Though developed as a squad support weapon complete with bipod, the ZK-383 was a submachine gun through and through.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The ZK-383 was a local Czech development of a submachine gun system brought about prior to World War 2. It combined the styling of a rifle, complete with solid wooden stock and grooved forend with the short barrel and 9x19mm Parabellum pistol cartridge seeing widespread use. The action relied on the blowback principle and rate-of-fire reached up to 700 rounds per minute. Muzzle velocity was listed at 1,500 feet per second with a maximum engagement range out to 250 meters. The weapon fed from a 30- or 40-round detachable box magazine fitted into a left-side well with spent shell casings ejected from a port along the right. The receiver and barrel were of all-metal construction for obvious reasons with the barrel shrouded in a perforated jacket for cooling and to protect the firer's support hand. The pistol grip was integrated as part of the wooden stock with the trigger unit held just ahead. Sighting was through an iron arrangement.
The ZK-383 was developed by two brothers (Koucky) beginning in 1930. At the time, they resided under the employ of Ceskoslovenska Zbrojovka facility at the legendary arms production center of Brno - birthplace of the famous British BREN light machine gun. Rumors of war were growing evermore commonplace at the time for Adolf Hitler of Germany had consolidated his power and built up an army to conquer Europe with Czechoslovakia a part of his master plan in the early going. The ZK-383 was developed as a squad support weapon (complete with folding bipod and detachable barrel) despite its chambering for the 9mm pistol round and its true definition as a submachine gun. The weapon offered automatic fire in a portable form while being limited in range and ranged penetration value. Regardless, the type was completed with the utmost quality and attention to deal - hallmarks of most Czech firearm designs of the period.
Low-rate production of ZK-383s began in 1938. However, German began occupation of the sovereign nation that year and all future production examples fell to the Waffen-SS. The occupation would last until the end of the war in 1945. The ZK-383's reach was no doubt hampered by the conditions of the occupation and its use was as limited as its production numbers.
Once the war had ended, production was returned under Czech ownership but limited numbers continued. It was ultimately exported to a few outside parties and found little widespread success on the whole. By the height of the Cold War, the weapon had given way to smaller, lighter and more defined submachine gun forms. Three distinct versions ultimately emerged - the ZK-383 base submachine gun, the ZK-383-P "Police" variant lacking the bipod assembly and quick-change barrel functionality and the ZK-383-H of the Cold War years, these noted by their underside magazine fitting and lack of bipod and changeable barrel facility.
The ZK-383 found homes in Bolivia, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Nazi Germany and Venezuela by the time its history had come to a close. Approximately 20,000 units were produced from the span of 1938 to 1966.
Manufacturing Ceskoslovenska Zbrojovka / Zbrojovka Brno - Czechoslovakia
Bolivia; Bulgaria; Czechoslovakia; Nazi Germany; Venezuela
- Close Quarters Battle (CQB) / Personal Security
- Fire Support / Suppression / Defense
ZK-383 - Base Production Model of 1938
ZK-383-P - Police security variant; lacking bipod and quick-change barrel facility.
ZK-383-H - Post-war variant with underside magazine well; lacking bipod and quick-change barrel facility.
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