Updated: May 6
The Bren light machine gun is an iconic piece of small arms history. Its simple and reliable design meant that it stayed in use for many years, from the 1930’s well up to the 90’s, by the British. It did see some limited use by other groups up until the mid-2000’s also.
The Bren Light Machine Gun, most notable for its use during World War Two, with British and Commonwealth forces. It is an iconic piece of small arms history, its rugged and reliable design meant that it stayed in use for many years and in various calibres, from the late 1930s well up to the 1990s with the British military. It did see some limited use by other groups and militaries up until the mid-2000’s also. From our field work it now appears that there still a number of British Bren and Czech ZB vz.26-pattern guns in the Darra region.
A place we can still see these Bren LMG’s still for sale in shopfronts is with the firearm dealers of Darra Adam Khel. They still have a small number of original .303 chambered Brens still in their inventories and an even larger number of guns which have been rechambered to the more easily acquirable and reliable 7.92×57mm cartridge. No, these are not the only 7.92mm Mauser chambered Bren LMGs that have been made or converted, the Canadians also produced them for the Chinese during World War Two. Note that gunsmiths from the region did not happen upon one of these factory-built 7.92mm Mauser-chambered Bren Guns, they have, however, seen a number of original Czech ZB vz.26/vz.30 LMGs, from which the Bren was developed, and it is most likely that the idea for converting them came from these.
Fig. 1.1. Right face: an original relatively unmolested MkIII Bren chambered in 7.92×57mm in Darra (Source: Khyber Abdullah reference collection)
Fig. 1.2. Left face: an original unmolested MkIII Bren chambered in 7.92×57mm in Darra (Source: Khyber Abdullah reference collection)
Gunsmiths in Darra also recondition Brens. One reconditioned and refurbished variation of a MkI Bren was seen along with another interesting variation which seemed to be rebuilt/reworked and had some additions and lightening cuts added. Seeing such a pristine item lead me to believe it was some sort of copy, however, after speaking with colleagues in the manufacturing industry there, they confirmed they do not make copies of the Bren but instead do recondition them. The magazines used are locally made copies based on the original ZB26/30-pattern magazines, which fits with them taking cues for the ZB26/30 in regards to calibre conversions.
Fig. 1.3. Right face: A heavily modified Czech ZB vz.26 chambered in 7.92x57mm in Darra, with some significant changes made to the length of the barrel and gas system. The gun appears to have a new matching butt and forend furniture (Source: Khyber Abdullah reference collection)
Fig. 1.4. Left face: A heavily modified Czech ZB vz.26, note that the gun appears to have had a Bren ladder rear sight added and the left side of the receiver machined flat as their is no sign of the original drum sight (Source: Khyber Abdullah reference collection)
Fig. 1.5. Right face: handmade handguards are a feature of this heavily adapted vz.26 (Source: Khyber Abdullah reference collection)
Fig. 1.6. A reconditioned Bren MkI type LMG with ZB26/30 barrel (Source: anonymous Darra dealer)
Fig. 1.7. A reconditioned Bren MkI type LMG in a Darra dealers shop with what appears to be a shortened ZB barrel (Source: anonymous Darra dealer)
Now that the Bren is long out-of-production, it seems that some of the only people left on the planet still keeping the legendary light machine gun on their shelves and in operation, in one form or another, are the gun bazaar dealers of Darra Adam Khel.