Gun Review: CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 Pistol
CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 pistol -My favorite SMG (submachine gun) of all time is the Škorpion vz. 61. It’s not the prettiest, or the most powerful, but it’s an absolute joy to shoot and (much like the AR-15) is a bare-essentials kind of gun. Nothing was added that didn’t need to be there. When I heard that CZ was coming out with a new version of the Scorpion updated for 2015 I was extremely interested, and the instant one of our regular suppliers mentioned they had one in stock I was all over that like a fat kid on a Twinkie. Pistol-caliber carbines are so hot right now, and if the Scorpion EVO 3 S1 lives up to the hype it could be a top contender for those looking for something to SBR (short-barreled rifle) . . .
The new Scorpion EVO 3 is very nearly a completely different beast from that original 1960s invention. The two firearms share a common operating system (direct gas blowback) and a common manufacturer…and that’s where the common features end. This new gun has been modernized in every way imaginable.
The predominant manufacturing material here is plastic, not metal. OK, the technical term is “fiber-reinforced polymer,” but “plastic fantastic” just sounds better. The outer shell, trigger/magazine assembly, and grip are all made from high-grade polymer instead of the stamped sheet metal and bakelite of yesteryear. CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 pistol
The barrel and trigger pack are still metal (cold-hammer forged in the case of the barrel, which is actually impressive), as is the massive bolt that keeps this thing running, but every part that could be molded or cast in plastic has been. Normally I bemoan the presence of plastic in a firearm, but in this case it looks like they’ve done a remarkably good job with the design ensuring that the frame is strong enough for regular use, but light enough to be carried around.
Another major change is the addition of Picatinny rails over every inch of available space. There’s a full-length top rail for mounting optics or sling accessories, and while the handguard is a separate molding from the receiver, the top rail flows seamlessly from one to the next. At the front and back of that rail are some custom low-profile rail-mounted sights (including a rear sight with four different aperture sizes) which are actually pretty nice and easy to use.
The adjustments on the rear are simple and firm, and the front sight works like any other AR-15 or AK-47 in the world. The gun also ships with a hand stop at the end of the bottom rail to keep shooters from putting their hand too close to the business end of the firearm, which is definitely an appreciated addition.
Speaking of appreciated additions, there’s an MP5-style charging handle setup on the gun. As on the MP5, the charging handle is not permanently attached to the bolt, allowing the gun to cycle without the charging handle moving at all. There’s also a similar cutout at the rear of the charging handle’s travel allowing the shooter to park the charging handle for unloading the gun or malfunction drills. Slapping it downwards releases the bolt in a satisfying 80s-action-movie kind of way.
Since the “charging handle” on the old Scorpion was little more than a pair of ridged nubs on either side of the gun, the updated version definitely improves the operation. I’d complain that the charging handle is only on one side, but at the push of a pin you can easily swap it from one side to the other.
Out front, the barrel comes threaded from the factory. In states that still fully observe civil liberties and individual freedoms you’ll be able to remove the muzzle device on the front of the gun and substitute whatever aftermarket muzzle device you choose, from an obnoxious muzzle brake to a polite and effective suppressor. Well, you could, if anything in the United States was threaded 18x1mm RH. The more common thread pitch for 9mm stuff is 1/2×28 inches (as on an AR-15) or even 5/8×24 (like the AR-10) but alas the Scropion’s is neither.
That means you’ll need a custom adapter to mount your can of choice. Liberty Suppressors has apparently already worked one up for this gun. The barrel length on the gun is a touch over 7 inches, meaning that the 9mm bullet will be traveling a little quicker than from your GLOCK 19 and the gas pressure at the muzzle should be slightly reduced due to the longer dwell time. Whether this will actually make the gun quieter is yet to be seen, especially with that chunky metal operating system.
Moving a little further back on the gun we arrive that the fire controls. There’s definitely some more MP5 influence here, specifically in the shape of the safety selector switch. The magazine release is a very European design, too, as it’s integrated into the trigger guard. The inclusion of some ergonomic shaping around the release as well as some ridges make it relatively easy to use and easy to hit. Coming from the more traditional button-based release on other guns there is a learning curve to using the device properly, but it works pretty well as engineered. As with all mag releases of this type I always worry a bit about a finger slipping onto the trigger accidentally, though.
