The ever demanding production quality and operating reliability have been the trademark of Česká zbrojovka company for the centuries of creating guns. Its new CZ 805 Bren A1 and A2 assault systems are by all means the rightful heirs to the tradition from Uherský Brod.
For more than half a century, the mainstay of the Czech army was ČZ Vz.58 assault rifle. This unique, domesticly produced firearm had a completely authentic frame and was chambered for 7.39×39 round, a standard for all Eastern Bloc armed forces. After the breakup of the Warsaw Pact, and the secession of Czechoslovakia, neither of the two entities felt the urge to replace this, by all standards, obsolete weapon. The new trends, however, have dictated the need for modernization of the Czech Armed Forces, and finally in 2009, the new assault rifle designated ČZ 805 BREN A1 has emerged from the Uherský Brod production line, this time chambered for 5.56×45 NATO.
It is a modern, versatile, modular and compact gas-operated weapon with a manual gas regulator. Although its operating principle with the long-stroke piston which sends the bolt carrier backwards (in order to unlock the three-lugged locking head) is copied directly from its predecessor, the Vz.58, everything else is significantly changed and improved. The operating system itself is completely remastered, so what are we dealing with is a completely new and original gun. The bolt locks directly into the barrel, which enables for the lightweight dural alloy receiver.
The new standard issue ČZ 805 Bren had been suggested as a replacement for the 50-year old Vz.58, but before the official adoption, the Army conducted a series of trials (where it competed face-to-face with Belgian FN SCAR). Finally in 2010, the weapon, designated CZ 805 Bren A1 was adopted as the new assault rifle of the Czech Armed Forces. The contract was offered to the famous factory ČZ UB (Uherský Brod). Although ČZ 805 Bren A1 was introduced in 2011, and then offered for export, there were no foreign buyers interested. In spite of that, the new Czech rifle is a modern and well-built system which should not be overlooked, having in mind that it was designed and manufactured from the scratch and according to the 21st century tactical requirements. By its general specifications, this weapon stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the today’s best assault rifles.
The basic version, CZ 805 Bren A1 features a 360 mm barrel, while the shorter, carbine model CZ 805 Bren A2 sports the barrel which is only 277 mm in length. Besides these two options, the rifle can be upgraded with a long, marksman barrel, as well as the long, heavy barrel (HBAR) which transforms the personal weapon into a squad machine gun, rounding up all its possible uses. In addition, a simple replacement of the magazine well and the rotating bolt enables for easy changing of the caliber. Currently, the only round offered is 7.39×39, but the manufacture of 6.8 mm Remington SPC replacement kit is also planned.
ČZ 805 Bren A1 has the full length of 915 mm (with the stock extended) and 670 mm with collapsed stock. The carbine version ČZ 805 Bren A2 is 782 mm (stock extended) and 587 mm (stock collapsed). The weight of ČZ 805 Bren A1 is 3.587 g (without additional equipment, magazine removed) while the carbine ČZ 805 Bren A2 weighs 3.390 g. The declared accuracy of the standard version and the SS 109 round is about 4 MOA (minutes of angle or 115-120 mm at 100 m), which is in range with similar rifles on the market, and more than enough having in mind its purpose and the maximum range of about 500 m (400 m for the carbine). The 30-round transparent polymer magazines are the standard issue, with options left for the 100-round drum, and other STANAG magazines (M-16, H&K G-36, etc.).
The cocking handle is by default on the left side, and the ejection port on the right side of the receiver. In a matter of minutes, the bolt can be flipped and the rifle is ready for a left-handed user. As a part of modern tactical requirements, the rifle has a one-piece, flat upper side of the receiver with a handguard. It features a Picatinny Mil.Std M-1913 rail, which follows in full length of the upper side, a shorter one on the lower side and two auxiliary ones on the sides. They can receive a number of different attachments, depending on the user’s requirements. The auxiliary folding iron sights are mounted onto the upper rail, which is intended for reflex or other sighting units. The sight radius of the iron sights is 372 mm. The lower rail can be upgraded with a 40×46 mm underbarell grenade launcher Čz 805 G1 or a vertical forward grip.
The rifle can be easily field striped into several bigger parts, which makes cleaning and shipping much easier. The separate units are the barrel, two-piece receiver with the forend, the firing mechanism with the magazine well and pistol grip, and the collapsible stock. The modern design of the rifle enables it to be field stripped without any tools, which makes the maintenance easier, especially in the field. The barrel, for example, can be easily replaced without any special adjustments.
The lower part of the receiver with the magazine well, firing mechanism and the pistol grip is made from a single piece of polymer. The design of the pistol grip is reminiscent of the older Vz.58 model, although this is the only similarity between the rifles. The ambidextrous fire selector is located above the pistol grip, on the lower part of the receiver and it has options for single shots, a short two-round burst, and full auto. The positions are marked with intense red color. The weapon has the full auto rate of fire of about 760 rounds per minute. The collapsible stock is mounted on the back side of the receiver and folds to the right. The manufacturer is offering two versions of the stock, a non-adjustable skeletonized one with a rubber buffer, and a three-position telescoping stock with the adjustable cheek rest, which is an excellent solution. With the stock extended, the rifle is 77 mm wide, and 112 mm with the stock folded, which is also very convenient.
With its prominent military, tactical look, one cannot describe ČZ 805 Bren A1 as an elegant rifle. However, it is definitely modern and likeable. With a century-old tradition in firearm manufacture, Zbrojovka has conveyed this rifle an ever demanding production quality and operating reliability. Its new shooting stars, the models ČZ 805 Bren A1 and A2 are without any doubt outstanding. The time and the field use will tell, but the new assault offspring from Uherský Brod are unquestionably extraordinary weapons, which have yet to show their full potentials and stand proudly by the other leading models in the hands of 21st century warriors.