I’ve literally been trying to find the right one of these for at least 10 years, probably longer. Its always been a bit of a grail gun for me and not because they were super high quality or even necessarily great shooters. Its because they look awesome and have “cool factor” like almost no other semi auto in history. It’s the rare original 10mm in one of its rarest forms, the super duper cool Bren Ten Special Forces Light.
The Bren Ten pistol was the brainchild of Thomas Dornaus and Michael Dixon. These two men were seeking out a new and more powerful semi auto cartridge to basically bridge the gap between automatic rounds and the generally much more powerful revolver rounds. Their idea was to develop this new pistol to accept high capacity magazines and fire a round with all the punch of a 357 Magnum revolver.
Dornaus and Dixon needed help and advice from an expert. In 1980, they sought the assistance of Jeff Cooper, who coincidentally had similar dreams of his own. The three men combined their efforts and ideas. Dornaus and Dixon provided the development, manufacturing, and marketing. Cooper gave them design criteria and advice from a technical standpoint. By mid 1981, the Dornaus and Dixon company was formed.
The pistol itself was adapted from a then fairly new Czechoslovakian pistol called the CZ 75. However, it was beefed up and given a stainless steel frame, since stainless was all the tactical rage at the time. The new pistol also had some features and styling traits all its own, making it look like nothing else on the market before or since. Jeff Cooper initially called the cartridge the 40 Special. His requirements of the round were to fire a 200 grain bullet traveling at a minimum of 1000FPS at 50 yards. After much trial and tribulation, the new round was given the overall length of the 45ACP and called the 10mm Auto. It was loaded by Norma. The new pistol was dubbed the Bren Ten.
Popularity of the gun spiked when Sonny Crockett wielded a hard chromed model in the iconic 1980’s TV show, Miami Vice. Unfortunately, things went downhill quickly from there. Dornaus and Dixon started taking orders in 1982, which was way premature given their level of development. This forced their hand at shipping the Bren Ten before it was fully tested. The biggest issue was the initial magazines, which proved unreliable. While Dornaus and Dixon frantically tried to get replacement magazines into the pipeline, the delay caused them to ship guns without a magazine to impatient customers looking for their pistols. When potential new customers started catching wind of the issues, orders really slowed down. To make matters worse, many existing customers began having durability related problems with certain small parts on their pistols. With little new sales income coming in and heavy expenses trying to fix existing pistols, it strangled the company. By 1986, Dornaus and Dixon went bankrupt with less than 1500 guns produced in total from 1983 to 1985.
The Standard Model (SM) had a 5” barrel and was the most common. Other full size models included the Bren Marksman, which was a special target model in 45ACP, the MP (Military/Police), which was a standard model with a blackened stainless frame, and the Dual Master, which was a standard model packaged with a 45ACP slide. There was also an expensive Jeff Cooper Commemorative model, which was very few and far between. A popular modification of the full size Bren Tens was to send the slide to a vender to get hard chromed, making it look like the Bren Tens featured in Miami Vice.
At the 1984 SHOT show, Dornaus and Dixon revealed a new line of compact models with a 4” barrel to the Bren Ten series. They were called Special Forces. This included two variants, the Special Forces Dark (SFD) and the considerably more rare Special Forces Light (SFL). The SFD consisted of the same blackened stainless frame on the full size MP model. This was coupled with the standard blued slide, giving the entire gun a “dark” and tactical appearance. When the Bren Ten Special Forces is pictured, this is the one you see 90% of the time. The SPL, on the other hand, kept the standard unfinished stainless on the frame, but added a hard chromed slide, giving the entire gun a “light” appearance. These were built on a much more limited basis and from what I gather, only 75 were produced. Given the infrequency in which they show up on Gunbroker, I can certainly believe that. How many still exist now 35 years later, I have no idea. Incidentally, this was the ONLY Bren Ten variant to ship from the factory with a chromed slide. As referenced above, all the full size “Miami Viced” models were aftermarket.
As for the Bren Ten in general, I never felt they were the highest quality pistols, due to lack of full development. The design was great for inherent accuracy, which is true for pretty much any pistol based on the CZ 75 and by all reports, the Bren Ten is a very capable pistol in that regard. The Bren also has several very unique features. These include a small set screw at the bottom of the right grip panel that can be turned a set amount to enable the magazine to either drop free or drop about a half inch to be pulled out manually. The full size models have a guide rod that can also double as an emergency screwdriver. The rifling was called “Power-seal”, which supposedly increased velocity due to improving bullet seal and reducing gas loss (sounds more like a gimmick to me, but cool nonetheless). The Bren also includes a cross bolt safety in addition to the thumb safety. Certainly not a feature well regarded today, but maybe it made more sense in 1982. It also included some other more common features such as a beveled magazine well, polished feed ramp, enlarged ejection port, etc. In summary, I feel the look and history of the Bren Ten make it one of the coolest pistols ever built. That’s my attraction to it. I’m not a huge fan of early stainless semi autos from the 1980’s. I’m not a fan of underdeveloped handguns. I’m not even a big fan of 10mm firearms in general. However, when it comes to this gun all that goes out the window.
