CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1Carbine
November 21, 2016
It was not quite two years ago that CZ introduced the pistol version of the new CZ Scorpion EVO to the U.S. market. I reviewed that pistol here in these pages, and while the design isn't perfect, I bought the pistol and still have it. That should tell you all you need to know about my feelings toward the design.
CZ has now introduced a carbine version of the Scorpion, and I secured a sample to test.
First, let's have a quick history primer on the CZ Scorpion. The original Skorpion machine pistol, officially the Skorpion vz.61, has a very distinctive profile and is one of the darlings of the Cold War-era spy novel. This straight blowback hammer-fired gun featured a 20-round magazine in front of the pistol grip, a wire stock which folds over the front of the firearm, and is chambered in .32 ACP. Why .32 ACP? Because it was the standard service cartridge of the Czechoslovak security forces.
The .32 ACP is not a very powerful cartridge, and when combined with the Skorpion's very muzzle heavy nearly 3-pound weight, controllability on full-auto wasn't a problem. I know; I got to fire one last year. The only problem I had was keeping the magazines loaded.
Semi-auto pistol versions of the original Skorpion have been sold in the U.S. for years. But the Skorpion has that "vz.61" in the title because the little buzzgun was finalized in 1961 — not exactly a modern design.
The completely new Scorpion EVO 3 A1 was introduced in 2009, and this 9mm submachine gun has been very successful. I had an opportunity to fire one at the same event where I shot the Skorpion vz.61. The larger gun looks more sci-fi than Cold War, and has a little bit more recoil than the older .32 version, but it is still very controllable even on full auto. EVO 3 indicates that it is the 3rd generation of the Scorpion.
The Scorpion EVO 3 SMG is currently in use by military and police forces in eight countries, and I suspect this relatively new design will soon see much further use by forces around the globe.
Until our government starts interpreting the 2nd Amendment as written, the Scorpion SMG won't be available for commercial sale, so CZ has been offering buffer tubes and adapters for the pistol on which users can mount arm braces to create something that looks like an SMG but is only semi-auto. However, a lot of people want an actual rifle and/or don't want to have to worry about what the BATF said this week that contradicts what they said last week about how you can use an arm brace without going to prison, so CZ has now introduced a carbine version of the Scorpion EVO 3 S1 (S1 indicating semi-auto).
The Scorpion Carbine is available in two flavors, both with a 16.2-inch barrel. One features a standard barrel tipped with a compensator, the other has a faux suppressor built for CZ by SilencerCo covering the last 8.5" of barrel. While I am no fan of "faux" anything (if there's one sure way to make sure no one takes you seriously it is to sport a fauxhawk hairstyle) I think the faux suppressor version looks better, and secured one of those for testing.
While the Scorpion EVO 3 shares the name of its predecessor, you will see that in just about every other way it is completely different. The EVO 3 is chambered in 9x19mm and the entire receiver is a polymer shell. In fact, the rear of the receiver is two polymer halves that are connected by screws.
This sounds cheap and/or the opposite of durable, but plastics are the future. Examining the Scorpion I realized it is the modern equivalent of the Sten SMG in that it is made as efficiently and simply as possible to do its job — it's just made using modern materials and manufacturing techniques. It is not any more complicated than it needs to be, something that could never be said about the Heckler & Koch MP5. And yet it offers a multitude of features combined with a very unique and striking appearance, with a suggested retail of only $849 for the pistol, $999 for the plain barrel Carbine, and $1,049 for the faux suppressor version.
Like most 9mm SMGs/carbines, this is a straight blowback design. With the faux suppressor this carbine only weighs 6.1 pounds. Because it is not a real suppressor with weight-adding baffles this carbine is not muzzle heavy and balances over the front of the magazine well. The plain barrel version weighs just over half an ounce less. New for the carbine version is a polymer handguard that features M-LOK attachment slots for all your accessory mounting needs.
The charging handle of the Scorpion will be in a familiar place for anyone who has handled an MP5 — on the left side, forward. Unlike the MP5, though, the bolt of the Scorpion locks back on an empty magazine. The bolt can be locked to the rear by moving the charging handle all the way back and pivoting it upward, or by pushing up on the bolt catch when the bolt is pulled all the way to the rear. Get this — the charging handle is reversible, and switching it to the right side is a very simple process.
The safety level is polymer and ambidextrous. Pushing it down/forward moves the weapon from Safe to Fire, marked respectively with a white circle and red dash. Flicking the safety off with my thumb was no problem, but I found I just couldn't get an angle on it to flick it back up and on with my thumb. Pulling back my trigger finger on the right side of the gun, however, made engaging the safety simple.
The safety is my only real complaint about this design. Most people can't engage it with their thumb, and the right side of the ambi safety pokes most people in the trigger finger when firing. CZ does sell a "Scorpion EVO Ambi Control Delete" for $12.95, which I'm thinking about buying for my Scorpion pistol; it simply eliminates the safety lever on one side. The Scorpion SMG I shot had this and I found I much preferred it.
