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2-Gun Match: Chinese 7.62x39mm Bren

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!

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