BREN gun semi-auto build...vintage sniper? 1.5 MOA groups. VIDEO UP!

buffalowinter

Rick Jones MAJ, SF (Ret)
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  • Mar 17, 2014
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    After two hours, Cerakote is hard enough for assembly...so I assembled. Function test went well. Chambered and fired a piece of primed brass. No mag catch yet so I held the mag in by hand and cycled...no problem. Tomorrow she gets tied to the lead sled and fired by lanyard.

    Before:
    12dec16_brenkt-7512_mid01.jpg
    After:
    DSCN3856.JPGDSCN3857.JPGDSCN3858.JPGDSCN3859.JPGDSCN3860.JPGDSCN3861.JPGDSCN3855.JPG
     
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    delinquent pleb

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    Mate, finding this thread has made my day. This is a brilliant effort to bring this old Bren to life.

    Please post any video of it being fired, if the opportunity arises to get it out and tested it over distance.

    cheers from Australia
     

    buffalowinter

    Rick Jones MAJ, SF (Ret)
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  • Mar 17, 2014
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    Sarco just told me they shipped my mag latch/extractor...and I thought it might arrive today. So, anywhere from 4 to 10 days to receipt. Well, I can't wait that long so I just single loaded a bunch of rounds. .303, 40g N140 with 175 .311 SMK, Federal Lg rifle match primer. This is the ammo I use for my SMLE sniper. Very pleased with the results. First, the gun functioned great and the welds look good to go. Second, this a WWII surplus machine gun barrel. Third, the MG sights are huge. The rear aperture is as big as a pencil in diameter. The entire front sight fits in the sight picture. Excellent for MG use, terrible for sniping. So, sight alignment and sight picture are key, emphasis on sight alignment. I held the bottom of the aperture flush with the base of the front sight and a 6 o'clock hold with front post. These are the first shots fired at a target at 100yds...no sight correction. Amazing gunsmithing or just a fluke the gun was right on...smart money says fluke. To get an idea of the guns accuracy potential I would take the eight closest shots and say that is a typical group, throwing out the other eight as outliers due to my poor sight alignment/cataract blurred vision. I'll post a video rockin' a full mag at some steel when I get the mag latch. Gun is very pleasant to shoot, trigger is excellent. I may put a stronger striker spring in to improve on the 1 second "lock time".DSCN3863.JPG
     

    Recon_Scout

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    Probably had a dozen or so Bren parts sets back when they were cheap/plentiful but sold them off thinking I was making a killing at $300-400 a pop. Like everything else, wish now I'd kept a couple. Ran across some new production (as in 20yrs ago new) walnut stocks/grips if anyone can use them. Don't remember any history. Just cover the cost of the ride.

    View attachment 7496757
    I'm currently have a Bren rewelded by M-13 Industries, would love to get a new wood set
     

    buffalowinter

    Rick Jones MAJ, SF (Ret)
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  • Mar 17, 2014
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    OK, really want to see what this BREN gun will do, so I'm going to make a scope mount for it. I'm going to put an Enfield No. 32 scope on it as used on the Enfield sniper rifle. The no. 32 was originally designed for the Bren. Got a pretty good pic in my mind for the mount, it will require no alteration to the gun. There is a nice recessed slot for the Vernier sight on the Bren. I will use the tapped hole for the sight spring and the cross slot on the rear to secure the mount. A regular pair of scope rings will secure the scope to the mount.


    1608075858012.png

    Bren Gun MK I with Plessey line sight

    1608076294838.png
     

    buffalowinter

    Rick Jones MAJ, SF (Ret)
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  • Mar 17, 2014
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    Finished the scope mount. It's windage adjustable. Pretty solid. Just have to finish cosmetic work and Cerakote. Going to cut the unused portion of the square tube in a smooth curve and the round all the edges to blend smoothly where they meet. Should be pretty cool with the No. 32 scope.


    DSCN3864.JPGDSCN3865.JPGDSCN3866.JPGDSCN3867.JPG

    Next project: Russian DP27 machine gun converted to semi-auto.

    DSCN3868.JPG
     

    8up

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    Nice work! Glad to see these old beauties come back to life. Looks great I must say. Did a MG42 years back, my first build to semi. Nothing beats having these work again.
     

    Strykervet

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    That a purpose-built LMG would be more accurate than a bolt gun certainly seems illogical... but I guess there's only one way to find out! Kudos Sir!

    Well, it wouldn't be a first (well, maybe it was first...) but the M240B uses the same barrel FN uses for their sniper rifles IIRC and it sure as shit showed. We had all brand new weapons in my unit, including 240's. NIB shit. You could take one and single shot targets at 800m easily with it (truth be told at 800 two targets pop up side by side making that easier but still). Never got to mess with one on the sniper range or the UKD ranges, which would have been fun. I know for a fact a bolt gun will do better though, say M24 vs M240. I suspect the FN SPR will too and I believe that's the one with the same hammer forged bbl. FN loves that hammer forge.

    You sure as shit couldn't do that with the SAW but you could try. I got some lucky shots with it for sure.

    But two .303 weapons, one a (is it an open bolt?) MG, the other a bolt gun, my money is on math and physics and I'm going with the bolt gun.

    A MG typically fires a 3-8rd burst, depending, so yeah, I guess it does increase hit probability given all else equal. But not because it's a more accurate weapon (I'm betting).

    I WISH I could do what the OP is doing, that sort of shit is how I dream of spending time... Too bad there isn't someone local doing this I can help/assist/learn from.
     

    Sniff

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    I used .303 Brens in basic training in 1986. I think we were the last unit to use them. The .303s were only in the training units by then but the Infantry Battalion in Singapore had the L4A4 7.62x51mm converted Brens.

    An old guy, Ivor, I used to shoot with years ago was in France with the British Army at the start of WWII. One of the guys in his unit (not Ivor) used a Bren fitted with the No.32 scope.

    He used to operate forward of his own unit with the Bren on single shots, pretending to be a sniper. The German tactic at the time was to rush snipers.
    When they got up and into the open he would flick the selector to automatic and cut them down.
    Apparently he could only use that tactic once with each German unit as they learned very fast.
     

    Sniff

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    And a picture of my own Bren:



    It is one of the 90 L4A4 7.62x51mm Brens purchased by the New Zealand Army in 1975 for 1RNZIR to keep commonality with the rest of 28th ANZUK Brigade.

    This one was converted by Enfield from a 1944 MkIII .303 Bren (probably in 1973 from the markings) and is one of the 90 ordered by New Zealnd in 1971, but from its condition, never issued to a unit for use.
     

    Ghost1941

    Resident Gun Guy
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    Jan 18, 2009
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    L4A4 7.62x51mm Bren


    Beautiful piece. Not familiar with gun laws in New Zealand... did they allow you to possess it as an auto? Also, after that shooting in 2019 how does this stand? I recall them passing a law by a huge margin for the removal of all military arms.
     
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    Sniff

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    Beautiful piece. Not familiar with gun laws in New Zealand... did they allow you to possess it as an auto? Also, after that shooting in 2019 how does this stand? I recall them passing a law by a huge margin for the removal of all military arms.

    Yes, we still have fully automatic firearms but they must be stored with a vital part removed and cannot be fired with live ammo. If you have a 'Theatrical' endorsement to your licence, they can be fired with blanks for making TV and movie productions.

    Any magazine, other than a pistol magazine, is limited to 10 rounds unless individually registered as a Prohibited Magazine.

    After the Christchurch shootings, pretty much all centrefire semi-auto and pump action rifles have been made Prohibited Weapons. Those very few people with a Prohibited Weapon licence are a few collectors and pest control shooters.

    Rimfire semi-autos (10 rounds or less) are still okay. As are lever and pump actions.

    The Government has signalled its intent to create a register of all firearms in New Zealand. At the moment the police can't keep proper track of the already registered pistols and full auto stuff. I really can't see how they expect it to work properly.
     

    aprocast

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    And a picture of my own Bren:



    It is one of the 90 L4A4 7.62x51mm Brens purchased by the New Zealand Army in 1975 for 1RNZIR to keep commonality with the rest of 28th ANZUK Brigade.

    This one was converted by Enfield from a 1944 MkIII .303 Bren (probably in 1973 from the markings) and is one of the 90 ordered by New Zealnd in 1971, but from its condition, never issued to a unit for use.
    Great input, thanks very much
     

    buffalowinter

    Rick Jones MAJ, SF (Ret)
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  • Mar 17, 2014
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    I put my trusty Nikon beater test scope on and went out to see what kind of group I could get. Only shot one 10 shot test group as I had to manually load because I am still waiting on my mag catch/ejector. Took the gas block out so it wouldn't cycle and ram the brass back into the chamber. Not too shabby. Right about 1.5 MOA. Surplus WWII barrel. Keep in mind, the US Army requirement for the M110 SASS is 1.3 MOA.
    Installed a nice condition MKII stock and a new pistol grip from Waorani. Now I'm going to weld up the joints on the scope mount and give it its' final finish. Bren Gun chest arrived and I need to do some clean-up on that. Got an extra barrel, gas block, barrel case, parts wallet, screw driver, part box, oiler etc. If anyone needs a brand new stainless .308 Bren barrel with gas block and L4 flash hider let me know and I'll cut you a good deal.

    DSCN3871.JPG
     
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    buffalowinter

    Rick Jones MAJ, SF (Ret)
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    Scope mount finished

    DSCN3872.JPG

    MkII stock, waiting on original butt handle. Also, for the hell of it, I bought a fore-end grip that attaches to the tripod lugs so you can shoot the gun standing. Evidently, a real thing, currently being used in the Sudan. 1608501078998.png

    DSCN3873.JPG

    Original Bren transit chest, tool wallet, and spare barrel case. This chest had a warehouse inventory slip from Australia dated 1951. Interior is painted hunter orange.
    DSCN3874.JPG

    Bren chest, insideDSCN3875.JPG
     
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    sirhrmechanic

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    Vickers chests and Bren chests Jim and I got from Aus and Greece were also bright Orange inside.

    Not sure the reason for that... maybe some kind of primer/paint? Visibility at night?

    We can’t figure out why... there was a thing called orange creosote finish back in the war. But it looks more like paint.

    Read that the transit chests were made in the same factory as the Horsa Gliders. Maybe some kind of aircraft dope?

    It is a good mystery worth solving...

    Sirhr
     

    fdkay

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    Had not heard of Danger Close.

    Siege of Jadotville has been on my list for a while. I heard it is excellent.

    Sirhr
    If you are ever down in Corpus Christi, make sure to stop by the Lexington museum.
    part of the tour passes by one of the machinery repair rooms, they have a couple of old lathes etc...
    Unfortunately, you can't get into the room itself to get a close look at the equipment.
    This is one form the USS Missouri:
    1608567961417.png
     

    Forgetful Coyote

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    Why are Bren gun barrels so plentiful? I guess they overestimated how many were needed by quite a bit?

    Have heard the same thing re: accuracy about the Vickers.. is there some type of characteristic about the Bren(and Vickers) which lends itself to more inherent accuracy?

    As I understand it, the Bren is a descendent of the ZB26, no? Which I believe the Nambus were as well..? Did they have this same reputation of being uncannily accurate?

    Also, any noticeable difference in accuracy .303 Bren vs 7.62?
     
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    buffalowinter

    Rick Jones MAJ, SF (Ret)
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    Nothing's easy. Went to mount the No.32 scope and it would not fit between the rings. So I had to shave the outside of the rings and bevel the inside. Then I bedded the rings with steel putty. Excess putty cleaned up after the pic's were taken. And, of course, re-Cerakote. But, I got it done, and it looks good. Very happy with the outcome.DSCN3876.JPGDSCN3877.JPGDSCN3878.JPGDSCN3879.JPG
     
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    pmclaine

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    If you are ever down in Corpus Christi, make sure to stop by the Lexington museum.
    part of the tour passes by one of the machinery repair rooms, they have a couple of old lathes etc...
    Unfortunately, you can't get into the room itself to get a close look at the equipment.
    This is one form the USS Missouri:
    View attachment 7507914


    USS Massachusetts and USS Quincy same thing.

    Absolutely beautiful machine shops.

    Serious US iron.
     

    pmclaine

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    Nothing's easy. Went to mount the No.32 scope and it would not fit between the rings. So I had to shave the outside of the rings and bevel the inside. Then I bedded the rings with steel putty. Excess putty cleaned up after the pic's were taken. And, of course, re-Cerakote. But, I got it done, and it looks good. Very happy with the outcome.View attachment 7509070View attachment 7509071View attachment 7509072View attachment 7509073


    Measure twice cut once Sir........always twice and once.
     
