Talk:Bren light machine gun

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Bren Observations[edit]

As a former member of the British Army with extensive experience of the L4 LMG, I have written a few comments and observations below:

  • The picture of 'an early mark of Bren' is almost certainly a mark 1. The arm of the 'drum' backsight is clearly visible, as is the strap on top of the butt(stock), also one can see the second grip underneath the butt. These last two features were discarded on subsequent marks of Bren, only to be resurrected on the LSW ! ! (These fittings were not popular in the 1940s, they are not popular now !)
  • All Brens/L4s are fitted with a bipod. I have never seen an L4 mounted on a tripod, only L7 GPMGs in the Sustained Fire (SF) role.
You may have never seen one mounted on a tripod but the tripod was part of all CES's for the 7.62 LMG.
  • The Bren was replaced in the light role by the GPMG in the late 1950s. The LSW was issued one per fire team in the 1980s - but there are two fire teams in a section (squad) and theoretically replaced the GPMG. I say theroetically, because most British infantry sections still seem to have at least one L7. From watching the news, it seems most infantry sections in Iraq have now been issued wjth the Minimi, a sort of 5.56mm L7. This followed all the adverse publicity over the SA 80 rifle and LSW.
  • The reason I have used the term 'LMG' when editing the article is because every L4 that I have seen has the words 'Bren MK III' crossed out and 'Gun, Light Machine' (then the version number), stamped on the side. Incidentially, I once saw a LMG with the serial number: 'A 13'  ! !
  • I have left it in the article, but I cannot remember one instance of 'On a long march the gun was often partially disassembed and its parts carried by two soldiers' - my experience was, if you were the gunner you carried the gun !
  • I'm not sure about the part which mentions pintle mountings for the Bren. Were they actually issued to Armoured units ? I always thought that British tanks in WWll were equipped with every type except the Bren.
  • The magazine on the L4 is not straight. However, it is more straight than a 303 Bren.
  • Finally, whoever put the request at the top of this page should, I hope, be able to see that the Bren is not a rifle.

RASAM 16:14, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Just a comment about the "rifle" misnomer, I did hear a comment ages ago that the Bren was allegedly more accurate than the contemporary Lee Enfield. Even if this was true, it probably wasn't terribly practical since the thing would lurch forwards when the bolt was released, but it's quite interesting if it is true. Chris 21:20, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
fyi Chris, the 1918 pattern Lee Enfield was sighted to 2000 yards! And at the Bisley (Surrey, England) national rifle ranges there was (it's no longer extant) a range called the Long Siberia which was 1000 yards. The Lee Enfield was extremely accurate. Forton (talk) 20:59, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
The extremely long-range sights on the Lee Enfield (and contemporary rifles) were for use in volley firing by platoons or even entire companies. They were not intended, or used, for individual shots at individual targets; an entire platoon would fire at an objective, under the control of a sergeant or lieutenant. The volley sights were dropped duting WW I because it became apparent that they were not being used.
There's some videos of modern day shooting of Lee Enfields at 1,000 yards on YouTube here: [1] and here: [2], the latter at Bisley.

*I'm not sure about the part which mentions pintle mountings for the Bren. Were they actually issued to Armoured units ? I always thought that British tanks in WWll were equipped with every type except the Bren.

The Bren was used as an anti-aircraft weapon by armoured regiments during the desert war and was fitted adjacent to the vehicle hatches, cupolas not being a feature of the early British tanks used at the time. The mounting was, I think, referred-to as a 'trapeze mounting' and was a rather elaborate, sprung, affair, which suspended the gun from above, the mount itself hanging from a short mast fitted to the vehicle. It was not a pintle mounting as-such.
A tripod mounting was designed and manufactured but it was not used to any great extent, AFAIK. The design was similar to that of the one used on the German MG34 but the war had moved-on from the 'trench' warfare era of firing on fixed firing lines and it was used very little.

The tripod shared nothing in common with the MG34 tripod apart from having 3 legs

The butt-grip was discontinued very early-on. The grip shown is one with the firer's left (non-firing) hand positioned under the butt and this was the-then continental 'fashion', the German MG34 having a contoured bottom edge of the butt-stock to accomodate the hand - the British Army fired the gun with the non-firing hand positioned on the TOP of the butt and so the grip was unnecessary.
As mentioned below, the Bren wasn't broken-down on long marches - the gunner carried it until he had had enough and then he gave it to a mate to carry, and the gunner carried the mate's rifle. If I remember correctly a fairly accurate portrayal of a Bren team is featured in the film Dunkirk with John Mills.

Ian Dunster 16:46, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

The Bren was in extensive use in Rhodesia during the 1970s, in which I participated. Patrol 'sticks' of 4 (maximum which could be picked up by allouette helicoper) would always have one LMGunner, either GPMG or converted Bren. It would never be disassembled & carried by more than one soldier - what use would it be in an ambush! However, it was often passed around to share the load on long patrols. If we had the GPMG we would each carry a couple of belts of ammo. If we had the Bren the situation was much easier, as we all carried a number of spare rifle magazines anyway, which could be thrown to the LMGunner at a pinch. Curious as to why the previous writer says "The magazine on the L4 is not straight." It is as straight as the 7.62 FN rifle magazines. GrahamBould

British 30 round 7.62 mags are curved , Australian ones are straight.Rhodesia utilised the 20 round SLR mag which of course was straight.It just depends what country of use you refer to.

Be bold and edit the article yourself :) As to straight/curved magazine, I guess the reason is this picture. Halibutt 13:55, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
Both Australia and Canada used the L2/C2 heavy-barreled version of the L1/C1 (FN FAL) rifle as a squad automatic rifle, rather than converting their Brens to the L4 configuration. The L2 and C2 magazines were straight rather than curved, but would fit the L4 conversion of the Bren, just as the standard L1 and C1 magazines would.

Maybe the original writer noticed soldiers carrying spare barrels & assumed brens had been broken down for ease of carrying. But I am sure there would be fully operational brens too. Spare barrels would be needed during "big" wars with front lines requiring sustained firing, but in the short & sharp actions of "little" wars, as in Rhodesia, spare barrels were not carried. A bonus was the saving in weight, when everything for many days needed to be carried often in great heat - food, water, ammo, claymore mine, radio, batteries, grenades, etc. I understand that references are needed for any articles or additions to articles. My only source is my own experience, & that is why I haven't contributed.GrahamBould 08:48, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Well, the fact that the field service in most cases differs from what is written in handbooks is rather a general knowledge, so perhaps you could add that to the article anyway. I remember talking to one of Polish vets of the Polish Defensive War who told me that at the start of the war his HMG section consisted of three men (as in the handbooks), then it shrunk to 1 man only (imagine the guy carrying the Ckm wz.30 himself... without water it must've weighted some 45 kilograms!) and then grew to six people - all but one unarmed... Halibutt 11:22, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
There was a tripod mount for the bren. It was never in common use but it existed. The "trapeze" mount for AFVs was called the Lakeman Mount, presumably after its inventor. it was a common fitting on the matilda, Valentine and early cruiser tanks. It was seldom seen after about 1942. DMorpheus 19:04, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

"...though generally the Bren was fired from the prone position using the attached bipod.[citation needed]" Citation needed? WHAAAT? Listen, literally millions of British and Commonwealth soldiers and airmen learned to fire and change mags and barrels on the Bren, during their first few weeks of basic recruit training. And tens or hundreds of thousands of school cadet corps lads did the same training. Most also learned how to strip the primary "groups" for cleaning and lubrication.

It was almost always fired prone, with your legs straight behind and the toes of your boots dug in, because it tended to pull forward and ultimately collapse the bipod if you didn't. I'm sorry, I can't agree "Citation needed" in such a case. Forton (talk) 20:41, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Your agreement is irrelevant. Please see WP:NOR. Citing sources and avoiding original research are inextricably linked. To demonstrate that you are not presenting original research, you must cite reliable sources that are directly related to the topic of the article, and that directly support the information as it is presented. Geoff B (talk) 20:44, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I know. But this tedious academic insistance reduces the Jim Wales aim of a"a people's encyclopedia." The point is, where do you draw the line? A subject may be well outside the ken of the reviewer, but well known to many millions; obviously there's also the converse case. This is what has drastically reduced my interest in contributing.

Agreed. It is self-evident the Bren (along with any number of similar weapons) is designed to be fired from the prone position using the bipod. In the real world there is a difference between an unproven statement needing a citation to be credible, and something that is self-evident. If citations are insisted upon in all circumstances, then there are several hundred million citations required for every sentence of every article on wikipedia. Strangways (talk) 04:36, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Very true, and also one of the reasons my own editing has been dramatically scaled back. I have neither the time nor the inclination to go searching for nearly century-old British training manuals to provide a print cite to the effect that a Bren Gun should be fired from the prone position, or any of the other things that should be patently obvious or at least reasonably apparent to the average person. The Lee-Enfield article, for example, has over 100 in-line references and still isn't considered good enough for "Featured Article" status. It's frustrating and increasingly an unrewarding exercise, IMHO. Commander Zulu (talk) 07:39, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Funny you should refer to old manuals, because literally minutes after I read your response, someone handed me a pile of books one of which was an Australian Army Manual of Land Warfare, Infantry Training, Vol 4 Pam 6, Machine Gun 7.62mm L4A4, 1979!! Opening it, I found at Chapter 1 Section 1, para 102: "It [the L4A4 Bren] is normally fired from the shoulder in the lying position, supported by the bipod, although it may be fired from other positions to engage targets at close range". Although it shouldn't have been needed for reasons stated above. I see someone has removed the "citation needed" tag in any case. EDIT no they hadn't, so I've put the citation in. Strangways (talk) 03:25, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

L4: manufactured or converted?[edit]

Does anyone know if any new Brens were made to the L4 designation? As far as I'm aware they're all conversions (of Mark 3s?) but I'm curious to know. If they were all conversions, perhaps a note should be made on the main page, as it implies that they were still being manufactured in 1958. Chris 21:20, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

India produced 'new made' 7.62mm LMG's .All British production utillised coversions from MK2 or MKIII donor guns


Why hyphen in 'Machine-gun' but not in 'Submachine gun'? GrahamBould 08:32, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Article Renaming[edit]

bringing this article into line with the new guideline/conventions for naming of British/Commonwealth Military Firearms, and renaming this article Bren machine gun- thoughts? --Commander Zulu 23:09, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

Agreed (keeping 'Bren' link of course) GrahamBould 08:14, 3 January 2007 (UTC)
(which is what should take precedence) is "Bren gun". GraemeLeggett 08:58, 3 January 2007 (UTC)
This is true, and I've got no problems Machine Gun or Bren Gun? --Commander Zulu 14:16, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
Bren gun for me, but perhaps if its official title was in the introductory paragraph somewhere. GraemeLeggett 14:48, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
This renaming discussion has been going on for some time - let's change it to anything but the silly BREN. GrahamBould 16:30, 2 August 2007 (UTC)
I see it's been moved to "BREN Light machine gun". Much better, but shouldn't it be "Bren light machine gun"? Why all the capitals? GrahamBould 16:29, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

Yea i didnt no if machine gun should of been capitalized u can change it for all i care(ForeverDEAD 19:14, 14 August 2007 (UTC))

nvm didnt for u guys ;}(ForeverDEAD 22:05, 14 August 2007 (UTC))

I've moved the article to "Bren light machine gun"- I've never actually seen the gun's name spelt BREN in any reference text (the same goes for the Sten gun too, incidentally). --Commander Zulu 08:55, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
I've cleaned up the redirects - why we didn't just move it back to "Bren", I don't know GraemeLeggett 13:32, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
Whew, all over. Bren might have been a bit short, at least the title now explains what it is. GrahamBould 13:54, 15 August 2007 (UTC)


There is said to be a grave marked "inventor of the Bren gun" in the Czech section of Brookwood Military Cemetery. --jmb 13:02, 25 August 2007 (UTC)


This section starts by saying "British and Commonwealth forces", then mentioning a couple of them (Canada & India) separately, but not the many others. I would have thought that all should be be listed, or none. GrahamBould (talk) 19:40, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

Former Yugoslavia is somehow omitted from the list of users... During WW2 Yugoslav partisan army used them extensively especially in the later phases of the war when it was receiving increased amounts of allied supplies. At least one division of NOVJ was completely equipped on UK pattern (26th Dalmatian division) meaning that they had British uniforms (except headgear) and personal firearms. BREN was widely appreciated LMG throughout partisan forces as it was reliable and accurate weapon, even somehow low rate of fire was not looked upon badly as machine gunners due to low supplies had to save ammo and mostly used short and precise bursts. After the war JNA (former NOVJ) stocks were full of WW2 weaponry, smaller part saw active use until the end of second Yugoslavia, more than that was conserved and stockpiled and rest was either sold to third countries or scrapped. Yugoslavian wars of 90s saw again use of some of WW" weaponry which remained in stockpiles including Bren LMGs, being used since the begining until at least as late as in operations Flash and Storm in 1995 on Croatian side. --Kolpo-san (talk) 17:03, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

The Bren, like the Sten, was extensively dropped by the RAF for SOE, in parachute containers, to resistance groups all over occupied Europe, as well as elsewhere, so it would have had many and varied users. IIRC, China was also a user, as a number were supplied to Chiang Kai-sheks army. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:03, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

Semi-auto-only variants?[edit]

Perhaps there should be a brief reference to the semi-automatic only variants that are now being produced by a few manufacturers. The BAR article makes mention of such variants of said system. (talk) 22:01, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

where, and by who (I really want a Bren) I know that for civilian use they can be converted to semi auto, or bolt only, but they are rare — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:40, 3 September 2013 (UTC)

Layout anomaly[edit]

It might me my browser BUT it appears the edit icons have become misaligned and are in the middle of the Service section.

I don't know how to fix this problem, might need a wikibot to do it?

Accuracy - cone of fire[edit]

--ShandyHall (talk) 22:09, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Hello everyone. I'm not an armaments aficionado myself but I was talking recently with a historical weapons expert about the following paragraph from this article, which I found very interesting:

"The Bren had an effective range of around 600 yards (550 m) when fired from a prone position with a bipod. Initial versions of the weapon were sometimes considered too accurate because the cone or pattern of fire was extremely concentrated, resulting in multiple hits on one or two enemies, with other enemy soldiers going untouched. More than a few soldiers expressed a preference for worn-out barrels in order to spread the cone of fire among several targets. Later versions of the Bren addressed this issue by providing a wider cone of fire.[2]"

He disputes the last sentence, claiming that the Bren was never altered to, in effect, make it less accurate. If he's correct, then perhaps the article should be changed.

The paragraph cites: Dunlap, Roy F., Ordnance Went Up Front, The Samworth Press, 1948. I'm afraid I don't have access to this work. Can anyone quote which part of the book makes this claim?


Canada, the Commonwealth, and brevity[edit]

I removed Canada from the list of users, as the UK entry is "British and Commonwealth forces". If memory serves, Canada never used the Bren in combat outside Commonwealth/Empire commitments (i.e. World War 2 and Korea), while Australia (and possibly New Zealand) used it in Vietnam. Just added my signature. CMarshall (talk) 07:14, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

Blank ammo[edit]

Should mention be made of the strange method of firing blanks from a bren? The blue-painted balsa wood bullets and the special "masher" barrel that shredded the projectile as it was fired. I would add it myself but my scant knowledge is from being an army cadet nearly fifty years ago. I do remember it was rather unsafe being anywhere near the business end of a gun firing blanks as balsa splinters can do some damage. The "bulleted blanks" themselves were lethal if fired from a rifle or a bren without the special barrel. TheOneOnTheLeft (talk) 14:19, 9 May 2011 (UTC)