The bolt release may be secondary (the non-reciprocating charging handle works perfectly well in this role), but it’s massive. Compared to an AR-15 paddle this is about three times the size. The difference is that with an AR-15 you push the button to release the bolt, and here you are pulling down on the tab instead. This keeps the profile of the gun slimmer (since there’s nothing sticking out from the side), but might be hard to use in an emergency as that pulling motion is more complex than a simple paddle press. Then again, that’s what the charging handle is for.
The grip is a little on the small side for me, but admittedly I have massive hands. At the moment there’s only one grip available for the gun, but given that it’s extremely easy to swap out (there’s one readily accessible bolt holding it in place) I’m betting that replacement grips will be available sometime in the future.
Installed from the factory on the left side of the gun is a sling loop. There are a couple alternate locations on the gun to mount this loop if that location doesn’t meet standards, or there’s an entire top rail to use if you want to go that route. Either way, weapons retention is definitely something that CZ thought about and included in their design from the beginning.
The last major change is the magazine. The EVO 3 uses its own proprietary mags. This is both a blessing and a curse. The 20-round magazines (a plus for home defense) seem to reliably feed ammo into the gun — though there have been reports that the feed lip was easy to break in early models. And they are definitely pretty to look at. But since there’s currently so little demand for them I wouldn’t hold my breath for replacement magazines being easy to find (or reasonably priced) for quite some time.
As a small aside about the magazines, they’re the reason that there are no stock kits currently available from CZ. Jeremy S. appears to have gotten his hands on something similar, but CZ is holding off on providing any to the market. The problem is that pesky 922(r) compliance issue — since the pistol is made in the Czech Republic by the CZ mothership and imported, adding a stock to the gun might make it illegal to own as an “imported evil assault rifle.”
Word is that CZ is waiting on an American manufacturer to start putting out American-made magazines so that the gun can be 922(r) compliant before they release any stocks, which is a pretty responsible thing to do actually. It would be better if they made a couple parts in the USA to begin with, but this is only the first production run after all. MSRP on supplemental factory 30-round magazines is rumored to be $19.95, BTW. CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 pistol
Taking the gun apart is actually not too bad. As Jeremy shows, there’s not much to it. As a note, Jeremy’s gun came with a stock adapter in the box as well as a buffer tube, but I got no such present in my box (Jeremy got his directly from CZ, I got ours from our friends at Kentucky Gun Co.). Apparently the plan is for CZ to sell the buffer tube and adapter separately in the future, but Jeremy got the added special sauce in the box for asking nicely.
What’s particularly notable from this video is how simple the disassembly process is — no non-captured bolts or springs to worry about, and very few parts to lose on the kitchen counter. High marks for ease of use, but with the grip still attached it might be tough to get into all the nooks and crannies of the gun for cleaning.
Speaking of stock kits, the rear plate is laughably easy to remove. The design is similar to a SCAR stock, but there’s a button in the center of the plate that needs to be depressed for it to slide free of the gun. It looks like a hex screw when you shine a light on it, but trust me it’s just a detent you need to push down to slide the plate off.
Out on the range, the gun feels pretty good. The plastic shell is somewhat slick, but there’s enough grip to make me happy that it isn’t going to fly out of my hand. The forward hand stop is definitely a helpful addition. It not only makes holding the gun with two hands easier and more comfortable, but also makes it easy to hook onto barricades and such for stability. Even holding it with one hand, the gun balances well and doesn’t feel uncomfortable to hold.
Until you flip off the safety.
The safety selector switch on this gun is ambidextrous, meaning that the large paddle that allows your thumb to depress it on one side is also present on the other. (You can, however, buy an inexpensive “safety delete” from CZ which will replace the right-side switch with a flat circular piece of plastic.) The design is basically identical to the old MP5 ambidextrous safety, except that on the MP5 the selector is mounted far above the shooter’s hand. With the safety position on the EVO 3, when the safety is flipped to the “off” position, the paddle digs into the trigger finger of your shooting hand. And when you fire the gun, that paddle is hammered into your flesh and beats on your bone.
I have to be honest here, this design feature made the gun physically painful to fire. I thought I might be doing something wrong so I consulted the manual, but there was nothing in there regarding my situation. I get the feeling that this is a result of actually using the gun as a pistol when it was designed as an SBR/SMG with the expectation that it would have a stock.
