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The long gun handgun.

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NO MATTER WHAT YOU CALL THEM, PISTOL-CALIBER SEMI-AUTOMATIC SUBGUN LOOKALIKES ARE HERE TO STAY. JIM TARR OPINES ON HIS THREE FAVORITES

I like pistol-caliber carbines, and really love semi-auto pistol versions of submachineguns (SMGs). In the last few years I've written about a number of them for various publications, and ended up buying more than a couple. This article is concerned with my three favorites--a CZ Scorpion EVO 3 SI pistol, a CMMG Colt-pattern 9mm AR, and a Zenith Firearms Z-5K.

When thinking about these pistols, I came to the realization that they really represent three different generations of designs. Zenith's Z-5K is really just a clone of the HK's MP5K, a shortened version of the storied MP5 submachinegun -introduced exactly 50 years ago in 1966. The Colt-pattern 9mm AR-15 came about in the mid-1980s as a commercial venture specifically to compete against the Heckler & Koch MP5 9mm submachine gun. And while the original CZ Skorpion was designed in 1961, the current CZ Scorpion EVO 3 is an all-new design that was introduced in 2009.

All of these firearms were originally designed as submachineguns, and with original-length short barrels and sporting modern arm braces they more resemble the original SMGs than in any other configuration. But describing them as "pistols" doesn't quite do them justice. They don't have long barrels so they don't count as pistol-caliber carbines. I would call them semi-auto subguns, but by its very definition a submachinegun is capable of full-auto fire--so I have coined the term "long gun handgun."

I like all three of the designs, and I own each of these guns, and all sport some degree of customization beyond what you'll get from the factory. But none of them is perfect. Let's compare and contrast, shall we?

Zenith Firearms Z-5K

My "ultimate" SMG is the HK MP5K PDW with suppressor. However, until the unconstitutional NFA is abolished my ability to own one of these gun-porn bullet-hoses for less than the price of a new car is doubtful. My custom Z-5K pistol gets me 85% of the way there at a fraction of the cost (and paperwork) and yet is still technically a handgun. 'Meriea!

The Heckler and Koch MP5 was "the" submachinegun for decades, and in the eighties you couldn't find a SWAT team or special forces unit without several variations of the MP5 in its inventory. More than 100 different variations of the MP5 have been produced. The two most common variations are the MP5SD (integrally suppressed) and the MP5K--a shortened version with vertical foregrip seen either with no stock or as the PDW model with a side-folding stock (as opposed to the original's collapsible stock).

Hollywood loves both the MP5 and the MP5K. In Executive Decision--the last good movie Steven Seagal appeared in (co-starring Kurt Russell, Halle Berry and one of Donald Trump's hot ex-wives)--Seagal wields a suppressed HK MP5K PDW during the initial assault, and it is a thing of beauty. Netflix's new series Stranger Things (which I highly recommend), set in 1983, features large numbers of MP5Ks with and without stocks.

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Zenith Firearms (www.zenithfirearms.com) is currently importing MP5 clone pistols made by MKE in Turkey. MKE is an HK-licensee and manufactures the MP5s carried by the Turkish National Police and several military units. Zenith offers several variations on the design, and I chose their shortest, the Z-5K. This pistol has a 4.6-inch barrel with no muzzle device and no stock. The rear of the receiver features a sling swivel from the factory.

The MKE HK clones seem to be as well made of an MP5 variant as any that I've seen, and that includes authentic HKs. Let that sentence sink in for a minute.

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This design operates using a delayed roller-lock system, which is pretty complicated for a 9mm subgun, but it has a well-earned reputation for reliability. It also comes with a 5-year warranty from Zenith.

Zenith's Z-5K features a stamped aluminum upper receiver, polymer lower receiver, the standard protected front sight, and a rear drum with four different notches (as opposed to apertures). Sight radius on this pistol is almost exactly 10 inches. Unloaded with no optic it weighs 4.43 pounds.

