CZ 805 Bren S1 Carbine Review: How good is it?

Hello and welcome to my CZ 805 Bren S1 Carbine review.

CZ 805 Bren S1 Carbine

cz 805 bren review

The history of CZ, Ceska Zbrojovka, or literally Czech Armory was begun in 1936 with production beginning in the following year. It primarily focused on aircraft machine guns, military pistols and small bore rifles – the primary military rifles were manufactured by the Brno arsenal. 

In the days leading up to World War II, with the annexation of Czechoslovakia in 1938, the arms making capabilities of the country were added to the Nazi war machine, and in fact helped virtually double the Wehrmacht’s hardware overnight: a boost that was helped in no small way by the common calibers both countries shared in their military munitions.

After World War II, the arms making capabilities of the country were annexed by the Soviet Union, however, while the country was incorporated into the Warsaw Pact Alliance in the 1950’s it resisted adopting the Soviet weapons designs when it could make firearms of its own of, if not better quality at least domestic production.

One example was the Vz 52 pistol that fired the then standard 7.62 Tokarev. The Czech pistol was superior to, if somewhat bulkier than the TT30 and TT33 pistols.

Another example is the VZ 58 rifle: while aesthetically similar to the iconic AK47, and firing the same 7.62x39 round, it had a different operating system and a stronger receiver that made it a bit more accurate and durable to the Kalashnikov design. It was the VZ 58 that the CZ 805 Bren was made to replace.

The idea that became Bren that was introduced in 2006 to replace the aging Vz 58 rifles was actually spawned in the 1970’s but experienced numerous delays.

Even when the Czech state was prepared to join NATO and adopt the 5.56NATO cartridge to conform to logistics demands, it was cheaper to convert the 58s fire the NATO cartridge.

But the LADA rifle program started in 1977 had been seeking to make a new rifle system that had the capability of being chambered easily in 7.62x39 or 5.56x45 and even 5.45x39 and, eventually 7.62x51.

Up until that point, however, there was little inspiration from the government to invest in something to replace a weapons system that not only worked but was considered better than the red allies.

After the Velvet Revolution in 1990 and the communist party stepped down, Czechoslovakia was split into two separate countries ending the seven decades old state created by Entente order after World War I.

At that point both states had more pressing concerns than a new rifle, but those concerns came back when the Republic sought admission into the North Atlantic Treaty organization and their aging, albeit functional, supply of service rifles clearly required an upgrade. Plus, the Czechs kept a very capable arms maker on their side of the new border in the form of Ceska Zbrojovka.

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Considerations for using the 5.45x39 (AK74 food) round was shelved permanently because Sellier & Bellot was already making quantities of .223/5.56NATO ammunition.

However, a service rifle capable of caliber versatility made a lot of sense for both domestic use and military contract export.

It was not an original idea: Israel’s Galil rifle and what would become FN Herstal’s SCAR rifle system was also made available in different calibers.

The alternative choices were obvious: the 7.62 NATO and 7.62x39 calibers are virtually the only other two rifle calibers that can be found anywhere in the world. The pre-revolution LADA rifle project was dusted off, re-evaluated and became ultimately became the CZ S805.

The Bren 805S wa made in two different receiver variants. 

The Model A was ultimately manufactured capable of firing the 5.56 NATO, the 7.62x39 and the 6.8 Remington SPC cartridges. The latter being the least popular, but most modern and utilized by several branches of special forces among the western allies. 

The Model B was designed to accept 7.62x51 (NATO) and even a research program for developing a .300 Winchester Magnum variant.

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Commercially speaking, the Bren 805 is the 5.56NATO chambered version and is available in either pistol, carbine or rifle form.

More on that in a moment. The 806, or Bren 2 is available in both pistol and carbine form, chambered in 7.62x39.

While the Czechs know how to make a magazine with the proper curve to feed properly (the curve never works in an AR platform), they did not, nor did they with the VZ58, use an AK magazine.

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This begs logistical problems were there ever a conventional World War III in Europe, but also annoys American shooters to no end, having to get new mags for their new toy.

Other than that, the 806 is similar to the 805. The Bren BR is the new .308/7.62x51 rifle platform, offering a new platform in that full sized caliber.

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While the 806 and BR models incorporate moderate upgrades in their ergonomics, all the rifles and pistol variants are ambidextrous friendly - safety levers on both sides, a centrally located mag catch (806) or a button release on both sides and a charging handle that can be mounted on either side - although the ejection port remains on the right-hand side of the receiver.

The pistols are capable of having braces installed for use in jurisdictions that do not prohibit them and currently are the closest many of us are ever going to get to playing with a short barreled rifle (SBR).  

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All the firearms are equipped with numerous sling mounting options as well as a full length top rail with iron sights mounted on both ends.

The forearms have slots for M-Lok rails to be mounted for additional accessories such as lights, lasers or vertical grips (not to be mounted on the pistol variant without special permission from the Federal and local authorities).

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CZ has had a long and remarkable history of firearms innovation, made no less so by almost fifty years in a socio-economic state that rarely rewarded individual innovation. The Bren rifle system is an example of national pride coupled with an insightful observation of seeing what works and does not, with a careful selection of the former, in the needs of a military/police service rifle.

Check out Sootch00’s review of CZ 805 Bren S1 carbine too:

Hopefully, this CZ 805 Bren S1 Carbine review will help you in your decision. If you want a review for any gun, feel free to leave a comment below!

Photography credits

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