The Skorpion is a light automatic pistol whose design falls somewhere between the UZI or MAC10 machine guns and the Glock 18 or Beretta 93R selectable auto-fire pistols. It was developed by the Czech technical designer Miroslav Rybar and began its manufacture in the early 1960's under the regime of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.
It has been used by the armies of the Eastern Bloc, it was supplied from Moscow to rebels as well as socialist regimes in Africa, and found its way into the hands of European terrorists who favored its compact size for concealment. Perhaps its greatest notoriety came with its use by the 'red brigades' in the kidnapping and murder of Italian prime minister Aldo Moro in 1978. After the collapse of the Eastern Bloc the pistol continued its popularity with the emerging criminal element.
It was reported that the various secret police agencies of the Warsaw Pact were also fond of the Skorpion, as were the American CIA and British MI-6.
Originally designed to fire the .32 ACP round, many felt that the round was too light, and successive models were designed in several other popular semi-automatic calibers, namely the .380 ACP, 9mm Makarov and 9mm Parabellum.
The original Czech model vz.61 uses the relatively weak .32 ACP cartridge, so it employs a simple blowback principle to operate. The gun features ambidextrous cocking consisting of two small button-shaped handles on each side of the receiver. The safety/firing mode switch is located at the left side above the firing handle. The gun can be fired in single shots or in full auto. To decrease the rate of fire to a practical rate, the vz.61 features a rate reducer located in the handle that catches the bolt in the rearward position for a small amount of time after the each shot.
Today, commercial semi-automatic copies of the Skorpion are produced by both Europian and American manufacturers alike.