Gun Review: Škorpion vz. 61 SMG

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The 1960’s were known for three things: hippies, Vietnam, and pistol caliber sub-machine guns. Some of the most iconic SMGs ever designed would come out within a few years of each other, including the MAC-10, H&K’s MP5, and even the Beretta M12. They were all driven by the experiences gained in WWII and Korea which indicated a need for a small personal defense weapon for close-quarters fighting and storage in small spaces, especially for troops whose primary job isn’t firing a rifle — helicopter pilots, tank crews, and command staff in particular. One of the more obscure yet awesome firearms to come out of this era is the Czechoslovakian Škorpion vz. 61 . . .

The first time I saw this firearm was in GoldenEye. No, not the movie — the gun never actually appeared in that film — the Nintendo 64 video game. I spent many happy hours of my youth shooting virtual bad guys with the non-copyright infringing digital version of the firearm. Ever since, the Scorpion (I’m using the English version of the word because that accent is annoying to type every time) has enjoyed a healthy level of attention in movies and TV shows and is definitely one of the more interesting looking firearms to be produced.

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Designed with tank crews and helicopter pilots in mind, the Scorpion is definitely a compact firearm. With the stock folded the gun is only two inches longer than a 1911 handgun and weighs roughly the same, making it something that could realistically be carried in a holster on a soldier’s belt with ease. That’s actually how it is intended to be used, as the guns all come with a leather holster and a 10 round magazine to allow it to fit inside. After exhausting those initial 10 rounds the shooter can then swap to the standard issue 20 round magazines, which come two to a magazine pouch and are specifically designed to fit together in the pouch to save as much space as possible.

Speaking of the magazines, the reason for the relatively exaggerated curve is due to the nature of the rounds being used. The Skorpion uses the .32 ACP cartridge, a relatively light load that comes in a semi-rimmed case. That slight rim means that the cartridge has a big booty, and the curve of the magazine accommodates all of that junk in the trunk. There is a later version of this gun that uses a more standard straight wall pistol cartridge and has straight boxy magazines, but it just doesn’t look as sexy. There’s something to be said for curves.

To make the gun more comfortable to fire, a wire frame folding stock was added. What makes the stock particularly interesting is that it is held in place when folded by two tabs on the front sight, and locked in place when open by a more traditional gear-like device. This makes the stock very quick to deploy and lock in place, but it takes a couple seconds to get it folded up. Then again, I’m guessing that having the stock locked and functioning would be more important in a firefight than being able to put it away quickly.

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All of the controls for the firearm are on the left side of the gun, including the magazine release and the takedown pin. The intended manual of arms for this gun is to have the shooter retain the magazine, so the magazine release is placed appropriately for if a left hand is grabbing the magazine to remove it from the gun. Left handed people with long fingers might be able to simply hit the button with the trigger finger of their dominant hand, so for you few southpaws out there that might be an attractive feature.

Rather than having a protruding and ugly charging handle like the MAC-10 or the PPS-43, the Skorpion uses two round and ridged protrusions on either side of the gun to allow the shooter to operate the action. The gun will hold the bolt open after the last round in a magazine has been fired, making it easier to insert and load subsequent magazines. The nubs are not permanently attached to the bolt, and instead held in place almost identically to the way the charging handle in the SCAR series of rifles from FNH USA are designed to work.

Due to those nubs / charging protrusions / whatever, however, the gun can’t eject the spent cartridges to either side. Instead the Skorpion ejects the spent cartridges straight up into the air — something to be aware of if you are a particularly well-endowed female with a low cut shirt. Hot brass raining straight down on the shooter can be uncomfortable.

As with most eastern European select fire guns, the selector switch is pretty awful. It looks like some poor engineer tacked it on at the last second, and seems a bit flimsy compared to the rest of the gun. The interesting thing about the selector is that the central position is marked “0” for safe, with the rearward position marked “1” for semi-auto fire and the forward position marked “20” for full auto (there are 20 rounds in a standard length magazine).

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Taking the gun apart is dead simple. There’s one captured takedown pin on the front of the frame that, when removed, allows the top section of the gun to slide forward slightly and clear of a lip on the back of the frame. Then the whole thing tilts forward and presents itself for cleaning. The gun is a closed bolt straight-blowback design, meaning that the bolt is pretty hefty but not very complex.

What’s really interesting is the recoil system — not only does it use the weight of the bolt to regulate the cyclic rate, but there’s a recoil absorbing spring contraption housed in the pistol grip that slows the gun down even more. That takes the cyclic rate from a rather zippy 1,000 rounds per minute to a nice and comfortable 800 RPM.

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While that 200 rounds per minute drop might not seem like a big deal, it has a huge impact on the ability for the shooter to control the firearm. Thanks to the slow cyclic rate and the small caliber (.32 ACP) there’s almost no recoil — it’s like firing a slow little .22lr handgun. In fact, the gun is so easy to control that I had no issues holding it on target with the stock folded.

