A TOP GUN FOR CQB ENCOUNTERS AND SURVIVAL SITUATIONS
BY: NICK JACOBELLIS
If there was ever a category of firearms that can best be described by the expression, “Life is all
about trade-offs,” it has to be those designated as rifle caliber pistols, that are fitted with a Stabilizing
Brace.” I say this, because these particular firearms provide a capability that has traditionally been
provided by the SBR aka, the Short Barreled Rifle. This is an important point, because the SBR is a
semi automatic version of a more compact “short barreled” firearm, that can only be legally possessed
with an approved ATF Tax Stamp, or if it is the property of a government entity.
It should also be noted, that the main “mechanical” difference between a SBR and a AR style
pistol with Stabilizing Brace involves the type of device that is used to “shoulder” the firearm. In fact,
it is a violation of federal law to install a traditional rifle/submachine gun stock, on a firearm that is
designated as a pistol, until you possess an approved ATF Form 1. It is also a violation of federal law to
install a Forward Vertical Grip on the rail of a firearm that is legally designated as a pistol.
In this T&E review we will examine a rifle caliber AR style pistol, that I believe warrants Top
Gun status in a very specialized category of firearms. The fact that I have field tested several other
rifle caliber pistols, has enabled me to evaluate the CZ Bren 2MS from a more experienced perspective.
THE CZ BREN 2MS
The CZ Bren 2MS is a very innovative and modern design, that is an improvement over the
original Bren 805. Two of the most noticeable features of the Bren 2MS Pistol are its compact size and
its relative lightweight, especially for a gas piston operated firearm. The unloaded weight and barrel
length for different models in 5.56 NATO and 7.62×39, range from 5.4 to 5.8 pounds and 8 inches to 14
inches. The rather significant reduction in weight is made possible, because the CZ Bren 2MS is a built
from the ground up new and improved firearm, that is constructed with a redesigned aluminum receiver
and a lower receiver, that is made with carbon fiber reinforced polymer. Critical parts on the Bren 2MS
are also treated with a military grade black anodization process and a nitride finish.
Other features on the Bren M2S include, the use of a more traditional and very easy to operate
charging handle, that also serves as a Forward Assist. This particular feature replaces the reciprocating
charging handle that was used on the CZ 805. The Charging Handle/Forward Assist is also able to be
easily moved to either side of the upper receiver. An AR style bolt catch/release system is also
positioned on both sides of the firearm, as well as in the front portion of the trigger guard. The
magazine release and the safety are also ambidextrous and are situated in user friendly AR style
positions on the Bren M2S. The 5.56 NATO caliber version also uses standard AR magazines, is fitted
with a set of folding and adjustable (metal) Back Up Iron Sights and weighs 5.625 pounds with the
11.14 inch barrel, but without the Stabilizing Brace. The Bren 2MS is also fitted with ambidextrous
READY FOR FIELD USE
When you evaluate the reasons why it makes sense to own an AR Pistol, you need to examine
the limitations and the capabilities of these firearms. The fact that the Bren 2MS Pistol/Handgun that is
featured in this T&E review is fitted with an 11 inch barrel, makes this firearms ideally suited for use in
tight quarters and certain survival situations. As a result, the CZ Bren 2MS is compact enough to be
kept accessible while operating a motor vehicle, or an ATV. This firearm is also compact enough to be
transported concealed, in a non-traditional carrying case, such as in a full size backpack. Having this
capability can make it possible to be more heavily armed in a very discrete fashion.
Clearly, there is a lot to be said for carrying a relatively lightweight compact rifle caliber
firearm, that is easy to wield and get on target. I also know from experience, that EVERY ounce counts
when you carry a firearm in harm’s way and you also need to carry other essential items. If you doubt
this to be true, take the time to train with a variety of similar firearms, that are equipped in a similar
fashion, but weigh different amounts when loaded. Unless there is a major difference in the quality of
construction, or in the capabilities of the design, it makes no sense to carry a heavier firearm.
It is also interesting to note, that rifle caliber AR Pistols with an 11 inch barrel are still capable
of being effectively used to engage threats at CQB distances and beyond, in a similar fashion as a
longer barreled AR. While using heavier 77 grain ammunition can increase the effectiveness of a short
barreled AR, you should not feel “under-gunned” if all you possess is factory manufactured 55
grain .223 or 5.56 NATO caliber ammunition.
A TOP GUN OPTIC FOR A TOP GUN FIREARM
When it came time to field test the CZ Bren 2MS I decided to install a rugged lightweight red
dot optic on the rail of this firearm. The optic I chose to use was a Trijicon MRO with two different
mounts. These models included the Trijicon MRO with the 2.0 MOA Adjustable Red Dot and the Full
Cowitness (Factory) Mount and the MRO with the 2.0 MOA Adjustable Red Dot with a lower 1/3
Cowitness Scalarworks Mount.
The Trijicon MRO or Miniature Rifle Optic is a winner for more reasons than its very
competitive pricing. The Trijicon MRO is an incredibly rugged fully sealed compact design, made of
7075 aluminum that uses dry nitrogen to further protect the optic from the elements. The MRO
provides exceptionally fast target acquisition, ambidextrous brightness controls, very easy to adjust
brightness settings, multi coated lenses that provide superior light gathering capabilities with
tremendous clarity without distortion. While the red dot version has a five year battery life, the MRO
with the green dot is good to go for one year. Trijicon MROs are available with and without a factory
mount, which enables an end user to install a mount of their choosing.
The best way to describe the Trijicon MRO, is to say that this compact and lightweight red dot
has very user friendly operating controls and a five star field of view. While I generally prefer a well
made throw mount to secure an optic in place, the Trijicon factory mounting system gets the job done.
