Bren 805: A Rifle for the Post-Communist Czech Army

With the Velvet Revolution and the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia, a new Czech Republic immediately looked to NATO membership. This would require rearming the Czech Army with a rifle in 5.56mm NATO. After some unsuccessful dabbling with the Lada/CZ2000 AK platform, CZ began to develop the Bren S805, a modern AR-18 derivative designed by Ladislav Findorak. This was tested against the FN SCAR in 2009, and adopted formally in 2010. A few shortcomings of the design became apparent as rifles became widely issued, and CZ instituted an upgrade program for a second generation 805. This would eventually lead to the Bren 2, but today’s video will focus on just the differences between the first and second generations of the original 805.

Thanks to CZ in Uhersky Brod for inviting me to take a look at these and other firearms in their reference library! Make sure to check them out on Facebook and Instagram!


  1. You know, a lot of people consider the AR-18/AR-180 to be a failure, but it seems to have been surprisingly influential

  2. Marketing, most likely. I have seen and handled one and only one AR180 in 60 years of visiting gunshops. That tells me that it was either a comparatively poor design, or lack of military acceptance limited it’s sales potential.

    • Overall sales numbers were low for the AR-18(0). The market was already taken by the M16/AR-15 in the USA (i guess majority of buyers want, what the army uses) and elsewhere was not much interest in a military style self loading rifle by civilians in the 1980ies. (often hindered by laws to buy such)

      OTOH nowadays a new military rifle design seems to be always based on a variation of the AR-18 mechanism. And quite succesful examples like the H&K G36. So a design success, but not a bigcommercial success. I would not call it a failure, as the AR-18 (and variations) have been sold for quite a long time, but always in the long shadow of the AR-15.

    • Whole point of AR-18 was to be simple to make and thus cheaper than AR-15, then as put it
      The AR-18 never saw any real success in the market. It turned out to be cheaper to buy M16s from the U.S. government or to rely on the widespread Soviet AK than to build the facilities to make your own AR-18s.
      I am not sure if it was possible for private firm at all to compete with
      which never needed refunding from the country that benefits any military assistance

  3. So….love the content avbout the 805…but I kept looking at that 452 Trainer on the wall. Mine doesn’t have that red writing…what is that all about? And since we are on the 457 now…is the 452 forgotten enough to be a Forgotten Weapon?

  4. That redundant bit of extra on the butt stock looks like it would allow them to easily install other types of butt stocks. It also looks like the gun would function with the stock removed, as long as that smaller peice were left in the gun?

  5. “(…)AR-18 derivative designed by Ladislav Findorak(…)”
    I assume “Ladislav Findorak” is corrupted form of “Ladislav Findorák” if this does not hold true, ignore this post entirely.
    Interesting movement (choice?) of Ladislav Findorák who to my understanding was earlier developing delayed blow-back/lever weapons as employee of Czech Weapons s.r.o
    He was able to secure at least 3 operation-related patents
    Uzamykací mechanizmus rucní palné zbrane
    Uzamykací mechanizmus ruční palné nebo velkorážové zbraně
    Uzamykací mechanizmus ruční palné zbraně
    So question arises why Ladislav Ing. Findorák decide (or by whom was prompted) to switch from (well known to him) delayed blow-back/lever operation to gas operation? Did he decided himself or was that done as using first one would trigger unwanted patent infringement? Or maybe customer just required gas-operation as it was supposed to replace vz. 58?

    • Mr. Findorak did not work on CZ805 rifle, in fact he had passed away couple of years prior to this design was commenced. He worked for Czech Weapons in Slavicin which still offers firearms based of his patents
      In my knowledge they did not achieve a significant commercial success.

      The CZ805 was conceived by engineering team under leadership of Mr. R.Haurland in CZUB. It was decided right at the outset, that the new rifle will be gas operated. Shortly before the H&K offered CZUB cooperation which would yield new generation of small arms for former East European countries, but CZUB declined the offer.