Without the stock all the weight from the back of the pistol is supported by your firing hand. Consequently all of that recoil is transmitted to that hand (and directly into your finger). With a stock, this shouldn’t be an issue, but as a pistol this is a huge problem. It made me stop shooting after two magazines because it hurt so much. I asked a couple other people at the range to try the gun and they all reported the same thing.
My recommendation for those who want to buy this gun — judicious application of a Dremel tool. There aren’t any replacement safety selectors available yet, and you’ll want to shave yours down until an alternate is available.
On the bright side, recoil is pretty tame and controllable, but I confess I was focusing more on the sharp pain in my trigger finger at the time.
Accuracy is acceptable. Shooting this gun as a pistol is decidedly harder than it looks, but once you get a stock on this puppy it should be accurate enough for a PDW (personal defense weapon).
The problem with this version of the Scorpion is that it’s being sold as a pistol. The gun was designed to use a stock, and while it can legally be sold as a pistol it should probably only ever be sold as a do-it-yourself SBR kit. The ergonomics make a lot more sense as a rifle or SBR, and certain painful design features can be avoided when using it as the original designers intended. CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 pistol
I applaud CZ for shipping it as a pistol so that we can enjoy it while waiting for our Form 1 to come back from ATF, but that’s not the definitive form of this gun. This Scorpion needs a stock to work properly, and with a stock this would be a rocking awesome PDW or pistol-caliber carbine. Without a stock, it desperately needs a different safety lever.
Specifications: CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 Pistol (Discontinued 2015 and replaced with SKU 91351)
Caliber: 9mm Parabellum/9mm Luger/9x19mm
Barrel: 7.72 inches, 18x1mm RH thread
Weight: 5.0 lbs
Overall Length: 16.1 Inches
Magazine: Proprietary 20 round
Ratings (out of five stars):
Accuracy: * * * *
The pain keeps small groups from appearing. Plus, as a handgun, the thing is a bit awkward and chunky to hold.
I can’t remember another firearm I’ve tested that has inflicted physical pain on me as I was shooting it. Even the Armalite AR-50 was a pleasure to shoot as long as you were behind it and not to the side. That can all be fixed on the Scorpion with a stock, though.
Reliability: * * * * *
No issues. Hundreds of painful rounds later with no cleaning in the Texas dust and she still works like a Swiss clock. Or Czech. Or whatever.
Customization: * * * *
Swapping the butt plate for a stock adapter is dead simple. The rails all over the gun make it easy to attach whatever you want, from a red dot to a Mr. Coffee. The only issue is the thread pitch on the barrel, which means no commercially available silencer will fit on it.
Overall: * * *
Let me put this in perspective. For $50 more than MSRP, you can buy an Uzi pistol that has none of the ergonomic problems and comes in a smaller package. If you’re looking for a high-capacity direct-blowback 9mm, that’s your ticket. But if you’re looking to SBR this gun, then you’ve chosen wisely — the POF MP5 clones are massively more expensive. The SIG SAUER MPX still hasn’t hit store shelves, but will apparently be priced about twice as much. And while MasterPiece Arms is getting on the right track, their MAC-10 like pistols just aren’t my speed. Keep in mind that we review guns based on how they come from the factory, not based on how they could possibly be configured. CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 pistol
Review: CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 Pistol
“Shoot from the hip” and “stick to your guns” are two prevalent idioms that happen to have firearm terminology. However, one that’s especially fitting for Ceska zbrojovka Uhersky Brod (CZ) is “third time’s the charm.” Why? Unveiled in 2009, the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 was the third (hence the name, “Evolution [EVO] 3”) and best incarnation of the selective-fire, blowback-operated, Scorpion-series submachine guns that originated as the brainchild of Ing. Miroslav Rybar (and upward of 13 other designers): the Samopal vzor 61, better known as the Skorpion vz. 61. This led to the eventual introduction of the semi-automatic CZ Scorpion Evo 3 S1 pistol, designed for the civilian market in the U.S.
Trigger-pull weight is heavy, but the trigger group itself removes simply for ease of maintenance.
The CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1
Unveiled for the first time in May 2009, the selective-fire Scorpion EVO 3 A1 represented a true departure from normalcy for CZ. In fact, the new submachine gun outwardly showed no resemblance to either the XCZ 868 prototype or its first- and second-generation predecessors. First, the new arm makes extensive use of polymer. For example, the two-halved receiver, handguard, adjustable (for reach) pistol grip and removable, adjustable side-folding buttstock, as well as the magazine were all made from polymer. When combined, the fiber-reinforced polymer receiver and handguard provided 11 inches of continuous Picatinny rail to which optics can be attached, though adjustable, factory-mounted iron sights come standard. On each side of the handguard is an additional 3.75 inches of rail, and on the bottom there is another 5.5-inch strip—ample room to add myriad accessories, such as lights, lasers, etc.
