The vz61 Skorpion

| April 30, 2014 | 1 Comments

This is a guest post from B. R. Kurtz, former Military Police Instructor, law enforcement officer and Special Response Team  member, and executive protection agent. He is also the author of Size Matters, a book about point defense weapons, pistol caliber carbines, and short barrel rifles.

skorpion v61

The VZ61 (Skorpion), is a Czech weapon, somewhere between a handgun and a SMG.  It fires the diminutive .32acp pistol cartridge.  By today’s standards it’s considered a marginal round for self defense even with hollow point expanding ammunition.  Now a days its usually relegated to “Mouse Guns” or pocket pistols; but at the time the Skorpion was introduced Ian Flemming’s James Bond had only just upgraded from a .25acp Berretta to the Walther PPK in that same .32acp. As a pistol, the VZ61 is large, larger than a 1911; but decidedly smaller than any of its contemporary SMGs, and significantly lighter.  It was issued with a belt holster and “carry-able” at least in the context of a military sidearm in a full flap belt rig.  It could and still can be fired one (or two) handed, like a pistol;  but that’s where the similarities end.  

Not only does it have a magazine capacity larger than most of the guns of its time (10 and 20 rounds); it also has a folding stock.  Its closest competitors were and still are the Broomhandle Mausers, stocked versions of the Browning Hi Power, Berretta 93R, Stetchkin, and PM-63; and none of them are as compact or easy to carry with the stock attached.  Perhaps the term Machine Pistole is the perfect descriptor for this weapon, although its never been a popular identifier in the U.S.  As a SMG, it lacks both the power/range of full size guns (Thompson, Sterling, PPS 43, etc) and their full length shoulder stocks.  The flipside is that all of the SMG competitors are at least twice its weight and size.

The vz61 compared to a Ruger Bisley 5 1/2" and a Glock 17

The vz61 compared to a Ruger Bisley 5 1/2″ and a Glock 17

So what is/was its role, Pistol, SMG, PDW?  Perhaps all of the above.  It was originally intended as a sidearm for Company level officers, a bail out weapon for armor crews, and to be issued to non-infantry units whose duties not only did not require a full size rifle; but are often hampered by having even a slung rifle in their way.  It was largely unseen in the west, except perhaps as a Terrorist weapon, if its reputation is to be believed.  It certainly has movie credits to prove it.

CzechPoint and CZ-USA are both importing a semi auto pistol version of the VZ61 Skorpion.  It fires from an unlocked breach.  The magazine well is forward of the triggerguard which provides a second hand position.  The bolt is retracted by two “buttons” on the sides of the weapon and locks open on an empty magazine.  The ejection port is on the top of the receiver.  This makes mounting any optics a difficult proposition; but given the nature and likely uses of this weapon, it does not have to be a priority.  Iron sights are installed and just like the SMG version flip to choose between 50m and 75m.  Unlike the SMG the pistol does NOT have Full Auto capability nor the rate reducer required to slow the RPMs to acceptable levels (850rpms).  Four different grips are available (3 wood, 1 polymer).  The gun comes in a nice plastic case with 2-20 and 1-10 round mags, a nylon holster and mag pouch along with a manual on CD.

Once the handgun version was legal for purchase in the Not So Free State (Maryland), I did some dickering and traded away a couple of revolvers I could live without.  I found a an original stock and sent the pair off to Red Jacket Firearms.  Will and the gang did an excellent job of milling a dovetail into the rear of the receiver for the stock as well as a pin hole for the detent that locks it in place–just like the original SMG.  (The newest versions have the rear of the receiver drilled/tapped to accept a modified stock).  The RJF gang also took care of registering it as a NFA weapon then transferred it to my dealer, and eventually to ME!

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From top, clockwise: vz61, North American Arms Guardian, S&W 642, Walther PPK

The stock is short, think AR buffer tube short.  Can it be shouldered? YES (that’s what you paid the $200 tax to do); but you might wanna consider the Czech option and use a cheek/chin hold.  Both are do-able, frankly I’ve become accustom to scrunching up on a AR Pistol, so the position isn’t bad.
skorpion v61 unfolded
If I have any concerns, its the safety lever.  In order to pass entry standards all full auto parts had to be removed, along with the ability to replace them in the semi auto gun.  As a result a new safety lever was added.  It’s plastic but just as long as the original F/A metal version.  In all honesty it seems fine and it hasn’t been an issue at all, I just wish they had made it out of steel.

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So back to what role does it have?  Hmmm well it’s high on the cool factor. It’s small enough to carry in a true laptop bag, not a sorta laptop bag, that’s actually a concealed weapon bag.  It’ll fit in the laptop bag along with a LAPTOP!  The mags are small too, a 20 rnd mag is about the length of 1911 mag (yes curved and thicker).  They are usually sold along with a surplus leather pouch that holds 2-20 rnd mags. The Czech holster and mag pouches are typically blond coloured and a softer grade of pebbled grain leather.  The mag pouches don’t scream “gun” to non gun types because of their curved shape; but wouldn’t pass an even cursory look by anyone tuned in to the subject.

“OMG, it’s .32acp, that won’t stop a grandmother armed with a wooden spoon…” 

Sure I’ve heard lot of those comments.  As you might guess recoil is non-existent, and while .32acp isn’t 10mm the stock means FOUR points of contact and that equals stability.  Stability + zero recoil + 20 rnds = a nice large hole, with lots of options for zippering if necessary.

Personally I don’t use Hollow Points in any of my .32s and I’ve been known to carry FMJs in larger calibers too, and yes even in SD guns.  In smaller calibers I want penetration against flesh targets and against paper HP’s don’t impress anything but my wallet.  The original military loadings had a steel core.  I doubt if the steel core has any AP potential, or at least certainly not intended for AP use, nonetheless ammo with the steel core can not be imported to the U.S.  They occasionally show up on the auctions at hugely inflated prices (as does the Chinese Steel Core ammo from the 1980s).  I wouldn’t classify them as anything beyond collector ammo.

Now as to carrying and using an NFA weapon for self defense, well that’s another issue.  Will it draw media attention? Sure. Will it be get you charged as a terrorist?  My guess is that will depend WHERE and HOW you use it.  A good shooting will always be a GOOD shooting, whether you use a Beltfed Flamethrowing Grenade Launcher or a Gold Metal Winning Olympic Biathlon Rifle.  There’s case law to support NFA weapons used in SELF DEFENSE plus expert testimony is available.

About the Author:

B. R. Kurtz B. R. Kurtz is a former US ARMY MP Instructor, paramedic, and Special Response Team (SRT). He is currently a patrol officer, and wants to be an astronaut, or cowboy -- maybe both. Stuck in the Occupied Zone of the Not So Free State. He is also the author of Size Matters, a book about point defense weapons.
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1 Comment on "The vz61 Skorpion"

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  1. Tom says:

    The original iron sights flip lets you choose between 25m and 150m. I’m not familiar with the above described version, but the described 50m and 75m seem to be a typo. For the rest great article!

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