Ian McCollum from Forgotten Weapons takes a look at an unusual combination that we didn’t even know existed. A Bren Gun chambered in a seemingly unlikely caliber.
Then again, if you really think about it and look at the time period and the way that world events played out, it does make a lot of sense. So much so, we want two of them. Mad Duo
WTW: Chinese Bren Gun in 7.62X39
The Bren light machine gun is quite the international piece of work – designed in Czechoslovakia in the early 30s, carried throughout the world by the soldiers of the United Kingdom. It survived the transition to NATO in the form of the L4, and of course, let us not forget its use by the Chinese in both 8mm Mauser and 7.62x39mm.
Wait, didn’t you know about that?
During WWII, the Nationalist Chinese government purchased 18,000 Bren guns, chambered for their standard 8mm Mauser cartridge, from the John Inglis factory in Canada. These were built and delivered in 1943 and 1944 and were put to good use fighting the Communist forces in China. Well, not good enough use, I suppose, since the Communists ended up winning in the end.
What would the Communists do with thousands of light machine guns chambered for a cartridge they didn’t use? Convert them, of course. A few quick tweaks like boring out the barrels and sleeving them with SKS barrels, and presto – now you have a light machine gun in 7.62x39mm. A few simple changes to the magazine catch and ejector, and you can even have it use standard AK mags to boot.
This was done to Czech ZB-26 light machine guns as well as Brens, and the guns eventually came full circle when a batch was purchased and imported back into the United States as parts kits. This particular one has been rebuilt as a Title I semiautomatic, and runs very well. Really a testament to the design and manufacture of these guns that they can run reliably on a cartridge so much lighter than what they were originally built for!
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!
Emergency: Activate firefly, deploy green (or brown) star cluster, get your wank sock out of your ruck and stand by ’til we come get you.
About the Author
Ian McCollum is considered a gun nerd even among gun nerds. He’s probably best known for his work as the founder and editor of Forgotten Weapons. McCollum is also a producer and co-host of InRange TV. As if these chops weren’t enough, he’s a technical adviser for the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners and a professional researcher for Armament Research Services. Somehow he manages to balance such academic work with private consultation and practical shooting competition. He’s been published in publications such as Strzał Magazine and Popular Mechanics, and he has excellent taste in rare and obscure camouflage. If you’d like to support Ian’s goal of creating a comprehensive firearms encyclopedia, support him here: https://www.patreon.com/ForgottenWeapons.
Yes, we know he looks like someone crossed a beatnik with a Civil War cavalry officer — idiosyncracies, eccentricities and peculiarities are the first requirements to write for us. He’s gonna fit in perfectly.