Instead of the straight, metal stick-type magazine of the XCZ 868, the EVO 3 A1 uses a 30-round, dual-stack, forward-sweeping version made from translucent polymer. The earlier vz. 61 is fed from a curved magazine, too, though it holds fewer rounds. To increase the rapidity with which the magazine can be changed, the A1 has a prominently flared and tapered magazine well.
The selector switch proved painful when shooting, a problem inherited from the A1. A thin glove remedied the problem.
Concerning energy, the Scorpion EVO 3 A1’s lengthy, cold-hammer-forged, 7.72-inch barrel—with 1:9.84-inch RH twist—affords better consumption of the propellant, thereby enabling an uptick in velocity and, consequently, more energy placed on target.
Unlike the first- and second-generation Skorpions, the EVO 3 A1 has a non-reciprocating charging handle that can be quickly and easily changed from the left side to the right to accommodate both right- and left-hand shooters. Once the charging handle is fully retracted, the tab can be pushed upward into a cutout in the top of the handguard that maintains an open-bolt position. In this situation, a charged magazine can be inserted for loading or, by withdrawing the single disassembly pin, the trigger unit and slide can be removed for cleaning and maintenance; no tools are necessary. With a fresh magazine in place, pushing (or smacking) downward on the charging handle permits the recoil spring to advance forward, where it will strip and chamber a cartridge. To increase purchase, the charging handle/tab is both contoured and features steps in lieu of ribs.
Multiple rail sections along the S1’s surface allow the quick installation of accessories, such as optical sights, lights and lasers.
The Scorpion EVO 3 A1’s fire controls are all found integral in the trigger unit, and with the exception of the steel slide-release lever, the components are all polymer. One of the few criticisms of the Scorpion EVO 3 design is this fire control. On the semi-automatic CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 version, when in the a “fire” position, the tab is rotated downward, effectively placing it against the base of the trigger finger of the shooting hand where, during firing, it will cause a blister and/or skin abrasion relatively quickly. This problem can be encountered on the A1 version, too. As such, lightweight gloves are recommended. CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 pistol
As for the single-stage trigger, due to its design the pull weight is exceptionally heavy and the travel long but smooth. This is likely not problematic when firing from a buttstock-equipped EVO 3 A1, but it’s altogether different when shooting it as a pistol. The substantial pull weight tends to lead to jerking the trigger, which typically drops shots low and right for right-handed shooters. Consistent breaks are achievable, but it takes considerable concentration to achieve them.
Protected from damage by steel wings, the rear peep sight has four apertures for use at different ranges.
Lastly, as befits any personal-defense carbine, the EVO 3 A1 comes with multiple sling-attachment points. Sandwiched between the receiver and handguard are steel front swivels (one per side), while the rear of the receiver has integral sling-attachment points. On the left, rear of the receiver is a slot through which a strap could pass, too. Given the aforementioned features and proven performance, it’s little wonder why, in a relatively short period, the Scorpion EVO 3 A1 has been adopted by militaries, Special Forces and law enforcement agencies in Europe, Asia and Africa.
Naturally, the Czech Republic’s armed forces and police would adopt a fine firearm that’s designed and built in their homeland, but other countries have embraced the platform in some capacity, too, including Thailand, Egypt, Malaysia and Indonesia. In the U.S., though, full-automatic firearms cannot be imported for transfer to private citizens, so owning the remarkable CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 remains an unattainable “dream” for American firearm enthusiasts. Fortunately, the company created a semi-auto CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 that is NFA-compliant for the average firearm consumer.
An adjustable front post allows fine- tuning of the sights. Like the rear unit, the front is also protected from damage.
Enter the Scorpion EVO 3 S1 Pistol
Fortunately, when the highly anticipated and civilian-legal EVO 3 S1 was unveiled at the 2015 SHOT Show, the pistol mimicked the appearance of a stockless A1; in fact, outwardly it seemed unchanged. Why? CZ only made those modifications to ensure NFA compliance. First, and most significant, the four-position selector switch is gone, since the gun can only fire in semi-automatic mode. In its place, the EVO 3 S1 has a standard, two-position safety. With the safety’s tab in the upward-most position, it’s in the “safe” mode, while rotating it downward readies the S1 to fire.
