The 3rd Generation: From the vz. 61 Skorpion Submachine Gun to the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1
The Slovak Way
Although Česká zbrojovka dedicated a lot of time to the modernization of the Skorpion in 9mm Luger and invested substantial funds in its development, they knew very well that this interesting design is exploited to its maximum and that it is necessary to look to an even more modern and simpler weapon. By lucky coincidence, at the beginning of the new millennium three Slovak enthusiasts from the town of Trenčín in neighbouring Slovakia started with the development of the completely new submachine gun called Laugo, which won recognition of experts for its ingenuity and simplicity despite that the first samples were a matter of improvisation.
Česká zbrojovka, which never opposed good ideas coming from outside, showed an interest in the Slovak weapon for the first time in 2004. Ján Lučanský, one of the fathers of the Laugo remembers: “From our point of view, we were almost finishing the development at that time – however, we had no idea about the Czech Army’s extremely strict methodology originating in 1950s and 1960s which are always followed by Česká zbrojovka in the course of weapons design for armed forces. Obviously, from this demanding perspective, Česká zbrojovka did not acknowledge our project as viable.”
Agreement on Transfer of Design Rights to the Laugo in favour of Česká zbrojovka was finally concluded in January 2007. In the meantime the work on the weapon advanced, i.e. with extensive application of polymers integrated to its design, according to Ján Lučanský, the submachine gun was about 60% finished at that time. “Česká zbrojovka wanted to complement the original Laugo design with polymer magazines, to add a 3-round burst limiter, finalize the version in .40 S&W cal., etc.”
The EVO 3
The development of the weapon in Česká zbrojovka was initially continued mostly by Ján Lučanský, whom the company, located in the town of Uherský Brod, at first employed as a contract employee. The submachine gun now in its advanced version successfully passed extensive durability tests in the course of which one firearm fired 35,000 rounds. Already at this stage the new prototypes were being presented to the elite military and security units, whose comments considerably influenced the ultimate refinement of the ergonomics.
At the beginning of 2009, Ján Lučanský joined Česká zbrojovka as a regular employee and became a staff member of the Design Dept. and started to refine the styling, ergonomics and the new design of the shoulder stock. Another designer from the arms company with its headquarters at the main plant in Uherský Brod, Mr. Jaroslav Červík at the same time concentrated on the issues associated with construction materials, documentation and technology.
In May 2009 the new weapon was presented for the first time to the professionals at IDET (International Fair of Defence and Security Technology), which is held in the town of Brno. The weapon was introduced as a representative of the third generation of the Skorpion compact automatic weapons family – hence the name EVO 3. On that occasion Česká zbrojovka began to designate the new Skorpion as a weapon of the PDW category, which it still is; but that is only a part of the business strategy, because, given the caliber and the concept used, it is simply a classic submachine gun.
Development of the basic version in 9x19mm was completed in the second half of 2009, when it began to use the final designation CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1.
Until the spring of 2010 it was anticipated that Česká zbrojovka’s new submachine gun was aimed primarily at foreign markets, which was also indicated by occasional remarks from the company top managers. Professional circles were surprised when on March 18, 2010 the Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic officially ordered from Česká zbrojovka a total of 572 pieces of automatic personal defence weapons, i.e. the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 in 9x19mm with accessories and ammunition, to be delivered in 2010–2011.
The ordered CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 submachine guns are intended for the Prague Castle Guard, a specific branch of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic which, besides its representative role, provides for the security and protection of residences of the President of the Czech Republic and his guests. Members of the Castle Guard are still armed as standard with the first generation of Skorpions, i.e. the vz. 61 in 7.65mm submachine guns.
At the time this article is being prepared the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 submachine gun has successfully passed all demanding factory tests and successfully passed heavy-duty tests conducted in accordance with the highest possible Western and Eastern military standards. Additionally, in the meantime, the family of new Scorpions has begun to expand. Currently there are two model lines, the A line represents weapons for armed forces and law enforcement, the line S indicates a semi-automatic version. For the future the expansion of other available calibers is under consideration.
The Power of Simplicity
The CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 is a light automatic personal weapon chambered in 9x19mm (9mm Luger) enabling fire in single shots, three-round bursts, and full automatic fire. The fire mode is selected by the ambidextrous selector/manual safety located on both sides of the trigger mechanism housing; the individual fire mode positions are indicated by the horizontally placed pictograms. Effective range of fire is 250 m.
The new Scorpion features a robust blowback breech, which is provided with a recess at the front right side; the recess is accessible through the ejection port for pulling the bolt to the forward position in case the weapon is extremely dirty. The CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 is outfitted with a hammer striking mechanism containing an automatic firing pin block safety. The weapon fires from the closed bolt position. After the last cartridge has been fired the bolt remains locked open, caught by the bolt stop to the rear whose grip surface is located on the left side of the trigger mechanism housing.
The bolt is a slide assembly on the detachable trigger mechanism housing and it is guided by the central pin with a single recoil spring. This enabled to design the receiver as a simple, two-piece shell made from the highly resistant engineered polymer. The barrel is screwed into a so-called fixation insert, which is embedded in the front of the receiver. The forend consists of a separate polymer part slid onto the barrel, which is equipped with a collar. Fixed coupling of the forend with the receiver is provided by the barrel’s sleeve nut screwed from the front, ahead of which is screwed onto the barrel specifically shaped cylindrical compensator.
