The Bren Ten prototype was built in 1980, around the .45 ACP cartridge. At that time, it was called the "CSP80", for Combat Service Pistol (19)80. The 10mm cartridge was developed at the behest of Jeff Cooper, and the CSP was redesigned to accommodate the new cartridge. Though the gun's designers Dornaus & Dixon didn't initially like it, they adopted Cooper's idea of "Bren Ten" for the new gun.
The Bren Ten Standard Model is the basis for the entire line of Bren Ten pistols. Basically, the only differences between the Standard Model and the rest of the Bren Ten line deal with finish, barrel length and chambering. In the case of the Dual-Master and Initial Issue/Jeff Cooper Commemorative other extras include special engraving, a special wooden case and, for the Dual-Master, an extra slide and barrel. Basically, these guns were Standard Models with added window dressing. The Bren Ten Standard Models could combine a stainless steel frame and a blued carbon steel slide, though some collectors/owners opted for aftermarket hard chroming factory blued slides to make the pistols look like the Miami Vice Bren Tens. The Bren Ten Marksman Special pistols were made for The Marksman Police & Shooters Supply Company, in Glenview, IL. They were part of an initial trial order and chambered in .45 ACP because of the aversion of some shooters to using the more powerful and sharper recoiling 10mm cartridge. The initial order of 250 pistols was filled, but the project was discontinued as the manufacturing company began to fail. Of the 250 pistols received by The Marksman Police & Shooters Supply Company, an unspecified number were returned to the manufacturer because the fit tolerances of some parts were found unsatisfactory. It was not known by The Marksman what became of these returned pistols.
- Bren Ten Standard Model (SM) - the basis for the entire line of Bren Ten pistols.
- Bren Ten Military/Police (MP) - targeted law enforcement and military contracts.
- Bren Ten Dual-Master Presentation Model - 10mm Auto and .45 ACP included two upper assemblies.
- Bren Ten Initial Issue/Jeff Cooper Commemorative – listed at $ 2,000 in the 1984 wholesale price list.
- Bren Ten Marksman Special Match - .45 ACP non-catalogued item (250 pistols made).
- Bren Ten API - made for the American Pistol Institute.
- Bren Ten Original Prototype - made from billet steel.
- Miami Vice Bren Tens - .45 ACP blanks firing pistols with hard chromed slides for better lowlight television scenes visibility (2 pistols made).
The Bren Ten Special Forces Models are basically short barreled versions of the full sized Bren Ten. The Special Forces Bren Ten Model was offered in two variants; L (Light) with a hard chromed slide and D (Dark) with a blued slide. Both were introduced at the 1984 SHOT Show.
The Bren Ten Pocket Model is a true subcompact short barreled Bren Ten variant with a special compact frame that deviates from the Standard and Compact models. Further it retained all the features of the Bren Ten Standard Model. Reportedly only two pistols were made.
Bren Ten resurrection attempts
In 1986 after Dornaus & Dixon Enterprises Inc. closed their doors, entrepreneur Richard Voit purchased the rights and other materials from the bankruptcy courts and established Peregrine Industries. In addition to this, Thomas Dornaus and Michael Dixon were hired to help remedy some of the Bren Ten's flaws and "update" its design and features. Steve Blair had a minor participation in the redesign and Shanna Everaert-Robb was hired as office manager. Peter Agocs was hired as QA Manager and helped solve many of the quality problems that plagued the earlier weapons. The result was the Peregrine Falcon and Phoenix. Peregrine Industries, however, fell victim to the Savings and Loan scandals of the early nineteen nineties and saw their loans dry up. Consequently, while many Falcon and Phoenix prototypes were produced, none ever hit the market.
On February 1, 2008, Vltor Weapon Systems of Tucson, AZ announced that they would be resurrecting the Bren Ten with the launch of their Vltor Fortis pistol project. The blog hinted that the project would involve a more modern version of the Bren Ten design, but offered little other information. On July 27, 2009, Vltor announced they obtained the rights to use the Bren Ten name and logo for the production version of the Fortis project and intend to release the pistol as the Vltor Bren Ten in May 2010. The first run pistols was to be priced between $1100 and $1200, depending on model (approximately three times the price of the Italian made EAA Witness in 10mm Auto but on par with the Colt Delta Elite and the Smith & Wesson 1006). This was going to be a limited run of approximately 1200 but the latest information indicates that greater first-year production will be pursued to reach a sustainable price point. Rumors of 'private collectors' buying the guns were largely based on speculation and poor marketing undertaken by a third party which misrepresented the manufacturing and motivation behind the project. VLTOR weapon systems currently aims to deliver the weapons to market by Summer 2012.
UPDATE: So far nothing has come out. (October 2012)
Note about Miami Vice
NOTE: Crockett's interim gun, while functionally a SIG Sauer P220, was a Browning BDA. Browning imported these guns in several calibers, along with other pistols (including a .380) under the BDA brand.