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VZ-61 Skorpion: The Littlest Submachine Gun

By Pascal Thibert

We tested one of the smallest submachine guns in the world, designed and drawn by Czech engineers during the Cold War. It’s a marvel of inventiveness and particularly interesting gunsmith technology. Original and multipurpose, it is compact, lightweight and accurate.

Few articles or books have been devoted to this small Czech submachine gun. And yet, it deserves to be known and tried by the admirers of fine mechanics, by the lovers of modern armory curiosities. Just slide open its top cover to be dazzled by so much ingenuity in its design and by so much care in its manufacture.
For some, it is either a police or terrorist weapon (despite its weak ammunition), for others it is a collector’s weapon; the Skorpion is a curiosity in the world of gunsmiths and manufacturers as its sophistication is great for a handgun and its ingenuity surprises the specialists.

It looks like a small AK-47, with its lower receiver finely machined in the mass, with its auto sear, with its wooden buttstock and with its curved magazines. It has the appeal and smell of a military weapon, but it is not a military weapon. It is not a combat weapon. In fact, the VZ-61 is an essentially defensive weapon, intended for tank crews, helicopter and aircraft pilots, machine operators, police officers, special service officers or commandos.

It is not an assault weapon; its ammunition is too anemic, with only 240 Joules for the 7.65mm Browning against 550 Joules for a 9mm Parabellum. A bulletproof vest designed to stop .357 Mag or .44 Mag will easily protect against these low-energy cartridges.

A versatile pistol for specialized personnel, offering great firepower for saturation fire, as well as the Russian Stechkin, the VZ61 can be dangerous in attacks against individuals without helmets or bulletproof vests. It has been used by several terrorist groups in Europe and Central America: the Red Brigades, the IRA and many others.

Lethality and Reduced Perforation

We tried to compare the compact guns in the same category as the VZ-61, however, it is the only one to chamber the weak 7.65mm...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N3 (March 2018)
and was posted online on February 9, 2018

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