      Currently, most of research and development for the CZUB is conducted by another independent engineering company at south end of Prague. There is no connection between Czech Weapons sro. and CZUB in Uhersky Brod.

      • As Ian touched on previous CZUB design that being the CZ2000 family of small arms, it was upon the admission of Czech Republic into NATO in 1997, considered unsuitable for obvious visual similarity to AK74.

        This was rather unfortunate course of events because the CZ200 was in stage of being ready for serial production.

  6. Yes, the gas-operation was desired by the military, and so when CZUB commissioned Findorák to design the modular army rifle, they specifically ordered it gas-operated. Anyway, when he died in 2006, the rifle was still largely on paper with just some mockups build. It was Vítežslav Guryča, the designer of the .45 ACP CZ97B pistol, who finally put it into metal, and translated ideas into an actual design of the 805, then the 806 Bren 2 as well. I’m really amazed that they told you at CZUB about Findorak, and left Guryča out of the picture, because he is still very much alive and kicking – the recent CZ600 repeater series is his handwork as well. He is really a very talented guy.
    Actually, the rifle was designed to be double caliber 7,62×39 and 5,56×45, as the Czech Army had tons of old ammo from the Cold War, and the plans were to use 7.62 for training, while sending soldiers abroad (Sandbox and A-stan) with 556 variant. Both rounds fed from a proprietary plastic magazine, each using a different magazine well – hence the exchengeable magazine well of the 1st Gen lower, which was not even alluded to in the video – while it is a very interesting feature (compare both at the beginning – the shining point seen mid-lower on the 1st Gen is the pin, that secures the front exchangeable part of the lower with mag well. It is absent from the 2nd Gen). For the domestic 805 there were two mag wells for proprietary plastic mags in 556 and 762, while a separate export model, the 807 was fitted with magwells for the AKM style mag and STANAG magazine. These were dispensed with as of the 2nd Gen and instead there were two separate lowers with fixed mag wells.
    Then in 2nd Gen 805 the 7,62×39 model was deleted, as the Army decided the two rounds are too difficult to use in training for another. The other thing was that ISAF (or US for that matters) bought gazillions of Sa-58s and ammo for the Afghan police, and the old stocks were all but used. So the decision was made to leave only 556 mm and ditch the good ole’ M43 by the side. Still, there were two styles of mag well in 5.56 – for the plastic proprietory and the STANAG in the ‘Gen 2’. Later in the 806 series, there were no longer an exchangeable lower: the magazine well takes plastic prioprietary, but you may use the insert, which converts it for STANAGs. The 806 accidentally still had a variant in 762×39, but it is deemed an export only model.
    The reciprocating slotted charging handle of the early model was a nightmarish idea – the first time I fired the thing in 2010, it stripped the upper half of a nail from my thumb, rested vertically on the side of receiver just like I fired my ARs and AKs: some moron put the cocking handle in the MP44 style, on the left, and the other idiot (dear poor me) didn’t took enough time to reconnoiter and went on the autopilot. Guys, don’t. Anyway, the 806 non-reciprocating handle was VERY welcome.

    • Well the French GEndarmerie has bought the 806 in 7,62*39 mm for suppressed use and I guess CZUB management eyed using up old cold war stocks of M43 still around. Also with possible overseas in mind customers looking for something to supplement their old AKM rifles.

    • I did not know about Findorak’s initial involvement with a study which lead later to CZ805 rifle. Thanks for shared knowledge.

      I suppose you have had a good rapport with people in Czech Republic.

    • “was designed to be double caliber 7,62×39 and 5,56×45” claims that
      Caliber: 5.56×45 mm NATO, 7.62×39 M43 interchangeable; also 6.8×43 Rem SPC proposed in near future
      Other magazine housings allow the use of STANAG or HK G36 5.56mm magazines, as well as various 7.62×39 and 6.8×43 magazines.
      Was 6.8 mm option afterthought? Was prototype of such variant ever crafted? Are these unique 6.8 mm magazines or coming from existing weapon?

