After World War One the country of Czechoslovakia emerged from the ashes of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. The new nation had to build everything up from scratch. Her army, made up of men who had fought for the Russians, Austrians, and French, had an amalgam of arms and munitions that was as varied as the colors of the rainbow. The first thing the new country did was seek its own armament.
In 1926 this led to a new light machine gun known in Czechoslovakia as the Zb.v 26. With its plans escaping from the country after it was taken over by Hitler in 1938, the gun went into production in Britain as the BREN gun. The name Bren was derived from Brno, Moravia, the Czechoslovak city where the Zb vz. 26 was originally designed (in the Zbrojovka Brno Factory), and Enfield, site of the British Royal Small Arms Factory.
(The WWII Bren gun was about as old-school sexy as you could get)
This gun went on to be possibly one of the best light machineguns in history, seeing service around the world as late as the 1982 Falklands War and the 1991 Gulf War.
Still following along?
Well fast forward to the 1950s. The Soviets had come in after 1945 and ran Hitler out but decided to stick around for the next four decades, placing the country on the front lines of the Cold War. Not wanting to arm their forces with the AK-47, the Czechs designed the Vz.58 rifle, considered by many to be the best 7.62x39mm assault rifle ever made, and issued it for generations.
When the Soviets moved to the 5.45x45mm caliber in the late 1970s, the CZ factory started a redesign of the Vz.58 to accept this new caliber. This led to the LADA project in 1986. By the 1990s the Soviets themselves had left and the now Czech Republic was looking to join NATO.
That\'s when they took their unfinished Lada design and rechambered it for 5.56x45mm NATO, calling it the CZ2000 in 1991. This gun also got no love and was never put into production. Then in 2005, the Czech military decided that it needed a new rifle for its forces and submitted a tender. Over the next four years CZ rose to the occasion and produced the CZ-805 rifle, designated the BREN in honor of its earlier military arm.
Designed by Česk zbrojovka Uhersk Brod (CZ,--who else?) in 2009 and adopted by the Czech military in 2011, the new BREN is already seeing use in combat, being shipped to Czech commandos on NATO assignment in Afghanistan in 2012.
Based on the proven Vz.56 design, the gas-operated rifle uses a rotating bolt in its action. Select-fire, the gun is capable of ripping out 700-800 rounds per minute for as long as its 20, 30 or 100-round detachable mags hold out. The gun comes in two standard lengths, an A1 rifle with a 14.25-inch barrel and the A2 carbine with a super short 10.94-inch barrel. The gun can accept a 40mm NATO grenade launcher tube under its barrel, also made by CZ as the CZ805G1. Overall length of the A1 rifle is just 36-inches, about as long as a Ruger Mini-14, but even this can be shortened to just 26-inches with a folding stock. Weight unloaded is around 7.2-pounds.
Chambered in 5.56mm, it can be swapped out with a different magwell (like on the new SIG 556xi but slightly different) to accommodate either 7.62x39mm or 6.8mm Remington SPC rounds.
Czech Soldiers in Afghanistan receiving the CZ 805 BREN A1 and the CZ 805 grenade launcher. 3rd April 2012.
The gun has been ordered in small numbers of just 6,687 CZ 805A1 rifles; 1,250 CZ 805A2 carbines; and 397 CZ 805G1 proprietary grenade launchers. Every one was equipped with Meopta ZD-Dot red dot sights and iron sights. Besides the Czech military and police the Egyptian armed forces and the internal defense ministry of Moldova, formerly part of Russia, have placed small orders for these guns.
The gun is currently imported as-is to the US, but is restricted to military/law enforcement special order basis.
We can only hope that CZ-USA starts importing parts to assemble a semi-auto civilian legal sporter version of this gun with enough Sec922 compliant parts so that we can add one of these guns to our rack as soon as possible.