Once upon a time, there were two guns. Both were made with the precision machining and attention to detail characteristic of the great Czech arms manufacturer CZ. They even shared the same name: the “Skorpion,” but that’s where the similarities end.
The two Scorpions in question are the CZ Scorpion Evo 3 and the CZ Skorpion vz. 61. The former was originally designed as a PDW chambered in 9mm, while the latter is an older model, originally released as a machine pistol in 1961, hence its numerical designation.
Aside from their names and manufacturers the two weapons have very little in common. The Evo 3 was designed to be a primary weapon for law enforcement tactical teams. Based on the Laugo M8A prototype submachine gun, its compact size makes it better for checking corners and room clearing. The buttstock that comes with the original PDW version helps stabilize the already gentle recoil of its 9x19mm rounds, making it very accurate at short range.
Skorpion vz. 61
The vz. 61 on the other hand was always designed to be a sidearm. Designed during the height of the cold war, a telescoping bolt assembly allowed this simple blowback firearm to be constructed with a barrel measuring a mere 4.4 inches, three inches smaller than the compact version of its modern PDW cousin. The CZ Skorpion vz. 61 was meant to serve junior officers and vehicle crews. As a weapon capable of semi-automatic and automatic fire it would be perfectly capable in a close quarters protection role, especially since it was so compact. The alternative weapon for tank crews in the Communist Bloc at the time was an AK with a folding stock. By contrast, a CZ Skorpion vz. 61 is so compact it can fit in a hip or shoulder holster.
Coincidentally this made the vz. 61 a favorite amongst anyone who wanted a powerful concealed weapon. The StB, the Czech version of the KGB, issued the vz. 61 to its plainclothes officers and field agents. Terrorist groups were also known to use the vz. 61 for the same reasons the secret police favored it so much. Anyone in a long coat could easily hide a vz.61 on his belt.
Scorpion Evo 3
The Evo 3 by contrast is very much a modern PDW – at least in its original configuration. The Evo 3 sold to law enforcement units is a select-fire weapon capable of semi-auto, 3-round-burst, and fully automatic fire. Its civilian variant is built in a stockless “pistol” configuration, since ATF policy states that it is, in fact, a pistol. Federal law states that attaching a buttstock to this weapon converts it to a short-barreled rifle, and a $200 tax stamp is required to own one. This can be avoided by buying the Evo 3 in its rifle configuration, which has a 16.2 inch barrel, just over the barrel length designated by the ATF as being within the SBR range.
The Evo 3’s longer barrel puts it in a separate tier of accuracy compared to its vz. 61 cousin. Both weapons share a similar twist rate with 1 in 10” for the Evo 3 and 1 in 9.8” for its vz. 61 counterpart. The issue for the older model is its small 4.5” barrel and high rate of fire result in violent recoil giving it horrible accuracy even at short ranges. A weapon shooting 6 MOA at 25 yards depends more on volume of fire than pinpoint accuracy.
When put side by side, the Evo 3 comes out as the superior firearm. Accurate, modular, and chambered in the common 9mm rather than the rare .32 ACP, the Scorpion Evo 3 is truly an evolution from its Cold War cousin. Nevertheless, the CZ Skorpion vz. 61 is a phenomenal weapon for collectors and gun owners with an interest in Communist Bloc weapons. It’s a weapon steeped in spy history, responsible for the kidnapping of former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro as well as countless other acts of terror by extremists and state actors alike.
Which CZ Skorpion do you prefer? Tell us in the comments below.