  7. Oh, and considering the ‘redundancy’ of the rear pin – no, it’s not. You may slide the buttstock out without taking out the back plate. What would you make it for – that’s another thing, but you can. The pin holds the back plate, not buttstock, there’s no redundancy there. So just to take stock – push in, slide out. But if you are field strippng, you leave the buttstock on, and take the pin out to get to the innards.

    • This leaves the option of different stocks (fixed with a cheek riser e.g.) for the 80* rifles, but keeping the same block. Well, you could just make a stock incorporating the receiver block that the stocks mount to. So it really is questionable if this really adds much instead of replacing the whole assembly of block and stock, when changing the stock out. But maybe ask Mister Guryča, why he did design it this way? Ther emust be a reason he did as he did.

  8. It feels a little bit sad to see the unique VZ58, with all its unusual features, being replaced by a gun that looks and works just like pretty much any SCAR, MSBS Radom, G36 etc etc.
    But that’s gripes from a guy who likes unusual gun designs, of course CZ did the right thing with the BREN 805.

    • The course to replace vz.58 with a more “modern” gun was determined by Czech ministry of defense, although there was an interim modernization which serves well before the entire fleet is converted to the new type.

      One major “weakness” (which was originally deemed to be strength) is that the vz.58 ejects almost straight up. That precludes mounting of any magnification type optic. The red dot sight with the unlimited eye relief is not a problem since it can be mounted way forward.

      It appears that CZUB reacted quickly and brought new rifle to a competitive level. It is poised to serve well to at least three armies in central Europe and to some other more distant customers. If there is a space for further improvements it could be in manufacturing technologies such as replacement of machined receiver with a cheaper extruded one.

    • “(…)being replaced by a gun that looks and works just like pretty much any SCAR, MSBS Radom, G36 etc etc.”
      What can I said? At least is not another AR-15 clone.

      “(…)little bit sad to see the unique VZ58, with all its unusual features(…)”
      Keep caml vz. 58 is not totally dead yet, now it lives as “Sporter Compact” carbine

  9. Mixed impression.
    On the one hand, quite competent engineering design is obvious.
    On the other hand, the author clearly lacked experience in both the design and use of service weapons.
    Attempts to “shove all the best at once” into one device have not yet led to anything good.
    For example, an attempt to combine a magwell and a slide stop into one block is completely incomprehensible.
    It would be much more rational to make one integral lower receiver for AK/Valmet/Galil magazines, and make the adapter for M16 magazines inserted into this receiver.
    And absolutely nonsense, this is the use of their “original” magazine

    • The original proprietary magazine was patterned after HK G36. You are free to read a ‘reason’ behind it.

      Not trying to be apologetic for CZUB approach, but it is obvious that the 2-part design solution is common to majority of assault rifles. Therefor you have the upper which houses action and lower receiver which contains mechanics. Nothing so exotic after all.

      True, the controls are a bit ‘busy’ but the intent is clear – to put all bells and whistles on it. Is it a fault? Again, let the customers decide what they do or do not want.

      • What are the “customers”?
        This is another (already what number?) SCAR.
        For the army, this is too expensive and lacy.
        The civilian market – not even funny. A carbine with a price from a machine gun will certainly find its demand among collectors, but no more.
        All sorts of special forces – of course, but not earlier than the M4s and SCARs run out in the world.

  10. Ian, do you know that the French GIGN is using the Bren2 in 7.62×39? This very unusual configuration (for a Western European army) was chosen as the 7.62×39 has limited overpenetration, and works well in close urban combat.

    • The French had primarily in mind that in an emergency 7.62×39 will in many remote places of the world be easier to obtain than 5.56 or .300BLK.

  11. The choice of cartridge M43 looks a little clear.
    It would be nice to ask Christian Prouteau about it.
    The explanation that “7.62×39 is needed to counter tough targets” sounds unconvincing.

    I think it’s again their stinginess.
    An attempt to get a magical cartridge in one bottle that would be suitable for piercing cars/walls/vests and for use with a silencer, and shooting underwater. 😉

    It’s hard to imagine a more idiotic choice…

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