Czech Sa vz. 26 SMG (Video)

The Czech Samopal vz. 26 was one of a family of submachine guns (the vz 23-26) that pioneered the use of bolts telescoped out forward over the barrel, allowing guns to have much better ratios of barrel to receiver length than before. The guns actually have quite a few interesting mechanical details, although in my opinion they fail to make it a particularly desirable gun for actual shooting.

61 Comments

  1. Excellent weapon really, I think the Czech weapon designs are generally very good. You can see it as being an indigenous weapon that’s been “Warsaw pacted” i.e. It’s become a bit shoite- Crude sort of, but the Soviets won the great patriotic war and it was likely they would have if it was just Nazi Germany vs Soviet. Possibly even Soviet vs everyone else, I like that 7.62x25mm cartridge theoretically.

  2. “pioneered the use of bolts telescoped out forward over the barrel”
    But not first sub-machine gun to implements this feature, earlier examples
    British MCEM-2
    7,63-мм большой автоматический пистолет Токарева, опытный образец 1929 года
    (for photo click:
    http://historypistols.ru/blog/pistolety-pod-unitarnyj-patron-avtomaticheskie/opytnye-obrazcy-pistoletov-tokareva/
    and see 4 from top and later photos)

    • The MCEM-2 and MCEM-6 are definitely overlooked. Jerzey Podsenkowski came up with the wrapped bolt/grip-feed system before the Czechs or Uziel Gal ever did. Certainly a more imaginative weapon that his rival Harold Turpin came up with.

          • Oh, c’mon, don’t exaggerate 🙂 If Polish is too difficult for you, try any Asian language with their intonation-decided meaning of the same phrases. No such things in Polish, though admittedly it is hard to command PERFECTLY, the grammar is a minefield especially for the English-speakers with their nominative-only flexion (accidence). The concept of accidence is just truly beyond comprehension of a rank and file Anglophone – just as a concept having a handful of past tenses for an average Pole. Then, when you clear the accidence mine-field, there’s orthography (spelling) waiting to trip the unawares. But, hell, I live in Poland all my life, speak Polish as my native tongue, but still I can write a word or two of English, sometimes even risking using Past Perfect Continuous or some other Anglo-Saxon Vergeltungswaffe (not always successfully – but hell, at least I go under trying!), and the last time I spent an hour in language class was in grammar school, 30 years ago… Just a matter of will, as always with languages 🙂

          • “The concept of accidence is just truly beyond comprehension of a rank and file Anglophone – just as a concept having a handful of past tenses for an average Pole.”
            German language also features accidence concept (Der Kasus) but it is simpler:
            German: Nominativ, Akkusativ, Dativ, Genitiv
            Polish: Mianownik, Dopełniacz, Celownik, Biernik, Narzędnik, Miejscownik, Wołacz
            To get proper version in both languages you need to know noun gender, in German this is three-letter word before noun: DER for male, DIE for female, DAS for neutral, decoding the gender of given noun is not so simple in Polish.

          • Only seven cases? Well, actually that’s a fair number, but Finnish has 14 (+1) cases:

            https://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/finnish-cases.html

            Grammatically Finnish has been judged as one of the most difficult languages to learn for a person whose first language is Indo-European.

            I would also like to correct that not all Far Eastern languages are tonal. Japanese, for example, is not. The grammar and pronunciation of Japanese are actually not that difficult for most Europeans (pronunciation may be difficult for English speakers due to the weird vowels of Modern English). On the other hand, the writing is quite a challenge with its mixture of Chinese characters and locally developed syllabary systems. I studied some Japanese when I was younger, but I never got around to learn the writing system, mostly due to the considerable tome and effort needed in learning the kanji (Chinese characters).

        • “Jerzey Podsenkowski” was the Anglicized version of his Polish name, much like Stefan Janson. This is the name he was referred to as during his time at RSAF Enfield.

  3. I was cringing as that back end cap came off and you pointed that end at the camera. I was expecting an eye full of recoil spring.

    Captive zebedees get my vote of appreciation.

    I was really keen on open bolt carbines, when they were fashionable and legal to possess in Britain during the eightees, but didn’t get a go with any full autos.

    How do telescoped bolt guns compare to the non telescoped bolts for controllability with full auto fire?