The cyclic rate and the perceived recoil of this gun are roughly on par with my previous favorite machine gun: the Beretta M12. I say previous because this gun snuck into the top slot thanks to the nifty design and the size. To be fair the M12 was designed to work with full power 9mm loads and this is only a little .32 ACP handgun, but when you’re sending a few well-aimed friends with that first round the size of the bullet doesn’t really matter that much.

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What would I change? Not much, really. A threaded barrel for a silencer would be a fantastic addition to the gun, since something small and quiet is just about ideal for any personal defense situations. In fact, the folks who own this gun are looking for a replacement barrel to do exactly that — they don’t want to ruin the original. Otherwise this is just about the perfect personal defense weapon. Small, easy to use, low recoil, and highly accurate. Heck, I’d take one of these over an MP5K any day of the week. Although, maybe with a slightly larger magazine…

Škorpion vz. 61 SMG

Specifications
Caliber: .32 ACP
Barrel: 4.5 inches
Size: 20.4 inches extended, 10.6 inches compact
Weight: 2.87 lbs empty
Capacity: 10 or 20 round magazine
MSRP: $600 (Semi-Auto civilian version)

Ratings (Out of Five Stars):
All ratings are relative compared to the other weapons in the gun’s category.

Accuracy: * * *
The gun is roughly “minute of bad guy” at 15 yards, which is good enough for what it is. We’re not deer hunting or shooting 1,000 yard steel plates with .32 ACP.

Ergonomics: * * * *
The lack of ambidextrous controls and the wire stock keep the Skorpion out of five star range, but otherwise it’s damned good.

Ergonomics Firing: * * * * 1/2
There’s a bit more blowback than I’d like from the gun, but other than that it’s perfect.

Customization: N/A
Uh…no. Absolutely not.

Overall Rating: * * * * *
I’m seriously considering buying one of the semi-auto clones available and SBR-ing it just to have this much fun on a regular basis.

comments

  1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

    I think the new clones fire .380.

    1. avatar bobothechimp says:

      yo it says zastava in the pic. its not czechoslovakian !?! its serbian. plus this little piece of thsi kills like crazy. we used to shoot it in the army.. run then shoot multiple targets then run some more… all day.
      thankfully it was lightweight so it didnt create any shoulder exhaustion. basically it was like you were shooting bigger handgun.

      1. avatar A says:

        Zastava M84 is a clone of Vz. 61 Skorpion. Zastava never produced firearms that weren’t clones, closest to that was modifying an AK to shoot an obscure german round and call it a sniper rifle, so you cannot really say “It’s serbian” for any of Zastava weapons. Vz. 61 skorpion and its clone Zastava M84, meanwhile, are completely new and original Czech designs.

  2. avatar Paranoid Android says:

    Oh my god yes, duel weilding these was the best in GoldenEye! I had no idea they were so reasonably priced! If only I didn’t live in NY…

    Going to hook up the ol N64 now.

    1. avatar Michael B. says:

      Wasn’t this the Klobb?

    2. avatar paulWTAMU says:

      Dang, talk about nostaliga. I want two of these so bad. Yes, I know dual wield doesn’t work IRL.

      I still want two of them.

      1. avatar lolinski says:

        Sure it works, just gotta do it right; Keep them side by side and fire both of them at the same time, not sequentially.

        Got to comment about the charging handle(s): Some .22 LR target pistols also have the same style of charging.

        Also, am I the only one who would want quad stack magazines for this? Integrally suppressed, mini red dot and quad stack magazines, would be an awesome gun made even better.

  3. avatar Noishkel says:

    Very cool stuff. You know I posted a link on Twitter to a news story about 3D printed guns. One printed part being a Škorpion vz. 61.

    http://www.wired.com/2014/05/3d-printed-guns/

    Pardon if I’m just repeating previous mentioned links. My memory is kind of spotty and I can’t remember if it’s made it to this site or not.

  4. avatar BDub says:

    Very cool review.

  5. avatar J.C. says:

    I want one, which distributors are stocking this?

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      CDNN was blowing out Scorpions for a long time. I don’t see them on the site anymore, though (they do still have factory mags). These guys make nice versions in both .32 and .380: https://www.czechpoint-usa.com/sa-vz61-scorpions

      1. avatar J.C. says:

        I assume the folding stock puts this in the realm of SBR?

        1. avatar Mark Lee says:

          Nope, that’s just a new “skinny arm brace”.

    2. avatar Mark says:

      The only importer is Czechpoint USA. They had two different versions the 32 acp and 380 acp. Both are tanks and the 380 is soooooooooooooooooo much fun to bump fire. You cant hit anything but it sounds like the selective fire version which we cant have because of the Hughes amendment. Down with the Hughes!!! We want “affordable” selective fire back!

      https://www.czechpoint-usa.com/sa-vz61-scorpions

      They are out of stock but give it a few weeks and they will have more. It is a fun gun. You can check out a video review I did on the Scorp 380. Just google Scorpion 380 and it will be the first video

  6. avatar 7.62x54r says:

    Can we ditch the fru-fru couch in favor of a package of bacon or some such?

