Czech ZK-420S at the Range

Another video for you today – we took a Czech ZK-420S out to the range to try out. This rifle was designed towards the end of WWII by the Koucky brothers in Czechoslovakia, and marketed extensively in the late 1940s. The design was not particularly exotic, simply being a gas operated rotating bolt. The large number of milled parts made for a relative high expense to build the guns, though. Between the cost and changing tastes in infantry rifles, if was not ordered in quantity by anyone.

It’s a real bummer that this design didn’t find any commercial success, because it is really nice. If you’re in the “wood and blued steel” school of rifle design, it’s particularly appealing, with sleek lines, good sights and trigger, great balance, and a nice smooth action. We did have some failures to eject, but I’m willing to make allowances for it being a semi-prototype rifle with 60-year-old parts and surplus steel-cased ammo.


  1. Wow !! That’s a really nice gun ! Is it a restored gun? Because it seems to be in excellent condition … I see nice wood and nice metal finish.

  2. That is a very nice gun! I’ve always loved Czech designs from that period. Thanks for showing this!

  3. VZ52 is also a nice unusual rifle thats been designed….
    Its seems czech was set to develope weapon with a locking block bolt mechanism identical to Walther P38..

  4. Nice, too bad it was the wrong time for such a rifle, for militaries anyway. Too bad the Czechs weren’t able to look at marketing these as hunting rifles instead, but they probably weren’t in a positition to do that with the Russians bothering them. A Google search indicates that there were versions made in 7mm Mauser, 8mm Mauser, 7.5 Swiss and .30-06. Clearly, a .30-06 version would have theoretically been popular with the more well-off American hunter.

  5. I assume you were using Romanian 154gr light ball?

    I had the same ejection issues in my old FN-49 in 8mm IS with that particular load, so I doubt it’s the rifle’s fault. The Romanian ammo was chronically underpowered and quality control wasn’t very good, which explains the extremely inconsistent ejection you got with that rifle.

  6. I guess FN made 1919s chambered in 8mm IS … I read it somewhere (don’t remember where 🙂

  7. The magazine and safety are both features extremely reminiscent of the later Vz-52 rifle.

    You can also see the strong inspiration from the G43 and M1, so I think even though it didn’t catch on, it probably had some influence on the ’52.

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