    I’m told that the various schmieser derivatives, including the sten and sterling were very comfortable and controllable, much more so than say an mp5.

    • “mp5”
      Sterling SMG fire 550 rpm.
      MP5 fire 800 rpm (or even 900 rpm in MP5K variant).
      Both fire 9×19 cartridge, Sterling weights 2.7kg, MP5 mass is similar (vary depending on variant), considering that Sterling will have bigger recoil (assuming recoil as “sum of momentum of bullets fired in 1 minute divided by weapon mass”) hence it would be more hard to control.

      • Ah…..I don’t think so. Given weapons of the same weight, the higher RPM (800 vs 550) will produce the greater physical recoil. I’ve fired both weapons and they are both easily controlled in full auto. They certainly “feel” very different, partly due to their different layouts and partly due to their different trigger pulls.

      • I recall seeing, long time ago, a diagram showing recoil effect of burst out of MP5. There is certainly an aggregated recoil impulse into receiver, but it does not look like simple sum-up of individual impulses. There is apparently some partial attenuation between individual shots. I guess it is a matter of “catching-up” between attenuation (of which shooter’s body is part of) and addition of another following impulse. But yes, overall it is possible and even probable that MP5 is little better off in that department.

        At the end however, it is all up to user how he/she feels about it and I take observation of our friend W.F. in that regard.

    • Hi Keith!

      I read with interest what you say, nota-bene because I had been pursuing thru time a method how to reduce felt recoil (mainly on rifles).

      Having some exposure to 9mm Sterling SMG in past, I recall that the free floating bolt has any hard contact with receiver at the end of stroke, if I am right. That would explain the controllability you mention.

      • Hi Denny,

        In my head, a Schmiesser style gun appears to have its oscillating mass much closer in to the firer’s body and from that, should be less destabilising than a gun which puts the c of g of its oscillating mass further out, as the guns with a bolt shaped after a Browning slide have.

        I’m not sure whether that translates from inside my head, to real pieces of metal.

        The little bit that I’ve picked up, is that even the nastiest of the Schmiesser derivatives, the STENs, are very effective in full auto, when compared to some of the later guns which depart further from that basic layout.

        Moving from Schmiesser derivatives in general, to the Sterling specifically, the Sterling has a divided mass buffering system.

        There is a cylindrical steel weight in between the bolt and the end cap, with a recoil spring either side of it.

        I’m guessing (it’s thirty years or more since I had hold of one), that the rear spring is stiffer, and that during recoil, the weight oscillates back and forth, slowing the bolt with each bounce.

        If that is how it is operating, it should spread the deceleration of the recoiling bolt over several small pulses, rather than a single larger one.

  4. Im kind of surprised rifles don’t use telescoped bolts. Wonder if one could make an AR15 stlye with it and eliminate the buffer space? idk idle uneducated(engineering wise) speculation

    • The telescoping bolt trick is mostly (entirely?) used on straight blowback guns. These require the inertia of large, heavy bolts to keep the chamber closed until the bullet has left the barrel and pressure has dropped to a safe level for ejection.
      For a locked breech design (the bolt stays locked in relation to the chamber until it’s acted upon by some other mechanism) like the AR15, there’s no reason for the bolt to have any more mass than it needs for structural integrity. So the bolt isn’t very large to begin with and there’s not much space to be gained by telescoping.

      So why is the buffer tube there at all? I don’t know, I’m not an engineer either. I’d guess that the possibility for a folding stock wasn’t a consideration during the design, so there was no compelling reason not to.
      There are AR15s without buffer tubes. The bolt carrier for an LR300 looks like they just took the back of it off with a hacksaw (here’s a normal one). Does it still work? I can’t say from personal experience, but yeah, it probably works just fine.

      • This is partially true what you say, with respect to firing impulse on locked guns. Yes, the size of action is primarily for structural reason.

        But, you need to keep the mechanism going back when there is still some ‘steam in the pipe’. As a result you get secondary impulse. That’s for semi-auto; in full auto it gets more fancy though and for that reason the semi is easier to design.

        On AR in particular, the Bolt assembly on its own is just too light to keep harmonics in jive. So they added buffer with individually independent set of weights inside of it. The effect is in breaking single large impulse into series of small ones and thus slowing down bolt’s dynamic response; much like Keith alludes to in his response.

