Shooting the ZB-26: A Jewel of an Interwar Light Machine Gun

Today we have a chance to do some shooting with a ZB-26, a German-occupation 8mm light machine gun made at Brno in Czechoslovakia. The ZB-26 does not get nearly as much attention as LMGs made by the better known powers during the war, but it is an excellent weapon. In addition to being adopted by the Czech military, the gun was sold to about 2 dozen other countries and used in significant numbers by the Waffen SS.

As one would expect from its reputation, the ZB was smooth, reliable, and very controllable. For all the reasons discussed in yesterday’s history and disassembly video, it is a top notch firearm.

Today we have a chance to do some shooting with a ZB-26, a German-occupation 8mm light machine gun made at Brno in Czechoslovakia. The ZB-26 does not get nearly as much attention as LMGs made by the better known powers during the war, but it is an excellent weapon. In addition to being adopted by the Czech military, the gun was sold to about 2 dozen other countries and used in significant numbers by the Waffen SS.

As one would expect form its reputation, the ZB was smooth, reliable, and very controllable. For all the reasons discussed in yesterday’s history and disassembly video, it is a top notch firearm.

17 Comments

    • Glitches today? No surprise when some connections and hardware get old. I had a double post once because of a malfunctioning mouse.

  1. He did not need to pull the cocking lever because most machine guns fire from an open bolt.
    IOW the bolt stays at the rear until you pull the trigger. When you release the trigger, the bolt stops at the rear. This allows the chamber to cool and reduces the risk of cook-offs.

      • Look at 3:00 on the video. There must be a bolt hold-open because Mr. M. changed magazines and resumed firing without touching the bolt handle. I knew a man who served in the Yugoslav army in 1940-41; his unit had these, and they were very highly regarded for shooting straight and never malfunctioning. They were known simply as “the Czech.”

  2. Since I spotted a feature on TFB about Uk59 I guess it may organically fit into standing subject to bring it to attention. This is semi-auto version, somewhat modified from standard issue, to be sold in civilian market.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=450&v=cd06xK0BVts

    One item, part of being belt fed, which comes to your attention is radically different gas tap location. On ZB26 it was primarily to facilitate low rate of fire and high reliability. On Uk59 that tap is way back in my view for more compact and lighter overall construction. The penalty is higher rate of fire (almost too high). But overall it worked out fine. From my own limited experience with this gun I can confirm it is reliable (and very durable) with ball ammunition, but with blanks it suffers stoppages.

    It may be also worth to compare it with recent evaluation of PK. They are different guns using exactly same round. It is noticeable that Uk59 will work with 7.62×51 shot with proper barrel and feed components.

  3. There’s a lot of praise for the Bren but it had the drawback of the rimmed .303 BR round. Carefully load the magazine and no problems, but under hurried circumstances rim-overs are not uncommon and were fatal in combat. So too with the Lee Enfield, and I see the rim-over jamming problem all the time in service rifle competitions.
    Not a problem with the ZB-26.

      • No, it does not. The original combat doctrine planned for the Lee rifles was to single load cartridges using the magazine cutoff until such time that an “emergency” rapid fire would be needed. For that there was to be two magazines (20 rounds), presumably loaded without any hurry. So, an interrupter was not considered necessary.

  4. Does anybody know if any ZB 26 were converted to 7.62 NATO like the Bren guns? It would make an interesting companion to a Chinese contract Bren in 7.92.

  5. Weird question:
    If you had to shoot a match with either this or the Madsen you showed last week, which would you choose?
    (Assume Karl gets to use the other one.)

  6. We all enjoy watching Ian fire his LMGs (we get a bang out of it, har har!), but it would be instructive to see some footage of the target. I’d like to know how well that slick old iron stays on the aiming point. I’d also like to see how a long burst moves: up, sideways, whichways? It would also be fun, time and ammo permitting, to see how many hits per minute you can get w/ rapid semi-auto fire vs. full auto. Back in the 1930s, the US Army did some trials to determine that point w/ the BAR, and found, not really surprisingly, that rapid semi fire got more hits per min. than full auto. Would that be true w/ other weapons?

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