Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Bren MkI: The Best Light Machine Gun of World War Two

 In the years after World War One, the British military wanted a new machine gun, and they wanted it to replace both the Lewis and the Vickers. Through the 1920s the British would tinker with most of the light machine guns that became available, but it was not until the early 1930s that a serious formal trial was conducted. The initial trials found three particularly encouraging guns; the ZB-26, Madsen, and Vickers-Berthier. Over a series of followup testing, the Madsen and Vickers-Berthier were both eliminated, leaving the Czechoslovakian ZB as the final choice.

The British were extremely enthusiastic about the qualities of the ZB, and it is understandable why. The final .303 British version, the Bren, is widely regarded as the best magazine-fed light machine gun ever made. In its final preproduction trial, one of the prototype guns endured a 150,000-round trial without any real problems.

The design was licensed for British production as well as in the Dominions, and would be put into production at both Enfield in England and the John Inglis company in Canada. About 30,000 were produced before the Dunkirk disaster, which would lead to simplification of the design. But those changes are a subject for another video later...

VIDEO HERE  (26:46 minutes)


  1. Used to cut the target poles with the Bren. Cost me a bit of running around with a Bren over my head, but worth it for the bragging rights. That lmg shot like a laser!

  2. Buddy of mine with a welding/metal-working background has a semi-auto BREN. He bought a de-milled parts kit which consisted of all the goodies, plus a receiver which had been torch-cut into 4 pieces. Using a jig, he added back the "missing" metal and rebuilt the receiver as a semi-auto, with the gun firing from closed-bolt. He also had to tweak the gas system to get the beast to run reliably. Shooting that .303 Brit stuff from a a nearly 30# gun makes it a pussy-cat. He's also got a second barrel, chambered for 7.62x54R Russian/Commie ... to run the gun on the cheap. He's event got an original-issue tubular steel tripod for the gun.
    Suffice it to say, when "Big Lou" comes out to the range, it gets all kinds of attention.

  3. My Uncle loved the bren, said it was to accurate, "a good bren gunner had to jiggle the gun when firing"


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