The city of Brno in the Czech Republic has been a home to firearms manufacturing for a long time, including handguns, Mauser pattern rifles, rimfire rifles, and machine guns. For many years Zdenek Jakubec, who went by Denny AKA “Brnomann”, ran Bohemia Arms Intl, importing all types of original BRNO firearms, plus Czech parts and Klinsky stocks. As some of you know Denny passed away the Summer 2019. He was one of the recognized experts for all things having to do with BRNO firearms, and was often found in online forums helping with any questions.
Here at J&G we have been honored to make available for sale a large selection of the BRNO guns and parts left from Denny’s estate. We are grateful to the individual in charge of liquidating his estate for inviting us to help Denny’s family by purchasing the remaining inventory of Bohemia Arms Intl. (See our selection of BRNO rifles)
First some history.
The BRNO factory itself began in 1919 as Ceskoslovenská Zbrojovka Brno, founded in the city of Brno, making mostly Mausers and some handguns.
In 1923 handgun production mostly moved from Brno to another pistol plant in Strakonice (such as the CZ-52, CZ-50, CZ-70 and others). The Brno plant continued with Mausers and similar.
In 1936 a new plant branch named Ceská Zbrojovka opened in Uherský Brod, and was called CZUB.
Then WWII happened. Germany took all control of Czech weapons production to make firearms for the Wehrmacht. It was under German orders that the first BRNO rimfire rifles began to be designed as trainers. More on that below.
After WWII was over, local Czech controlled production began again in the Brno, Strakonice, and Uhersky Brod factories. A governmental decision was made that all guns made or exported from Czech territory would be marked with the BRNO name and logo for the sake of marketing unity, regardless of which factory made them. This is a cause of confusion for modern day shooters made their BRNO marked gun.
In 1964-66 long gun production began moving out of the Brno factory to the CZUB plant. The Brno factory continued with non-firearm products (such as tractors…).
In the Strakonice plant handgun production continued longer, and then began moving mostly to CZUB as well. Due to the government mandate for unity, CZUB guns were still marked BRNO, although BRNO was no longer making guns! It is thought that by 1972 firearms production had moved entirely out of the Brno plant.
Then came 1991 and the end of Soviet style communism. The de-centralization and privatization of factories in the new Czech Republic began, and by 1992 CZUB had become a private firearms manufacturing corporation. CZ Strakonice had been out of firearms production for a while, but in 2006 began to produce some modern handguns under the LUVO name.
In 1997, in order to spread to the US market, CZUB opened an importing presence in the United States called CZ-USA and began full distribution of CZUB rifles, shotguns, and their famous CZ-75 handguns.
In 2007 CZUB commercially acquired the Brno Firearms brand and started to bring Brno marked firearms back to the market.
The BRNO rimfire rifles.
The Brno production of their famous rimfire rifles began around 1944. What follows is a primer on this interesting subsection of Czech firearms. The production of rimfire rifles by BRNO evolved through several models: (See our selection of BRNO rifles here)
Model 1 rifles are the original first design from 1944-45. Near the end of WWII the German military tasked BRNO Arms with designing a training rifle in 22LR. The designers chosen were the Koucky brothers and Malek of BRNO, who came up with the new rifle design. Limited production appears to have begun in late 1944 or early 1945. The Model 1 had a wide open ejection port, flip-up leaf sight, a safety on top of the bolt, and a fairly simple trigger (although variations exist). BRNO Model 1 rifles are also referred to as ZKM 451 (Z= Zbrojovka Brno, K= Koucky brothers, and M= Malek,). Approximately 170,000* were made.
There are also early BRNO rifles that are marked TGF with little to no other markings. They are basically Model 1 pattern rifle, and opinions vary on its meaning. One is that TGF was the German factory code during wartime and the guns were made in 1944-45 for the German military. Another is that TGF stands for Tschechische Gewehr Fabrik (which means Czech Rifle Factory) and was used on rifles made for East German contract guns, since rifles dated several years after WWII have been seen with the TGF mark.
Model 2 rifles began in 1954 and had a more sophisticated trigger, vent holes on the bolt, a narrower ejection port, a tangent sight, and a safety on the side of the bolt. BRNO Model 2 rifles are also referred to as ZKM 452, and some variations called the 2E. Approximately 140,000* were made by BRNO, but the basic same design is still made by CZUB under the CZ-USA name.
Model 3 rifles are a heavy target version of the Model 1 pattern. They have a long heavy barrel, more advanced rear sight attached to barrel grooves, or peep sight on the receiver, a heavy bench stock, and a globe front sight. They are rare with only 7000* estimated to have been made. Also called the ZKM 455.
Model 3S “Stecher” was a very rare sub-model of the 3. In the early 1950’s BRNO made a very small limited run of Model 3S rifles with a special double trigger system for the Czech Shooting Team. They were considered extremely accurate. Walther complained of patent infringement and the rifle were dismantled. By a lucky “accident” some of these guns (less than 100 estimated) were hidden away and only resurfaced some 50 years later. They are also called the ZKM 455S.
Model 4 rifles are a heavy target version of the Model 2 pattern. They have a long heavy barrel, more advanced rear sight attached to barrel grooves or an aperture peep sight attached to the receiver, a heavy bench stock, and a globe front sight. Production ran from 1954 through 1962. In later years heavy Model 4s had the barrels turned down to slim configuration and slim stocks were fitted to them, making a lightweight Model 4! Approximately 40,000* were made. Also called the ZKM 456.
Model 5 rifles are a hard to find variation. Speculation is that they were developed in 1958 mostly as a training rifle for Middle Eastern countries. They were a mix of patterns, using the barrel and stock of the Model 1, a new trigger based on the Model 4, and either Model 1 or 2 pattern sights. As usual other variations are also found. Many were part of a short lived UAR, and later Egyptian contract, with some also for Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Approximately 33,000* were made with an estimated 15,000 going to the Middle East. Also called the ZKM 573.
Clones were also made. Maadi rifles are BRNO copies made under license in Egypt. Some were made from Czech parts assembled in Egypt, but many were made completely in Egypt. They are mostly faithful to the BRNO Model 2 and 5 designs but usually do not have quite the same level of workmanship. Model names stamped on these guns may be Cadet, Mansoura, Mansur, and maybe others. Markings can be a mix of Egyptian and English. Even Chinese clones are found under various model names and in varying degrees of faithfulness to the original.
The 1950s BRNO production of 22 rimfire rifles is considered a peak in innovation and workmanship. They are highly respected in the rimfire world, and in the opinion of many, these classic rifles have yet to be surpassed even decades later. Current production CZUB rifles from CZ-USA are very nice and still continue much of the quality of the old BRNO, but it is hard to surpass the original rifles. Again, we are thankful to ‘Brnomann” Denny for bringing these fabulous guns to the US market for many years. Thanks also to many users at rimfirecentral for posting research on much of the BRNO history. Please be aware that much information is speculation or not well documented, so if you notice any errors feel free to notify us. (See more)
* Estimates of how many were manufactured are guesses in most cases.