Croatian HS-91: A Mystery Hybrid of M56 and PPSh-41

The HS-91 is a Croatian-made submachine gun form the Homeland War period of the early 1990s. This is the only example known, and it was seized well after the war by the Croatian Police (and currently resides in the Police Museum in Zagreb). Nothing is known about the details of its origin or production.

Mechanically, the HS-91 is a hybrid of Yugoslav M56 and Soviet PPSh-41. The barrel, magazine, and magazine well are from the M56, while the bolt, safety, receiver construction, and firing system are from the PPSh-41. It is chambered for 7.62x25mm Tokarev, and uses standard M56 magazines.

A big thanks to the Croatian Police Museum (Muzej Policije) in Zagreb for giving me access to film this rare piece for you!


  1. The number of decent, workable weapons that materialized early on in the dissolution wars of Yugoslavia are a testament to two things: One, you can’t effectively ban weapons so long as the manufacturing base is out there, and the manufacturing base doesn’t require a whole hell of a lot. The other thing is, don’t let the weapons you have get taken away from you. Slovenia alone of the separatist republics managed to retain control of the local arsenals, and they were the only ones to have a relatively clean break with the central government. There’s a lesson there, if anyone bothers to pay attention to it…

    • They retained control of some of the arsenals, not all,
      but what saved Slovenia is that they had no parts of country whatsoever with significant serb population, that quasi-JNA could back onto.

  2. My SWAG is that it’s more-or-less an analogue of the NVA modified Chinese Type 56 SMG;

    The NVA got rid of the wood stock due to the climate in their AO. I suspect that this one had the wood stock because that’s what was available.

    Most likely, this was hocked together from existing Yugoslav M56 and Russian-made PpSh-41 components, with a limited number of new parts (like the front “break”, the rear latch, and the safety switch) manufactured locally to put everything together. Note that the rubber buttpad came from a commercial sporting rifle and was not properly trimmed to fit.

    I’d be looking for Russian (Soviet-era) lot numbers under the action. You’d probably find that that part was built sometime around 1944-45.



    • The North Vietnamese modified the Type 50 Chi-com copy of the PPSh41 to more closely adopt the stock furniture, etc. of the French MAT-49, which they clearly preferred. Note well that the Shpagin gets the stock furniture of the MAT-49, while the old French MAT-49 gets the 7.62x25mm caliber change from its original 9x19mm. Simplfies logistics, and one supposes, the “interoperability” of having all those crazy SMGs in one’s ex-Viet Minh inventory in the PAVN.

  3. Speculation here: If it says “Made in Croatia” in English, and if (I am told) “Hrvatski” is Croatian for “Croatian,” maybe HS stands for “Hrvatski Subgun?”

  4. It helped that basic infrastructure was there, a lot of technical documentation and sometimes tooling for old weapons was distributed among country to various metal-working companies, as their task in case of war, if SRHTF would have been making replacement parts for those. Hence you see direct copies of well known SMGs, since technical drawings and in some cases even basic tooling for at least some parts was there.

    • Do you have documented real example of these technical documents, drawings and even existing pre 1991. tools, that were supposedly present in all these non-military factories?
      I have researched the topic extensively, and have encountered none, in all these years.

      Because this somewhat verges on a story that Beograds propaganda and media reported in fall of ’91:
      “We cannot conquer Vukovar because they have been turning it into a fortress for 45 years, back from 1945” (!?)
      I’m not saying its the same as this asinine 45 year fortress story, but would like to see or hear direct evidence and facts.

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