Sunday, May 1, 2016

Czech Firearms

For nearly a hundred years now, the Czech people have been innovators
in the field of small arms. This article takes a brief look at three
of their service rifles since the end of World War II. All three were
designed, tested, manufactured, and issued 100% domestically.
SHE Vz.52 & Vz.52/57 Self Loading Rifle
Often mistaken for a copy of the Russian SKS, the Vz.52 was anything
but. Throughout the decade following WWII, the Czech Army (known as
the Czechoslovakian People’s Army or Ceskoslovenska lidova armada)
 after Communism took hold) issued a mixture of smallarms. Its main
frontline rifles were the German G/K43 and K98k Mauser, and the
Russian M91/30 Mosin-Nagant. By the early 1950s, these weapons were
becoming increasingly obsolete, and the need for a new standard issue
rifle was growing. Czech designers created a new cartridge named the
7.62x45mm (CZ), which was inspired by the German 7.92x33mm Kurz round
used in the MP.44 assault rifle. The new round was to be used in a
self-loading carbine, as well as a new light machinegun.
The carbine itself was designed by Jan and Jaroslav Kratochvíl, who
worked at Ceská zbrojovka. The CZ493 prototypes appeared in 1949, with
an improved version two years later named the CZ502. The final version
was adopted into Czech service as the Samonabíjecí puška vzor 52 in
1952. It was a mix of traditional and very modern features. The
Vz.52's design was heavily influenced by the American M1 Garand,
German G43, and Russian SKS. That said, it was wholely its own thing
and not a copy or clone of anything that came before it. It operated
using a tilting bolt system, however the bolt tipped forward and
locked in the front, rather than in back as with most every other
rifle out there at the time. The gas system was based on that used in
the German MKB42(w) prototype assault rifle, and operated using a
piston sleaved around the barrel. The fire control group was very much
like that used in the M1 Garand, and the stock removed the same way
too. The Vz.52 fed from a detachable box magazine, which held 10
7.62x45mm cartridges. There was even an automatic last-round hold open
device; quite a modern feature for a rifle to have in the early 1950s.
The new rifle featured a threaded muzzle for use with blank firing
devices, hooded front sight blade, adjustable rear sight, Garand style
manual safety, and large receiver port to insure reliable ejection.
The weapon was carbine length, with a 20.5" long barrel, which was not
chromelined. The overall length was 39.5", with an unloaded weight of
9.1 lbs. The bayonet was perminant and was mounted on the side. It
folded out horizontally when needed. The stock was made from wood,
either walnut or beech. A cleaning kit could be stored under the metal
buttplate, and the standard sling was made of cotton with a leather
tab on its end. Soldiers were issued with 2 magazines. One in the
rifle and a spare kept in a small belt pouch.
The Vz.52 was produced from 1952 until 1957. Production occurred at
three factories. Ceská zbrojovka manufactured the majority, using the
code 'SHE'. Považská strojárne using 'AYM' and Strakonice using 'RID'
both each built the rifle in smaller numbers. In all, roughly 150,000
were manufactured. The production run was cut short because of
politics. The Soviet Union did not like that Czechoslovakia had
created its own rifle round. It was not common with the rest of the
Warsaw Pact. By the mid 1950s, it had turned up the pressure, and the
Czech government had little choice but to adopt the standard 7.62x39mm
M43 cartridge. Nevermind that its 7.62x45mm was more accurate and had
a longer effective range, the Soviets were insistant that
Czechoslovakia conform.
Thus in 1957, the Samonabíjecí puška vzor 52/57 replaced the original.
