“It Ain’t Ever Gonna Happen Again”: Larry Vickers On The Bren Ten

2015-06-22 21_53_40-Bren 10 - YouTube

The Bren Ten was intended to be the ultimate handgun. A double-stack design with modern safety features and firing a powerful 10mm/.40 cal round, the Bren Ten was possibly the most hyped firearm of the pre-Internet era. Larry Vickers discusses and shoots it in the below video:

However, the gun didn’t deliver on its promises, and while the 10mm Auto round it introduced lives on in guns like the Delta Elite and Glock 20, the Bren Ten itself has become a curio. However, its fans still maintain a vocal advocacy for the handgun, and attempts have been made to reintroduce the handgun to production. As of the date of this writing, however, all those attempts have failed or stagnated, leading to what some call the “Bren Ten Curse”.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • John

    Dude, please – for ultimate handgun, winner hands down is the Caracal.

    Wait . . .

    • Machinegunnertim

      Almost, it needs a couple more features.
      I carry the F model on duty and concealed in public every day. An outstanding design.

      I wish an American company could license the design and start producing it here.

  • C.

    Aren’t some of the SIG P220 models also chambered in 10mm?

    • sean

      new for 2015

      • sean

        But we are in the age of polymer ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • SP mclaughlin

          Wonder 10’s ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yes and it shoots well. I had the opportunity to shoot one during the SIG event at SHOT this past January.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Did the SIG reps ever say why they decided on the single stack P220 instead of the double stack P227 for the 10MM?

        • sea

          I don’t believe the P227 frame is strong enough compared to how tough they built that p220 10mm

  • Phil was in law enforcement during the 10mm hysteria of the 1980s and I have spoken with him about it. He has some pretty good insight over the rise and fall of its popularity in the hands of PDs nationwide (I hope he chimes in).

    • Kelly Jackson

      I mean social media’s expectation of law enforcement is to stop a bad guy with a single shot maybe someone should invent a semi auto .454

      • scrape

        There’s the .460 rowland.

    • The 10mm story started with the Miami shootout where the FBI agents were outgunned in a big way. Even the rounds that scored it didn’t stop the suspects. The blowback was intense and fast. The FBI started the search for a very powerful round to stop a Miami shootout from happening again. The FBI worked with S&W who came up with the 1076 in 10MM. This was a full size LARGE pistol. They started issuing these and immediately ran into problems with female agents attempting to use and control them. Even smaller stature male agents had problems.
      In 1989 I went to an in-service class put on by the FBI. He taught officer survival and just happened to be carrying a 1076. Long story short I got to put 200 rounds through his pistol using the only ammo available at the time which was the super hot Norma 10mm. It even exceeded SAAMI specs. I had no trouble shooting it well but my hands aren’t small and I had no problem with the recoil.
      Things got so bad they stopped issuing the 1076 and allowed agents to pick among several authorized guns. The FBI answer to this was to request a round that was almost as potent but allowed the gun size to be reduced. You got it the 40S&W was born and the FBI turned away from the 10mm.
      Companies began making revolvers and pistols for hunting and defense for civilians. Colt came out with the Delta Elite 10mm 1911 using the still over pressure Norma round which wore guns out pretty fast. Some Colt 1911’s suffered cracked slides. The Bren 10 was one of the guns created based on the CZ75. Jeff Cooper liked the Bren 10 and the 10mm round. This helped with it’s popularity as did the S&W hunting revolver in 10mm.
      This is how the 10mm came to be——–

      Thanks Alex

      • The full-power Norma rounds were never general issue for FBI agents carrying the 1076. The Bureau’s Firearms Training Unit had standardized upon the mid-velocity 10mm loads even before selecting the S&W 1076. The mechanical issues experienced with the 1076 were related to FTU-mandated changes to the pistol’s lockwork. By the time S&W finally debugged the revised design, the Bureau had soured on the concept and had moved on to issuing SIG-Sauer 9mm pistols.

