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Preview – CZ Bren 805 Carbine

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Photos by Kenda Lenseigne

We Get to Break CZ’s Newest Carbine

You may have noticed a certain theme permeating this issue, and arrived at the conclusion that in the case of this article, one of these things is not like the others. A very modern NATO carbine in an issue with lousy 75-year-old Cold War designs might, at first glance, be a little jarring, but there’s a distinct lineage here, so bear with us.

The Czechs have a long and distinguished history of producing some of the most iconic, high-quality, military firearms in the world inventory. Illustrious examples of their designs include the CZ 23 submachine gun — the first to employ a telescoping bolt, the elegant CZ75 handgun and, of course, the ZB vz. 26, which formed the basis for that other Bren gun, variants of which were employed to close with and destroy Her Majesty’s enemies in conflicts ranging from WWII to the Falklands.

Despite falling into the Soviet sphere of influence following the defeat of Nazi Germany, a strong independent streak remained, leading ultimately to the reforms of the Prague Spring in 1968, the subsequent invasion by Warsaw Pact forces, and the Velvet Revolution some 20 years later. A symbol of Czech independent thought could be found in its service rifle, which although it may have looked like an AK-47, shared nothing with Kalashnikov’s design apart from the caliber. Despite becoming a fully fledged NATO member in 1999, the 7.62×39 Vz58 (see RECOIL Issue 15) still serves in the Czech military, but it’s being slowly phased out in favor of the 5.56 Bren 806, itself a product-improved version of the original 805.

CZ-USA has been importing the pistol version of the 805 for the past year due to the idiotic requirements of USC 922(r), while they worked on a way to keep the number of evil, foreign-made parts down to the 10 permitted in a carbine. We’ll leave for another time the debate regarding the mental capacities of those who decided that 10 overseas components made for a gun was A-OK, but 11 constituted a threat to all that was good and wholesome in the world.

brenfiringpin 805carbine_scar17

Hands On
There’s little doubt that CZ’s engineers took inspiration from the FNH SCAR when they developed the 805 carbine. Both feature an aluminum upper receiver, square-profiled carrier, multi-lugged bolt, and polymer lower. Both are able to swap out barrels at the user level. And both have folding stocks that are adjustable for comb height and length of pull. The Bren, however, benefits from being a couple of years late to the party, as they’ve incorporated a couple of worthwhile improvements in terms of modularity.

Like the SCAR, CZ’s design utilizes a short-stroke gas piston mounted above the barrel to drive a bolt carrier located in its alloy receiver. Whereas the Belgian rifle’s carrier is longer and rides on steel rails bolted to the receiver’s flanks, the 805’s rails are milled into the aluminum extrusion; there are advantages to both systems, but the end result is the same. Comparing both guns side by side leads us to suspect that the Bren was designed from the get-go to be a 7.62 NATO rifle. The distance from the barrel extension to the rear of the receiver is identical to a SCAR 17, rather than the smaller 16 – if there were no plans to chamber it in the longer cartridge, why saddle it with additional weight?

This theory is reinforced when we consider the lower receiver, specifically its replaceable magazine well, which provides ample space for a bigger mag, should the need arise. In this respect, the Bren is ahead of the SCAR as in the latter, there’s no way to convert a SCAR 16 to 7.62, though SCAR 17 to 5.56 conversions are currently in service with Army SF. Having one common platform to handle all foreseeable calibers will no doubt appeal to the bean counters.

Actual users of the carbine will also appreciate the ambi controls, which allow both left- and right-handed shooters to run the gun without taking their master hand off the pistol grip — even when locking back the bolt during stoppage drills. In this case, the presence of an ambi safety is a necessary, rather than a luxury, feature, as it’s too stiff and awkward to reapply with the strong hand thumb. Flicking it back on with the index finger is effortless, however, and ensures the booger hook is off the bang switch during this operation.


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