The Star Z-63 Submachine Gun: Better Than You Think

The Star Z-63 is a 9x19mm version of the Star Z-62, which was made in both 9×19 and 9×23. Together, these represent the company’s effort to produce a more modern submachine gun than their Z-45, which was basically a copy of the German MP-40. The Z-63 is, contrary to its external appearance, a well built gun with several clever internal safety mechanisms. It uses a spring loaded firing pin which only protrudes when the bolt is fully closed, and also has a lock on the bolt that prevent it from moving rearward unless either fired or cycled using the charging handle. This prevents potential accidental discharge if the gun is dropped.

31 Comments

  1. Actually, the Z-63 was the commercial version of the Z-62, and that’s why it was only made in 9 Parabellum.
    Only trigger group changed whith the evolution to the Z-70 and the Z-70B.

    By the way, despite that being the correct flag for the era, don’t be surprised if some (not very bright) people start accusing you of being a fascist. After forty years, sometimes it seems around here that those that call themselves anti-fascists are the only ones that miss the dictatorship times.

  2. Thanks Ian,
    That’s a blast from the past!

    Star had a very good line of SMGs/carbines.

    It looks like the lower on that gun is still scaled for the largo, as the 9×19 mag has a spacer on the front.

    I think that the top of the trigger is supposed to work like a switch, it’s a long while since I worked my way through the Star patents, but the impression that I got was that if you wanted full auto, you’d keep the top of the trigger pulled almost like a grip safety, and use your middle finger as necessary to fire.

    The lowers detach quite easily with just two pins to push out, and a slight turn of the barrel allows it to come out of the back of the receiver tube.

    It’s a long time since I was last in Spain, but the various versions of that gun, from Z62 to Z70 were still in the hands of the Guardia Civil (Franco’s version of the GeStaPo)

    The Z70 and Z70b were an interesting example of confusing nomenclature

    The Z70 was essentially the same as the gun in the vid
    The 70b had a different lower, with a rotating lever safety and fire selector, and a conventional single finger trigger

    The examples I saw (in the early eighties) didn’t have the spacer on the front of the magazine,
    And yes, that end cap and recoil spring teaches respect!

    It’s not fatal, like the Schwarzelose MG recoil spring, but it does give a nasty black eye, if you’re not careful.

    Compared to the Sterling, the Star is chubbier (I found them nicer to hold than sterlings.) And much more compact.

    • If you were presented a SIG MKMO (or MKMS), a Beretta MAB 38, and a ZK-383, which would you improve for better service? Or would you just chuck the lot and get the Star Z70b? No response required if you don’t want to do so.

    • Great information, Keith — and thanks for sharing your perspective. Such a pity that so many excellent weapons like this are no longer available for a wide variety of reasons that we already know about, the old bugbear of “market timing” being a prominent one.

      While it is a different design versus the Beretta M12 SMG, one thing I found common to both from T & E when I was in the service was that they were accurate and very controllable in full-auto when fired in short, deliberate bursts. Where the Beretta M12 is more refined inside and out, the Star Z63 reminds me of the Darne 7.5mm aircraft MG — perhaps a little rough on the outside in terms of fit and finish, but nevertheless well-made and functional on the inside where it matters most.

      • I did a couple of of month-long pre-patrol (FBM submarine) refits in Rota in the late 70s (after Franco had died but before the establishment of the democratic monarchy) so I got to spend about 15 nights on the town (after relaxing, no-exertion 12-14 hour days on the boat). The Guardia were still very much a presence – wouldn’t call them Gestapo but they were a very highly respected (as in “Don’t get drunk enough to mess with the Guardia” – “Aye, aye, Chief!”) paramilitary police force. Despite having unique styles in both uniforms (long green coats with tails, and a very odd patent-leather tricorn hat) and patroling (two-up on 50-cc mopeds, with the passenger carrying a slung Spanish G-3) they seemed to be keeping a very competent eye on things.

        However, the Guardia Civils described by Elmore Leonard in Cuba – set just before and during the Spanish-American War) come across as a uniquely brutal bunch.

  3. Odd trivia fact; In a first season episode of Miami Vice, Star Z70s were used as ‘doubles’ for the Interdynamics KG-9 pistol. Considering the latter’s reputation as the “Jammamatic”, this may simply have been to ensure that they actually worked.

    cheers

    eon

    • “Considering the latter’s reputation as the “Jammamatic”, this may simply have been to ensure that they actually worked.”
      Or maybe Z70 adopted for blank firing were already in inventory.

  4. “Z-45, which was basically a copy of the German MP-40”
    Modern Firearms says that it is improved and refined version of. Notice that STAR Z-45 unlike MP 40 was selective fire, has barrel shroud and muzzle compensator.

