French Counter-Terrorism group National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN) recently announced at SOFINS 2017 that it would be adopting CZ’s 806 Bren 2 in 7.62x39mm with a 9 inch barrel. So far 68 carbines have been ordered for the roughly 400 man counter-terrorist force, resulting from extensive testing of various platforms in 7.62x39mm since 2015. CZ was apparently a late comer to the testing and evaluation but appears to have come out on top amongst the others involved. Currently, GIGN is stipulating that the carbine must be modified to accept a suppressor and an accompanying gas system to assist with shooting subsonic ammunition reliably. In addition to the carbine CZ is also trying to push the P-10 for adoption as well, but this appears to be a no go at present.
From Shepard Media-
It has selected the Bren 2 assault rifle from Czech company CZ. The company told Shephard at the SOFINS exhibition that the GIGN has selected the 7.62 x 39 mm version of the rifle and placed an initial order for 68 units earlier in 2017.
Additional procurements are slated to take place in the near future with the aim of replacing the majority of the H&K 416s currently in service.
The decision to adopt the Bren 2 was the result of a process that began in 2015 after the Paris attacks in January that year. Faced with terrorists equipped with bullet-proof vests, French gendarmerie and police intervention units found that 9 mm weapons had little efficiency in such situations and that 5.56 mm ammo lacked the necessary stopping power.
The CZ spokesperson said that the GIGN identified a need for a new weapon able to fire a heavier bullet. The 7.62 x 51 mm caliber had the suitable characteristics but the weapons for this caliber were considered too heavy and bulky for efficient close-quarter combat.
Thus, GIGN decided to evaluate assault rifles chambered in the 7.62 x 39 mm caliber instead and undertook trials throughout 2015 with a variety of weapons.
CZ’s offering was only proposed in the latter stages of the evaluation program. Throughout the better part of 2016, the rifle was intensively tested in a variety of situations and was found to be the most reliable and efficient weapon within the panel of rifles tried by the GIGN.
The choice of the 7.62x39mm round at first glance appears to be very surprising for any Military/LE entity to adopt in western Europe, and especially one with the status and importance as GIGN. The operational requirement for the cartridge was released in 2015 after the disastrous Bataclan theater attacks in Paris. Beginning with the after action reviews from that attack, a number of law enforcement agencies across Europe began seriously looking into more powerful calibers for their officers in order to counter body armor clad attackers. In addition, many of the attackers in these recent terrorist attacks are committed to dying during the course of the attack and thus could probably fight longer while being hit with 5.56x45mm NATO rounds.
My first assumption is that GIGN doesn’t actually want the 7.62x39mm round. My inkling is that the service actually wants the .300 BLK but is hesitant on being one of the first groups to take the plunge and commit to a cartridge that hasn’t seen extensive operational usage. Seeing that the CZ 806 is itself extremely modular, I assume if overall reception of the .300 BLK goes well in Europe, GIGN will simply purchase .300 BLK barrels to replace the 7.62x39mm ones.