CZ Scorpion Reviewed
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PCCs and subguns have exploded in recent years. PCCs being a pistol caliber carbine and subguns large format pistols with an SMG-like appearance, both styles offering short barreled rifle mobility but in the easy-to-control (and wallet-friendly) 9mm caliber.
One of the guns that spearheaded this explosion of popularity is the CZ Scorpion. Scorpion pistols have an outstanding design that’s captured the market, and at this point there are almost half a dozen Scorpion configurations, including SBRs, pistols, and carbines.
Today we are looking at the stock standard CZ Scorpion Evo 3 S1. The OG of sting, if you will.
Over the years, this firearm has changed slightly, and a brace has been added, but it’s largely the same internally and mechanically.
In This Article
A Czech Classic
To understand the Scorpion, you have to consider one of the Czech’s most popular SMGs from the Cold War, the vz. 61.
This firearm was known as the Skorpion and it was little more than a miniature submachine gun chambered .32 ACP used by tank drivers and police — and it was quite successful. In 1961 it was a fine gun, but in 2007 it was lacking.
In the face of these aging SMGs, CZ began to develop a successor with a more modern caliber and design. This led them to another Czech company called Laugo which had designed a modern SMG called the M8A SMG. CZ purchased the design with the intent of producing a modern-day SMG for police and military forces. CZ took the M8A and refined it into the CZ Scorpion we know and love today.
In 2009 the Czech military adopted the CZ Scorpion, and it went into full production. In 2013 CZ announced its intent to bring the Scorpion to the United States as a pistol, which CZ released as the CZ Scorpion Evo 3 S1.
This chain of events ultimately led to the acquisition of the CZ Scorpion you see here. What started as basically a machine pistol in 1961 has developed into a design successful with enthusiastic military and police as well as civilian shooters.
2023 Awards & Rankings
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Pros & Cons
- Incredibly fun
- Lots of room for accessories
- Hard to beat mobility
- Includes great sights
- Fantastic (if proprietary) mags
- Awful trigger
- Unfortunately large safety can bash your hand when firing
FANTASTIC FACTORY SIGHTS
Makes easy work of getting the most out of the 9mm chambering
Solid ergos coupled with a shorter stature unlocks superb mobility
While proprietary the double-stack sticks are a joy to use and quick to load
LOADS OF RAIL ESTATE
Full-length top rail and three additional Picatinny rails give you tons of room for accessories
Under The Microscope
Laugo and CZ set out to develop a modern and capable SMG-turned pistol which eventually became the Scorpion. The purpose was to update the aging vz. 61s and they did this by including a ton of modern features onto this rather large pistol.
The first feature worth pointing out is the ambidexterity of the weapon. CZ designed it to be fairly easy to use by both right and left-handed shooters. Controls like the safety and magazine release are entirely ambidextrous and easy to manipulate. The charging handle is reversible for left or right-handed use for easy manipulations.
The only control that’s not ambidextrous or reversible is the bolt release.
The world runs on accessories like lights, lasers, and optics. With the Scorpion, shooters can attach whatever they want wherever they want. There is a huge section set aside for optics and a series of Picatinny rails around the handguard for attaching goodies.
CZ includes a very nice set of iron sights. The front post is AR-like for ease of use. The rear sight has four different apertures, and they vary in size from wide open to ultra-small for different levels of precision shooting.
An odd feature often underutilized by shooters is the firing grip adjustment. It can be loosened and adjusted to change the distance from the trigger to make the weapon more accessible to various hand sizes.
Finally, the magazine deserves mention. It’s proprietary, and typically, the price and availability of proprietary magazines are a downside. However, CZ ensured the magazines were readily available as well as affordable. These are robust and capable magazines that are tough to beat — amd they’re a cinch to load, which is more than I can say for Glock mags.
Fun & versatility at its core
The standard CZ Scorpion is designed for military and police work, but what about the big S1 pistol? Well, the S1 has two purposes. First, this is a fun gun. It’s a big, heavy 9mm pistol, but its still quite fun to shoot and enjoy. Fun guns have their place, and guns like the Scorpion are an absolute ton of fun.
