The Bren LMG
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brens lined up bren types lined up
Old Photo of Bren gunner
The Bren LMG was developed from the ZB26, a Czech LMG designed at Brno, by the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield. The name was an amalgamation of BRno and ENfield.

Production began in 1937 at Enfield RSAF and it was accepted into service in 1938, when production also commenced at Inglis in Canada and Lithgow in Australia from 1940. Daimler and a corporation of manufacturs called Monotype also produced them. Others were made at the Small Arms Factory in India
The Bren became the centre of all section tactics during WW2, and had it's own transport in the form of the Universal (Bren) Carrier. It remained the standard section weapon long after the war and soldiered on into the 1980's rechambered and barrelled for 7.62 ammunition.

In the interests of ease of production the design altered many times during the guns service, in both large and small modifications, and we have still to photograph a number of variations as they become available, but this guide should give the novice the essential information to spot the differences.

The Marks of Bren basically comprised the Mk1, Mk1m, MkII, Mk3 (introduced 1944 for jungle fighting) and the Mk4 also introduced in 1944. Postwar saw the Mk2/1 and the L4 7.62mm version.
Further reading and more information can be found in Ian Skennerton's '.303 Bren' and 'The Bren Gun Saga'. In addition the Parts Identification list for 1947 is available from ourselves in the SHOP and the accessories and stowage lists can be found in the technical section of this site.
The Bren Mk1, MK1m & Mk2
Bren Butts; Right: Mk1 & MK1m, Center:Mk2 with Mk3 butt plate, Left Mk2 with Mk2 buttplate.
Note the difference between the 'humped' butt of the Mk1 to the Mk2, and the difference in the sling swivel arrangements.
There were two more butts after this, the Mk3 and 4
bren butts
Mk1 Butt on a 1940 dated Mk1, note the butt disk for stamping with unit details/gun number, butt handle (one of our reproductions) and the folding butt strap (shown in usage position) dispensed with from the Mk1m. Mk1 Bren Butt
Barrels:Left: Mk1 barrel on Mk1 gun. Center:Mk1* Barrel on Mk1m. Right Mk2 barrel on Mk2 Bren Barrel
Body:Left Photo:
Bottom Mk1 showing cutaway (arrowed) at the front of the body and the dovetail (arrowed) for the dial sight, which seems never to have seen service. Also the Mk1 Magazine catch with no hole, as opposed to the Mk2 with a centre lightening hole.
Centre: Mk1m
Top: Mk2
Right Photo:
Bottom MK1 with cut away to front of body.
Centre: Mk1m
Top:Mk2
Bren Body left Bren Body right
Cocking handles:
Bottom:Mk1 & MK1m folding handle.
Top: Mk2 (and Mk3 not discussed here)
Bren cocking handle
Carrying Handles:
Left: Mk2 handle, Right Mk1 handle. The Parts identification list specifies either of these for the Mk1* barrel onwards
Bren carrying handle
Legs:
Left:Canadian Mk2 legs, non extending with folding mechanism same as Mk1. British Mk2 had independant folding legs (See photo's right) with a differently shaped foot which had a spike, Australian Mk2 guns used the same design as Canadian guns.
Right:Mk1 and Mk1m extending legs.
The Mk3 by 1947(not shown) had independant folding legs, with a small foot and a spike, later became like Mk1 folding mechanism with the Mk3 leg
Bren legs
Sights
Top: Mk1 and Mk1m. Bottom Mk2, Mk2/1, Mk3 and Mk4 all used Mk2 sight
Bren sights
Gas Vents:
Top, Mk1 & Mk1m. Bottom: Mk2, Mk2/1 and Mk4 conversion from Mk2
Bren gas vent
The Bren MK3 and L4
Mk3 L4
Bren Mk 3, note the shorter barrel. The weapon has many lightening features including modifications to the internal mechanism mk3 bren
The butt of the Mk3 and L4 mk3 butt L4 butt
The Mk3 uses the K2 type carrying handle as does the L4, note on the L4 the use of the Mk1 Cocking handle. MK3 carrying handle Bren L4 Magazine housing
The Shorter length of the Mk3 barrel and the bipod legs, which are mk1 in style except for the feet which are fixed rather than extendable, the L4 is the same, using Mk2 feet, note the flash hider on the Mk3 and Eliminator on the L4. Mk3 flash hider Bren L4 Flash hider
The Mk3 has sights graduated to 1600 yards instead of 2000. The DP engraving stands for 'Drill Purpose'. The L4 is sighted to 1800 meters. Note the difference in the magazine catch spring on the MK3 and L4. The L4 almost straight magazine can be seen here. MK3 rear sight Bren L4 magazine
The stamps on the MK3, note the E within D stamp for RSAF Enfield. Mk3 stamps
Manufacturers Codes
Code Manufacturer
D/E Logo(E within D) Enfield RSAF
M67 Monotype
D Daimler
INGLIS Canadian
LITHGOW Australian
SAF Indian Small Arms Factory