Semi-auto Skorpion: the full-auto Skorpion became famous in the hands of Carlos the Jackal and other 1970s terrorists, Fortier says the pistol version is more a threat to tin cans.
Marc Krebs took up a typical pistol's shooter's stance as if he were at an IPSC match, and triggered off a couple long bursts. "See that's the problem with these things," he said removing his hearing protection and looking at his target, "they climb too fast due to the rate of fire."
"Give me that thing," I chided him. "That's why," I said as I snapped the stock into place, "the Czechs put a stock on it." Snapping another 20-round mag into the Skorpion, I proceeded to fire a number of short bursts into the same target.
Watching the front sight I noted it simply made a small circle around my original aiming point as the gun spit .32 Auto brass straight into the sky.
Switching my aiming point to the Zombie Target's ghoulish face, I emptied the rest of the mag. The Czech machine pistol ripped and a slew of .32 cal. holes appeared in a neat group. If it had been a real zombie, it would now be a good zombie. Checking to make sure the Skorpion was empty, I simply smirked at Krebs. He replied with the goofy grin that seems to be his trademark.
The Czech Sa vz. 61 Skorpion machine pistol is an interesting design for a number of reasons. It's both extremely compact and very lightweight, fires from the closed bolt and has a built-in rate reducer.
What makes it unique, though, is the cartridge it chambers. While the vast majority of submachine guns intended for military use are in standard calibers such as 9x19mm, 7.62x25mm or .45 ACP, the vz. 61 Skorpion chambers the diminutive 7.65mm Browning (.32 ACP).
Why the 7.65mm Browning cartridge? While this seems a very strange choice indeed today, it wasn't as odd at the time. Designed by none other than John M. Browning, the 7.65mm Browning, also known as the .32 Automatic Colt Pistol, was introduced in 1899 by Fabrique Nationale. The first pistol chambered for it was Browning's M1900.
The cartridge itself has a semi-rimmed straight-walled case. Case length is .680", rim diameter is .358" and base diameter is .337". Overall length is .984" and it is loaded with a .309" diameter projectile. Standard bullet weight is 71 grains. Typical performance is a 71 grain FMJ projectile at 900 fps which generates a rather ho-hum 128 ft-lbs of energy.
Intended for use in simple blowback operated pistols, the 7.65mm Browning went on to become extremely popular after its introduction. In Europe, it was widely adopted by both police and military forces. The French Army issued over a million 7.65mm Ruby type pistols to front-line combat units during World War I and Nazi Germany issued large numbers during World War II. While it was certainly lacking in terminal performance, it was a 7.65mm Walther PPK which ended Adolph Hitler's mad reign.
In the 1950s, the Czechoslovak Ministry of Interior issued 7.65mm service pistols. So when they became interested in a compact submachine gun they made a request through the Ministry of Defense for one in this caliber. The Ministry of Defense then considered both their needs as well as the needs of the Army, and proceeded to write the technical parameters for the new weapon. The resulting project was given the name "Skorpion."
Ing. Miroslav Rybar (March 12, 1924 December 6, 1970) was the lead designer in charge of this project. He developed the design while doing his post-graduate studies at the Military Technical Academy. Prototypes of his new, design; designated S-59, were first/produced in 1959.
Differences from the final design were: folding stock was permanently attached, shape of the pistol grip, and minor differences in the bolt, extractor, trigger guard, and magazine catch. Quantities of the final version were produced for military trials in 1962. After successfully competing military trials, the new design was adopted by the Ministry of Defense as the Samopal vzor 61 (submachine gun model 1961). It was placed into production in 1963 by the Ceska Zbrojovka arms factory in Uhersky Brod.
The vz. 61 Skorpion is a select-fire straight blowback operated machine pistol that fires from the closed-bolt position. Its small size and light weight, 10.6 inches long with the stock folded and only 2.8 pounds, was achieved by using a telescoping bolt and a low powered cartridge.
The light bolt weight required an inertial rate reducing device to bring the cyclic rate down to 850 rpm. This unit is housed in the wooden pistol grip.
The rate reducer operates as follows: when the bolt reaches the end of its rearward stroke it strikes, and is caught: by, a. spring-powered hook mounted on the back plate. At the same time it drives a lightweight, spring-loaded plunger down into the pistol grip.
The plunger passes through a-heavy weight which is left behind because of its inertia. The plunger, having compressed its spring, is driven up again and then meets the descending inertia buffer. This slows the plunger which, at the end of its travel, rotates the hook and releases the bolt.
Ambidextrous bolt knobs are fitted on both sides of the piece and a selector lever is mounted on the left side: Feed is from 10- or 20-round detachable double-column box magazines. While the bolt remains locked open after the shot, no bolt release is fitted. However a manual bolt catch is fitted on the left side of the frame just in front of the trigger.
Just above this is the pushbutton magazine release. Sights consist of an adjustable front post and a flip rear sight with a U-shaped notch graduated for 75 and 150 meters. A simple wire buttstock folds over the top of the piece. If not required, this can easily be removed.
So why would anyone want a machine pistol in .32 ACP? Well, the design was not intended for general issue. Rather it was looked upon as a sort of Personal Defense Weapon (PDW) along the lines of the much later FN P90. Thus, it was issued to armored vehicle crewmen, truck drivers, low-ranking Staff- officers and Special Forces units.
The idea was that it would be almost as light and easy to carry as a standard service pistol, but would provide a much higher hit probability past 15 yards with the stock extended. When fired at close range on full automatic, multiple hits in rapid succession would still prove effective despite the small cartridge.