It was very similar but chambered for the 7.62x39mm cartridge. There
were a few other minor differences too. For example, its barrel was
pressed and pinned into the receiver, rather than being screwed in as
with the Vz.52. Also the bore was chromelined. The Vz.52/57 fed from a
reshaped magazine, which was better suited to the new round. The
original rifle had a phosphated finish, where as the new one had a
baked on paint over phosphate type. It used the same stock, though
beech became more common than walnut at the time. Otherwise, same
Between 1957 and 1959, about 100,000 Vz.52/57s were manufactured by
Ceská zbrojovka. Contrary to rumour, no Vz.52s were rebarreled into
52/57s. All rifles were purpose built from the ground up to fire
The Vz.52 series was in Czech frontline service from only 1952 through
1959. It was also adopted by the young communist nation of Cuba and
many were given to Vietnam and Egypt. Others were given to allies in
both South America and Africa. So the rifles did get around a goodly
bit. American soldiers encountered them in Vietnam, and again later
during the Invasion of Grenada. Both the Vz.52 and Vz.52/57 were liked
for their reliability and accuracy. On the otherhand, the design was
rather complicated to field strip and give a complete cleaning. Also,
it was expensive and time consuming to produce. As with so many other
self-loading rifles created after WWII, while it was modern when first
adopted, it was rapidly becoming obsolete by the late 1950s. At the
time, firearms technology was quickly evolving.
Both Century Arms and SAMCO have imported the Vz.52 in to the USA,
where examples were sold on the surplus market. Far fewer Vz.52/57s
have come in though. Some are in very nice condition, and these mostly
came out of Eastern Europe. Others are very well worn, sometimes even
having cracked or busted stocks. These most likely came out of South
America. In a misguided attempt to improve their condition, Century
dipped some of the stocks in black crinkle truck bed liner. Other
Vz.52s have been converted to fire 7.62x39mm by having an insert lock
tighted into their chambers. Guns so modified should not be trusted or
even fired.
CZ SA Vz.58 Assault Rifle
Once relatively unknown in the USA, today the Vz.58 is one of the most
famous Czech smallarms. Its primary designer was Jirí Cermák, and it
had a rather lengthy development process. In fact, it was already
being pland even before the Vz.52 went into service.
The Model 515 prototype dated back to 1951 and was one of the earliest
forerunners of what would become the Vz.58. It was chambered for the
7.62x45mm round, was select fire, and operated from an open bolt. The
open bolt was one of the requirements of the Czech military at the
time. However, it was also why the weapon was quickly rejected as it
could not meet accuracy standards. The next version, the CZ-522 was
altered to fire from a closed bolt and was able to achieve much
greater accuracy. In 1954, the first round of trials was held and the
CZ-522 went up against two other domestic designs. While no one was
declared the winner, both the Czech military and Soviet observers felt
the 522 showed the most promise, even if it clearly still needed
further refinement.
Also in 1954, most privately owned and run firearms factories in
Czechoslovakia were closed by the communist government. In their
place, a state run conglomerate was established under the name
Konstrukta Brno. Soon after, Jirí Cermák went to work at the new
government factory, where he continued to improve upon the CZ-552
In 1955, the Warsaw Pact under Soviet rule declared that 7.62x39mm was
to be the standard rifle round and that all member nations must adopt
it. This meant the 522 had to be redesigned to work with it. The
program was further slowed as the Russians took considerable time in
providing specifications for the cartridge to Czechoslovakia, so for a
time no work could be done. Finally well into 1956, the specs  were
delivered and work recommenced. Also around this time, the 522's
competing designs were withdrawn.
The next prototype was designated as the SA.56 and was the first to be
chambered for 7.62x39mm. It was code named the Košte (Broom). It fired
from a closed bolt, had a machined receiver, was hammer fired, and fed
from steel magazines. It was a large step forward from earlier
prototypes, but there was still room for improvement.
The SA.58 came next and was put through extensive testing through
1958. It had a redesigned milled receiver, with more lightening cuts
and that had been streamlined for mass production. It fired using a
striker system, which allowed it to be more compact and reliable. Its
bolt locked into the receiver using a falling wedge or block, not
unlike that used in the German P.38 pistol. It operated with a
short-stroke gas piston, which was very similar to the one used in the
FN FAL. It fed from curved magazines made of a lightweight but durable
aluminium alloy, which held 30 rounds. Eventually after a few more
small tweeks and changes, it was adopted as the Samopal Vzor 58. This
made Czechoslovakia the only Warsaw Pact nation not to adopt some
variation of the AK47 or AKM.
The Vz.58, like the Vz.52 before it, was its own unique design. It had
a milled receiver, but was still lighter than even a stamped Russian
AKM at only 6.4 lbs. It was very compact too. It measured just over
33" long, with a 15.4" barrel. It had a 14x1mm threaded muzzle and
took a detaching blade bayonet. Everything about it was designed to be
slim and lightweight. Early examples were fitted with beech wood
furniture, but soon this was changed to a bakelite mix reinforced with
wood chips. It went into production at Ceská zbrojovka Uherský Brod
in 1959, and between then and when the line was haulted in 1984, over
920,000 rifles were turned out.
The rifle was offered in three main versions. The Vz.58P or Pechotníor
was the standard fixed stock model intended for infantry and general
use. The Vz.58V or Výsadkový was the folding stock model meant for
airborn and special forces. The Vz.58PE or Pechotní s infracerveným
zamerovacem, infantry with infrared sight was a specialized night
fighting model. Many other configurations were prototyped, such as a
light machinegun variation, but none of these went into production.
The Vz.58 has been in Czech frontline service since 1959. While it is
slowly being phased out today in favour of more modern designs,
several thousands are still in active use. It has also been adopted by
other nations, such as Cuba, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Uganda,
Libya, Somalia, India, Lebanon, Angola, Mozambique, Iraq, Tanzania,
and Grenada. The Vz.58 has prooven itself in combat in several
different environments all around the world.
When communism fell and Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic
and Slovakia, the Vz.58 remained the standard issue rifle in both new
nations' militaries. It is a good, accurate, dependable platform but
by the 1990s and after the fall of communism, it was beginning to look
outdated. There have been more than a few attempts to develop its
replacement. One such failed challenger was the NATOCZ 2000 and
another was the Lada-S. Today it is slowly being phased out of
service, and most frontline units are armed with newer weapons.
However, the Vz.58 is still officially issued in both the Czech
Republic and Slovakia, and it is scheduled to remain in service
through at least 2020.
Versions of the Vz.58 limited to semi-automatic fire only have been
sold on the US civilian market for over 15 years now. The first to be
mass produced was the Vz.2000 built by Ohio Ordnance Works of semi BAR
and 1919 fame. The Vz.2000 was built using a parts kit with original
Czech barrel, using a newly manufactured American semi milled
receiver. Because the barrel was under 16" long, an extension was
threaded on and pinned to give it a legal overall length. Most, if not
all, of these rifles were sold during the Federal Assault Weapons Ban
(1994-2004), so they lack the bayonet lug and were offered only with
fixed buttstocks. They were capable of feeding from original high
capacity military magazines though, since the mags were considered
preban at the time. The Vz.2000 is generally considered to be of high
quality, but it came with a very high pricetag. At a time when most AK
types were in the $300-$400 range, the OOW was priced around
$1,500-$1,800 and was often a special order to boot. The model has not
been in production for at least a decade now.
The next semi came along in 2006, when Century Arms began importing
the SA Vz.58 Sporter. This version was manufactured by D-Technik, a
small factory located in Jablunka, Czech Republic. When standard
production of the select fire Vz.58 ended, the rights to its
manufacturing went to D-Technik, who built several versions for the
civilian sporting market. The one imported into the USA was assembled
from mostly refurbished military parts, built onto a new semi only
Czech milled receiver. Again since the barrel was under 16", an
extension was screwed and pinned on and the bayonet lug removed for
import. Also for import, it had a thumbhole buttstock and accepted
only single stack 10 round magazines. The bolt was machined down to
work with the single stack feed too. The Vz.58 Sporter was of very
good quality but again had been neutered for import, and Century was
not interested in converting it back into a military configuration. As
a result, this partnership was very short lived, with Century only
bringing in a few thousand guns. On the otherhand, at least they were
priced more reasonably than the Vz.2000 at around $800. Not cheap, but
at least cheaper and it was a true Czech built rifle.
