Tuesday, November 01, 2011


During the writing of the last post on Czech ammunition, I strayed slightly into blithering about the history of the Czechs' armament industries over the years. So, sure, now you can get some good stuff in the American shooting market…ammo, Cz pistols, VZ24 Mausers, etc.

But what about the really good stuff? The stuff I think we should see on the American shooter and surplus market. Stuff that should be readily and legally available to the ordinary citizen, not just given to Mexican drug lords by the ATF on the taxpayers’ dime. Just a few more of these things would provide hours of fun and a good source of income for the Czech Republic. So, in order of preference, here are Bawb’s Top 5 Czech shooting products which should be on the American market for the benefit of mankind, as well as to entertain the hell out of me and kooks like myself.

Then we wouldn’t have so much time to bitch about Obama and the government destroying the nation. (Hint, hint!)

#1 The Bren Gun

Okay, while the Bren Gun itself as we know it was not made in Czechoslovakia, it was designed there and originally manufactured as the Zb vz. 26. The British Army conducted trials for a new light machine gun and the Zb vz. 26 won. With a couple of modifications to the barrel and magazine to take the standard .303 British rimmed service cartridge, the Brits started manufacturing the Bren under license (fortunately for them before they gave Czechoslovakia to Hitler at Munich). The name Bren came from Brno, the city where it was first designed and built, and Enfield, the British small arms factory.

The Bren was an air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine fed machine gun weighing 23 pounds in its original form. It had a cyclic rate of around 500 rounds per minute and fed from 30-round magazines. It had a bipod as well as a tripod and was also used to arm the open-topped, fully tracked Universal Carrier, which quickly became known as “Bren Gun Carriers”. Adopted in 1938, the Bren was a staple of British & Commonwealth forces throughout WWII and Korea. It was later converted to 7.62x51mm NATO and continued in active British service through the 1982 Falklands Conflict.

A version is still being manufactured by the Ordnance factories in India, hopefully with better quality control than their 7.62x51mm ammunition.

Soldiers and Marines who served with the Bren Gun loved it. And, as much as I am a fan of John Moses Browning, it was probably a much better choice than the Browning Automatic Rifle used by American forces at the same time. