Adopted in 1938 and remaining in British service right up to 1991, the popular and reliable Bren was an iconic light machine gun, and probably the most recognisable Commonwealth weapon of World War II. Gas-operated and magazine-fed, it was based on a Czech design and was issued in large numbers during and after World War II as a section-level automatic weapon; it used the same .303in ammunition as the Lee-Enfield rifles that equipped British and Commonwealth infantry, and the Pattern 1937 webbing they wore was designed around the dimensions of the Bren's distinctively curved 28-round magazine.
Offering remarkable accuracy for an LMG, the Bren had an effective range of 600yd, but could reach out to over 1,500yd. It was generally fired from the prone position using a bipod, but could be fired from the hip when necessary. If kept clean, the Bren gave reliable service in the harshest of environments, from the deserts of Libya to the Korean mountains in winter. As well as seeing widespread infantry use, the Bren was widely supplied to resistance movements in Occupied Europe. It was often vehicle-mounted, notably in the Universal Carrier, popularly called the 'Bren Carrier'; however, the Bren's design precluded its use as a coaxial weapon in tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles.
When the UK adopted the 7.62mm NATO cartridge from 1958, the Bren was adapted for this new, rimless ammunition and redesignated the L4; this further improved the Bren's already solid reliability and made it possible for SLR magazines to be used in the weapon. Although officially superseded by the L7 GPMG, the Bren remained a popular weapon in the many post-1945 conflicts involving British and Commonwealth forces, owing to its light weight, manageable length and sheer dependability. Featuring specially commissioned full-colour artwork and based on meticulous research, this is the engaging story of the Bren, the iconic light machine gun that equipped British and Commonwealth forces throughout World War II and in a host of postwar conflicts right up to the Falklands and beyond.
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