In 2007, CZ-USA took over the D-Technik Vz.58 Sporter line from
Century. Actually the arrangement was rather complicated. The basic
sporter rifles were imported by Tennessee Gun, converted back into
military configurations by a small company called Czechpoint-USA, and
then marketed and distributed by CZ-USA. The CZ Vz.58 featured
military furniture, and was offered with either a fixed or folding
stock. The magwell was machined out, and it could accept standard
high-cap military magazines too. On the otherhand, it still lacked a
bayonet lug and had a barrel extension perminantly attached. This
rather complicated arrangement lasted until 2010, when CZ-USA, who had
never been terribly interested in it in the first place, withdrew.
Then TGI ran into legal troubles with the BATF and Customs. This left
Czechpoint-USA all alone.
Other American companies however were interested. In 2008, Ohio Rapid
Fire started machining their own semi Vz.58 receivers, and soon there
after began assembling complete rifles using surplus military parts
kits. The first of these used original barrels, while later rifles
were built with US newly made ones. Then a year later, Century Arms
released the Vz.2008 Sporter. The Vz.2008 was built using an ORF
receiver at first, and then later receivers from other manufacturers.
It was constructed using surplus kits too, and with newly made 16"
barrels from Green Mountain. Both the ORF and CAI guns did feature the
original bayonet lug, threaded muzzle, and removable muzzle device.
Some of the parts used were well used, while others nearly new; but so
it goes with surplus. The US receivers were generally good, but ORF
did have problems with heat treating and so some were either too soft
or too hard. The US barrels were fine but were not chromelined. ORF
stopped offering its Vz.58 in 2010, and Century discontinued its
Vz.2008 around 2013 as it ran out of useable parts kits. Prices on
these have fluctuated wildly over the years from as low as $400, to as
high as $1,000.
Today, Czechpoint is the only company to offer new semi Vz.58s. After
its partnership with CZ-USA dissolved, it began doing everything. It
imports from the Czech Republic, remanufactures here in the USA,
markets, and directly sells the line. It even assembles rifles from
parts kits on occasion using Czech tooling. Everything is done in
house and several models are on offer. For its part D-Technik changed
its name to Czech Small Arms (CSA) and expanded its own line too. As
surplus parts have run out, it has begun manufacturing its own to use
in their places. This includes barrels. About two years ago, the
supply of original barrels in excellent condition became very small,
so CSA turned to Walther of Germany. Now, Walther machines a 16.1"
long chromelined barrel for CSA, which is used in most new Czech Vz.58
Sporters. One advantage to the change is now the rifles feature a
threaded barrel with removable muzzle device. Still no bayonet lugs
CZ 805A1 & A2 Bren Assault Rifle
While the Vz.58 had a long development program, it was nothing
compared to the twists and turns that took decades to evolve into what
we know today as the CZ-805 Bren. It all began back in 1977, with what
was named the Lada-S project. Lead by Miloslav Fisher, the head of
CZ's R&D department, Lada was an effort to replace the Vz.58 assault
rifle, Vz.61 Scorpion SMG, and even the UK Vz.59 machinegun, with a
new firearm chambered for the then modern 5.45x39mm M74 Russian
cartridge. In 1984, the program was green lit by the government, and
Bohumil Novotny was put in charge of designing the new system. He
invisioned three models, all based around the same receiver and
operating system: sub compact carbine, assault rifle, and a light
machinegun similar to the Russian RPK.
