Pakistan May be Adopting a CZ Bren Variant

There is much more certainty expressed about this in the gun press in the USA than in the Pakistani or Czech media, but it looks like Pakistan may have reached an understanding with CZ-UB for a next generation military rifle.

The Paki competition has been no secret, nor has their desire (1) to make the gun locally and (2) to be free to export it. Some manufacturers have hung up on the first condition, but the second has been more problematical: who wants to compete with his own design, manufactured by well-educated and skilled, but much less expensive, Pakistani labor? In addition, Pakistan, burned before by on-again, off-again American sanctions, doesn’t trust American suppliers. Still, there have been a number of entries (alphabetically by manufacturer):

  1. Beretta ARX-200 — Beretta is hungry for a high-profile sale of its decent rifle, which has not been able to break out of the pack on the international market.  This was always considered a longshot entrant.

  2. CZ-806 Bren2 — CZ-UB has also provided a previously unseen variant, the CZ 807 in 7.62 x 39 mm, for the Type 56-2 part of the contract, and is offering the 806 in 5.56 plus a variant in 7.62 NATO with 14″ or 16″ barrel. CZ’s production costs are low enough to make the Bren very competitive. 

  3. FN-SCAR-H  — adopting this rifle would be popular with the troops, but there may be cost issues. US SOF have used it  for some years and opinions are split. FN could really use a major sale of this excellent weapon. The NATO 7.62 caliber is widely used by today’s Pakistan Army and this could directly replace the elderly G3s, whose design dates to the early 1950s (although HK roller-lock guns are still in production by POF).

  4. Kalashnikov AK-103 — Kalashnikov Concern too could use a high-profile export sale, but having been burned in the past by global copying of Soviet-era Kalashnikov weapons without bourgeois capitalist royalties, they’re reluctant to bless a lower-cost producer to export their designs. (It may come down to royalty rates — and the degree to which the famously trusting Russians trust the famously upright Pakistanis). Another plus would be that most extant accessories like magazines and pouches work fine with the updated AK. The 7.62 x 39 Bren, on the other hand, requires a new, proprietary polymer magazine (although it should fit fine in most AK mag pouches).

  5.  Zastava M21 — The Croatian bullpup, another longshot, was eliminated early, but expect the Croats to keep showing up at competitions, and tweaking their firearm based on feedback. They also submitted a conventional layout carbine in 7.62 NATO, based on the former Yugoslav M76 sniper rifle (for which they did produce 7.62 versions for export, even though the native gun was in 7.92 x 57 mm).

POF and CZ-UB have, according to Pakistani and Czech media, reached a memorandum of understanding about co-production and ultimately Pakistani production of the CZ-UB design, which has been interpreted as a signal of a CZ win in the competition, but might not be that at all, but an earlier milestone — i.e., a co-production agreement if CZ wins.

The Nature of the Competition is Unclear

While the Pakistan Army wants to replace both its G3s and its Chinese Type 56-2 AKs, what isn’t clear is whether this is one competition for one rifle, or two competitions for two rifles, in two calibers. Both of the current rifles have their fans in the South Asian nation’s forces, the AK for its compactness and doglike reliability, and the G3 for its range and ability to digest less-than-perfect ammunition. But the last matters less as POF ammo QC has improved, and the Pakistan Army is professional enough to train with whatever it gets from its lords and betters, rifle-wise.

Some sources have already reported that the CZ 807 in 7.62 x 39 has won the nod to replace the AK, and that this gives the CZ 806 in 5.56 or the future 7.62 x 51 variant the inside track to  replace the G3.

Having weapons chambered or both NATO and former ComBloc calibers has logistic consequences, but given that Pakistan can produce indigenous weapons and ammo in both calibers, it also has operational benefits. For example, Pakistani troops can interoperate with any conceivable ally (and they often do, as UN peacekeepers) without fretting about ammo supply.

