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Top Buying Tips for a Deact Bren Light Machine Gun

Posted: January 22, 2012 | Author: WARSTUFF | Blog Post
The most famous WW2 small arms weapon of the Commonwealth forces, the .303 Bren Light Machine Gun is today one of the most sought after deactivated weapons a collector can buy. Here are our top tips to help you find the most sought after model:

THE .303 BREN GUN and its equipment was approved for British service in August of 1938, and the earliest models – manufactured until 1941, are arguably the most collectable of the type. Chosen by the British as a suitable replacement for the WW1 Lewis LMG and based on the Czech Brno ZB LMG, the name ‘Bren’ was derived from the names of the arms factories ‘Brunn’ and ‘Enfield’. 

You may already be an expert on the Bren LMG yourself, or you may be completely new to the type. Whichever one you are, there are some buying principles you should have in mind to make sure you can identify a Mark I model, and thereby ensure the Bren you buy is a sound investment. Here are our top five tips:

1) THE FIRST THING you should determine is if the weapon comes with a deactivated certificate from a recognised proof house. In the UK, this is required by law for you to own the deactivated weapon. It also gives you certainty the relic you’re buying is rendered harmless.

   By a deactivated Bren Gun on WARSTUFF

2) CHECK THE MANUFACTURER, this will be marked on the body: Enfield is British and marked with a ‘E’ symbol , Lithgow is Australian made, sometimes marked ‘MA’, and Inglis is Canadian manufactured. All manufacturers are sought after, but Enfield typically carries a premium.

3) CHECK THE MODEL number and manufacture date which will be marked on the body; MkI, Mk I(M) meaning Modified, more usually marked MkI*, MkII, Mk2, Mk3 and Mk4. The most sought after are the earliest MkI’s which were produced from 1937, and the MkI(M) or MkI* produced from 1941. Early models are hard to find – many were left on the beaches in the Dunkirk retreat in 1940. Find one of these, it’s gold to a collector.

4) THE ORIGINAL Mk1 design includes some features not found on later models. See if the gun has a dial-drum backsight, a dovetail slot for fixed line of sight on the body, disk shaped gas deflection shield at the front, a  folding cocking handle, telescopic bipod, cupped buttplate, stainless steel sleeve for the last 10.5” of the barrel, with a straight taper on the flash hider. If you’re really lucky, there may be a folding strap at the top of the butt plate – you don’t often see these, they were omitted early on in the manufacturing process.

5) IT IS IMPORTANT to note that not all Bren guns can be expected to be standard factory configuration. Many guns were upgraded and fitted with later parts whilst in service. Barrel, carry handle, bipod, gas piston, butt and side groups are all interchangeable. Check these components carefully to check if they are original MkI specification. If they’re not, expect to spend time finding MkI replacements. Some parts, such as MK1 bipods are difficult and expensive to come by if you want to restore your gun to its truest form. Our experience is you are lucky to find a gun with all parts correct to the original manufacturers issue specification, so be prepared to spend time hunting for parts.

So now you know our top five tips for buying a deactivated MkI .303 Bren Gun, what are you waiting for? Get searching.

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