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    buffalowinter

    Rick Jones MAJ, SF (Ret)
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    OK, last two days nothing but problems and headaches...but I got it all sorted out and everything works. First, the above mentioned problem with the scope not fitting in the rings. Fixed. My mag catch came yesterday. Slipped right in, fit perfect, done in five seconds. Now to go out and sight in the scope. Wasn't looking forward to it. I knew the rings were mounted in the correct position as I test fired using a Nikon scope, no problem. The No.32 has an arcane zeroing procedure. It involves special tools. I've done this before for my No. 4T Enfield sniper. Basically, you adjust the crosshairs by removing the knobs (turrets) and adjusting a "lead" screw. Once that is done, you install the turrets at the zero. The turrets have minimal adjustment once you re-install them. Anyway, the scope wasn't too far off so it should be no problem making the adjust. However, I was having problems getting the gun to shoot semi-auto. There were a miscellany of problems...gun wouldn't cycle enough to extract and eject the empty, gun would cycle, but the striker wouldn't catch the sear for the next shot, gun would cycle, but would double and then stop. So the scope goes on the back burner...it was only shooting a foot high and 6 inches to the left so it would be no problem making the correction and I could deal with it for now by just holding low and to the right.
    So my first reaction is that the springs just need some fine tuning. Shortening the recoil spring should help the gun cycle. Shortening the striker spring should make it easier for the striker to move far enough back to catch the sear. These springs work together and it is a trick getting the right balance. Fortunately, I had quite a bit of spring on hand and could cut and re-cut with abandon. Well, after about 50 rounds I still basically had a single shot rifle. So, I quit for the day and started again this morning. I now moved my theory from springs to just not enough gas pressure. I tried opening up the gas block, and a myriad of other things but I still had a single shot rifle that would feed, fire, extract, eject, but the striker would not catch. Then it dawned on me...a blinding glimpse of the obvious. I had exactly the same problem when I built my semi-auto Sten gun. And I went thru exactly the same frustrating process...until I realized the disconnector was too low. Same problem here. I had taken too much off the disconnector when I radiused it so the striker could move over it smoothly. So, out to the barn and welded a glob of metal on top of the disconnector...literally a blob of metal. Took it inside and cleaned it up a little so the striker could ride over it, took it outside and...Bam, Bam Bam. Fixed. I ordered a new disconnector for $10. The blob disconnector will do for now. I also milled a new striker and need to heat treat that. Shooting video to follow in a couple of days
     
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    buffalowinter

    Rick Jones MAJ, SF (Ret)
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    A couple of odds and ends

    Here's the little tool I made to unlock the No.32 scope turrets.DSCN3881.JPG

    The blob of metal I welded onto the disconnector that got the gun shooting semi-auto. A new disconnector is only $10, otherwise I'd just weld this up better and finish it to factory spec.
    DSCN3883.JPG

    New milled striker block, still needs to be heat treated. My first one was more of a "test of concept" and wasn't made to last.

    DSCN3884.JPG

    This is how many rounds it took to make this gun work. Around 300 .303 handloads.
    DSCN3880.JPG
     

    Random Guy

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    This is a very interesting and informative thread. Persistence really paid off, and the results/restoration are outstanding. Thanks for posting your journey.
     
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    NukeMMC

    Chlanna Nan Con Thigibh A’ So ‘S Gheibh Sibh Feòil
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    Please let me send you my TIG rig when you have a project like this. It will ensure complete fusion and make a lot less cleanup for you.
    What filler are you using? When I had my M1A double lugged by one of the guys at Crane, he said 309 was filler of choice for receiver steel (8620, I believe) I don't know what steel the Soviets used, but would guess the Brits used similar.
    Sure wish I still had access to my dad's Pzb-39. It was missing the buttstock and was a bit rough, but you probably would have made it quite an example.
     

    NineHotel

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    Same comment here when seeing all the stick welding nastiness - TIG is very available, both the machines and the skill set, for such a job.
     

    buffalowinter

    Rick Jones MAJ, SF (Ret)
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    Thank you for the offer of your TIG welder. I don't know how to TIG weld and since I live on a remote cattle ranch there is no place within 100 miles to learn. Yes, my welds are hideous...but they are solid. There is normally no filler needed. The parts to be welded are contoured with a 45 degree angle inside and out. Then the parts to be welded are butted together on the intact lower rails. This is my welding "jig". I don't want to end up with a factory spec receiver anyway...causes problems with the BATFE guidelines. You have to weld up part of the rails and add restrictor plates/bolts so no part will interchange with a full-auto weapon. After it is all welded together, I make adjustments as needed. Yes there is a lot of clean-up involved. The joints are welded on the outside of the receiver and then the inside of the receiver. The internal rails are then re-cut. When I've made mistakes, and had to cut my welds, they were harder than the surrounding steel. I can weld, clean-up and re-cut a receiver in about 3 hours. It seems to work for me, I've built STEN's, a Suomi, Swedish K, Bren gun, DP 28, and others. I'm currently building a German last ditch VG3008...for that one I'll have to cut the bolt in half, rotate it 180 degrees, and reweld it.

    All guns built to BATFE regulations and registered if required (SBR's)
    Swedish K

    Suomi K32

    Sten MKII

    AR60E3

    Current project VG3008
    images.jpg
     
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