        • Keith’s comment: “There is a cylindrical steel weight in between the bolt and the end cap, with a recoil spring either side of it. I’m guessing (it’s thirty years or more since I had hold of one), that the rear spring is stiffer, and that during recoil, the weight oscillates back and forth, slowing the bolt with each bounce. If that is how it is operating, it should spread the deceleration of the recoiling bolt over several small pulses, rather than a single larger one.” The bolts mass in a locked gun affects the fire rate also, like in MG3’s they used a heavier bolt to slow the cyclic rate down. So the buffer sort of slows the bolt down without excess mass does it via: “On an AR in particular, the Bolt assembly on its own is just too light to keep harmonics in jive. So they added buffer with individually independent set of weights inside of it. The effect is in breaking single large impulse into series of small ones and thus slowing down bolt’s dynamic response” on an AR I never new that, I thought it was really just to keep the spring capitive in the buffer tube because there’s a wee plunger you have to depress to remove it.

          • So the bolt hits the buffer, then when the buffer hits the back of the buffer tube… Bits “rattle” inside it, acting as… As if there was another spring inside the buffer tube to engage the buffer when it moves rearwards inside the tube.

          • I mean I know it’s called a buffer, therefore indicating it acts thus… But I didn’t know how see, it just looks like a solid bit of metal in pictures.

          • A buffer can also be used to speed cycling of the action without incurring the big recoil impulse that you would get if you used bouncing the bolt/ bolt carrier off the back plate of the action.

            The buffer stops the bolt, and the recoil spring can be moving the bolt forward again, while the buffer goes off to do its own thing.

            Within limits, you can play tunes, but there are no free lunches.

            Probably the best ref to read up on this applied to guns, rather than just Newtonian mechanics applied to general engineering, is Alsop & Popelinsky et al. It was getting a bit pricey during the boom (£700+!!!), but you might get one through a library, or second hand.

            If he can source one, Denny has the advantage that he can read the original material in Czech.

      • The AR’s bolt return spring goes in the buffer tube though, allowing it to have a relatively short receiver in comparison to an AK say. I saw a shorter one, with a pull out rotatable stock like off a minimi para. I suppose you could telescope the bolt over the barrel, around the chamber on an AR type design, if you put the bolt at the rear of the gap for the hammer, with the return spring around the barrel- Sort of like a pistol slide, in order to fit a conventional folding stock.

    • Another theoretical way of doing it- Lewis gun, rack and pinion/clock spring style, with a telescopic bolt, the spring being contained in a magazine well extension, forward of the mag.

      • Gears, gear and rack cutting and the bearings for mounting gear shafts on are expensive complications requiring precise machining.

        The AK and Vz 58 do very nicely with springs mounted into tubes and drilled holes.

  5. The Czech M52 loading of the 7.62 x 25mm round was noticeably heavier than anyone else’s, generating a MV of 1750- 800 F/S in the vz.24/26 11.5 in barrel. With an 85-grain bullet, this generated a ME of ~600 FPE, roughly in the range of a “hot” .357 Magnum, and putting the SMG on a ballistic par with the U.S. M1 Carbine’s .30 round (ME ~ 850 FPE).

    For a time prior to majority rule, the vz.25 was made in both Rhodesia and South Africa for sale to farmers as a self-defense/home-defense arm. AFAIK, these were all 9 x 19mm with the folding stock. Whether they actually had a license to make them is another matter entirely.

    In many ways, its design parallels that of the somewhat later Beretta Model 12.

    It seems a bit primitive, but it was cheaper to make than the Uzi or later overhung-bolt SMGs, with the Ingram/MAC/Cobray MAC-10/11 family being the only one which really matched it for inexpensive manufacture.

    I wouldn’t feel ill-armed with any of the Vz.23-26 family. Or a Beretta M12, for that matter.

    They might not have the “Uzi image”, but they would probably get the job done.

    cheers

    eon

    • These were standard arm(mostly with wooden stock) for variety of services at times I was school kid. I saw them on CSR-DDR border in hands of guards about that time. The patrols of two would carry one SMG and one Vz.52 (7.62x45mm) rifle, which was probably pretty efficient combo.