On the flip side, the CZ Scorpion can also be used for self-defense, specifically home defense. It’s large and heavy but very easy to control, and when compared to rifles or shotguns, it’s still quite compact and easy to maneuver. With the CZ Scorpion, a shooter can place a dozen rounds on a target with ease and absolute control.
Not to mention the weapon is short and light enough to be used one-handed if need be. Much like the military and police variants, the Scorpion S1 is easy to use in close quarters.
Commanding the Scorpion
As mentioned, the majority of the controls on the CZ Scorpion are reversible or ambidextrous. That’s a nice lead into a new weapon, and ambidexterity is becoming an important part of modern firearm design.
Let’s start at the front and work our way rearward. At the front of the gun on the left side we have a charging handle placed right above the barrel. It’s positioned well and easy to reach forward and grab.
The charging handle can be locked open, and you can do the old HK slap to send the bolt home. While it’s well-placed, it’s somewhat small. The aftermarket has addressed this, but worth noting.
Luckily, the placement does not interfere with the optics mounted to the top of the gun. No knuckle rapping to deal with when charging the pistol.
Flowing rearward, we run into the magazine release. It’s quasi-AK-like and just requires the shooter to press it forward to release the magazine. In my experience mag releases that use this push mechanic are entirely ambidextrous and easy to use.
From there, we have a bolt release just in front of the trigger guard, which is huge, L-shaped textured, and easy to press down to release the bolt. Of course, the bolt can also be released with the charging handle.
Beyond that, we have an ambidextrous safety lever. It’s very AR-like and can be accessed via the thumb without breaking a good firing grip.
While ambidextrous, the safety tends to thump the portion of the hand that sits behind the trigger finger, often snapping against a knuckle or into the trigger hand’s webbing. It’s a bit awkward, but a safety delete via Dremel tool is a great way to fix that problem.
Sights to behold
One tiresome trend in modern firearms is spending a fair bit of money and receiving a gun that needs optics or sights. It’s frustrating and expensive. Luckily, CZ is smart enough to include sights. In fact, they include a set of very nice set — both sights are low profile and removable.
The front sight has a simple post that can be adjusted up and down for elevation, akin to an AK front post. CZ includes a tool to make it easy, but like an AR, you can do without it.
The rear sight adjusts for windage, and it’s easy to get your Scorpion zeroed and hitting bull’s eyes. Four apertures allow you to switch between a wide peep and a narrow peep for quick or precise shooting.
Reliable craftsmanship in action
CZ makes high-quality guns, and the Scorpion has avoided any recalls or major failures. There have been two problems worth mentioning, and both were with early production Scorpions. The first was a batch of bad magazines that couldn’t be left loaded, or the feed lips would break. This has been fixed for years now.
Second, some of the early Scorpions have welded trigger packs. This doesn’t affect function but makes it impossible to change trigger groups out. It’s annoying and requires an entire process to remedy.
(Mostly) Comfort and Control
The pistol grip that comes with the Scorpion S1 is designed for use with a stock. Without a stock or brace, it feels a bit odd and swept rearward. Luckily, plenty of companies produce aftermarket options. With a brace, I find it plenty comfortable and easy to work with.
The CZ scorpion ergonomics are strong but have one major downside. Let’s go over the bad news first. The bad news is that the Scorpion’s ambidextrous safety really digs into your firing hand with the recoil impulse of every shot. It’s flinch-inducing by the and of your first magazine. There are aftermarket solutions, and a Dremel is an easy way to fix the problem.
Other than that, the Scorpions score high in the ergonomics department. The weapon is well-balanced and easy to shoot. The design and placement of the safety makes it easy to manipulate with just your thumb, helping you keep your eyes on target.
The big bolt release allows the thumb of your support hand to easily send the bolt home. The charging handle is on the left hand side of the gun so you can keep your hand on the grip like with ARs.
It’s well placed albeit it’s a little small. You can charge the weapon overhand or underhand, and the handguard tapers as it heads toward the muzzle, so if you’re like me and prefer a c-clamp style grip, the Scorp abides.
Reloads can be lightning fast with the magazine release. It’s set up right behind the magazine and is completely ambidextrous. Shooters can use their trigger fingers to do speed reloads or the thumb of their support hand to do a reload with retention — you simply press it and drop the magazine free.