Zenith provides a scope mount with a MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail with the pistol, and it's a must if you want to mount an optic. It clamps into place with four screws and does not move. While the iron sights on this pistol work just fine, red dots rule the world, and my Z-5K most recently has been seen wearing a Trijicon RMR.

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The trigger pull on the Zenith is better than what I've come to expect with this design. It is a single-stage pull with a tiny bit of takeup and a relatively crisp (for a military design) 5.25-pound pull.

The bolt handle is on the top left above the barrel, and the safety is a single-sided model that I found a bit of a reach. There are two different magazine releases--a paddle in front of the trigger guard or a button on the right side that is too far forward to hit with your index finger tip while maintaining a firing grip.

While there have been a few rare models that have bolt catches, the original MP5 design as exemplified by the Zenith Z-5K does not lock the bolt back on an empty magazine. FYI inserting a fully loaded magazine on a closed bolt is a giant pain, which is why all the high-speed SF types lock the bolt back before stripping out the old mag and shoving in a fresh one. Zenith provides three new 30-round magazines with the pistol in a lockable case, as well as a sling, pull-through cleaning kit and two extra takedown pushpins.

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The MP5 defines modularity--remove two pushpins and the entire receiver comes apart and the bolt comes out in your hand. The polymer handguard is very short, and even though it has a handstop, I found I had to be careful not to get a finger in front of the muzzle. People who like to put their support hand on the front of the magazine well won't have a concern, but I like using the handguard. After one scare too many, I bought an extended polymer handguard for this pistol that has a shroud that extends about an inch and a half past the muzzle and has a hand stop. Installation requires only removing a single pushpin, and even though I hook a finger around the front of the handstop while shooting, I have no more worries about losing my fingertips. And I think it looks better.

I would love to install one of the vertical foregrips found on the original MP5K on my pistol (it would take five seconds), but the ATF says it is not legal to have a vertical foregrip on a pistol. No, the ATF encouraging inaccurate shooting doesn't make any sense to me either, but most gun laws have no grounding in reality.

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My goal when obtaining the Z-5K was to create a semi-auto pistol that visually (and legally) got as close to possible as the MP5K PDW as possible. To that end I planned to attach a receiver adapter and an arm brace to the back of the gun. To do that all you have to do is pop out the back two receiver pins and swap out the provided piece with an adapter plus brace.

SB Tactical (www.sb-tactical.com), the inventors of the pistol arm brace, make models for the MP5/MP5K and its clones that resemble a fixed stock. I was looking for something a little more slender, and not long before this article was due I learned that SB Tactical was coming out with a new brace for the MP5K that resembled the original Brugger & Thomet MP5K PDW folding stock. I obtained one of the early production models of the SBT5K (the 'BT' in honor of Brugger & Thomet) and I couldn't be happier.

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In profile this arm brace looks almost exactly like the B&T stock, and it folds to the side by depressing a large button on the left side just behind the receiver. With my extended handguard and the brace folded this pistol is only 14.5 inches long, which means it can be transported discreetly in just about any type of bag made. The original factory handguard is an inch and a half shorter. With the brace extended it is a very compact 23 inches long.

Because this side-folding brace (which is rubber mated to thick polymer) also features a receiver adapter, folding/ locking mechanism, sling swivel stud, etc. it is likely to retail for close to $300, but with it in place you get all the looks of a B&T stock without having to file any federal paperwork.

I have not yet had a jam with this gun, no matter the brand or type of ammo I put through it, so that should tell you all you need to know. It is shorter and lighter than either of the other two pistols profiled in this article, so recoil is a bit more, which means it's still not much. With optic and brace/tube/adapter mounted and loaded magazine inserted, this 9mm is nearly 7-pounds.