From 1985 through 1989, development continued, with the first fully
functional prototypes appearing in 1987. The Lada was based on the
Russian AK74 and fired the same 5.45mm round. It had some differences
though, such as a redesigned dustcover, adjustable aperture rear
sight, and Galil style left side safety selector. It lacked the AK's
traditional right side selector. The rifle version featured a right
side folding buttstock, and the LMG had a longer and heavier barrel
with bipod. Three different generations of prototypes were created,
tested, redesigned, and tested again before the Lada was declared
ready for mass production in February of 1990. It was accepted by the
military and 300,000 pieces were ordered. However, this was right at
the time when the communist government was loosing control and the
entire Warsaw Pact was falling apart. Furthermore, the military was
bankrupt and did not have the funds to purchase firearms, much less
pay for the introduction of an entire new model and cartridge package.
Thus the Lada was shelved.
In 1993, communism was over and the nation split into the Czech
Republic and Slovakia. A short time later the government owned
Konstrukta Brno conglomerate was privatized, broken up, and sold off.
This was the return of Ceská zbrojovka Uherský Brod  (CZ) as a
privately owned and operated company. This also meant that it could no
longer rely on virtually unlimited funding and manpower provided by
the government. It would have to learn how to be competitive on the
free market once more.
In the late 1990s, the Czech Republic announced its intention to join
NATO, so CZ dusted off the old Lada. It reworked the design so that it
was compatable with the standard 5.56x45mm round. Sellier & Bellot had
been manufacturing the M193 cartridge for the commercial market since
1991, so at least a source of ammunition was not a problem.
Around the same time, a retired military officer named Ladislav
Findorak approached CZ with an idea for a modular and scalable weapons
system he had invented. Named the LCZ, it could be constructed with
blocks or modules, so it could be configured for different situations
and requirements. This extended to its caliber, which could be scaled
down for 5.56mm or up for 7.62x39mm or even 7.62mm NATO. The concept
was solid and sparked some interest at CZ, but ultimately it went no
CZ instead put its efforts behind the Lada-S, which it renamed Project
805. It was based on the tried and tested AK operating system and had
years of development behind it. Even though it was now chambered for
the 5.56mm round, it still fed from AK74 style magazines. The
designers felt reworking it to use standard M16 NATO mags would be too
costly and time consuming. It was slightly updated and submitted for
military trials in 1999.
unfortunately, CZ was not the only one concerned with cost around the
turn of the millenium. While the 805 did fine in the trials, the Czech
military decided not to adopt any new firearm at the time. Instead, it
opted to continue issuing the trusty old Vz.58. CZ was left with no
choice but to put the Lada on the commercial market and hope for an
international buyer. It was again renamed, this time becoming the
CZ-2000. The name sounded new and modern, but really it was just an AK
chambered for 5.56mm and with a few weaver rails tossed onto it. It is
also worth noting that at the time, both the military and CZ mostly
still referred to it as the 805.
The final Lada version had an ambidextrous safety and Picatinny
quadrail handguard. It was configured for entry into a series of
trials held by the Indian military but was never adopted. After yet
another failure, CZ quietly discontinued the program and canceled any
further development. The Lada was nearly adopted twice by the Czech
military over a 25 year time span, but in the end it was a
technological deadend. Still, the Vz.58 couldn't last forever and the
military would need something to replace it eventually. This and by
the early 21st Century, CZ was left without a military rifle program.
Rather than re-equipping all of its soldiers at once with new rifles,
the Czech military went with a policy of gradually purchasing new ones
for select units as the need arose. Between 2000 and 2005, it
purchased several M4 type carbines from Bushmaster. It was briefly
considered to produce under license the M16 and M4 series in the Czech
Republic, but nothing ever came of the idea. The Czechs are a very
patriotic and independent people, so many felt that the Vz.58's
replacement should be both domestically designed and built.  Buying a
few thousand rifles from the USA as they were needed was always seen
as a stop-gap measure and a temporary solution. Everyone knew
something more perminant would soon be needed.