While used by the Czech military and a number of other countries around the world, the Skorpion was also a favorite of Marxist and leftist terrorist groups. Its small size made it easy to conceal and it proved a useful tool for assassins and hijackers,
While original select-fire vz. 61 Skorpions are uncommon, and expensive, in the USA, collectors have another option. If you have always yearned for a Skorpion of your own, CzechPoint USA offers a semi-auto only pistol version. Called the Sa vz. 61 Pistol, this is a Very nicely made semi-auto copy of the original Czech machine pistol, minus the folding stock. SHOTGUN NEWS's review Sample arrived packed in a foam-lined hard case :and came with two 20-round magazines, one 10-round magazine, nylon holster and magazine pouch and a CD instruction manual.
Popping it from its case, I noted it to be a nicely made and finished piece manufactured by D-Technik A.S. in the Czech Republic. The upper receiver is pressed sheet metal while the lower is machined steel. The controls and sights are the same as the original, the only difference being the safety is marked 0 for safe and 1 for fire, with no full auto position.
Internally, the pistol has been modified to preclude full-automatic fire, and the now-unnecessary rate reducer is deleted, although its compartment is still visible.
In the hands, the Sa vz. 61 Pistol is a fairly large piece. While the Skorpion is very small for a submachine gun, it makes for a rather heavy and poorly balanced pistol.
All the weight is forward of the grip and the bore-line is fairly high above the grip. The handgun it mostly closely mimics in feel is probably a C-96. Although large with a unique feel, it is not unwieldy. It is what it is.
The sights are typical ComBloc, with a simple adjustable front post and a flip rear sight with a small U-notch. The rear sight has two settings: 75 and 150 meters. The notch is rather small and doesn't allow much light on either side of the front post and is best suited to younger eyes. The sights are, however, well protected from knocks and blows by protective ears.
Operating the Sa vz. 61-Pistol is straightforward. The double-column dual-feed steel magazines are easy to load. Of course the 10-round model is more compact but the 20-rounder provides more fun. Simply insert the magazine straight up into the magazine well until it locks into place.
You cannot retract or release the bolt with the safety on, so rotate it forward to 1. The safety rotates over 90[degrees], so this can be a bit awkward at first. Grasp both charging handles, pull smartly to the rear and release. You are now ready to have some .32 ACP fun. While the bolt locks back on the last shot, there is no bolt release.
Putting the CzechPoint Sa vz. 61 Pistol to work on the range proved quite enjoyable. I started by getting familiar with it engaging silhouettes at 15 yards. As to be expected, recoil is very light and easy to control. What surprised me, though, was the trigger. My review pistol had an extremely good two-stage trigger that was both light and smooth, The sights, though, are nothing to write home about. I rattled through a few magazines and then headed to the bench.
To check the Sa vz. 61 Pistol's accuracy, I fired it from a rest at 25 yards, using three loads: Winchester's 71-grain FMJ and 60-grain Silvertip JHP, along with Wolf Performance Ammunition's Gold 71-grain JHP. I fired four 5-shot groups with each load, and measured velocity 12 feet from the muzzle.
Accuracy was actually very good from the bench. Wolf's Gold line brass-cased 71-grain JHP took top honors, averaging a quite respectable 2.1 inches. I must state, though, that my groups were plagued with the 4+1 syndrome where the Skorpion consistently put four rounds into 1.5 inches or less with a single flier opening the groups.
My best group had four rounds in just 1.1 inches, but I count all five. Winchester's 60-grain Silvertip load averaged 2.3 inches with the same issue. Winchester's 71-grain FMJ shot slightly looser, averaging 2.7 inches.
Impressed by the 25-yard groups, I decided to see if I could hit a LaRue silhouette at 50 yards. Shooting offhand provided me with five easy hits. So I walked back to 75 yards and tried again. The Skorpion had no issues and I made five more hits. Walking back further, I tried it again at 100 yards.
Here the sights got the better of me, keeping in mind these are reduced half-size targets. I only scored two out of five times. I also noticed the sound of the .32 Auto's impact on steel at this distance was, how shall we say, unimpressive.
Running the Sa vz. 61 Pistol through a variety of drills proved to be great fun. The 20-round mags provide a good reserve of ammunition and the pistol ticks along nicely. The only problem encountered was an occasion failure to feed with the short 60-grain Silvertips. The FMJ and Wolf JHPs ran flawlessly. Ejection was vigorous, straight up in the air. Practical accuracy was as good as I could hold. It proved to be a great plinker with a mild report and hardly any recoil.
As a practical defensive firearm, I would not recommend the Sa vz. 61 Pistol. There are far better designs available. Period. But as a collector's item to fill out your ComBloc collection, it is something to consider. It's nicely made, reliable and quite accurate. Price is a fairly reasonable $599. Best of all though, it is a whole lot of fun, as long as you can afford feeding it .32 ACE Better still, CzechPoint does offer a Short Barrel Rifle model with the folding stock. Now that would be fun.
Czech Point Sa vz. 61 Pistol Load Velocity (fps) 25 yds (ins) Winchester 60-gr Silvertip 993 2.3 Winchester 71-gr FMJ 863 2.7 Wolf Gold 71-gr JHP 866 2.1
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|Title Annotation:||Czech Point Sa vz. 61 Pistol|
|Author:||Fortier, David M.|
|Article Type:||Product/service evaluation|
|Date:||Jan 10, 2010|
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