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Negatives to this pistol? Well, first is the cost. The Z-5K retails for $1,750 and that cost doesn't include a brace/ adapter. And it's not like Zenith is gouging its customers; other manufacturers/importers of the MP5 design charge just as much. Second is the lack of a bolt hold open, but people have been complaining about that for decades--deal with it. I can't reach the safety with my thumb when I've got a firing grip on the gun, I have to twist my hand a bit. The trigger pull is great for a 50-year-old military design, but it can't compare to a match AR trigger pull. In retrospect I wish I had gotten the Z-5P which basically is the same pistol only with a slightly extended (5.8") barrel with flash hider for better looks and velocity.

The above complaints pale whenever I look at this thing. With the new SBT5K brace, it is as sexy a gun as I have ever owned, and it is great fun to shoot. To me it's worth every penny.

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CMMG Mk9 9mm PDW Pistol

I have a soft spot in my heart for the Colt 9mm SMG simply because it was the very first full-auto firearm I ever fired. It belonged to a DEA friend of mine. The Colt SMG was officially the M635, and current semi-auto carbine versions are sold by Colt as the AR6951. Colt (and subsequently other manufacturers) has sold thousands of semi-auto 9mm AR-pattern carbines and pistols over the last few decades, and they are still very popular. About two years ago I got in a CMMG Mk9 9mm AR pistol to test (www.cmmginc.com), and liked it so much I bought it and proceeded to customize the heck out of it. I still have it--as I write this it is currently leaning in the corner of my office, loaded and ready to go. ,

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I've called Colt-pattern 9mm ARs "chop shop specials" or examples of "garage gunsmithing" because that skinny stick mag sticking out of the larger .223 mag well just looks wrong. But converting a direct gas impinge ment rifle to a straight blowback pistol-caliber subgun is no easy task, and the engineers at Colt did a pretty darn good job. Colt engineers did away with the bolt and instead reworked the bolt carrier into the bolt.

The original prototypes worked from an open bolt. When the Colt engineers switched to the current closed bolt design they had to add a lot of weight to the carrier and designed a heavier buffer to keep the cyclic rate down and reduce parts breakage. Dedicated "9mm" AR buffers are a lot heavier than standard rifle buffers, and I've got an even heavier ACTIVE buffer from Blitzkrieg Technologies in my CMMG to reduce recoil.

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The Colt-pattern SMG magazine is actually patterned on the Uzi magazine with an added bolt-hold-open feature and different mag catch. You can easily convert Uzi mags to work in a 9mm AR by simply cutting a new mag catch and relieving the top rear of the magazine so it doesn't impinge on the bolt stop. Converted Uzi magazines won't lock the bolt back in an AR, but they're a lot cheaper. Official Colt-pattern magazines are most commonly available in 20- and 32-round capacities. Uzi mags can be found in 32- and 25-round capacities.

The Uzi magazine is much smaller than the magazine well of an M16, so Colt engineers developed a simple but ingenious block that could be roll-pinned in place. This block has a steel feedramp located between the magazine and chamber. The feedramp piece also has a lip on the bottom, which prevents a magazine from being overinserted.-CMMG does away with the block and instead manufactures a dedicated 9mm lower receiver.

The CMMG 9mm pistol sports an 8.5-inch barrel surrounded by their 7-inch RKM modular handguard with KeyMod slots. The barrel is tipped with an A2 flash hider but is has l/2"x36 threads (standard .223 threads are l/2"x28). This prevents accidentally installing a flash hider with a .22-sized hole on a 9mm barrel. It has a flattop receiver, Magpul MOE pistol grip and trigger guard, and sports the polymer case/gas deflector on the ejection port, which is the quickest way to spot most 9mm ARs if they don't have a magazine inserted.

Compared to short-barreled .223 ARs, pistol-caliber ARs with "short" barrels improve the performance of the cartridge. I've done a lot of chronographing with the CMMG and found most ammo did 100-200 fps more out of the 8.5-inch barrel than their advertised velocities.