  7. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

    1960’s known for three things…

    Ok after I stopped laughing I realized that you must have learned that from the American public school system. LOL

    1. avatar Lucas D. says:

      Prithee, what part of your extensive and presumably non-American education allowed you to notice the omission, and would you mind terribly explaining what it is to us humble, ketchup-loving primitives?

    2. avatar Roger says:

      What are you talking about?

  8. avatar Peter says:

    For some reason, semi auto sub gun clones have never tickled my fancy. Once you give up the full auto capability, the whole reason for choosing a light recoiling cartridge makes the concept invalid, throw in the SBR issues if it has a stock and less than a 16″ barrel and you have an expensive curiosity.
    As a historical curiosity, it would be fun to own but there are so many more effective options out there.

    1. avatar lolinski says:

      You can still fire fast, one of the reasons I prefer steel frame handguns.

  9. avatar Kevin J says:

    The klobb from goldeneye? I haven’t heard that word for like 10 years. Remember how weak that gun was in the game?

    1. avatar Roger says:

      I don’t know what the klobb was modeled after but it was named after Ken Lobb, a game designer who worked for Nintendo and worked on Goldeneye for the N64.

    2. avatar Marcus Aurelius says:

      “The Staple Gun,” we used to call it.

      1. avatar Milsurp Collector says:

        And the AK was always “The Pencil Gun” to my friends and I. I miss those days, when video games had to be polished to a mirror sheen before they hit the store shelves and “we’ll patch it later” wasn’t an excuse.

        1. avatar ed says:

          Ha the “KS Soviet” or something

  10. avatar Pashtun6 says:

    If still take an MP5 over the Scorpion. Personally I like it much better and consider it a much better weapon system

  11. avatar Craig says:

    I’ve wanted to own one of these for years, but more important buys come up.

    Did you whistle “Winds of Change” when shooting it? It is a Skorpion and all.

    1. avatar lolinski says:

      I thought you had to sing “Rock you like a hurricane” while shooting it?

  12. avatar JAS says:

    Looks like it would be really easy to muzzle your hand when unfolding the stock.

  13. I built a pistol version of one of these from a parts kit back in 2012. I’m still working the last of the kinks out, but there’s just something about it that’s really appealing visually.

  14. avatar Rich Grise says:

    Is that the shoulder thing that goes up? 😉

    1. avatar Doug says:

      Perfect! Now we know….

  15. avatar Jonathan -- Houston says:

    I like it and see how it makes sense for its intended use. Wouldn’t mind owning one myself, but as has been mentioned, the stock and short barrel would be a complication. Would it constitute an SBR or an AOW? Either way, I wouldn’t want the hassle. It does provide yet another example of something interesting and probably useful that Americans are being denied normal access to because of infringements on our rights.

  16. avatar Cknarf says:

    That’d be a killer SBR to have. They’re legal in Illinois now, as long as you have a C&R FFL.

  17. avatar crzapy says:

    They have a two tone one in the used gun section at my local Cabelas… hmmm.

  18. avatar Jeff says:

    the Scorpion (I’m using the English version of the word because that accent is annoying to type every time) has enjoyed a healthy level of attention in movies and TV shows and is definitely one of the more interesting looking firearms to be produced.

    and without a doubt, whenever you see it, you’ll see it being blasted away doing mag dumps with the stock folded up or maybe even non-existant.

    I think there was a scene in Battlestar Galactica where Starbuck dual-wielded a pair of Skorpions at some Cylons… waaaaat

    rarely does anyone ever properly shoulder fire an SMG in TV/movies – or hell, any gun for that matter.

  19. avatar Oldrich says:

    This is some sort of yugo licence built, the originals have czechoslovakian military and/or civilian conversion marking. Neither the pistol grip is CZ made, they were wooden or similar from black plastic.

    I used to own it, was pretty fun but annoyance to clean the narrow crevices so finally sold it. The “proper” way to shoulder fire it for maximum accuracy is to brace the short stock at your face. The recoil is so miniscule it does not matter and your groups cut in half.

    Finally the weapon is able to attach an original silencer – it clamped by the ridge on the barrel. As for conceal, I recommed the 10r magazine. The short magazine allowed the gun to fit into the original leather shoulder and OWB holsters.

  20. avatar mady says:

    i need cad drawings of this gun

  21. avatar Hernán Moreno says:

    A firing rate of a1,000 rounds per second??? That has to be a 1,000 rounds per minute. Even in .32 Auto it would melt down after a thousand round burst in one second and it would be a handful 🙂

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