  5. Dear Ian,
    I urge you to read my review of the Star Z70 in my Submachine Gun and MAchine pistol testing book published by Paladin Press that I sent you.It is one of the five best SMG’s in the world in my judgement and I have tested most of them.
    Nice video.You should try to shoot one some time as I think you will enjoy it.I have fired many thousands through mine.
    T.J.Mullin

  6. As a point of curiosity; what happens when bolt latch is engaging receiver during its closing on chamber for shot to be fired. Is it “ripped” out from recess by force of shot? Or is not quite engaged with round in chamber? Maybe there is smoothing I missed in course of explanation. Thanks.

    • Iirc, the inertia lock takes time to engage, so with normal firing it stays out of the way,

      With a hang fire, it might get interesting, but it’s heavily built, so it should survive ok and pulling the operating handle should clear the empty.

      Later stars (?Z84) had multiple notches on the sear and the bolt to catch the bolt if the gun was dropped, and to prevent doubling or run away, with light loads.

      I’d link the patents for you, but my crappy internet connection doesn’t like espacenet.

      All in all, the Star SMGs were very nice guns.

    • To Denny:
      The rod that activates the firing pin stops the latch from closing long enough for the bolt to start moving back by the recoil of the shot. You can see that part of it that moves when Ian is fiddling with them and he presses the hammer one firts when explaining thesafety (minute 08:02).

      • Got it. So the both mechanisms are interconnected in such a way that FP rod precludes safety latch to go on. Once FP dropped, safety is on. Thanks.

        • Not literally interconnected. Just adds enough friction so the safety spring doesn’t have time enough to overcome the safety weight and move it before recoil sends the bolt backwards.

          Sorry if I cannot be more clear, but english is not my primary language and it’s been more than a decade since I used the “zeta”.

  7. Well, it is not really that way. If it was so, then the auto safety will be deactivated on a closed bolt (firing pin rod pressed), and any bump would move the bolt and it would not make any sense. The safety is deactivated via the charging rod, not via the firing pin rod.
    Actually, the automatic safety is of inertia type. When the bolt is slamming forward, it chambers a cartridge and fires it upon closing via firing pin intermediary rod (actually an instant before closing, because this is an advanced primer ignition gun), so when the bolt starts reciprocating back after firing, the safety piece is still pivoting forward and then off-battery. You can find some diagrams for Star z-70 (the same gun with a different name) on line to better figure out how it performs.

  8. Over on the Firearm Blog, Miles Vining did an online video about one of the SOE prototype guns, the 9mm “Welgun” I believe… Looks like that WWII prototype may have been the source of the little catch on the bolt face that allows the firing pin to move forward and fire the just-chambered cartridge? I am not sure how many other SMGs, apart from the STAR Z63/Z70 also used that feature…

  9. The Z-63 is still in use in very small number by the Armada; whom now uses the Z-70 (that’s a true piece of crap of amazing proportions) in general, the Z-63 was in use by all the spanish Army’s branches and also the cops and the Guardia Civíl (that’s a militarized police force) that fights the drug dealers, terrorists, corruption, mafias and traffic infractions on the national roads and highways. They have a very weird mix of weapons, they use from CETME-Cs and L and LCs… to Z-70s, FNP-9, Beretta 92S, Star BM, Star Suber B, Astra .38SPC, G36C and K but the raid units have things like AWP, H&K416 & 17s, H&K USP, H&K UMP-9 and some other toys; but like the rest of Spain’s security forces… they don’t have much money.

      • Production ceased completely when the army didn’t adopt it. Another couple of political decisions later, the comapny ceased to exist.

        Only used by Policia Nacional, and by army special operations units (including an integrally silenced barrel kit) in small numbers.
        Most of production was sold internationally to law enforcement.

  10. The Z-63’s layout resembles the British Sterling SMG with the original design’s sideways magazine turned 90 degrees to the bottom to make it easier to carry compared to the side-magazine designs such as the Bergmann MP1918, Furrer MP1925, Haenel MP1928, Steyr MP1934, and Sten.

  11. The bolt face actuated firing pin is a feature of an WW2 SOE prototype concealable SMG called the ” Norm gun”. Whether that was invented by Mr Norman I don’t know.

    This SMG is like Ian said based on a Sterling.

  12. Keith in England you are very ignorant in Spain history. The Guardia Civil is an old institution of rural police in Spain in fact born in 1844 and serve loyalment in all polítical regimens:monárquic and republicanas like the french gendarmerie in fact his original inspiration!. Guardia Civil is like the Gestapo is a stupidity only say this who has no idea from History!

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