Because the provided CMMG pistol buffer tube was a bit undersized for the SBX brace I wanted to install (a problem they've since fixed, the folks at CMMG know how popular these braces are), I tracked down a KAK Industry buffer tube and installed it. It provides a little more reach to the trigger. The SBX brace is a streamlined version of the original SB-15 model from SB Tactical and I think looks good.

The 7-inch free-floated RKM KeyMod handguard from CMMG was functional, but a little boring at which to look. I secured some KeyMod slot panels from Midwest Industries (www.midwestindustriesinc.com) for the sides, and slapped a rubber rail cover from Ergo onto the top rail ... just

because I could. A 7-inch handguard is pretty short, so just to see if I would like it I installed a Magpul Angled Fore Grip beneath it. In fact I really like it, and it dramatically changed the handling characteristics of the pistol (remember, you can't legally put a vertical foregrip on a pistol, but the ATF has ruled than an AFG on a pistol is legal--and no, that doesn't make sense to me either).

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From just about Day One my CMMG has worn a HiLux Micro Max B-dot red dot sight. I've written about this optic several times in these pages. While it is made in China, the QC on these optics are excellent, and in several tests they have outperformed Aimpoint Micros, while being a third of the cost. For back up I've got a set of Ruger Rapid Deploy sights on the gun.

Because it is an AR-15, the CMMG of any of these 9mm pistols is by far the most customizable--and so it has been the most customized. It has the least amount of recoil and only part of that is due to the fact that it is the biggest and the heaviest of these three. It also has the best trigger (even without throwing in a match AR trigger). Finally, because it is an AR the controls will be familiar to most people.

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The downside? Of the three types of 9mms I cover in this article, the 9mm AR is inherently the least reliable. Most of this is because the design is, at heart, a conversion. The MP5 was built as a 9mm roller-lock. The Scorpion was built as a 9mm blowback. The AR was built as a direct gas impingement rifle. That said, the design can be completely reliable, and usually the difference between a problem gun and a reliable gun is the magazine.

My CMMG runs just fine with any mag, and any kind of ammo. But I recently tested a competitor's 9mm which runs great with FMJ with every mag, but only runs with JHPs with certain magazines. And this is a pretty common issue with 9mm ARs. The issue seems to be the height at which the magazine sits inside the gun, and near-imperceptible differences to the eye make a difference to the action. The higher the mag sits, the better. My advice? Plan on buying a number of magazines and test them all, because chances are one or more of them won't work with certain kinds of ammo. Oh, and FYI, whether it says Colt, Brownells, or Rock River Arms on the bottom of your magazine, they are all made by Metalform.

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CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1

The CZ Scorpion EVO 3 Al was introduced in 2009, and as a submachine it has been very successful. The Scorpion SMG is currently in use by military and police forces in eight countries. Last year CZ USA (www.cz-usa.com) introduced a pistol version of this gun, the Scorpion EVO 3 SI. Scorpion EVO 3 Al is the designation of the select-fire submachinegun, and the "SI" indicates semi-auto only function. Apart from the lack of a stock or select-fire capability, the EVO 3 SI pistol is identical to its SMG brother.

This is a straight blowback design with a 7%-inch (196mm) barrel tipped with a proprietary flash hider. New (2016) models feature l/2"x28 threads on the muzzle to accept common accessories. The entire frame of the pistol is fiber-reinforced polymer, and it weighs just 5 lbs. empty.

Yes, you read that right; the rear of the receiver is two polymer halves that are connected by screws. When I first started examining the Scorpion I wasn't sure how to react to its construction. A screwed-together polymer shell? It took me a while to realize that the Scorpion is the modern equivalent of the Sten SMG in that it is made as efficiently and simply as possible to do its job--it's just made using modern materials and manufacturing techniques. The Scorpion EVO 3 is not any more complicated than it needs to be, something that could never be said about the Heckler & Koch MP5. And yet it offers great performance combined with a very unique and striking appearance, with a suggested retail of only $849 ($899 for the FDE version), making it the least expensive of these three pistols.

