HS95: Croatia Builds a Modern Pistol

The HS-95 was developed by HS Produkt to replace the PHP pistols. With the experience of producing many thousands of PHPs, the company had a much better understanding of how to design a pistol for production, which is immediately obvious in the HS95. It is a traditional tilting-barrel Browning action, with an external DA/SA hammer. It is largely copied from the Zastava CZ-99, but altered to look more like the SIG P229, and less Serbian (Serbia was not a particularly well-regarded country in Croatia in the mid-1990s).

Production of the HS95 ran from 1995 until 1998, when it was replaced by the HS2000. A total of between 15,000 and 20,000 were made, with the only major buyer being the Croatian Army. The guns were well regarded, simple and reliable, if heavy.


  1. I seemingly remember seeing this gun as an import in the early 2000’s? I know I’ve seen the ambi-decock P226 clone style before.

    • Was it the CZ-99 from Zastava, I wonder? That’s a pistol which is easily mistaken for this one.

      They’re so close that you have to wonder about the truth of a rumor that was passed around for awhile, which was that Zastava’s TDP for the CZ-99 was supposedly ‘compromised’ somehow by Croatian sympathizers on the engineering team. Intimations I remember reading about this pistol had it that there was supposedly something hinky about the whole thing, and the intimation was that the Croatians had either performed some sort of legendary bit of industrial espionage, or that there was a traitor at Zastava. This was blasting around AR15.com or one of the other gun boards I used to frequent.

      I think it’d actually be a lot easier to have gone to SIG-Sauer and purchased a couple of pistols, reverse-engineered them for production on available machinery, and then called it good. Whichever they did, both the CZ-99 and this HS95 look like siblings.

        • It’s unfortunate that the documentation on Yugoslav weapons development is so damn scant in English, or much of anything else.

          I grew up around the expat community here in the US, and being fascinated by firearms from an early age, I think I must have heard it all. I had stories on “good authority” that the Germans had to go to Yugoslavia after the war, because the only set of intact working drawings and tools for the MG42 were in a train that Partisans had hijacked somewhere in Austria and then taken south to develop the M53 with, after the war… You name it, if it involved anything even vaguely weapon-like and remotely connected to Yugoslavia, I probably heard a variation on the story. I remember a Zastava sporting rifle being passed around and oohed and aahed over that supposedly had some sort of “secret barrel making process” applied to it that would have allowed Zastava to take over the market here in the US, if only they weren’t being blocked from import…

          Growing up, I came to the conclusion that the national sport for a lot of the expats was conspiracy theories and outright tall tales that would make Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill look tame. Separating the reality from the bullshit would be nice, but you can’t find much in print in English documenting much at all.

          I remember hearing stories about what has to have been Zeljava Air Base when I was a kid, and writing them off as purest fabulism. Then, when people got in and documented that whole installation after the whole thing fell apart, I’m left going “Damn… Darko wasn’t bullshitting me…”

          At this point, I hear anything about Yugoslavia or the Balkans in general? I’m not ruling out anything until I see clear and documented refutation. Rumors in that region have an unfortunate habit of being true, and the more ridiculous they are…? Sometimes, they turn out to be true.

          Just sayin’…

          • Documentation (as in books, articles) is scant in native languages, not just english.

            There are lot of myths floating, my personal favorites the apex of stupidity ones,
            are that steering shafts of one type of small automobile (fiat copy) was made out of discarded Crvena Zastava shotgun barrels (that didnt passed QC – mind the fact that there were more cars made in total than these shotguns).
            To digress, the naming is problematic affair, as CZ 99 pistol stems from Crvena Zastava (red flag) factory, so now when they neutered communist naming background (but left with vague bullshit – who names a factory “flag”?), should they change it also to Z-99 ??

            And second one, this is so asinine it hurts; that some JNA special units used fixed stock AKs (m70), so that when traversing the river in boat, they can be used as oars(!).

            With expats or better said, immigrants, its probably that being so far from their land, nostalgia develops so many of domestic related terms (that trickle to them, passing through “broken telephone”) start developing into myths. More often then not, these people are fervent nationalists, much more then ones who are left living in countries from which they emigrated. Some of it stems from fact that some families emigrated during Yugoslavia, where every type of federal states nationalism was banned and repressed (only allowed, of course, was invented and constructed yugoslavian-communist nationalism, also called Brotherhood and Unity).

  2. Is there a more detailed description of the combined decocker-slide release lever’s mechanism and operation?

    As far as I know, it is different from the controls of the Walther P5 and P88. In case of the aforementioned pistols, the decocker lever can pushes the emerged slide release, which is a different part, not truly integrated. (When we manually lock back the slide, we need to operate this, the real slide release.)

  3. The original PHP magazine was always blued, not stainless steel.
    The one Ian shows on the left is converted hs95 mag.
    The bottom plate is thicker, so you cannot insert hs95 mag into PHP.
    In other words, unless converted, magazines are not readily swappable in between, so it wasnt an logistical idea.

  4. Very nice that HS has allowed you to trace their design development over a period of time. Kudos to them, and to you for what is going to be a nice succinct trilogy on the development of a modern pistol.

  5. (Serbia was not a particularly well-regarded country in Croatia in the mid-1990s).
    Goes back a whole lot farther than that. I remember the vehement hatred between Croatians and Serbians in the mid 60s Milwaukee, WI. And both sides referenced grievances that were already hundreds of years old.

    • It was not well regarded on very same reasons Russia is not well regarded in Ukraine today.
      Serbia often tried to act as little Russia on the Balkans, but lacked many things to be of such great status (in economy, resources, manpower etc.), so their military and neighbours subjugation endevours turned into insane bloodbath.

      As for these immigrants in the 60s, check my above commentary to Kirk.

      • Serbia represents a bit of an interesting phenomenon. Going back to the late 19th Century, they’ve always been fairly enthusiastic about supporting whatever Russia had going at the time, but they’ve always wound up being played for fools, and worse off than before they fell for Russian wiles. One would think they’d learn, but… Nope. Still on-side with the Russians, still going to follow them down the rat-hole because “They’re fellow Orthodox…”

        Meanwhile, the rest of the former Yugoslavia rolls eyes, and goes “Sure, sure… This time, it’ll be different… Sure it will.”

        I have a feeling that their immediate neighbors would love to stage an intervention, to try and tell them that their unrequited love and affection for Russia isn’t reciprocated in any way, shape, or form, but… Nation-states don’t do for each other what girls will do with their friends that are falling in with the wrong guys.

        Literally heard one of my Slovene acquaintances seeing the stories on the news about Serbian protests in favor of Russia say “Not this shit again…” while he was reading the news.

        I really miss the days when it was all “Hey, we’re all buddies from the Old Country…” around here. Now, it’s broken down on ethnic lines, and all the old fraternal lodges that used to be ethnicity-agnostic going back to the 1880s are all split up and doing their own things. I have to wonder what the old-timers who died off during the 1970s would think, watching it all.

        • One thing is unfortunately certain, many “old timers” who died before Yugoslavia broke down, would be today gravely dissapointed if they lived to see it all, with countries that formed post 1991. as ideals of development and direction from that time of change were trampled. One of the most perverse aspects of it, is that ruling class stayed mostly the same, just changeing political parties, from (false) communists into “democrats”.
          Also, communist Yugoslavia was only time in worlds history, never to be repeated again, that these south-central Europe slavic countries were a slight player on world scene, not somebodys object as they have always been, and reverted to such status today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.