Shooting a Bren 100-Round Drum

A friend of mine went to a local machine gun shoot recently, and came back with some footage of a pair of Bren guns being fired with a 100-round drum magazine. These drums were designed for anti-aircraft use, and are quite rare today, so it was cool to see one actually in use. You can see a bunch of photos of the drum mount and the drum itself (including a photo of one disassembled) at my previous Bren drum post.


    • My preferred Section / squad gun. ? retired Senior NCO of Australian Infantry. Even in good nick, I hated the M60 GPMG as a section LMG. A right bastard to carry in scrub / jungle, thanks to the belt. (yes, losing the canvas belt container was VERY common). No barrel handle, too! The asbestos gloves were very easily lost, too. Asbestos????!!!! waht a great idea!!!

    • I think the main issue (other than obvious extension & catch mods) would be that you’d have to ensure that the rounds come out of the drum and into the box mag section with their rims in the correct order.

  1. While it might add some weight and bulk, the C drum would have been a nasty surprise for Axis soldiers waiting for the inevitable pause while the 30-round box was changed. in defensive positions, such as at Tobruk, it would have been devastating.

    Curiously enough, I was reading Vol. 1 of Chinn’s The Machine Gun this morning, and in the chapter on the 1901 Carr gun he noted that Howard Carr, its designer, designed the first practical and reliable “pan” magazine- which was sort of strange, because his gun was tested by the U.S. Navy and found to be deficient in several ares, notably headspace control and extraction.

    Carr’s machine gun didn’t get anywhere, but practically every “pan” or “drum” magazine since then has been based on his original design in most respects.



    • It’s true that the Bren’s anti-air pan magazine might have proved useful despite being unpopular, but the unpopularity was due in part to the pan’s awkwardness in loading (try loading a 100 round drum with only your fingers at your disposal) and that it was very heavy to carry for an individual. Supposing that I were in a Bren crew trying to swap pans, I would find it hard to man-handle the fully-loaded pan while keeping my head down so the MG-42 or even an old MG 08/15 (belt-fed, of course) down-range doesn’t behead me.

    • Only the Lewis gun (in an abridged form), the DP-28/DP-28M, and an experimental drum for the RPK-74 used Carr’s design (I might be forgetting a few) with the rounds arranged radially, nose in. The drums of the Thompson submachine guns and the 7.62×39 RPK used the design of the Accles Positive Feed drum used on the 1883 Gatling gun. The Suomi drum magazine, so famously copied by Georgi Shpagin for the PPSh41, was copied from the Artillery Luger’s drum magazine, which was itself derived from the one RM&M (later to become Rheinmetall) designed for use with the Mondragon when it was adopted by the German air service in WWI.

  2. This was maybe discussed at one point, but as I recall someone (Inglis Man. Canada?) was trying belt feed on Bren. Since this (pan type) concept obviously collides with standard sight it is hard to call it satisfactory. Without much generalizing I’d think that there is not much wrong with 30rds box magazine. It keeps practical ROF down.
    Czech Air force before WWII had in service flexible mounted machinegun, Vz.30 which was fed out of disk mag. That one was based on Lewis I believe.

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