Sunday, July 1, 2012

GNB: CZ 805 BREN impression

Note: This article is titled impression, not review since I did not have enough time to review the product.

One of the joys of SHOT show is that you get to see some interesting firearms that you don't normally get to see at your local gun shop. There were quite a few interesting firearm present at 2012 SHOT show, and CZ 805 was definitely one of them.

Czech Republic has a long history of developing fine firearms, and despite communist ruling, the Czechs did not let their skills go to waste. During the Cold War, they developed CZ 75 pistol, which gained fame for its capability, and even recieved praise from Col. Cooper. Before the Cold War, they co-developed BREN machine gun that was used extensively by Brits and Commonwealth forces.

Until now, Czechslovakian forces used Vz 58, that looked like an AK, but wasn't. However, as the Iron Curtain fell and firearm techonolgy quickly evolved, Czech army wanted an up-to-date rifle. Cz 805 was developed from previous prototypes, and was introduced in 2006. In 2009, Czech army tested both CZ 805 and FN SCAR and gave their blessings to CZ 805(Home turf advantage seems to be part of it). Starting 2010 it was delivered to Czech army.

Specifications and features

First of all, CZ 805 BREN A1 is a standard infantry rifle with 14.5 inch barrel. A2 has shorter barrel, about 10.5 inches long. It chambers 5.56x45mm NATO.

From the first look, you can see that Czech designers wanted to integrate the rail system as much as they can. There is a rail on top, side, and bottom of handguard. The bottom handguard is integrated in to lower.

Stock can be folded to right. There is a half-moon shaped button on left you can depress, and the stock will fold at an angle that will not obstruct brass ejection. The length of stock cannot be changed though.

The rifle seems to run short-stroke recoil system with two settings.

The selector switch has 4 positions, Safe - Single - 2 round burst - Full Auto. It is ambidextrous. Grip has replacable backstrap.

Charging handle was located on the left in this photo, but it can be moved to right as needed.

Magazine well uses paddle release much like H&K G3 series. However, magazine well can be replaced with AR-like module. It is held by a pin(as well as T-shaped slot).

Magazine for the paddle module is CZ's proprietary magazine. It is a translucent blue magazine made of plastic(polymer?). It looks a lot sturdier than contemporary polymer magazines out on the market right now. The bottom floor plate is a lot thicker than others for sure.

When I first placed it in my shoulder, it felt very ergonomic, much like any of CZ's firearm line up. The rifle may look a bit funky, but it is not going to impede its ergonomic comfort.

However, there were some problems that I could see right away.

First, pulling the bolt to the rear is only possible if the safety is off. If the safety is on, bolt will not move back. It may be from the Czech army's operation doctrine, but those of us who are used to operation of AR platforms would find it a bit odd.

The bolt lock on the left is definitely a bolt lock, not a release. Unlike AR's bolt lock, pushing it, even with the bolt locked to rear, will not release the bolt. It is not ambidextrous.

Another problem that could happen is the charging handle striking shooter's thumb. For those who like to place their support hand closer to magazine well, and stick their thumb up, it will be very apparent that it will hurt. Furthermore, the height of rifle prevents placing support hand thumb over the gun.

The last drawback I saw was the selector. It is all within 90 degrees, and with 4 modes, it only takes a small amount to go from one to the another. That means in stressful situation, there could be accidental use of 2 round burst or even full-auto burst.

It is a very interesting rifle, but there were some minor differences that would make me scratch my head a little. The selector and that 90 degree angle could be an interesting problem. If I were to make a civilian version of this rifle, having Safe-Single at 90 degree like an AR would be a no brainer.

Unfortunately, when I asked around for any chance of civilian version in the future, then answer was negative. At this time, they seem to be busy fulfilling Czech army order, and it could be a while even if they decided to sell civilian versions. CZ-USA indicated that they are working on civilian version of CZ Scorpion Evo 3 A1, and I hope they also work on CZ 805 too.