        A common myth is that the Bureau dropped the 10mm for the .40 S&W. Actually, the FTU dismissed the .40 S&W for several years, even the 180gr loads that mimicked the performance of the mid-velocity 10mm. When the FTU finally approved a .40 load for personally-owned pistols, it was a mid-velocity 165gr load. The Bureau didn’t begin issuing .40 Glocks until 1997.

      • 3XLwolfshirt

        I’m curious as to why the FBI didn’t just mandate rifles in their vehicles? It seems to me that any AR platform would have been more effective/manageable for a Miami-type of situation than any handgun.

        • Bruce

          The FBI has always struck me as an investigative agency. Most feds use local law enforcement for warrant service. They probably have less need of a rifle than most sheriff departments. Unless you live in Larry Correia’s universe…

          • Phil Ward

            *googles*
            Cheers, I was looking for something new to read ๐Ÿ™‚

        • They are primarily investigators in unmarked rental cars.

        • n0truscotsman

          Or why they didn’t just let uniformed police (whether state or municipal) arrest the suspects?

  • KestrelBike

    “A hot and steamy round” haha.
    I have no interest in the bren10, but that was really a fantastic video from LV. The slow-mo, the sounds, plus LV never seems like he’s talking down to his audience, even when he’s talking about something in the negative.

  • sean

    I currently own four 10mm handguns but the Bren10 is the one I would rather have…damn you Don Johnson!!

  • BattleshipGrey

    Make one that goes up to 11.

  • MountainKelly

    It is a good looking weapon.

  • Fruitbat44

    Interesting little video. I do recall leaving through a gun magazine back in the day and seeing an advert for the Bren Ten, with a quote from Colonel Cooper, ” . . . the natural successor to the .45″ Which struck me as a bit like a quote from Hugh Hefner, ” . . . the natural successor to boobies.” ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ve read various bits and pieces about the Bren Ten. (Or is it compulsory to write “The Ill-fated Bren Ten?”) But I think Mr Vickers has a good point; it was a gun that missed its moment.

    Oh, and the Bren Ten: Special Forces Model, IMHO that’s a magnificent name for a pistol.

  • Sulaco

    The guns themselves were at the time they came out (at first) rather easy to get, the magazines however became an archeological dig in order to find oneโ€ฆ

  • SirOliverHumperdink

    Detonics was another hyped mystery gun. As was Seecamp. A deposit and a long wait to get them.

    • They were somewhat difficult to find when they caught on but that didn’t last long. I never had a great deal of trouble finding one. I owned an early blue first model as well as a Mark IV and a scoremaster.

  • Lance

    If you want a cool 10mm a Colt Delta Elite or a EAA Witness fill that gap.

    • Robert Griffith

      It seems to me that the EAA Witness in 10mm is everything that the Bren Ten was trying unsuccessfully to be; a reliable CZ-75 clone in 10mm Auto. The Witnes has the added advantage of 15+1 magazine capacity. I find that the all steel construction helps keep the recoil quite managable.

      • sean

        Just don’t shoot true norma loads or bear loads out of a EAA, best to stick with modern factory loads with a Witness.

        • Robert Griffith

          I’ve never felt the need to do otherwise. If you truly need more power than what the factory 10mm loads offer then it’s time to transition to a rifle.

          • sean

            If you don’t want true 10mm ammo then why not just buy a .40!?

          • Robert Griffith

            I guess I’m just not that much of a purist.

          • Robert Griffith

            Sean,

            Please educate me as to what Iโ€™m missing out on. What is the
            difference between the โ€œtrueโ€ 10mm rounds you speak of and what is available from the commercial makers in 10mm?

          • Matt

            Most 10mm ammo is underloaded and exhibits performance almost identical to its .40 counterpart. For example, in 10mm a Federal Hydroshok 180-grain round has a muzzle velocity of 1030 fps. That same 180-grain round fired from a .40 handgun has a muzzle velocity of 1000 fps. The 10mm cartridge is only advantageous when loaded to its original, full-power specs. If you’re only going to use under-powered 10mm rounds you’re better off just getting a .40 pistol.

          • Robert Griffith

            So what are the specs on the full powered 10mm ammo and where does one find such ammo for sale?