The Scalarworks Mount is also an excellent alternative to the factory mount. I like this optic so much, I
decided to transition to using Trijicon MROs on some of my rifles. I plan to begin making this
transition, by installing the Trijicon MRO with the factory mount on my Colt LE 6940 AR15.
SB TACTICAL STABILIZING BRACES
SB Tactical is a company that embodies the meaning of the famous saying, “Necessity is the
mother of invention.” Once ATF loosened its official position on how Stabilizing Braces could be
used, new products were developed, that could be installed on firearms that were designated as a pistol
under federal law. SB Tactical is a leading producer of Stabilizing Braces in the U.S. and currently
manufactures a variety of models for every firearm designated as a “pistol.” Installing a SB Tactical
Brace on any firearm that is legally designated as a pistol, makes it possible to fire such a firearm from
your shoulder. While equipped with the SB Tactical Stabilizing Brace and the Trijicon MRO with the
factory mount, the Bren 2 Pistol was used to effectively engage targets at CQB distances and beyond
to 75 yards from a standing unsupported position.
When you compare various rifle caliber pistols to standard rifles/carbines with a 16 inch barrel
and the retractable stock fully collapsed, you will see that the overall difference in length isn’t all that
much. To prove this point, I compared the distance between the back of the receiver on the CZ Bren
2MS and the tip of the 11.14 inch barrel, to the distance between the back of the receiver on my Colt
LE 6940 to the end of this rifle’s 16.1 inch barrel. Due to the difference in the length of the two
receivers, the Colt AR15 with the 16.1 inch barrel was only 2.5 inches longer than the Bren 2MS with
the 11.14 inch barrel. Both the installation of the SB Tactical Stabilizing Brace on the Bren and the
presence of a fully retractable but collapsed stock on an AR15 rifle adds another 7 inches to the length
of both firearms.
For some applications, 2.5 inches is not enough of a difference to opt for the piston operated CZ
Bren 2MS Pistol. This changes when the weight of your firearm is a major consideration. I say
this because piston operated ARs with a 16 inch barrel weigh over 7 pounds and that includes the CZ
Bren 2M Carbine with a 16.5 inch barrel and a side folding stock at 7.3 pounds unloaded. Direct
Impingement (DI) operated AR15s generally weight from 6 to 6.8 pounds. This means, that being
armed with a Bren 2MS Pistol that weighs 5.6 pounds unloaded, can enable you to carry an additional
quantity of 223/5.56 caliber ammunition, before you reach the weight of a full size piston operated AR
rifle and various DI powered AR15s. You can reduce the operational weight of an AR style firearm like
the Bren 2MS even more, by using a 20 round magazine as your primary magazine. In my case, I
prefer 20 round Lancer mags. Again, every ounce counts. Life is also all about trade-offs.
IRON SIGHTS AND NO STABILIZING BRACE
During testing I also experimented with carrying and operating the Bren 2MS without the
benefit of the Trijicon MRO red dot or the SB Stabilizing Brace. Just as I suspected, the CZ Bren 2MS
was light enough and well balanced enough, to be accurately used to engage different size targets at
CQB distances and beyond. This included, engaging a humanoid law enforcement qualification target
at 25 yards, while leaning up against the side of a vehicle and engaging a smaller target at a distance
at 50 yards from the same position.
Even when I engaged a humanoid paper target at a distance of 25 feet, from a standing
unsupported position, while holding the Bren 2MS up to eye level and using CZs excellent set of flip
up iron sights, I was able to deliver hits 100% of the time. That said, when using the Bren 2MS as a
Personal Defense Weapons/survival firearm, I would operate this legally designated pistol with the
super compact and lightweight Trijicon MRO Red Dot. Doing so, will make it even easier to deliver
precision shot placement.
My buddy Rick B. also accurately engaged different size targets at different distances, while
firing the CZ Bren 2MS Pistol from a standing supported position, while leaning across the hood of his
SUV. Since the Bren 2MS is legally defined as a pistol, Rick also fired this firearm from a standing
unsupported position, while using a one and a two hand hold. Not surprisingly, the Bren 2MS Pistol
delivered accurate shot placement every time this firearm was fired.
During all forms of testing, the CZ Bren 2 Pistol proved to be flawlessly reliable and extremely
accurate, while using 55 grain Hornady 5.56 NATO M193 ammunition with Magpul PMAGS and
Lancer Magazines. To make the CZ Bren 2 Pistol easy to carry in the field, I added a Milspec Tactical
FDE colored two point nylon sling to this firearm.
As for firing outdoors, the CZ Bren 2MS was by no means obnoxious to shoot while wearing
nothing more than a pair of low tech sponge hearing protection. However, since a Forward Vertical
Grip cannot be installed on a firearm that is legally designated as a pistol, I recommend wearing a
pair of tactical gloves during extended shooting sessions. This is advisable to protect bare hands from
the heat that emanates from the front portion of the upper receiver.
The CZ Bren 2M Pistol (with or without a Stabilizing Brace attached, or as a registered SBR) is
a soft shooting, flawlessly reliable, dead nuts accurate, special purpose premium brand firearm, that is
absolutely worth including in your battery of personal defense weapons.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nick Jacobellis is a Medically Retired U.S. Customs Agent and a former NY police officer who was physically disabled in the line of duty while working undercover as a federal agent. To date, the author has published over 210 magazine articles and ten action-packed nonfiction, historical fiction, and fiction books: Controlled Delivery Books One and Two, The Frontline Fugitives Books I, II, III, and IV, Buck Banderas U.S. Marshal Books One and Two and A Special Kind of Hero. These books have received 5 Star reviews and are available on Amazon.com (US), and (UK). The K9 Academy is the author’s 10th book. The author was born and raised in Flatbush section of Brooklyn N.Y. and has an BS Degree in Police Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.