By Jeff W. Zimba
There are a few firearms that are immediately recognizable, even at a glance, and need no formal introduction. These include, but are not limited to the Uzi, AK-47, M16 and the Thompson. Manufactured in great numbers, utilized worldwide, and immortalized on film, these guns are known even to those who have no interest or background in the firearms community. Due to the vast number of troops returning from tours in the desert regions of the globe, and the media (as well as Hollywood) coverage of these events, there seems to be another “up and comer” to add to this list; the vz. 61 Scorpion.
No stranger to members of the gun culture, the Czechoslovakian Scorpion Submachine Pistol is quickly identified by its unique wooden pistol grip and square receiver. Designed in the late 1950s and chambered in 7.65 Browning (.32 ACP) this easily concealable firearm boasts a rate of fire in excess of 1,000 rounds per minute. Depending on the level of concealability desired it can be utilized with a 10-round or 20-round magazine. While some claim to have little use for this style of tiny submachine gun, the Scorpion handily fulfills its intended role of a basic pistol capable of carry in a holster with the option of fully automatic fire.
Welcome to America
Due to the 1968 GCA and 1986 ban on the manufacture of domestic machine guns, civilian legal variants of these unique and desirable firearms are extremely limited at best. At least they were until Czechpoint, Inc. of Knoxville, Tennessee established a distributorship for their newly manufactured, BATFE approved, semiautomatic version, the SA vz. 61 Scorpion.
Manufactured by D-Technik a.s. in the Czech Republic, these new variants have been redesigned in a semiautomatic-only capacity to allow import and sale for civilian purchase in the United States. Design modifications to the manufacturing process of the original SMG that meet BATFE legal standards include the semiautomatic-only fire control group, removal of the rate reducer and modification of three parts, including a new safety. Thanks to Czechpoint, those who desire a variant of this famous machine pistol now have an option.
When Czechpoint contacted SAR we immediately embraced the idea of a T&E on the new SA vz. 61 Scorpion. We are always interested in military and historically significant firearms, especially when they are available in any configuration to the general population. This example of “Trickle Down Weaponomics” illustrates the ingenuity of those in our industry to bring more firearm designs to more people, while complying with the numerous laws in place at all times. Since the original Scorpion pistol was never designed or intended to be offered in a semiautomatic-only variant, Czechpoint and D-Technik deserve credit for their innovative new design and market application.
In an attempt to get the whole picture, arrangements were made to test several variants of these pistols. A standard pistol as offered from the manufacturer, as well as an NFA Short Barreled Rifle (SBR) version were ordered for testing. We also obtained a registered select-fire version for comparison in both feel and function. Although Czechpoint only offers these in the standard pistol configuration, they have a working relationship with IN RANGE, a Kodak, TN based Title II Manufacturer to supply the SBR version should the purchaser desire one in that configuration. The SBR tested in this article was indeed an IN RANGE conversion. Troy and Christy Sellars of IN RANGE are well-known, long time members of the NFA community with a long history in manufacturing. While they are best known for their immaculate AK/Krinkov conversions, their high-end work reputation translated quite well into the SA vz. 61 we received.
When we received the Scorpions for our testing, it was immediately apparent that these were delivered from a professional establishment. The packaging is not something that is typically worthy of noting in a T&E article, but in this case we will make an exception. Each SA vz. 61 is shipped in a custom fit hard plastic case. Each case is custom fit for (and filled with) the pistol, a nylon holster, a holster belt, a nylon dual magazine pouch, and 3 magazines; two of 20-round capacity and one 10-round magazine. Also included is a professional CD filled with information about the weapon system including a printable owner’s manual in PDF format, historical information and information about the original submachine guns. There is also a holster suspension belt included, giving the user the option of wearing the holster on a belt in a traditional manor or suspended from the main belt and attached to the upper leg for stability with an additional (included) belt.
The fit and finish of the pistols received was excellent. The upper receiver portion of those tested is a dark black paint and matches the finish of the barrel, and magazines. On the SBR version, it also matched the finish of the stock. The frame on our test models was blued but is also available with a Nickel finish if desired. The grips on our test models were the standard military versions with several vertical grooves covering both sides, the front and rear of the grips. Also available are a composite material “Police” grip and two fancy checkered models, one in Walnut and the other in Beech.
The barrel length is 4.53 inches and extends approximately 1.5 inches out the front of the receiver. The rear sight is an “L” sight that flips to 2 positions, preset from the factory for 75 meters and 150 meters. The front sight is a protected post and the “ears” of the sight double as the locking mechanism for the top folding stock on the SMG and the SBR models. When closed, the stock simply locks over the ears of the front sight and a gentle amount of upward pressure will unlock it so it may be extended. When fully extended, the stock locks open into the locking mechanism at the rear of the SBR receiver. On the pistol version, the rear of the receiver is smooth and does not include this portion of the stock assembly. To unlock the extended stock, it is compressed at the rear of the receiver so it no longer engages the locking lug and may be folded back over the top.
The vz. 61 Scorpion (in all configurations) fires from a closed bolt. The safety/selector is located on the left side of the receiver immediately above the pistol grip. It can be operated with one hand (thumb) if the shooter is right-handed. The magazine release is located on the left side of the receiver to the rear of the magazine. The vz. 61 uses a bolt hold-open mechanism that engages after the last round is fired or may be manually engaged by depressing a button directly in front of the trigger guard to the rear of the magazine, also on the left side of the pistol.
Live Fire Testing
While the sights are marked as 75 meters and 150 meters respectively, we thought it made more sense to shoot at a target at a more reasonable distance for a .32 ACP pistol with a sub 5-inch barrel. We decided on 20 yards and completed all testing at that distance. After a few test rounds for a simple function check we proceeded to start recording data. First was checking the muzzle velocity followed by off-hand accuracy shooting of all three models and a quick test of the rate of fire of the select-fire model. Ammo utilized was commercially available Sellier & Bellot 73-grain FMJ.
Noticed by all testers was the extremely light trigger pull. Many semiautomatic-only variants of submachine guns have a heavy and long pull. Trigger squeeze seems to not usually be as high of a priority with these guns as it may be with a traditional “target pistol.” Because it was so obviously light, we decided to measure the pull with a Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge. The average trigger pull measured between 3 and 3.5 pounds. For comparison, the FN FiveseveN pistol measures almost two times as much on the same gauge.
All testing was done in 10-round groups (complete compact magazines) without the aid of a rest at the previously mentioned distance of 20 yards. Targets were standard Green B27 Targets with an 8-inch Birchwood Casey “Shoot-N-C Target” overlaid for increased visibility with a nice red dot for a consistent point of aim. The first vz. 61 Scorpion tested in the accuracy portion was the standard pistol configuration. The 9 shots that landed “in the black” measured 4.5 inches with a flyer (first shot) bringing the overall size of 6.5 inches. For a distance of 20 yards, off-hand with a non target pistol, we were quite pleased in the capabilities of this model.
Next was the IN RANGE registered SBR. We considered it a “no brainer” that the next group would be significantly smaller given the extra steadiness of a shoulder stock. That is, at least until the first shooter readied the gun and shouldered it to begin shooting. It was quickly remembered that the design of this system was to be concealable, not comfortable. With an extended stock length of only 10.5 inches, the rear sight was about 2.5 inches from the shooters eye instead of the distance of 19 inches when held off-hand. With a firearm sight radius of less than 6 inches to begin with, this only gives the front sight a distance of 8.5 inches from the eye when using the stock. Concealable? Yes. Optimum for easy target engagement? No. Effective anyway? Most Certainly. As the focus was concentrated on the front post (as best as could be), the first 10-shot group with the stock extended was fired. The results were amazingly encouraging and repeatable in every test. Even though the comfort of shooting in this small package would not receive a high mark, the results of the shooting, which is ultimately the key goal of such an exercise, would score much higher than expected. Like the first 10-shot group with the pistol, the first round was a flyer. The remaining 9 shots landing in the black measured a maximum spread of 3.25 inches. When the first round flyer was equated, the overall group opened to a disappointing 7.5 inches. Subsequent group testing supplied the same results and those without a human-error flyer scored quite nicely.