If the hammer is cocked, you can work the charging handle even if the safety is on. If the hammer isn't cocked and the safety is on, the bolt will only pull back about half an inch, just enough to see if the chamber is loaded.
The magazine release is a serrated polymer paddle on either side of the front of the trigger guard. Move it forward to drop the magazine. It is possible to push the magazine release with your trigger finger, however I found that with the bolt locked back empty magazines usually didn't drop free.
I'd recommend stripping the empty magazine out with your left hand, as your left thumb sits right on the magazine release as you grab the magazine. The bolt catch is a very large serrated steel lever on the left side of the weapon above and slightly to the rear of the magazine well. After seating a fresh magazine into the magazine well, just pull down on the magazine catch with your thumb to chamber a new round.
The magazine well is nicely beveled, and the trigger guard is large enough for use with gloves. The pistol grip is angled a bit much for my taste, and rather smooth. Sharp eyes will note a screw through the top of the pistol grip — remove it and you can move the pistol grip rearward to fit your hand and get a proper reach to the trigger. However, moving the pistol grip back will create a gap between the front of the grip and the triggerguard.
On either side of the receiver at the rear of the barrel there is a steel ring meant as sling attachment points. There are additional sling-mounting points at the rear of the receiver, including slots meant for threading through 1-inch slings, and of course you can mount slings to the M-LOK slots on the handguard with the proper hardware.
The carbine ships with two 20-round magazines. The original SMG was fed by 30-round magazines, and neither the pistol nor the carbine version of the Scorpion look right with the stubby 20-rounders in place. Never fear, 30-round magazines are available from CZ-USA for only $20 apiece (when they're in stock — CZ can't seem to ship them fast enough to keep up with demand). The Scorpion magazines (except for the spring) are completely constructed of polymer. The magazine bodies are translucent, while the follower and basepads are solid black. While the magazine bodies are thicker than steel or aluminum, they are very size efficient. 30-round magazines are only 7¼ inch long.
The entire top of the carbine features an uninterrupted MIL-STD-1913 rail. Yes, the rail is polymer as opposed to aluminum, but that shouldn't make any difference when mounting optics — after all, this is a 9mm carbine, not a long distance rifle. CZ could have slapped cheap plastic sights atop the Scorpion, or only offered them separately at additional cost, but instead what you get with the carbine are sights as good as any aftermarket choices available for ARs.
Both the front and rear sight bases are constructed of beefy aluminum. The rear sight offers not one or two peep apertures but four, protected by substantial ears. The peep apertures are mounted on a crossbar in a sort of paddle-wheel setup and click into place. The apertures range in size from very small to ghost ring large, and are adjustable for windage. This may sound cheesy or flimsy, but is neither.
The front sight base has a serrated front to reduce glare. The front sight post itself appears to come from an AR, and is adjustable for elevation. The sight post is protected by large wings, and they form a semi-circle which perfectly complements the peep apertures in the rear sight. Distance between the two sights is just a hair over 14 inches. FYI these iron sights are too low for use on an AR, which means you won't need a tall "flattop AR" base on whatever red dot/optic you choose to mount on the piece. You should be able to mount most red dots directly to the rail without a spacer.
The carbine features the same folding adjustable stock as seen on the original SMG. It is a polymer piece with an adjustable length of pull from 12 — 14" through the use of a simple lever. It has a smooth rubber buttpad. Press the large button on the left side of the stock near the receiver and it folds to the right. The stock itself is polymer, but the lockup on the folding latch is all aluminum. A strong magnet on the side of the stock mates with the steel plate on which the serial number is engraved just below the ejection port, so the stock will remain folded unless it is jarred.
The carbine can be fired with the stock folded, although I'm not sure why you'd want to. Then again, people do all sorts of things that make no sense to me, like eating kale and believing in man-made global warming.
The trigger on the Scorpion is polymer. It does not have a serrated face but rather is stepped, with the center more prominent than the edges. I don't really like it as much as I do smooth-faced triggers, but remember this weapon was originally designed as an SMG (and one with a significantly high RPM). With the trigger's texturing, your finger will not slip off.
Trigger pull weight on my sample was 8 pounds even, which is heavier than I like but seems to be pretty average for this design. Reliability was 100%, and felt recoil was negligible, of course, which just adds to the fun factor. In fact, I was at a local USPSA match recently, and one of the guys on my squad was shooting the non-faux-suppressor version of this carbine and was having a great time.
Not surprising at all to me was that his CZ carbine, even with the factory muzzle brake, was quieter than any of our 9mm pistols because of the longer barrel — which is one of the reasons pistol-caliber carbines are a good choice for home defense in addition to training new shooters.