In 2004, CZ laid out new specifications for a future military rifle,
since the military itself was reluctant to move forward. These
specifications were based on the preceived needs of the modern Czech
soldier. The project was first named CZ-XX and was soon changed to CZ
S-805. The 'S' stood for Special and to differiniate it from the
earlier Lada 805. CZ also reached out to someone from its past, Mr.
Findorak. He had impressed the engineers with his very modern ideas
and creativity. He was brought onboard as an outside contractor. CZ
valued his experience with modular designs, and felt hiring him would
both save on time and money.
CZ was right too. Within only one year Findorak had finalized a new
design and even had a few working prototypes to show off. The S-805
was modular, and was initially offered in both 5.56x45mm NATO and
7.62x51mm NATO, with plans for other chamberings such as 6.8mm and
7.62x39mm. A version in .300 Winmag was even considered. The lesser
power versions were grouped in the 'A' family, with the more powerful
ones in the 'B'. Three barrel lengths were planned; a short subcarbine
for CQB, a standard carbine for general use, and a full length rifle
for use as a DMR or LMG. Originally, it was planned to create the
receiver from polymer. However, as a stop-gap solution for the
prototypes, it was made from an aluminium alloy forging, which was
machined into its final shape.
In November of 2006, the military Chief of Staff General Stefka was
shown a fully working prototype. It was chambered for 5.56mm and had
the intermediate length barrel. He did not dismiss it out of hand, but
again the military ended up declining to buy a new rifle model of any
kind. By this point CZ was no stranger to rejection, so it took its
new design on the road. Between 2006 and 2009, the S-805 was taken to
many military tech. shows, and demonstrated to anyone at all who
showed  interest. CZ hoped to attract foreign customers, but its main
goal was to inspire patriotism among its own citizens and have them
put pressure on the military to finally replace the Vz.58.
Ladislav Findorak passed away in 2006, so Vitezslav Guryca stepped up
to continue the S-805's development and testing. Interestingly the
interum metal receiver ended up becoming perminant and the idea for a
polymer one was dropped. Finally in 2009, the Czech military released
requirements and specifications for the new rifle it was looking for.
This gave CZ a true direction and allowed it to taylor the S-805 to be
what the military was wanting.
In November of the same year, CZ submitted its prototype, now named
simply the 805 Bren, for military trials. To simplify and speed up
things, the rifle it submitted was only chambered for 5.56x45mm NATO
and came in only two barrel lengths. The 805A1 was the rifle with a
14" barrel, and the 805A2 the carbine with a 11". The longer 18"
barrel was dropped as the military showed little interest in it. The
805 retained the ability to be converted to fire 7.62mm NATO, however
this version was dropped at the last minute too. Again because the
military was not looking for such a weapon at the time.
As the trials continued, all but two designs dropped out. The CZ-805
remained, along with the FN SCAR-L. Both weapons were very similar and
were nearly equal in every  respect. Both met the military's
requirements, both were reliable, and both were priced roughly the
same. After months of testing and deliberation in March of 2010, CZ's
805 Bren was declared the winner and was announced as the Vz.58's
successor. Most agree it won over the SCAR as it was a domestic
design. Some claim this was unfair to FN, but in all honesty just
about any nation would select a domestic firearm all other things
being equal. At anyrate, FN did not protest the decision. The way was
now clear for something new to enter into service.
The 805 is clearly inspired by the FN SCAR, if not a true clone.
However, elements from the German HK G36 are also quite apparent. It
operates using an M16 type multi lugged rotating bolt, and G36 style
short stroke gas piston. The bolt carrier is massive and recoils on a
single guide rod, much like in the SCAR. There is a firing pin safety
like in the HK416. The receiver is made from a single large alloy
forging, with monolithic top Picatinny rail, shorter bottom rail, and
removable side rails. Standard barrel lengths are 14" and 11". Barrels
are cold hammer forged and chromelined, and can be removed by taking
out 6 screws. The muzzle is threaded 14x1mm and a birdcage flash hider
is standard. The gas valve is adjustable and allows for easy access to
the piston. There is a lug under the gasblock for a blade type
bayonet. The trigger housing and magwell assemblies aare made from
polymer. They can be separated to switch the type of magwell in use.