      Later they were relegated to “Peoples militias” – paramilitaries under direct command of Party. I do not have any practical experience with them, but read technical evaluations which were mixed bag (much like Ian says); the folding tock was not that favoured. On balance, the gun was not that bad and the shot fired from long barrel is sufficient for short ranges, as “eon” points out.

      Many years after that I saw them in one South African movie with silly title “Gods must be crazy”; but movie was entertaining enough. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080801/

  6. Okay, so ergonomic this gun was not! Accurate, it probably was not! Had I been on some armaments committee I would say the Sa vz. 26 could have been improved greatly…

    1. Simplify the iron sights (why don’t we just fix the range to 100 meters?)
    2. redesign the magazine and pistol grip for a more comfortable hold
    3. find a way to make that flimsy looking stock a bit more substantial (put a hypotenuse on a triangle?)

    And please, do not attempt to hold two of these SMGs “Rambo style.”

    • Other than the stock, you do all of that to the vz.23 and you basically have the Beretta M12.

      It gave up the magazine well going up through the pistol grip for one just ahead of the trigger guard, plus a fixed foregrip. The result is a pair of well-shaped pistol grips (the aft one with a grip safety neatly built-in), that make the weapon a lot more comfortable to fire than the vz.Any Version. (Personal experience.)

      The resemblance between the Samopal design and the M12 led me to suspect long ago that Beretta looked at the Samopal and said, “It’s OK, but we can do better ourselves.”

      cheers

      eon

      • Hey Eon, you like Beretta M12, don’t you? Me too.
        Its funny how Italian taste projects even into such ‘logical’ things like guns.
        You certainly keep on mind that 9mm Para is little less lively than Tok….. and I know you do.

  7. Earlier this year I was in Cambodia and visited a shooting range near Angkor Wat, and they had a number of these interesting SMGs on display. Also PPSh, DP, BAR and some others. Unfortunately none of these old guns were available to shoot. I did have a go with an RPD and SGM, at considerable expense. Good fun for us Aussies who have almost no opportunity to get our hands on automatics here at home.

  8. Ian: That was a very fine, nicely narrated and enjoyable Show&Tell.

    Three additional features of these Czech guns deserve mention:

    1) They were among the first (maybe THE first) SMGs to incorporate the wedge-shaped magazine combined with double-column alternate-side feed, in which the top cartridge is angled inward toward the chamber to shorten and simplify the feed ramp.

    2) The fire control parts are all in a self-contained pack that fits neatly into a cavity inside the bakelite body, easily removed for cleaning or replacement.

    3) The manufacturing techniques are quite sophisticated compared to the Sten and similar tubular types. The receiver tube is machined and other parts are joined to it almost entirely by spot-welding. Very heavy-duty roll swaging is used to attach the barrel trunnion, and extremely precise longitudinal guide ribs are stab-stamped into the tube to keep the bolt from torquing.

    M

  9. I believe that safety is not copied from the VG1, but the SVT-40.

    The SVT uses a flip-safety that blocks trigger movement. The VG-1 copied the same idea, but with a rotating riveted safety instead.

    Not really significant, but worth noting.

    • Ian and Seth C: Actually, the SVT-40 tokarev has a simple “trigger-block” safety, which swings to the left for “fire” and downward, behind the trigger for “safe.” On the automatic rifle version, the AVT-40, the paddle can be swept to the right for “full auto.” The VG-1 is not the origin of the Czech samopal 9mm and 7.62x25mm SMGs, rather, it is the VG-2 or “Spreewerke VG-2.” Like Seth wrote, not really a big deal, and Ian is essentially correct that the design was derived from Nazi last-ditch “Volksgewehr” designs, although to be pedantc, it was the VG-2 not the VG-1. Leave it to the intraweb “hive mind” to come up with the “fact checker!”

      Ian: Thank you very much for this important review.
      As noted up post, the 7.62x25mm and 9x19mm versions were captured in apartheid-era Rhodesia and South Africa in quantity, and these were frequently modified to self-loading carbines to arm vulnerable white farmers.