Scorpion magazines do not rock into place like an AK — you just slide them into the gun, akin to an AR or Glock mag. Unlike Glock mags, the Scorpion’s sticks are double stack all the way up.
A trigger that bites
Shooters won’t write home about this gun’s heavy trigger. It has too much take up and a spongy feel — it really lacks any kind of crispness to it. The Scorpion trigger delivers a letdown for such a nice gun, and it’s surprising they took that route and didn’t address it.
Let’s salvage something and be grateful this is a 50 to 100-yard gun and not a precision rifle. Inside those ranges, the trigger isn’t going to affect accuracy all that much. The reset is long but tactile and audible, with a nice loud pop as it meets the forward position.
It’s a forceful reset that is easy to feel and unmistakable.
Hitting the mark
On the accuracy front, the gun’s awesome sights do it some serious favors. It’s impressively accurate. The real downside to the gun’s accuracy will come from the safety, causing you to flinch when and if it wraps you in the knuckle. If you erase that issue then the Scorpion will throw lead right where you want it. It’s a great gun within 100 yards.
At 25 yards, you can expect to have one ragged hole of 9mm. The gun’s cold hammer forged barrel helps, as do the awesome sights. A red dot helps clean accuracy up even more and makes the gun easy and quick on target.
CZ went with a very simple and practically standard straight blowback design. This is a proven system, and it’s downright reliable with any type of ammo. This includes the cheapest 115-grain steel-cased ammo from mysterious Eastern European countries.
The Scorpions eat through brass, steel, and aluminum-cased ammo as well as jacketed hollow points without issue. It’s a hungry gun that likes to eat, even the cheap stuff.
At the range, the Scorp is an accurate and reliable weapon, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s also a weapon that’s just a ton of fun to shoot. It’s short and small and moves from target to target with ease.
You can peek around corners and cover without any stress and easily hit your targets. It’s small and maneuverable, making it perfect for close-range shooting.
A short and well-balanced gun is also easy to shoot with a single hand, especially with a brace. Within home defense distances keeping a four-inch gong rocking took no effort, and you’d be facing much larger targets in a home defense scenario, unless your larder was being invaded by Smurfs.
Your support arm might be occupied with a phone, opening a door, or retrieving a child, so being able to still engage easily and accurately is important.
While the trigger isn’t impressive by any means the gun does allow for quick and rapid-fire shots. I was able to open up with double taps and triple taps with ease. Once you work with the trigger and more or less figure it out, you can shoot this gun super fast, all while keeping the gun on target thanks to nominal muzzle rise.
Out to 100 yards, in a good strong prone position, I could punch holes reliably in an IPSC-sized target. You’ll need to aim a touch high because the rounds are dropping a good bit at this range, a common reality with pistol caliber carbines. Aim at the head, and you’ll hit them in the chest. That’s about the range a 9mm will reliabily tap out.
One downside to the Scorpion comes from the blowback-operated system. These direct blowback systems give you a full recoil impulse. You’d think a 9mm in a subgun platform wouldn’t have much recoil, and the Scorpion won’t bruise your shoulder by any means.
However, this creates a recoil impulse similar to that of a 5.56 caliber carbine. That’s not a lot of energy, but seemingly more than necessary for a pistol cartridge.
Maintaining the Sting
Taking the Scorpion apart doesn’t take an engineering degree. In fact, if I had to guess, CZ designed it to be soldier-proof. First, remove the magazine and clear the weapon. Once you are sure the weapon is unloaded, we can take it apart.
Right below the ejection port and in front of the trigger sits a pin. It’s captive, so don’t worry about losing it as your press it outward. Once the pin is removed, lock the bolt to the rear of the gun. Now the lower receiver pops right off. From here, you can remove the bolt and access the insides of the gun.
Blowback-operated guns are dirty guns so expect to find lots and lots of carbon inside your gun after a decent range day. It’s all simple to clean with no small and insidious parts to lose. Give the gun a scrub and lubricate the thing, and you’ll be good to go.
The gun is not picky about maintenance and doesn’t need to be cleaned after every range trip. It goes bang without issue even when filthy dirty.
There are a few obvious shortcomings to the Scorpion. The biggest being the pain-inducing safety selector thumping your finger. It’s easy to fix, but shooters shouldn’t have to.