The location of the charging handle will be familiar to anyone who has handled an MP5; on the left side, forward. Unlike the MP5, the bolt of the Scorpion locks back on an empty magazine. The bolt can be locked to the rear by moving the charging handle all the way back and pivoting it upward, or by pushing up on the bolt catch when the bolt is pulled all the way to the rear. Also, the charging handle is reversible, and switching it to the right side is a very simple process. That right there illustrates the difference between a gun introduced in 1966 and one brought out in 2009.

The barrel is surrounded by a polymer housing/handguard with MIL-STD 1913 rails on all sides. The handguard is rather narrow and rectangular in profile. The top of the handguard is angled down toward the muzzle, so you don't have as much top rail as you could, but the end result is very attractive. When I originally wrote it up I said I thought it looked a bit like a shark's head.

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CZ provides a hand stop that is attached to the front of the bottom handguard rail at the factory, and I haven't moved it. It is to keep your support hand from accidentally slipping forward over the muzzle when firing.

If the hammer is cocked you can work the charging handle even if the safety is on. If the hammer isn't cocked and the safety is on, the bolt will only pull back about half an inch, just enough to see if the chamber is loaded.

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The magazine release is a serrated polymer paddle on either side of the front of the trigger guard. Move it forward to drop the magazine. It is possible to push the magazine release with your trigger finger, however I found that with the bolt locked back empty magazines usually didn't drop free. I'd recommend stripping the empty magazine out with your left hand, as your left thumb sits right on the magazine release as you grab the magazine.

The bolt catch is a very large serrated steel lever on the left side of the weapon above and slightly to the rear of the magazine well. After seating a fresh magazine into the mag well, just pull down on the mag catch with your thumb to chamber a new round.

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The pistol ships with two 20-round magazines. The original SMG was fed by 30-round magazines, and they are available from CZ-USA for only $20 apiece. The Scorpion magazines (except for the spring) are completely constructed of polymer. The magazine bodies are translucent, while the follower and basepads are solid black, and loaded look just as cool and sci-fi as the gun. The 20-rounders are useful when shooting off the bench, but to my eye just don't look right in the gun, which is why I bought a bunch of 30-rounders from CZ. As for cleaning the magazines, if they get too dirty CZ's recommended procedure is to wash all of the plastic parts of the magazine with detergent, wipe them down, and let them air dry. How's that for low maintenance?

Both the front and rear sight bases are constructed of beefy aluminum. The rear sight offers not one or two peep apertures but four, protected by substantial ears. The peep apertures are mounted on a crossbar in a sort of paddle-wheel setup and click into place. The apertures range in size from very small to ghost ring large, and are adjustable for windage.

The front sight base has a serrated rear to reduce glare. The front sight post itself appears to come from an AR, and is adjustable for elevation. The sight post is protected by large wings, and they form a semi-circle which perfectly complements the peep apertures in the rear sight. Distance between the two sights is 9.5 inches. FYI these iron sights are too low for use on an AR. When mounting a red dot on the receiver rail you won't need a riser.

The trigger itself is polymer and has a stepped face. Trigger pull on my sample was 8 pounds even, which is fine for a military-grade subgun but is far too heavy for my tastes, and the heaviest of the three pistols in this review. It's not crisp, either. Apart from the trigger pull, the only real complaint I have with the Scorpion is the design of the safety.

The safety level is polymer and ambidextrous. Pushing it down/forward moves the weapon from Safe to Fire, marked respectively with a white circle and red dash. Flicking the safety off with my thumb was no problem, but I found I just couldn't get an angle on it to flick it back up and on with my thumb. Pulling back my trigger finger on the right side of the gun, however, it was easy to engage the safety.

