Holek Automat at James D Julia

The Holek Automat was a semiautomatic sporting rifle designed by Emmanuel Holek. Emmanuel was also the designer of the ZH-29 rifle, and brother of Vaclav and Franticek Holek, who developed the ZB-26 and ZB-53 machine guns. Emmanuel left the Brno factory to run his own gun shop, where he offered (among other things) the Holek Automat.

Mostly in 8mm Mauser and 7mm Mauser, the Automat did not prove to be much of a commercial success, although this is certainly due in part to it being manufactured during WWII, when the market for expensive sporting rifles would have been understandably thin. However, the gun is very cleverly designed, and extremely simple to disassemble. This example is in 7x57mm, and in fantastic condition.


  1. It’s a bonnie piece, but I think using the front sling swivel as a cocking piece for multifunctionalaity would have been better as a separate piece with a non reciprocating sleeve around a sealed piston sleeve around a spring, both correspondingly drilled to vent as appropriate, the outer sleeve being the cocking piece with a left hand side cocking handle returned by it’s own spring after engaging the forward part of the bolt carrier.

    • Possibly a round wooden ball drilled to fit around the cocking sleeve, between it and the barrels lower, as a cocking piece, might be nice.

  2. Thanks for sharing.

    The stocking and the sighting system suggest a gun intended for driven game, rather than stalking.

    As far as semi auto spotters go, I bet the Holek will perform with the best of present day sporters.

    ZB heritage beats kick like stink roller delay blowback in a sporter any day of the week!

  3. As a side thought, does anyone else find the ribs on the side of the bolt and bolt carrier, very reminiscent (preminiscent) of the vz58?

    Just add a locking yoke.

  4. When I was much younger, we spoke of the 7x57mm as “an ought-six without the kick.” Amusing the way that old cartridge still answers so many needs. Somebody tell me why a modestly updated and improved Holek wouldn’t sell like ham at Sunday breakfast?

  5. That charging system looks similar to the one on the Reising Model 50 but less likely to give you smashed finger tips if you remember not to grab the rifle by the gas tube. I could suggest a five-round magazine but that really won’t matter in a hunting situation unless you’re dealing with dangerous game. Anybody think a sling swivel on the left hand side and a dedicated charging cord would allow for “slinging up” without bumping the bolt out of battery?

    Please add any good ideas for improvement. I sense a potential hunter or police marksman market on this thing!

    Or am I totally wrong?

  6. I was thinking that, apart from the sling swivel thingy, and some adjustments for mass production, I’m seeing potential for a semi-auto service rifle in the early ’40s, if the war hadn’t happened.

    • I think it would have been too long for that – look how much space there is between the magazine and the trigger guard.
      To get the rifle handy enough to be a standard-issue service rifle, it would have had to have an extremely short barrel.

      Also, I would be worried about the gas system filling with dirt when firing prone or from a trench.

  7. It’s certainly a beautiful and elegant rifle, albeit one which would be banned in the UK as an assault weapon. I am not too keen on the position of the charging handle, but I expect the designer did not want to mar his receiver with a slot for the handle. Likewise, the top ejection precludes the mounting of a scope, and I was surprised that it seems to have fixed sights. Nonetheless it’s a very fine piece which appeared in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    • Assault weapon my big left toe nail! The magazine holds only 3 rounds and the rifle is meant to be used in a non-urban environment! Why not just let the police take the rifles into service to keep them away from the crooks!?

      • Sorry Cherndog, but any full bore self loading rifle is forbidden in the UK. We used to have quite a thriving little practical rifle scene, but that was wiped out in 1988. If more deer hunters and other sporting shooters had had access to elegant self loaders like this, then there might have been more widespread opposition to an unfair ban. The police seem to be happy with their Heckler & Kochs, G36 carbines are to be on trend at the moment.

      • The British NRA were all too happy to throw owners of semi autos under the bus. The only semi auto legal for civilians in England, Scotland and Wales, are rimfire.

        Iirc, centre fire pumps are banned too.

        • Yes Keith, centre fire pump rifles were banned for no reason whatsoever, very few were owned, and they had never been used in a crime. I think the authorities just felt they were vulgar in some way.

          • AARGH! Politicians are the worst roommates! Since they banned guns for almost no reason, why not just take up long bows and then shoot a complaint letter at parliament?

  8. How were slings attached to hunting rifles in pre-war Europe, could they be quickly detached? Up until 20 – 30 years ago in the US one prevalent practice was to carry the rifle to the hunting area and then take off the sling when doing the actual hunting. If that was the practice at that time in Europe then using the sling attachment for the cocking handle is a clever system. It would also allow the rifle to slip into a scabbard more easily, without a cocking knob sticking out. It sort of surprises me that the magazine is detachable.

    A very well thought out gun, it is a shame it did not launch a whole series.

  9. From what I could see the trigger mechanism is uncannily similar to the G43. The major difference I can tell is that the safety on the Holek acts directly on the “tail” of the trigger while the G43, and presumably the G41(W), acts indirectly via a spring loaded plunger. It seems Fritz Walther, the man largely responsible for the G41(W) and G43, was not as innovative as he might wish to be remembered.

  10. Seems one of the most elegant sporting rifles ever produced. Short stroke gas operation with tilted breecholt lock, push feed and top ejection looks finely designed but strong, wıth exception of confusing cocking mechanism which could be arranged with a non recoiling
    knob at the place of swivel hook, wıth a detent latch to
    keep its foremost location during firing.

  11. Must be something in the water down there, the Czech make the nicest guns imho! This one I had never seen before, thanks for sharing!

  12. Did anyone else see that rifle’s action and immediately think of the Winchester 100? I wondered where Winchester got such an outstanding rifle design from.

  13. Any semi auto rifle in 7MM is hard to beat. The 7mm is the cartridge that should have been great…
    I had a Venezuelan FN-49 in 7mm and it was the nicest rifle I have ever shot.

  14. Mr McCollum,
    With regard to your statement “It is a sporting rifle so you do not need a big magazine”

    I have heard this explanation for intentionally limited magazine capacity numerous times before & have found it to be a case of subjects espousing their subjugators needs in a way that makes
    subjugation feel better.

    It must be borne in mind that Governments do not need their subjects* to have firearms at all.

    Bearing in mind that need arises from a perspectively based objective it would be reasonable
    to make the statement from a governments perspective: “It is a sporting rifle so we do not need you to have a big magazine.”

    *excludes those who are armed for the purpose of subjugation.

    P.S Full30 prevented me from posting this on it’s site; conclusion reasoned discussion & debate is prohibited on Full30 id est they oppose the 1th amendment.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.

    Re the fact that Full30 has blocked the above comment on it’s site I note that one politically provocative remark deserves another and that nothing can be counted as apolitical by virtue of being commonplace.

    • I have, of course, also seen hunting used as an argument against civilian ownership of large magazines. Unfortunately, it happens to be true – hunting does not require a large magazine, with a few rare and specific exceptions. Hunting is also not the only, or the most important, reason for civilian to own firearms. Rather than try to twist the facts to make hunting somehow justify magazine capacity, I think it would be wiser to support that ownership for other, more supportable reasons.

  15. I have this type of rifle 1938 with the German markings. My Grand father brought it back during WW II. The rifle was in a house fire. Only damage was to the hand guard. Needing to purchase the hand guard if anyone has one or knows where I could get one.

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