Thanks to the folks at SMG Guns in Texas, I just got my completed semiauto Bren gun in 7.62x39mm. What the best way to break it in? Take it to a run-n-gun match, of course!
First off, the front grip is a repro experimental piece made by IMA – it would not originally have been on the gun, but I needed a way to hold/shoot it offhand.
Some thoughts after shooting this converted Bren…
It’s HEAVY. According to my scale, it’s 23 pounds, which is only about 2 pounds heavier than the Madsen LMG I shot in one of these matches a few months ago, but it’s longer and not as well balanced. Great off the bipod, but I had serious trouble shooting it standing (not that it was designed to be shot that way, of course).
Recoil in 7.62×39 is trivial. It’s possible to fire 3-5 round bursts that are actually fairly effective and accurate, because the muzzle hardly moves. Try that in a .303 semiauto Bren (or any other full-power semi) and you’ll have a much larger group, or take longer to get a small one. The big rear aperture sight stays nicely in view when you shoot, and overall it’s one of the most effective and shootable “semiauto machine guns” I’ve had a chance to play with.
Malfunctions – I had three, two caused by my ammo and one by the gun. The ammo problems were one dud primer (it had a nice sold firing pin strike) and one that hit the barrel face and stopped rather than feeding into the chamber. I was using softpoint ammo (grabbed the wrong can for the match), and the Bren certainly wasn’t designed for that (in any caliber). The gun-related problem was a case that didn’t fully eject, and got jammed between the next round being fed and the side of the receiver. This was caused by a combination of a receiver much larger than it needs to be (because of the caliber conversion) and a gas system just barely strong enough to run the gun reliably. When this malf happened I was firing from the hip instead of holding the gun solidly, and just like short-stroking a recoil operated pistol, a bit of free movement in the gun was just enough to delay ejection and cause a problem.
I was very happy to find that throughout my initial zeroing, the match, and some demo shooting afterwards, I had no other problems. The Bren was obviously built to run on much more gas pressure than the 7.62×39 cartridge generates, and I’ve seen conflicting opinions on whether this conversion would work reliably, especially with the additional striker spring required for the semiauto setup. SMG did a great job building the gun!
At Forgotten Weapons I think the most interesting guns out there are the most obscure ones. I try to search out experimental and prototype weapons and show you how they work, in addition to more conventional guns that you may not have heard of before. You’re much more likely to find a video on the Cei Rigotti or Webley-Fosbery here than an AR or Glock. So, do you want to learn about something new today? Then stick around!