However, the right side of the safety presses against my trigger finger when I have a firing grip on the gun, and forcefully nudges my finger when I fire. It's distracting bordering on annoying. CZ sells an "Ambi Control Delete" for the safety for $12.95 that does away with the right side lever, but I haven't gotten around to ordering one yet. I have fired a full-auto conversion Scorpion with the right side lever gone, and liked it a lot.

Short of filing a Form 1 with the BATF, your only option when it comes to having a pseudo-SMG is the adapter and tube CZ sells specifically designed to mount the SIG arm brace meant for ARs. CZ offers the adapter and tube for sale on their website for $79.95. The adapter replaces the unit on the back of the pistol and is a quick 2-second push-button install.

As for recoil, the Scorpion is a bit odd. It doesn't have muzzle rise but instead the whole pistol seems to jump back and bounce in your hands. I believe this is because a third of the weight of the gun is in the bolt/carrier, which is in the center of the gun and only travels 2 inches during the recoil cycle. Recoil isn't bad at all, though, and in fact the full-auto conversion Scorpion I fired (with a high RPM) was very controllable.

My Scorpion has never choked once no matter what I was feeding it, whether it was standard FMJ, soft 147-grain loads or hot +P+ hollowpoints. The longer than standard handgun-length barrel provided improved velocity, on average about 150 fps more than what you'd see out of the average Glock. If you're thinking of using the CZ (or the CMMG for that matter) for personal or home defense, you should consider the increased velocity when choosing a defensive load/bullet.

So ... worst trigger pull, and a horrible ambi safety ... but it was completely reliable, with sci-fi good looks, and a price lower than the CMMG and less than half of the Zenith Z-5K. I can't say that it's better than either of the other two, or that I like it better, but it is very definitely different. If you're looking for a long gun handgun with distinctive looks that won't break the bank, the CZ Scorpion is for you.

SPECIFICATIONS

ZENITH FIREARMS Z-SK

Caliber: 9mm Luger

Barrel Length: 4.6"

Muzzle Device: None

Overall Length: 12.5"

Weight (without magazine) 4.43 lbs

Magazine Type: HK MP5

Sights: Post front adj for elevation, Four notch rear adj for windage

Trigger: 5.25 lbs (as tested)

Accessories: Three 32-round magazines, hard case, cleaning kit

MSRP: $1,750.00
ACCURACY RESULTS

Load                    Bullet Weight   Velocity   SD   Avg Group (in)

Black Hills FMJ              115         1,128     17        2.3
HPR JHP                      115         1,109     22        2.2
SIG Elite JHP                124         1,179     19        2.6
Hornady Am Gunner +P         124         1,235     15        2.4
Winchester Ranger +P+        127         1,267     19        3.2

Accuracy results are the averages of five five-shot groups at 25 yards
from a sandbag rest. Velocities are averages of ten shots measured
with an Oehler Model 35P 12 feet from the muzzle.


MANUFACTURER

Zenith Firearms--www.zenithfirearrms.com,1 -434-202-7790

SPECIFICATIONS

CMMG INC. Mk9 POW PISTOL

Caliber: 9mm Luger

Barrel Length: 8.5"

Muzzle Device: A2 flash hider, 1/2"x36 thread

Overall Length: 24"

Weight (without magazine) 5.5 lbs

Forend: RKM7 Pistol Grip: Magpul MOE Magazine Type: Colt

Sights: None

Trigger: 5.75 lbs.

Accessories: One 32-round magazines

MSRP: $1,099.95

MANUFACTURER

CMMG Inc.--www.cmmginc.com, 1-660-248-2293
ACCURACY RESULTS
Load                            Bullet Weight      Velocity

Liberty Ammo JHP                     50             2,455
HPS Black Ops OTF                    86             1,458
Black Hills TAC-XP +P                115            1,342
Double Tap +P JHP                    115            1,609
Winchester 9mm NATO FMJ              124            1,338
American Eagle FMJ                   124            1,105
Hornady Am Gunner +P                 124            1,329
Speer Gold Dot +P                    124            1,390
Double Tap +P JHP                    124            1,437
Winchester Ranger +P+                127            1,385
Hornady Crit Duty +P                 135            1,279
Hornady XTP                          147            1,179
Winchester Train & Defend FMJ        147            1,166
Double Tap JHP +P                    147            1,241

