 (Mk1). The main features of this all round light machine gun made it a favourite among the troops and its production became an important part of the war effort.
- The gun has a bootstrap to be used over the shoulder while it is being fired.
- The gun has a telescopic bipod at the front of the barrel to hold it stable allowing for its incredible accuracy.
- The gun also has a rear grip under the butt.
- For aiming the gun has a drum pattern rear sight aperture.
- Cocking handle folds away when not in use.
Features of the Mark 2 (MK2) in 1941
As the war began to heat up the Bren Mk 1 was assessed and the original Bren was simplified with several main features being removed. The Bren Mk 2 was manufactured in Canada (an ally of the UK) by the Inglis and Monotype Group. The butt strap of the weapon was removed, and the telescopic front bipod was replaced with a fixed height bipod. The previously folding cocking handle was replaced with a fixed one and the rear grip was removed.
The Bren Mk 2 was still built from one block of steel, however in its new simplified form less milling was needed and the manufacturing process was significantly sped up. The woodwork on the gun was also simplified making it less ergonomic.
Features of the Mark 3 (MK3) in 1944
Towards the end of the war, in 1944, production of the Bren Mk 3 began. This new gun was designed for the Airborne Services and was a more lightweight version of the Bren Mk 1 with a shorter overall length.
Features of the Mark 4 (MK4) in 1944
This was a lighter weight version of the Mk 2 that also has a shorter barrel length.
Following the end of WW2 NATO took up the Bren.
At the close of WW2 the Bren had proved itself to be one of the most reliable, effective and popular light machine guns in the world and so it wasn’t a surprise when the weapon was rechambered in 1964 to fire the 7.62 rounds so it could be used by NATO forces which was known as the Bren L1.
Deactivated Bren Gun Specifications
|Specification||Mk 1||Mk 2||Mk 3||Mk 4|
|Barrel length (inches||25||25||22.25||22.25|
|Total Length (inches)||45.5||42.9||42.9||42.9|
|Magazine capacity||30 rounds||30 rounds||30 rounds||30 rounds|
|Gun Type||Machine Gun||Machine Gun||Machine Gun||Machine Gun|
|Origin (country)||United Kingdom||Canada||UK/|
|In Service (from – until)||1939-1941||1941-||1944-1971||1944-1971|
|Rate of Fire (RPM)||500||500||500||500|
|Muzzle Velocity (m/s)||743.7||743.7||743.7||743.7|
Deactivated Bren Gun alternatives
There are very few weapons that could compete with the Bren gun in the field of combat however, for collectors there are some great main competitors that were manufactured in Germany to compete with the Bren during the war.
- MG 42 All Purpose Machine Gun. This powerful machine gun was first produced in 1942 in Nazi Germany during WWII. The gun had a retractable bipod making it accurate even at high rates of fire and utilized the 7.92x59mm Mauser round. It had an incredible range of fire that could reach up to almost 2000 yards with the appropriate sight adjustments.
- FG 42 Light Machine Gun. This lighter weight, shorter machine gun was produced in Nazi Germany and first entered production in 1942. It was specially designed for the airborne units of the Germany army and is a highly collectible item because it was only ever produced in very limited numbers.
Deactivated Bren Gun FAQs
Is it legal to own a deactivated Bren Gun in the UK?
Yes it is completely legal to own a deactivated weapon in the UK provided you are over 18.
Was the weapon good?
The Bren gun had a reputation for being one of the most effective weapons on the battlefield of WWII, and was nicknamed the ‘Bloody Accurate’ by British troops.
How many rounds could the Bren Gun hold in one magazine?
The Bren used magazine with a capacity of 30 rounds although in practise it was only ever loaded with 27 or 28 rounds to help to reduce the chances of blockages and stoppages during fire.
What rate of fire did the Bren gun have?
This amazing light machine gun could fire at up to 500 Rounds Per Minute.
Is the Bren gun still used?
The last Bren Guns went out of production in 2012 where they were still used until then by the Indian military. Today they are a favourite collectors item.