The Threat Pakistan’s Generals See

While Pakistan has been engaged in bitter antiterrorist operations (and Pakistani politics is sufficiently complex that sometimes Pakistani officials find themselves on both sides of a fight), the Army’s focus is and has been since inception on war with India. Pakistan has fought major wars with India in 1947, 1965, and 1971, and limited wars in 1985 and 1999. Pakistan has also made an ally of China, with India allying with Russia, but Pakistani generals now fear a two-front war in the case of Chinese-Indian rapprochement, something made possible by Russian weakness and US abdication in the region. Thus, Pakistan weapons procurement is driven largely by the need to match India and exploit asymmetries to offset India’s demographic and economic superiority. The Pakistani service also knows its forces have come a long way since the US invaded Afghanistan next door, and would like to see their equipment improved to match — hence the timing of this planned move up from 1940s and 50s weapons designs.

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32 thoughts on “Pakistan May be Adopting a CZ Bren Variant

  1. John M.

    “Pakistan has also made an ally of China, with India allying with Russia, but Pakistani generals now fear a two-front war in the case of Chinese-Indian rapprochement, something made possible by Russian weakness and US abdication in the region.”

    That’s very interesting. Chinese governmental and business relationships–and let’s be real, in China, the government and business never get very far from one another–go very, very deep into Pakistan. China has been paying oodles to improve Pakistani infrastructure, including upgrading the Karakoram Highway, which is a significant trade link from central Pakistan all the way to Kashgar in Western China. China is also studying a rail link along more-or-less the same alignment as the KKH.

    China has invested beaucoup bucks in getting the deep-water port in Gwadar up and running. China wants to link up to Gulf oil in Gwadar and get it overland to China, instead of shipping it way, way around the horn to Shanghai.

    In most cases, AFAIK, China imports the labor to do these projects, which causes no end of resentment on the Pakistani side, not least because Pakistanis want those jobs. Combined with the usual volatility of two insular and xenophobic population groups coming in contact with each other, things get messy and sometimes bloody.

    Anyway, I’m sure all of this looked great when China was friendly to Pakistan, but I can see that having a hostile China with a hostile India would make Pakistan’s generals pretty nervous. They’ve never really been ready for a Clausewitzian war with India, which is why they’ve pursued asymmetric jihad and supported various “friendly” factions in Afghanistan so the Pakistani state apparatus would have somewhere to decamp to if India ever decided to just sweep across the plain and scoop up Islamabad.

    My advice to China would be, with apologies to Yoda, “do or do not, there is no try.” Either just up and conquer Pakistan or stay friends with them. Pakistan has had almost 70 years of practice creating festering sores in the side of its chief enemy. They could create all kinds of trouble in China by backing separatist groups. I don’t doubt that China would handle this differently (harsher) than India, but I don’t think the Communist Party really WANTS to exterminate every Uighur and Tibetan.

    IMHO the Kashmir conflict was totally mismanaged by the UN over the last couple of generations. There’s an excellent argument to be made that if Kashmir had been resolved in, say, 1960, there wouldn’t have been a Taliban and there wouldn’t have been a 9/11. That conflict has led Pakistan into all sorts of antisocial behavior whose consequences we’re still living with. It certainly has never gotten half the amount of attention that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has gotten, and IMHO it’s a lot more amenable to some sort of resolution.

    -John M.

    1. Steve M.

      China’s efforts at befriending other countries seem to fall short and leave them feeling used. Most governments are willing to except the Chinese investment, but the people seem to become quite agitated as the Chinese take the work for themselves and mistreat the land and people of the host nation.

      1. John M.

        Yeah, the Gwadar port action left the local Balochis out in the cold. What Pakistanis were brought in on the action were mostly Punjabis, for the added bonus of intra-Pakistan tensions to go with the international tensions. “Internal colonialism” is, I think, the watchword for that.

        -John M.

    2. Kamal Singh

      That is a strange argument – “if the kashmir issue had been resolved, then there would be no Taliban”. The Taliban was the result of the anti -Soviet mujh fighting themselves to control Afghanistan. In fact if no Soviet had not invaded Afghanistan, Pakistani delusions of being able to beat India asymmetrically would not happened.

      Also I don’t where Hognose is getting the idea that a rapprochement is possible between India and China. Zero chance of that as long as the border issues remain unresolved.

      1. Hognose Post author

        Hi Kamal, thanks for reading and commenting. I’m not at all sure that China and India will mend fences, but influential Pakistanis are thinking about it and envisioning how Pak would fight a two-front war; there’s a lot of talk about the two-front war in Pak military circles, and it doesn’t always mean fighting India and Afghanistan. Paranoia has defined Pakistan policymaking since Jinnah, hasn’t it?

        Pakistani policy has been the source of a lot of US trouble in Afghanistan, in part because it’s a two-faced policy (either deliberately or because different agencies have different policies), and in part because it’s Pak policy too keep Afghanistan divided and too weak to pursue the Afghan claim for all Pushtunistan (including several of Pak’s frontier provinces). The Afghans have plenty of innate drive to factionalism and crabs-in-a-bucket behavior and ISI does what it can to keep the crabs from letting any of their number climb to the rim.

        The internal division is something else. Especially since Zia started feeding the islamist monster, some Pakistanis fight against the extremists — Pakistan has lost a lot more lives fighting them since 2001 than India and the US put together — and some Pakistanis, including people in the military and secret service, support the extremists. And Zia encouraged extremism in the officer corps itself, which is the institution that, trappings of parliamentary republic notwithstanding, runs the country.

        1. Kamal Singh

          Afghanistan was the only nation to oppose Pakistan, when it applied for membership to the UN in 1947 because they do no accept the Durand Line, while Pakistan has always looked at the Afghanistan as “strategic depth” in case Indian armed forces cross into Pakistan. We do know that Gen Zia was already funding the likes of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, even before the Soviets crossed over, so as to keep Afghanistan unsettled.
          But Chinese are funding the CPEC, to get access to the Gulf. Earlier it was the US which was funding the Pakistanis, now its the Chinese! Its funny how China has North Korea on side and Pakistan on the other. I am sure the Paksitani military would love to present the canard of a two front war vis-a-vis China and India, to the gullible US State Dept so as to get high tech weapons and funds. I would recommend reading Christine Fair!
          This assertion of how Pakistan is a victim of terror and has lost many more to it is funny because Pakistan was forced to fight because of the US pressure, otherwise they were very happy funding as well as training the Jihadis and pointing them towards India and the “depraved” West. I believe, Musharaf’s ham handed dealing with the Lal Masjid crowd pushed the Pakistani Taliban to go against it. That and the fact it was helping the US in Afghanistan.

          1. Kamal Singh

            My apologies that my comment showed up as a large single paragraph. Messed it up while submitting it in. My apologies again, if it is hard to read.

      2. John M.


        Counter-factuals are counter-factual, and there are, no doubt, a million scenarios that would’ve prevented 9/11, not least of them being German/Japanese victory in WWII.

        It is interesting to note, however, that the Taliban as such didn’t exist when the Soviets withdrew. The Taliban drew members from many Pashtun ex-(Soviet) muj factions, plus the Arab Afghans like UBL, but didn’t exist until the early 1990s and didn’t hold significant ground until they took Kandahar in 1994. They were absent from the muj forces that took Kabul and deposed Najibullah in 1992 because they essentially didn’t exist. Pakistan had plenty of muj factions to support before the Taliban, but they really struck gold with the Taliban, largely due to the latter’s ability to be militarily successful where prior factions mostly just fought each other to various stalemates.

        A strong Afghanistan has always been against Pakistan’s interests, and before that, against British interests, as you well note. Not least because of the Durand line and the Pashtunistan concept.

        I find this statement interesting: “In fact if no Soviet had not invaded Afghanistan, Pakistani delusions of being able to beat India asymmetrically would not happened.” Can you explain more?

        -John M.