      I think that the very first “shots fired in anger” from the 9mm versions, the Sa. 23 and 25 was in Cuba. The Czechs “dumped” the NATO cartridge guns in a huge quantity to equip the MNR or Revolutionary State’s militia. If one examines Fidelista propaganda photos from various photographers, particularly Raúl Corrales, but also others, you’ll see tons of the folding stock versions and a few of the fixed stock versions too. There are the shots, for instance, of the “revolutionary people in arms” variety at the end of the 66 hour battle at the Playa Girón/Bay of Pigs that show very, very many MNR militia holding the Sa. 25 aloft as a revolutionary icon. The MNR also had lavish quantities of the Czech “Modelo 52” 7.62x45mm rifles and light machine guns, as well as Soviet PPSh41 Shpagin SMGs. The FAR, or revolutionary armed forces had mostly Belgian FALs.

      As an owner of the Beretta Cx4 “storm” 9mm carbine, the paternity of many elements in its design was obvious thanks to your detailed video. Boy I wish Beretta had kept that snazzy use of the telescoping bolt as wrench to remove the barrel retaining nut! Genius!

      • You are absolutely right Dave; I wished to mention the Cuban connection but left out. Thanks for filling in!

        I terms of Samopal’s genesis it is like you say, its designer Mr. Kratochvil took a look at preceding German developments; no doubt about it. The term “samopal” in pure sense of language is proper as applied here for pistol based ammunition, BUT is completely wrong for vz.58. Czechs know it now, but so what; it’s all in history.

        • Respectfully, if by “M14” you mean the U.S. M14 rifle, then no. It uses the same sort of safety as its M1 Garand progenitor.

          The Soviet Simonov carbine design, in all its many iterations, does employ a simple trigger block “safety” that is a bit like the SVT-40 Tokarev, but the lever sweeps forward and back instead of center to left.

          • There’s even a picture of a Garand on this website from a recent article and your right obviously he he, I had a look at the SKS I didn’t mean that… Can’t remember what it was off, it was like a metal O behind the trigger blade: O/ and you turned the O to make it | so now it looks like | / meaning you can pull the trigger back.

          • SVT 40 which may not actually work exactly as I alluded to above, but it is the same principle as that and indeed this i.e. Putting metal behind the trigger.

  10. Incorrections…
    uzi was inspired from that gun instead,there was lot of debates with this and Uzi manufacturing company was sued for copycat idea..

  11. PS: Re: Playa Girón/Bay of Pigs. I’ve just returned from my library, and sure enough, there are tons of Fidelista images… One shows crates of the Sa. 25 with the lids prized off, and grinning members of the MNR picking up the new “sub-ametralladoras Checas.” Also, the famous Raúl Corrales photos, “La Miliciana” showing a gorgeous young woman of mixed-race resolute, determined, and packing a 9mm Sa. 25, and “La Abuela” where an elderly woman is surrounded by a racially-mixed crown of very young milicianos holding the Czech smgs. is another. These are easily found online.

  12. I’m just trying to remember whether I saw any in Angola?

    The Angolan (or at least the MPLAs) service rifle is Czech, and, on one of the South African incursions, the soviet troops fled from Luanda, while the Cubans fought on until they had turned the South African forces around.

    Soviet influence waned after that, while Cuban influence increased.

    • The FAA, mostly made up from the FAPLA and MPLA side of the Angolan Civil War in its various phases uses primarily Soviet and ex-Warsaw Pact weapons acquired in enormous quantity during the mid-to-late 1970s, 1980s, and into the early 1990s. The PAIGC, MPLA, and FRELIMO received weapons from a number of Eastern Bloc nations, and Algeria, and, at least in the case of the MPLA, from Yugoslavia before the Coup/revolution in April 1974 in Portugal.

      There were two decisive Cuban FAR interventions. The first, in 1975 early in the Angolan Civil War between Agostinho Neto’s MPLA, Holden Roberto’s FNLA, and Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA, led to the battle of Quifangondo where 850 FAPLA, 200 Katangans from nearby Zaïre (Holden Roberto was a relative of Mobutu), 88 Cubans and Yuri, a Soviet advisor turned back the FNLA with heavy losses. Cubans operated BM-21 multiple rocket launchers and 120mm mortars… and about 120 Cuban MININT special forces formed the reserve. By 1976 the SADF in Operation Zulu withdrew to Southern Angola.