          • sean

            Jeff Cooper wanted a 200gr projectile going at least 1,200fps. Double tap does 1,300fps. There are also loads from buffalo bore and underwood. SO…if you want .40 short&wimpy ballistics go with eaa…if you want a 10mm, buy a real gun

          • Robert Griffith

            What “real” gun should I buy?

          • Robert Griffith

            Sean,

            I am genuinely curious to know what gun you think is a โ€œrealโ€
            10mm as opposed to my piece of crap poser Witness which according to you is not a โ€œtrueโ€ 10mm.

          • sean

            Glock 20 being probably one of the best 10mm out there and it loves Double taps 200gr hardcast. If i’m in bear country the G20 is on my hip. Also my Fusion 6″ eats up true 10mm loads without any issues…heck…even my kimber loves the hot double taps.

          • Robert Griffith

            Sean,

            Weโ€™re going to have to agree to disagree. My first 10mm was
            the Glock and it was a jam-o-matic that gave me nothing but trouble and would rarely fire more than 3 rounds in a row before jamming. I spent more on new magazines and gun-smithing trying to solve the problem than on the gun itself. Eventually I gave up in frustration and sold it and then bought my Witness, which has performed flawlessly for me since that time. It has digested every type of ammo I have fed it, including the Buffalo Bore rounds that you like. I would shoot the Buffalo Bore more often but it is simply too expensive for my budget. I shoot the Federal and Remington at the range and use the Hornady XTP as my EDC round. I am seriously considering getting the RIA 10mm because I like the 1911 platform. It was the first semi-auto pistol I ever received formal training with.

        • John Yossarian

          Wollf makes recoil springs up to 22 lb. But even the most powerful 10mm loads shouldn’t need more than 20 lbs of absorption.

          As regards the “Made in Italy” magazines, they only fit 14 rounds. However, I’ve found it’s more like a 13+1, since that final round requires an open slide to lock-in, e.g. Spares can hold 14.

          • Robert Griffith

            I have an older model Witness with Mec-Gar mags that hold 15 rounds without a problem.

          • John Yossarian

            I’ve heard that Mec-Gar used to make 15-round mags in 10mm, but I don’t think they do anymore. Their web store doesn’t even list a 10mm mag anymore, and the .40 S&W mags only hold 14 rounds.

            I’m guessing that the change probably occurred with Tanfoglio’s pistols, rather than with the magazines – Oh well, I’d still rather have the newer pistols.

      • Phillip Cooper

        Yup, I love mine!

    • 3XLwolfshirt

      Rock Island makes a 10mm if you want one at half the price of a Colt.

      • Robert Griffith

        3XLwolfshirt,
        Thank you. To the best of my knowledge RIA, Glock, and EAA are the only companies making 10mm right now. I was waiting for Sean to explain to me which one of those guns is a real gun capable of shooting true 10mm ammo because apparently the Witness is not a real gun that can shoot true 10mm.

  • Mystick

    I need that. It reminds me so of the longslide AMT I want.

    Incidentally, my money is on MRI/IMI/IWI(pick a name already!!!!). They are already pretty much(but not entirely) the market for semi-auto-revolver-cartridge-eating machines now that AMT’s out of the game. And the .50AE is just slightly smaller, length-wise.

    • 3XLwolfshirt

      I’m honestly surprised Magnum Research HASN’T made a DE in .454. It seems like something they would do.

      • Anomanom

        It would be problematic since the max chamber pressures for .454 are nearly twice the max for .50ae or .44mag. The barrel would probably be fine, but the gas system…

  • h311r47

    I’m glad someone ran with the Hellsing reference!

  • toms

    10mm is a great round. I just shot an MP10 a few weeks ago. Really sweet subgun cartridge. Much more pleasant than a 10″ AR and almost as powerful. It was rocking a steel plate as hard as an SBR with half the blast/recoil. One of the mags had some problems though and I guess they are hard to find these days. Somebody needs to chamber a 10mm subgun listen up SIG, CZ, BT, or zenith.

