Ceskoslovensko Zbrojovka (Czech Arms Company) was a state owned Arms manufacturer set-up in Brno, Czechoslovakia in 1919. The company would be liquidated in 1924 before being reopened later that year as a limited liability company in Prague.
At present the company focuses on arms manufacture for sporting purposes, named Zbrojovka Brno.
Brno began making the Mauser rifles, under license, before designers developed the Czech Army Model 1924 Short Rifle. With the assistance of engineer and designer Josef Nickl (sent from Mauser to help set up the production line) they also began production of Czech Army M1922, a Nickl designed pistol, effectivly an updated version of the Mauser 1910.
Czech Army M1922Edit
Redeveloped version of the Mauser 1910 by Nickl. It featured a concealed barrel (within the slide) and was rotated to lock and unlock the breech. 10,000 were produced before production was moved to Ceska Zbrojovka of Strakonitz.
Chief designer at Brno from the 1920's until his death in December 1954, Vaclav Holek developed several guns which would see military use prior to, and during, the Second World War. His designs would span across Machine Guns aswell as Sub-machine guns, himself using previously unused methods and variations on previous weapon innovations. His brother Emmanuel Holek designed automatic rifles at the same company.
Josef and Frantisek Kouchy (the Koucky Brothers) designed several submachine guns aswell as automatic rifles during the 1930's,40's and 50's.
At present the chief designer at Brno is Augustin Necas, designing weapons for sporting purposes.
Developed from the Praga Model 1924 (a Holek design) the ZB26 was a gas-operated Machine gun, featuring a finned barrel and quick release catch for the barrel, allowing it to be easily changed in a few seconds. The gas cylinder featured a piston that acted on the breech lock, tilting the rear end up to lock into the receiver. It used an overhead box magazine to load ammunition. It was used, in military service in 24 countries.
Further developemnt lead to the ZB27 and ZB30 and, most famously, the British Bren gun.
ZB37EditBuilding upon the reputation of the ZB26 and its evolution, Holek designed the ZB37, another Gas operated machine gun. Yet this design incorporated several anti-recoil features, such as the barrel and working parts being allowed to recoil, while the cartridge fired during the counter recoil movement. These innovations led to drastically reduced recoil.
The Czech army adopted the ZB37, fitting it with a tripod and belt feed ammunition, for use with infantry. The British Army used the ZB60 (a development of the ZB37) as a tank gun, which would become known as the BESA in Britain.
Designed in 1933 by the Koucky brothers, this submachine gun was heavily based upon the Bergmann MP18, with a wood stock and perforated barrel jacket. However, the ZK383 featured a clever method of adjusting the fire-rate (removing or adding a weight in the bolt assembly). It also featured a quick change barrel and bipod.
The ZK383 saw use with the Bulgarian Army and across most of South America.
CZ23 and CZ25Edit
Designed by Vaclav Holek, the CZ23 is seen as crucial in the development of Submachine guns. The use of and overhung or wrap-around bolt, meant that (when the breech is closed) six inches of the barrel was covered by the bolt due to the bolt face being recessed. This meant that the gun had a much shorter overall length and hence a very small area to find the centre of balance. It also meant that the pistol grip could be moved forwards to encase the magazine housing. The CZ23 and 25 used the 9mm parabellum.
Around 100,000 were manufactured (between both models) the majority of which were exported. During the Soviet era following World War Two the CZ23 and 25 were rebarrelled and redistributed as the CZ24 and CZ26 respectivly.
A 1922 Automatic rifle designed by Vaclav's brother Emmanuel Holek. The gas operated gun was considered reliable and simple to use but was not adopted and used in great numbers.
Designed in 1942 by the Koucky Brothers using a bolt carrier and relied upon gas for operation. Was not used for military purposes.
Designed by Koucky Brothers in 1952. Another gas operated automatic rifle which was adopted for military use (in smaller Soviet states) but was quickly replaced by more effective weaponry.
Design heavily based on the AK-47 (of which externally it was virtually identical) but with many internal parts changed and used a tilt bolt system. Was not used in any great numbers.
Following the end of the Second World War Czechoslovakia became a communist nation, and in 1952 Brno decided to standardise all ammunition to the 7.62mm pistol round used by the Soviets. This lead to the rebarrelling of the CZ23 and CZ25 from the 9mm parabellum and hence Brno renamed them to the CZ24 and CZ26 respectivly.
Similarly the ZB26 was renamed the VZ52 at the same time. Essentially the only changes made were to the loading mechanisms, with the addition of a belt feed system for the modified Soviet 7.26mm Cartridge M1943. This variant also included a dual trigger mechanism, allowing for both single and automatic fire. This was the last gun Vaclav Holek would design with his death in December 1954.
Post Soviet EraEdit
At present under it's current name Zbrojovka Brno the company produces weaponry for sporting purposes. The current chief designer is Augustin Necas.
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Firearms - Ian V. Hogg