        1. Kamal Singh


          If you read statements made by Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Lashkar -e-Tayyaba, Pakistani ISI’s favorite terrorist group and Salahuddin, head of Hizbul Mujahiddeen, as well as head of an “alliance” of Kashmiri terrorist organisations, the United Jihad Council, this idea keeps coming up – hey we beat a Super power in Afghanistan, what is pipsqueak India.

          Anyway, the training camps used to train the Muj and the Taliban were also utilized first to train the Khalistani terrorists and then the LeT as well Hizb terrorists aimed at Kashmir. The terror factories were up and running, thanks to the CIA and Saudis. The ISI used the same playbook for Kashmir.

          Also, if the reports are correct, the initial success of the Taliban were due to a number of retired or on loan soldiers/officers from Pakistan’s Special Ops Unit, SSG, trained by the American SF. Apparently, when the Muj finally broke through Najibullah’s rag tag army, arty support was provided by the Pakistani Army. Hamid Gul, later chief of ISI was supposed to be on ground with the Muj.

          Afghan Taliban was created by Hamid Gul with the blessing of the then Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto. Ironical, that she died at the hands of the Pakistani Taliban!

          1. Hognose Post author

            Worst error we (US) ever made was running the Afghan resistance to USSR as a liaison job, through ISI. Many years ago I corresponded with Gen. Gul. He is an Islamist through and through, and one of the reasons the US funds and weapons went to Hekmatyar (who scarcely engaged the Soviets) and Haqqani (who did fight), and next to nothing to NIFA and the Jamiat who carried the fight in Kandahar and the Panjshir respectively.

          2. John M.


            It’s not clear to me why the decision was made to offshore the running of that operation to ISI, and maybe there were a bunch of really worse options there, but in hindsight that decision sure looks like it should be filed under, “Blunders, greatest strategic of the US in the 20th century”.

            -John M.

      3. John M.


        Let me try to make my thesis a little clearer.

        I agree that the Soviets not invading Afghanistan would have prevented the rise of the Taliban, and possibly 9/11 also. But I don’t see how the UN/international community could have prevented it or rolled it back once it happened. The USSR’s veto in the UN Security Council would have prevented a Korea-style UN action.

        Given a Soviet invasion, an Afghan king of the temperament of, say, Ahmed Shah Durrani or Abdur Rahman Khan, then he could have led a semi-unified resistance against the Soviets and restored something like order to Afghanistan following their withdrawal. But I don’t see how the UN/international community could have inspired Ahmad Zahir Shah to that level of feck. If he’d been that courageous and effective, he would have put Daoud’s head on a stick instead of leaving that to the commies.

        What the UN/international community could have done is worked to bring about a real resolution to Kashmir instead of mostly ignoring it. My personal opinion is that Kashmir is a more resolvable conflict than the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and if it had gotten half the attention from the world that Israel/Palestine has gotten, it would probably be fixed by now.

        Now, astute observers will note that both Israel/Palestine and Kashmir are in largely the same state today (general detente, occasional violence, much unpleasantness all around, no resolution in sight), so perhaps international attention wouldn’t have benefitted Kashmir at all. I’m open to that possibility. But as a born critic, I love a good counter-factual.

        -John M.

  2. John M.

    “US SOF have used it for some years and opinions are split. FN could really use a major sale of this excellent weapon.”

    What are opinions split about if it’s an excellent weapon? Or are you personally on the “excellent” side of the split?