The safety selector and mag catch are ambidextrous, and the
reciprocating charging handle can be installed on either side. Also,
it can be used as a forward assist. There is an automatic last-round
bolt hold open, but no manual release. This was the same for the
Vz.58. The 805's stock both folds to the right and is adjustable with
4 positions. It has a removable cheak riser and is quick detachable
from the rifle for storage. The 805A1 rifle version weighs 7.9 lbs,
and measures 35.8 with stock fully extended and 26.0" with it folded.
The LOP can be adjusted up to 2" to fit the shooter. The Bren feeds
from proprietary magazines, which are based on the ones used by the
G36 but that lack coupler pegs. The two types are even
The military quickly ordered 6,700 805A1 rifles and 1,250 805A2
carbines. It also took immediate delivery of several advanced
prototypes. After a series of field tests; in May of the same year, it
submitted a list of changes it wanted CZ to make to the 805. One of
the biggest was a switch from a 7 lug rotating bolt, to one with only
6. The military thought this would be stronger and increase
reliability when the rifle was dirty. It also wanted CZ to install a
stabilizing pin to hold the magwell and trigger housing together more
securely. This would make changing the well out more difficult, but
would insure the two pieces would not come apart by accident in the
field. Finally, it wanted a pistol grip with interchangeable
backstraps so it could be sized to fit an individual shooter's hand.
This feature, while common on today's pistols, is still a new one for
military rifles. Of course all of these changes took time and delayed
full production of the 805 for nearly a year.
Finally in July of 2011, the military took delivery of its first batch
of the new rifles. It received examples of both the 805A1 and 805A2.
CZ had the first contract fulfilled by 2013, and then signed a second
one for more 805s. By the beginning of 2016, over 17,000 805A1 and
805A2 Brens are in active service with the Czech military. It has
replaced the Vz.58 in all frontline units, relegating the old design
to the reserves. It has seen combat in both Afghanistan and Iraq, as
well as other hot spots around the world. It has also been used
extensively in the Mexican Drug War.
In October of 2015, CZ announced the new CZ 806 Bren 2. The 806 is
lighter than the 805 due in large part to its polymer body receiver.
It uses a new style of charging, with a non-reciprocating  cocking
handle. The gas system has been simplified, and there is now an
external bolt release for use on an empty magazine. Other changes
include deletion of the 2 round burst mode, a redesigned buttstock,
and a bolt group that is easier to disassemble for cleaning. Recently
in January of 2016, the military ordered 2,600 806 Bren 2s from CZ for
field use and extensive evaluation. At this time, it is unknown if it
will completely replace the 805 or not. It is honestly just too early
to tell.
In 2015, CZ-USA announced and began shipping a semi-only version of
the Bren in the USA. Named the CZ-805 PS1, it is a pistol without a
buttstock and with a 11" long barrel. It is built entirely in the
Czech Republic, using most of the same parts as are found in the
military version. It feeds from standard double stack AR15/M16
magazines, has a threaded muzzle with removable brake, and even has a
bayonet lug. This year CZ-USA reports it will begin selling a carbine
version too. It will feature a 16.25" long barrel, standard 1/2x28"
threaded muzzle, and an original military folding buttstock. As of the
first of May, 2016, the 805 S1 Carbine is just beginning to ship out
to dealers. A magwell kit is also offered in the USA, which allows
users to switch to the original rock and lock 805 Bren magazine for a
more traditional look. German HK G36 mags will fit the new magwell
So there you have it, three very unique firearms created by a very
determined and patriotic people.

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