Beyond the safety, the recoil is also a downside. The Scorpion is not a low recoil firearm — it kicks like a 5.56 rifle but doesn’t offer 5.56 range or power. At the end of the day, the Scorpion is just a 9mm pistol, and it doesn’t offer much more performance than that.
There’s also a potential over-reliance on Picatinny rails, as there’s no M-LOK slots to speak of.
The CMMG Banshee series offers you a multitude of braced pistol options with calibers galore. If 9mm isn’t your thing, CMMG offers 10mm, 45 ACP, 40 &W, 5.7, and many more. On top of that, their unique radial delayed blowback operation takes all the recoil out of a blowback system. These guns are AR designs with the familiar controls and ergonomics most shooters are used to.
The Banshee series are fantastic firearms that embrace not only various calibers but also several different magazine platforms, including FN, Glock, and Sig. These guns offer a little more variety while maintaining the same size profile as the Scorpion.
Sig Sauer MPX
Alongside the Scorpion, shooters have the SIG MPX. This was the other big entry into the PCC world that made quite a splash. It’s a short-stroke gas piston gun that is one of the softest shooting 9mms on the planet. The MPX comes in various sizes, including the subcompact K model and the full-sized rifle variant aimed at the PCC competition circuit.
MPX platforms are not cheap, and neither are the magazines. However, they do deliver the only short-stroke gas piston PCC on the market. These are top-tier guns, and the price reflects that. This gun is ultra-soft shooting and incredibly accurate. If you want perfection this is as close as it gets.
Beyond the top Picatinny rail, there’s a load of real estate on the Scorp — so put it to some good use with a select handful of upgrades that’ll take the Scorpion from good to great.
Primary Arms RS-10
One of our top red dot recommendations, the Primary Arms RS-10 is the latest and greatest red dot from PA. This is their first in-house designed optic. It’s a pistol-sized red dot that comes with a Picatinny mount. This keeps it nice and low on the gun and makes cowitnessing with Scorpion sights possible.
The RS-10 doesn’t break the bank either and comes from a company that’s become one of the favorites for affordable red dots.
SB Tactical Arm Brace
A five-pound pistol can be tough to shoot without a brace. The SB Tactical brace makes the weapon much easier to handle and shoot accurately. Plus, it looks a lot less naked with a brace.
The current brace folds out of the way allowing the gun to be compact and easy to use. SB Tactical is the industry leader in stabilizing braces and makes the best on the market for the CZ Scorpion.
Magpul D-50 Drum
Who doesn’t want more ammo? The Magpul D-50 drum for the CZ Scorpion gives you fifty rounds of ammo in a package now longer than a 30-round magazine. To be fair, it is wider, but still short and sweet.
Magpul makes drums that work, and it’s evident with the D-50. If you want to maximize the lead you can keep in your gun, then the D-50 offers you plenty of power in a reliable package.
Streamlight TLR RM2
It would be a crime against Scorpions everywhere to leave all those rails naked. The TLR RM2 is a long gun light blasting out 1,000 lumens of white light. It’s got a shape that ramps forward with a massive button at the rear for activation.
On top of that, you can use an optional pressure switch if you so choose. This light is compact and works very well on the smaller Scorpion platform.
Summing up the Scorp
The CZ Scorpion S1 series pistols and rifles have become a mainstay of American PCCs and Subguns. That popularity has spawned a large aftermarket with entries from Magpul, Strike industries, and many more.
It’s become a very popular platform, and it’s easy to see why. While it’s not perfect, the CZ Scorpion series offers a robust, accurate, and well-made modern weapon for those looking outside the typical AR/AK series.
Why is the CZ Scorpion so popular?
What is the effective range of a CZ Scorpion?
Which militaries use CZ Scorpion?
It’s a mix of three things. First, the gun looks cool. Second, it’s fairly affordable. Finally, the gun works. It’s reliable, accurate, and fun to shoot.
After about 100 yards things start to get iffy with the energy and stability of a 9mm round. One hundred yards is where the gun tops out.
Quite a few, the Czech military uses it, as does the Finnish Border Guard, the Hungarian Defence Force, and many more. It’s also used by numerous police forces around the world.