Next, due to its 7.72-inch barrel and 25.98-inch overall length, the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 would be considered a short-barrel rifle (SBR) and subject to NFA regulations. Absent the side-folding buttstock, though, BATFE classifies the S1 as a “pistol.” Lastly, because the S1 is intended to be shot as a pistol, CZ prudently included a handstop on the handguard’s bottom accessory rail to prevent the user’s non-shooting hand from slipping forward and onto the compensator or in front of the muzzle. As mentioned, CZ only made those few changes that were required by law for civilian sales—the new pistol is otherwise just about identical to its selective-fire inspiration.
Takedown is fairly easy, with the S1 breaking down into modular constituent parts without the need for tools.
Handling a Scorpion
Despite its large size for a handgun, the Scorpion EVO 3 S1 is extraordinarily well balanced, enabling it to be shot one-handed without the use of supplemental support. In fact, it feels as though you’re holding a full-size Smith & Wesson M&P or Glock pistol—nothing more. That being said, for a nominal cost of $80, CZ offers an arm brace kit that permits users to add an aftermarket arm brace or other AR-15 pistol buffer-tube accessory. Made by KAK Industry, the flat-black-anodized 6061 T6 aluminum adaptor attaches directly to the receiver cover. In reality, though, shooting the EVO 3 S1 one-handed is primarily for “kicks,” as the test sample’s long, yet smooth, 9-pound, 11-ounce trigger pull precluded extracting maximum accuracy from the handgun. With practice, though, it’s likely that groups could be tightened a bit, but it’s improbable someone will ever match the accuracy garnered from two-handed shooting.
The non-reciprocating charging handle can be moved to the shooter’s strong side.
Using a two-handed hold not unlike that with a full-size “duty” pistol, the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 is capable of achieving admirable accuracy, especially when shooting from a sandbag or other type of solid rest. With said grip, the excessive trigger-pull weight is far less cumbersome, which allows the shooter to achieve the consistent breaks needed for top-notch accuracy. By the end of the accuracy-testing phase, I’d grown accustomed to maintaining sight alignment through the gun’s heavy, long trigger pull.
This could also be because the sights offer a lot of versatility. The adjustable-post front sight and rotating, four-size aperture rear sight facilitate precise shooting in a variety of lighting conditions and engagement ranges. When testing the EVO 3 S1 at 25 yards on a cloudless day, I found that the third-largest aperture (.150 inch) worked best. The largest aperture, with a .195-inch diameter, would excel in low-light and close-range confrontations, while the smallest, measuring only .053-inch wide, is suitable only for use at distance. CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 pistol
A forward handstop offers control while keeping the support hand safe.
Of course, with plentiful rail space available, equipping the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 with lights, lasers and a red-dot or reflex-type sight would not only increase its versatility, but also enhance accuracy—especially if shooting from a position where the non-shooting hand is grasping the fore-end. As with a standard full-size handgun, the laser would be especially helpful in situations where sighting using the irons isn’t possible.
During testing, there were no failures of any type. The firearm fed, extracted and ejected without fail, regardless of the ammunition it was fed. Given its lineage, though, that’s to be expected. In fact, a hodgepodge of remnant 115-, 124- and 147-grain FMJ and self-defense loads were purposely loaded into a single magazine in random order, and the pistol handled everything without issue. One thing to take into consideration, though, is that the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1’s 7.72-inch barrel affords additional in-barrel time for the propellant to be consumed, so “subsonic” ammunition could turn supersonic. In general, there’s a noticeable uptick in velocity over what’s achievable in a standard-length pistol barrel.
As mentioned, in the “fire” position the wide tab of the safety resides against the base of the trigger finger, where upon firing, skin will be removed and/or a blister will quickly form. This problem is one I’ve read about widely on Internet forums—including one on CZ-USA’s own website—and having experienced it personally several times, it seems inevitable. Unlike some commenters, who offered that judicious application of a Dremel tool could remedy the problem, for recreational shooting I simply suggest wearing thin gloves. I purchased a pair of clearance golf gloves, which worked perfectly and helped minimize discomfort. Although the pistol grip has steps on both the frontstrap and the backstrap and is flared create purchase, the smooth sides could benefit from checkering or stippling. CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 pistol
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