Ceska Zbrojovka vz. 23 / 24 / 25/ 26 (Samopal)
Submachine Gun (SMG) / Machine Pistol
The revolutionary Ceska Zbrojovka vz. 23-26 series of submachine guns, despite its 1950s introduction, can still be found in active wars around the world today.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
At one point in its history, the former Czechoslovakia was a prolific designer and producer of various small arms running the gamut of pistols, submachine guns and light machine guns. In the immediate post-World War 2 period, the Czech concern of Ceska Zbrojovka began production of a new indigenous (and quite revolutionary) Submachine Gun (SMG) in the Samopal Sa vz. 23 series. The type was widely accepted by Soviet-aligned 2nd and 3rd rate powers of the period and, despite its Cold War-era introduction, continues to pop up in various modern-day battlefields such as that of the Syrian Civil War (2011-Present).
The weapon is a no-frills SMG operating from a standard blowback principle of operation utilizing an open-bolt arrangement (the bolt overhung the frame at the rear to allow for an overall shorter weapon, a new concept at the time). The original chambering was in the ubiquitous 9x19mm Parabellum German pistol cartridge but the Soviet 7.62x25mm Tokarev pistol cartridge (due to the Soviet influence over Czechoslovakia in the post-World War 2 world) was supported through a future model addition. The trigger was designed in such a way so as to allow quick selective-fire control of the weapon by the operator - so a light pull delivered single-shot functionality while a deep pull engaged the full-automatic fire mode.
In general appearance, the gun was laid out in a conventional fashion. The frame was of tubular shape and used to house the firing action within. A small rounded-rectangular port along the right side of the body served as the ejection port for spent shell casings. As in the Israeli UZI SMG, the Sa vz. 23 held its straight box magazine in the pistol grip handle itself (indeed the Czech design is said to have pioneered such a concept). The handle was set well-aft of center mass ad also aft of the trigger unit. Ahead of the trigger was a small length of support structure for the non-firing hand. The barrel protruded a short distance ahead of the frame and iron sights were fitted over the gun in the usual way. A shoulder stock, either of fixed wood or foldable wire, was typically attached to the rear for a third point of support - particularly useful when firing in full-automatic.
Performance-wise, these handle little weapons could fire at 600 rounds-per-minute with a muzzle velocity rating of 1,800 feet-per-second.
The initial production form became the Sa vz. 23 (also known as the "vz. 48a") and this was noted for its solid, fixed wooden shoulder stock and support for the 9x19mm cartridge. The standard magazine was a 24- or 40-round capacity magazine. The Sa vz. 23 quickly established itself as the standard-issue SMG for the Czech Army during 1951-1952.
The Sa vz. 24 (vz. 48a./52) followed in retaining the wooden stock but was chambered for the 7.62x25mm Tokarev cartridge instead. The pistol grip was also slanted ever-so lightly forwards. The change in cartridge allowed a 32-round capacity magazine to be used. The Sa vz. 24 was adopted as the standard-issue SMG of the Czech Army when it became available.
The Sa vz. 25 (vz. 48b) was the Sa vz. 23 with a folding metal stock. It also fired the 9x19mm cartridge from either the aforementioned 24-/40-round magazine. The Sa vz. 26 (vz. 48b/52) had the folding metal stock of the vz. 25 but the internal make-up of the vz. 25 firing the Tokarev pistol cartridge. The Sa vz. 26 was in Czech Army usage from 1952 until the 1960s.
This submachine gun series saw considerable exposure throughout the early-Cold War years and was featured in the fighting in Cuba and Rhodesia for its time in history. In the latter, it was slightly modified and known as the "Rhogun". The design also influenced the local Sanna 77 SMG series.
The Sa vz. 23 series is largely obsolete by today's standards though it does not stop it from appearing from time-to-time in far-off wars of the world where irregularity is often the "call of the day". Total production reached about 100,000 units but was limited due to the influx of Soviet-originated firearms available to the Czech Army.