As far as markings are concerned, the Bren Ten has several. The right side features “Made in USA”, along with “Pat.Pend” on the frame and the caliber and pistol name on the slide. One addition right side frame marking is a rather ridiculous note telling the owner where to get a manual, even though one comes with the gun. The left side of the frame features the serial number and Jeff Cooper’s Gunsite Raven. The slide again bears the name(s) of the gun. I guess all in all its not too bad, just a bit busy for my tastes. I prefer a cleaner looking pistol.
This example was built in 1984, hence the serial number. I’m fairly sure just about all the Special Forces are 1984 models, as that’s all I’ve ever seen. Its listed as unfired, which I also believe given the immaculate condition of the gun and bolt face. As you can see, its all here to include the original white cardboard box and manual. Its certainly a pristine specimen of a gun I’ve wanted for many years and certainly my most exciting purchase in quite some time strictly from a “cool factor” standpoint.
Herein lies the problem…my other Bren is also unfired. Due to the highly collectible nature of these pistols, they will remain as such. As bad as that may sound, I can’t bring myself to shoot them. However, my goal is to find a shooter for a reasonable amount in the future. Unfortunately, availability is going down and Bren prices are ever increasing.
Any Bren Ten owners here? Any Bren Ten fans here?
Thanks for reading. Please enjoy the pics.
Here is it with my 1983 Standard Model. Definitely a cool pair...
This message has been edited. Last edited by: bac1023,
|Go ahead punk, make my day|
|Still finding my way|
Congrats on acquiring such a cool pistol.
|Husband, Father, Aggie,|
all around good guy!
Very cool thanks for sharing.
|An investment in knowledge |
pays the best interest
You hit it out of the park with the SF model Brian! Looks more well balanced than the full-size model, that's for sure. Sonny C would be proud.
|Go ahead punk, make my day|
Oh what I would give for a case of 10MM and 30 minutes alone with them!
What a beautiful set! Thanks for sharing. If I mistype any words, it's because I'm drooling all over my keyboard.
|Sigforum K9 handler|
Yes, there are lots of Bren fans on the board. Most started out the same way I did. Watching Sonny Crockett triple tap some drug dealer on Friday nights. I wonder sometimes if Michael Mann knew the cult following that product placement would generate.
Maybe... you won’t even twitch....
"Make it a shooting, and not a gunfight" LSP552 02/19/2011
Really cool. Will you shoot it ??
jljones - Love the quote (I remember it from the originals). That head shot caused some controversy in the local media. On a side note, I bought a new Sony 27" in 1985 just so I could watch MV in stereo. Set it up, waited for Friday night. At 8PM, my wife heard me scream and came running in to the family room - "What's wrong" she asked.
My answer - "the local station doesn't broadcast in stereo!!!"
Always a pleasure to read one of your write-ups!
|Membership has its privileges|
What a great find, congratulations!!!!
I was a big MV fan back in the day too. Those were some crazy times and every time I see a Bren Ten, I am immediately taken back to the mid 80's.
Niech Zyje P-220
|teacher of history|
Neat and I am convinced he did not twitch.
Awesome score. At one point Vltor was going to remake it, but it seems to have not made it to fruition. I have 10 boxes of the Norma ammo just in case.
What, me worry?
|The Great Equalizer|
Congratulations on a truly great addition to the family
NRA Benefactor . . . Certified Instructor . . . Certified RSO
Probably not. They are both unfired. I’ve had the SM 10 years.
I will be finding a shooter at some point.
HB Ca. Nice! Remember those days well.
The logo on the side looks like the gunsite logo.
|In search of baseball, strippers, and guns|
I had a standard model and a marksman for a long time
Like most of my high dollar guns I sold them to support our family business
I never shot either of mine. My standard model was an earlier model with the original rear sight that had definitely been shot, but my marksma had never been shot
I had always intended to get the spectrometry done on the slides to see if they had the defects and I could shoot them, but never found a place I could do it locally
It was an awesome fun gun to own. I sold mine to a gentleman in Texas who was collecting them as heirlooms for his children. For me it was just hard justify having that much money tied up in a gun I couldn’t shoot...
I wish someone would make a modern one I could own and shoot. When vltor was making waves with the Fortis plans I was really excited
Oh well...congrats on a beautiful gun
Exit: yes, that is the gun site logo. The marksman models were the only ones that didn’t have that on them. Cooper was tight with D&D and the impetus for the gun
If the meek will inherit the earth, what will happen to us tigers?
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