      Prior to August 1975, Yugoslavia was the primary arms supplier to Neto’s MPLA. The Portuguese used some 9mm FBP SMGs, and later in the colonial war, numbers of Uzi SMGs, particularly for squad leaders and so on.

      The DDR supported and supplied the MPLA, but weapons did not arrive until comparatively late.

      Somewhat bizarrely, unless one reflects that Romania was to the Warsaw Pact what France was for Nato, Romania supplied medical aid to the MPLA, but military aid to UNITA and FNLA, before falling into line. To make the murky cold war as two, three, many hot wars in Africa the Chinese were the first to send advisers to the FNLA in Zaire, and also the first to leave. U.S. CIA (IAFEATURE), South African, and Cuban advisers arrived in late August 1975. After November, very, very many Soviets arrived. Zaire intervened first with troops, March 1975. North Koreans, who’d been training the “Kamanyola” presidential guard of Mobutu, also assisted the FNLA, but then left when Cuba and the USSR got involved. The SADF invaded in October 1975, and so in November 1975 Cuba intervened, first with “Operación Carlota” with MININT special forces troops in civilian clothes and weapons stored in the cargo holds of civilian aircraft that had to stop and refuel several times.

      The second decisive Cuban intervention came in “Maniobra XXXI anniversario” where the FAPLA and Cubans fought a stalemate with SADF and UNITA at Cuito Cuanavale, and then moved to the Namibian Border with SWAPO in the 1988. Certainly Czech Vz52s, Sa.23, 25, and presumably 24 and 26s showed up along with Polish PM-63 RAK proto-PDWs, and I’ve even seen images of Cuban officers with Hungarian AMDs! I think if it was Warsaw Pact, it showed up there. My understanding is that very many Karabiner S DDR SKS carbines went there too…

  13. Rhodesian LDP carbines were on sale in Britain in the eighties.

    They were low priced and in a very subjective opinion, poor value.

  14. The Mp5 has a similar “dial” sight doesn’t it, probably a better one, think it rotates, Hk33 rather- Fired one once, I presume it’s similar to the Mp5.

  15. If anybody needs the correct stripper clips for this weapon, I happen to have a bunch. See my listings on Gunbroker under the username of “nagmashdriver”.

    On another note, you’re all wrong; the hardest language to learn is English. The reason is simple: English has more exceptions to the rules than it does rules.

    You learn this when you are a native-English speaker learning a foreign tongue.

    • “English has more exceptions to the rules than it does rules.” That’s exactly what my teacher told me some 45 years ago. She had besides of being retired teacher, first hand experience from England.

      Languages are fun to learn, because by learning them you start to fully understand your own (which is what you say). I started to learn German because was upset with myself for not being able to understand during my first visit to Germany. Later, the same happened with Spanish after my visit to Mexico. Next to learn should be what? Arabic? That sounds like challenge!

    • I would imagine that Chinese would be way up there on the list, given the sheer number of characters you’d need to memorize. And for spoken Chinese, there’s the fact that the dialects are so widely varied that they’re often mutually unintelligible, but I guess most people learning the language bypass that by just sticking to the Mandarin dialect.

  16. Hi Ian

    Would it be possible to see how that progressive trigger is done or how it operates? I’ve been fascinated by all the disconnector designs out there but haven’t found anything on progressive triggers, especially on a cheap production gun like this Czech Sa vz. 26 is. You can contact me through email or what ever is convenient, maybe do a little video for your channel 🙂 Thank you and have a nice day!

  17. As someone who actually has fired these, along with a long list of other smgs, the 7.62 Czech loadings out of one of these is amazing, flat shooting and accurate. The folding stock isn’t “flimsy” as some who are looking at pictures claim, it is rock solid.

    As for “build quality” is is on par with just about anything made of sheet metal.

    A few mentioned the Mp5 which is a real POS. A good SMG should eat anything vaguely round and in a similar caliber. A mac10 will eat anything from steel case to .45 auto rim. MP5s you have to hand select the ammo, they are dirt sensitive and no more accurate than any other SMG. Sterling SMG was a far better gun but the Brit gov undermined them anychance they got and of course few companies pay higher bribes than H&K.

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