Load                                 SD         Avg Group (in)

Liberty Ammo JHP                     25              2.1
HPS Black Ops OTF                    19              1.9
Black Hills TAC-XP +P                11              1.7
Double Tap +P JHP                     7              1.6
Winchester 9mm NATO FMJ               7              1.7
American Eagle FMJ                   10              1.8
Hornady Am Gunner +P                  7              1.4
Speer Gold Dot +P                    10              1.8
Double Tap +P JHP                    16              1.9
Winchester Ranger +P+                 9              1.7
Hornady Crit Duty +P                 11              1.6
Hornady XTP                           8              1.5
Winchester Train & Defend FMJ        25              2.0
Double Tap JHP +P                    15              1.8

Accuracy results are the averages of five five-shot groups at 25
yards from a sandbag rest. Velocities are averages often shots
measured with an Oehler Model 35P 12 feet from the muzzle.


SPECIFICATIONS

CZ-USA SCORPION EVO 3 S1

Caliber: 9mm Luger

Barrel Length: 7.75"

Muzzle Device: Flash hider

Overall Length: 16" (25.5" with optional adapter/tube)

Weight (without magazine) 5.0 lbs

Magazine Type: CZ, 20 rounds (30 rounds available)

Sights: Post front adj for elevation, Four aperture rear adj for windage

Trigger: .8-0 lbs (as tested) Accessories: Two 20-round magazines

MSRP: $849.00

MANUFACTURER

CZ USA--www.cz-usa.com,1 -800-955-4486
ACCURACY RESULTS
Load                            Bullet Weight      Velocity

Black Hills FMJ                      115            1,298
Hornady Am Gunner +P                 124            1,301
Winchester Ranger +P+                127            1,377
Winchester Train & Defend FMJ        147            1,156

Load                                 SD         Avg Group (in)

Black Hills FMJ                      13              1.7
Hornady Am Gunner +P                 11              1.8
Winchester Ranger +P+                19              2.1
Winchester Train & Defend FMJ        22              2.0

Accuracy results are the averages of five five-shot groups at 25
yards from a sandbag rest. Velocities are averages of ten shots
measured with an Oehler Model 35P 12 feet from the muzzle.


ARM BRACES

A quick word on arm braces. As of this writing, the BATFE has declared that attaching one of these braces to your pistol does not alter the legal definition of that firearm, as in it is still a pistol even if It doesn't look like it. A lot of people thought the ATF would change their mind about that, find any excuse to restrict or outlaw the braces that they could. Such has not been the case.

A quick check of the new braces coming from SB Tactical just approved by the ATF, including the above sidefolding SBT5K and a sexy collapsible model meant for the SIG MPX and AR platform, shows that these braces are here to stay. However, the BATFE has changed their mind about something.

In the opinion of the ATF, if you use one of these braces in a manner in which it was not designed (i.e. as a stock) it would then be illegal (which is the exact opposite of what they first stated when approving these braces). Currently the opinion of the BATFE is that if you "shoulder" a brace you have redesigned the handgun to which it is affixed, which is illegal. Hold your handgun one way and you're legal, hold it another and you're a felon, according to the current opinion letter from the head of the ATF's Firearm Technology Branch.

However, I would like to state that there is no legal definition of "shouldering", and I will leave it up to you readers to theorize exactly what kind of evidence the government would need to present in a trial to prove their case. A simple cheek weld with the brace, such as I demonstrate in a photo or two in this article, is unquestionably legal as long as the back of the brace isn't touching your shoulder. Hopefully a word to the wise here should be sufficient.

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Author:Tarr, James
Publication:Firearms News
Date:Sep 10, 2016
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