    1. Seans

      I was issued a couple MK17s and 20s in my career. And even got to do some testing of the non reciprocating charging handle upgrades. And can say I’m not a fan. And the majority of the guys I worked with are not a fan for a variety of reasons. Especially the 20s. The Scars don’t do anything better than ARs do other than fold the stock. And a lot of things worse.
      It’s suppose to be ambi. But they just made the gun suck for both lefty and righty shooters. Right handed shooters can finally feel the pain of lefties by having a magazine release that when the gun comes to the body is perfectly exposed for hitting your mags or plates and dropping mags without you realizing it. They designed the safety on the right hand side to be shorter to accommodate right handed shooters grip better. But at the expense of being just short enough for a lefty to feel it with his thumb but have to break his grip to use it unless he has huge hands. So still got to use the old knuckle to flip the safety.
      The MK17s come with three barrels in their case. Which is great until you realize unlike switching the upper on my M4. I got to change the barrel, then change optic and go confirm laser and optic now. So can’t just roll around on LTATV or ATV with a spare upper to go from village clearance to open area with ease. Don’t feel it’s necessary to go into beating a dead horse on the charging handle.
      The thing about the MK17s is they replaced the MK14s which isn’t really setting that high a bar. They are not used by the guys who have the 417s for a reason.

    2. DSM

      I’ve wondered about it too. Years back I saw a bunch of folks from one of the Ranger battalions all carrying SCARs but not really anything since. My guess that was just a test evaluation or something. They always seemed bulkier compared to the M4s too.

      The SCAR was always priced outside of my comfort zone and at face value carrying barrels & bolts compared to an entire upper seems like a winner. A barrel is cheaper than another upper, it’s smaller and lighter. Like Sean relates below you’ve just destroyed whatever zero you had on all your gear as the trade-off. I did get into the Robinson XCR for a while, it’s a good enough rifle but it suffers the same problem. Its ambi controls are the best in my humble opinion, the ACR pretty much copied them.

      Crane had it right in the early days of the SOPMOD kits in adding the different receivers that eventually became the Mk18 and Mk12 in their own right. They would have better served the units because they wouldn’t be fighting the nomenclature, stock and serial number wars with the custodial guardians of equipment inventory lists. Those uppers would be ancillary equipment requested by unit commanders who had a use for it. The same thing could’ve been done on the M110 side with the M110K upper the Marines spec’d.

      1. Hognose Post author

        The Rangers had the Mk16 (5.56 version) and the version I heard was that their sergeant major asked them to see if they could break them, because he was determined not to change from the M4. It should surprise no one that the Rangers found ways to break the SCAR.

        Back to the Pak bid, the guys in Pakistan’s gun culture would like to see the SCAR-17 win the G3 replacement bid, but there are advantages to going with a NATO caliber CZ Bren, especially on the training side.

        1. DSM

          Definitely in a transferable manual of arms and maintenance. I’d see the advantages on the logistics side as well as some parts commonality between the 7.62×39 and 7.62 NATO models.

    1. Sommerbiwak

      IIRC at first the CZ805 rifle had been planned to be made from plastic. That was changed along the way to an aluminium receiver, but they kept the dimensions of the plastic making it needlessly heavy. In the current iteration they have thinned the receiver and shaved off excess material.

  3. S

    No guns for muslims. If they’re so smart and their allah so akbar, let them develop their own. It’d be nice for that rabble to lift their own bootstraps for a change, instead of mooching and stealing. I’d bet they’ve never invented anything, and anything their slaves developed was despite the islamic backwardness, not because of it. Look it up in the library in Alexandria….

  4. Kirk

    The Zastava M21 is not the Croatian bulpup, but instead the Serbian update to the venerable M70.

  5. Kirk

    The Croatian rifle is the HS Produkt VHS. And, given the antipathy between the Muslims and the Serbs/Croatians…? I’m actually surprised to see either of them even bidding.

  6. Steve M.

    Trivial reply warning! I just adopted a CZ 452 Trainer in .22 rimfire. It’s quite a fantastic little rifle, but world’s apart from the Brens being discussed. CZ has always impressed me. I hope they do well and see more wide spread adoption. I wish it was somebody other than Pakistan, though.

    1. Hognose Post author

      The CZ .22s are great little bolt guns. I got one as bycatch (it came with a CZ pistol as a bonus, seriously) and have grown to love it. I just don’t like the stamped trigger guard.

  7. Max Popenker

    that whole affair is kinda funny, because sources whom I tend to believe told me that Czech guns miserably failed during the trials in questions

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