    • Sam Schifo

      Are you talking about the MP5/10 perhaps?

      • mig1nc

        I remember in the Clancy book Rainbow Six they called the MP5/10 the “MP10”. I never understood why.

      • toms

        Yes, I figured the reference would be intuitive.

  • Eurk Burkell

    Forget about polymer. Friends don’t let friends shoot plastic.

  • 3XLwolfshirt

    I’ve never noticed before, but Alucard must have some giant-ass hands if the distance between his fingertips and palm is that small on a .454 handgun.

  • politicallyincorrectshooter

    Bren 10 died. EAA Witness 10mm has been going for years.

    • El Duderino

      And EAA seems to have an endless supply of duckface models that we are to believe carry a 40oz+ double stack steel 10mm.

  • Y-man

    What you need is a 20 round vertical stack magazine (to keep grip size normal.)

  • El Duderino

    Methinks that slide doesn’t travel very far…always wondered what a handgun with a M2HB driving spring under the barrel would look like.

  • El Duderino

    Why do people say the Delta Elite saved the 10mm? The Glock 20 saved it! Without the G20, the 10mm would just be “that super hot, weird round from way back in the ’80s that tore up Colt 1911s and was the FBI service round for about 10 minutes.”

    I do a ton of gun store/pawn shop hopping and for every non-Glock 10mm I encounter I see 10 or more made by Gaston and the gang.

    • The FBI’s initial testing of the 10mm was performed with SA John Hall’s own Delta Elite. So without a test pistol, the FBI would have never considered the 10mm. Without the FBI adoption of the 10mm cartridge, no one else would have bothered to build a new 10mm pistol to cash in on the potential LE contracts.

  • Fegelein

    I’m surprised the Bren Ten didn’t catch on. I really can’t tell why — it’s like a firearm version of a muscle car for Pete’s sake!

    • mig1nc

      Larry explains in the video, but you are right. If it had been brought to market correctly, it would have been a success. IMHO anyway.

  • /k/ommando

    The Bren 10 was basically the Star Citizen of guns (except it was actually released)

    • mig1nc

      Hah! As a Star Citizen Kickstarter backer I can appreciate this.

  • petru sova

    Actually it was the ultimate piece of crap. It was made of castings and the workmanship was extremely poor. One specimen that I examined had a front sight that was so loose you could wiggle it back and forth. What a piece of crap. I would not have spent even half the money they were asking for it.
    The gun also had a weird push button safety as well.
    The guns heavy recoil did not lend itself to fast follow up shots either. I often wonder too that if this gun had stayed in production and been plentiful how long it would have lasted before it suffered from frame or slide crack from the brutal recoil it gave.
    The FBI for a short time used the 10mm caliber and soon gave up on it because of poor service life in the 1911 type pistol they were using and the inability of most people to shoot it accurately because of the recoil and muzzle blast.
    Even Jeff Cooper who was the original Cheer Leader of the project and weapon soon seemed to become disillusioned with the gun and the caliber and made statements that perhaps the .45 acp was still the defensive pistol caliber that all others were measured by.

  • WFDT

    Sonny Crockett carried one in “Miami Vice”.

    • Robert Griffith

      If I recall he traded it in for a S&W 845 .45 ACP after the first season.

      • WFDT

        I believe you’re right.

    • sean

      The first two seasons he used the Bren, then he used a S&W 645 for two seasons, and then one season with a S&W 4506…but he had a Detonics Combat Master for like four seasons

  • Rock or Something

    Bren 10, The DeLorean of firearms.

  • Anonymoose

    Nice peashooter, Alucard.

  • Harold

    10mm answers a ton of pistol calibers questions, just too bad you can’t find a decent platform for it.

    • Brian M

      Which questions does it answer? As a personal defense caliber, it is too bulky and powerful when compared to other highly effective defensive caliber. As a beast caliber, it is outmatched by true big bore calibers.

      • Harold

        It answers the meaning of life.

  • undeRGRound

    That is my “White Whale” right there ๐Ÿ˜€

    S&W FTW!