Knowing it was not going to record the same type of accuracy as the semiautomatic versions, it was still necessary to repeat the tests with a 10-round magazine in the select fire version to see how it actually would perform. First, the cyclic rate was checked with a PACT IV timer and determined to run at an average of 1,082 rounds per minute. At such a high cyclic rate, not many controlled bursts could be fired before the magazine was empty; but we averaged three bursts per magazine – sometimes only two and sometimes up to four. For this test, the point of aim was simply center of mass on the B27 target as the little Birchwood Casey target didn’t really seem as appropriate for this type of test as an actual silhouette target. In select fire burst shooting, the average 10-round magazine yielded 7 rounds in critical areas with 3 rounds in non-critical areas – a somewhat impressive performance.
It should be noted that another unique feature of the vz. 61 Scorpion is the path of ejection. Neither left-handed or right-handed shooter needs to worry about the ejection path hitting them in the face. Both, however, should be concerned with their cranium. These guns eject straight up and, depending on the shooting angle of the impact area, usually rain brass casings straight back down. While something that most people got quite a chuckle about and made this little gun even more fun to shoot, occasionally a few casings would find a home inside the collar of the shooter. Attention should be paid to this interesting feature as an unexpected hot shell casing in the neck may cause an instinctive jerking reaction with a resultant possible accidental discharge.
Czechpoint, Inc. and D-Technik a.s. have done a great service for the recreational shooter and military firearms collector by importing and distributing the SA vz. 61 Scorpion. A number of returning servicemen will no-doubt want a version of this unique gun they saw during their recent deployments. Many military gun collectors who had once considered this firearm desirable but unobtainable will now have an option to add one to their collection. At a reasonable MSRP beginning at $599, they are not priced out of reach for this type of firearm and the ammo it uses is commercially readily available. The performance well exceeded our expectations at all levels. While attending a local shoot there was a small, steady line of those waiting to shoot these unique but seldom handled guns and all left with a smile and an inquiry of the selling price. Whether a serious shooter or a collector, the SA vz. 61 Scorpion should be an exciting addition to any collection. At the time of this writing these are in stock and ready for immediate shipment.
For those interested in having their Scorpion pistol done as an SBR like the one in this article, contact IN RANGE using the information below. At the time of this writing their price for converting your pistol on your approved BATFE Form 1 is $175 including the stock. Turn around time is usually inside four weeks or so. If you desire purchasing an SBR directly and having it transferred to a Class III Dealer on a BATFE Form 3 instead of doing your own Form 1 conversion, please contact Dan Brown at Czechpoint, Inc for pricing and information.
As this article was going to print SAR was informed that a 3-lug adapter and ½x28 threaded sleeve is in the works for those who wish to suppress their Scorpion.
Also, keep your eyes open for a future issue of Small Arms Review where we will be testing the Czechpoint, Inc. vz. 58 rifles. The guns are in-house and testing is almost ready to commence.
Technical Specifications SA vz. 61 Scorpion Pistol
Caliber: 7.65 Browning (.32 ACP)
Barrel length: 4.5 inches (115 mm)
Rifling: 6-groove, 1 in 13.8 inches (350 mm)
Front – Protected post
Rear – Flip type, 2 position:75 and 150 meters
Sight Radius: 6.5 inches (165 mm)
Overall length: 10.6 inches (270 mm)
Weight, empty: 2.43 pounds (1.10kg)
Magazine capacity: 10 rounds or 20 rounds
MSRP (pistol): $599.00
103 Stone Road
Knoxville, TN 37920
Tel: (865) 247-0184
Fax: (865) 247-0185
Troy and Christy Sellars
1048 Eagle View Drive
Kodak, TN 37764
Phone/Fax: (865) 932-6509
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V12N6 (March 2009)|