The weapon’s concept is based on an original idea that has a patent pending. The idea consists in the already mentioned removable trigger mechanism housing which works as a “gate” into the submachine gun internals. This feature, besides others, substantially simplifies the basic disassembly and re-assembly. Ján Lučanský even believes that the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 can boast the fastest disassembly and assembly of any automatic weapon ever.
The basic take down requires no tools as. After the magazine is removed the bolt is cocked, the cocking handle is caught by a safety slot to the rear. The front pin of the trigger mechanism housing is drafted to the left and after the rear hinge is unhooked, the trigger mechanism housing is removed. The bolt assembly, together with the recoil spring and the guide rod, are taken off through the hole in the bottom of the receiver (the operator can simplify this by utilizing the part used for the partial bolt release). The basic disassembly for maintenance is thus completed. Re-assembly of the weapon is carried out in reversed order.
Parts made from the highly resistant polymer include the forend, grip, trigger mechanism housing, pistol grip, folding telescopic shoulder stock or the base (joint) of the shoulder stock. Whatever its dimensions, due to this material the weapon is really light. A very progressive feature in which Česká zbrojovka fully exploited the possibilities of modern injection moulding technology is represented by integrated mounting rails according to Mil-Std 1913, which forms an inseparable part of the receiver (on top) and forend (on all four sides).
Concerns related to polymer parts overheating are baseless. Ján Lučanský states that due to the sophisticated design the new Scorpion has the capacity to fire 600 rounds in a row without any harm and without the need for the shooter to wear gloves.
The designers dedicated a lot of time and energy to the ergonomics issues of the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 submachine gun. In the course of ergonomics refinement they utilized many templates and patterns and they carefully took into account many comments and suggestions of professionals from the army and security forces. The outcome corresponds to their effort. In terms of ergonomics, the new Scorpion can hardly find any competition. This weapon perfectly fits the operator’s hands, aiming is absolutely natural and all the controls are located exactly where the operator needs them. Thanks to the optimized balancing, plastic buffer at the rear of the guide rod and discharge made from the front position of the breechblock, the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 is easily controlled in all modes of fire even at its relatively high rate of fire, which contributes to the high accuracy up to the maximum effective range of 250 m.
Furthermore, the weapon is superior regarding adjustments of the individual shooter’s body measurements and/or tactical requirements. A unique feature is the horizontally adjustable pistol grip. The retractable (telescopic) shoulder stock, which folds to the right, can be set to a wide range of different lengths. The weapon’s overall dimensions can be further reduced by the complete removal of the shoulder stock (after pressing down the spring loaded disassembly button at the rear of the receiver) for the purpose of transport or for the use of the submachine gun in constrained spaces.
The CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 is provided with integrated attachments points for carrying system swivels, enabling a comfortable carry in a fire-ready position, using standardized three-point or single-point slings. The weapon is supplied with double column transparent polymer magazines featuring a side-by-side feed position with a capacity of 20 or 30 cartridges. The magazine catch located at the front bottom portion of the trigger guard is ambidextrous. With regard to particular requirements, the weapon can be supplied with a wide range of accessories: several types of flashlights including snap-fixed attachments, laser designator, tactical grips, red dot sights, etc. In its basic version the new Scorpion is outfitted with mechanical sights with dioptre rear sight installed to the top mounting rail as standard.
At the Shooting Range
At the tunnel shooting range of Česká zbrojovka, this author had the opportunity of practical testing one of the pre-production units of the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1. I welcomed that my companion and co-demonstrator was the designer Ján Lučanský. Ján has spent a good deal of his life with this weapon and is entirely comfortable with it. Always observant and learning, he closely watches how the weapon behaves in the hands of other shooters, and is always willing to listen to comments and possible observations.
After shooting several magazines, I had only words of praise. The CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 is without any doubt a weapon of a different category, it is a classic submachine gun, one which immediately attracts attention with its comfortable weight, perfect balancing and very friendly ergonomics, as already mentioned earlier.
The weapon I used was outfitted with the front sight having a distinct white dot on its top. This is of course not optimal for longer distances because smaller targets might be covered, but under our conditions it worked to the contrary – the aiming was comfortable and prompt. The cocking handle was situated on the left side, therefore as a right handed person I managed to operate it using my left hand, and the same method was also applied to the magazine catch while exchanging the magazine. Both operations could be carried out without any problems. The safety or fire mode selector was easily operated using the right hand thumb – switching to individual modes was positive and clearly distinguishable without checking the safety/selector visually.
Shooting in single shots was absolutely contained; I retained complete control over the weapon even when shooting 3-round bursts. I would need more practice in order to achieve a higher degree of accuracy while shooting longer bursts, but taking into consideration that I was handling the new Skorpion for the first time, the result was not bad at all.
A Weapon with Big Potential
It is evident that in the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 submachine gun we can see a combination of original Slovak ideas with know-how and a wealth of experience from Česká zbrojovka a.s. This has brought forth an automatic weapon with very attractive characteristics. The fact that the third generation of Scorpions has a lot to offer is plain to see by a deep interest expressed from various security organizations and institutions from the Czech Republic as well from abroad, whose personnel participating in numerous presentations often do not want to pass the weapon to their colleagues (this is not any promotional drivel, but repeatedly observed reality). As far as is known, other orders are meanwhile under negotiations, nevertheless Česká zbrojovka a.s. sees the near future with undisguised confidence and optimism.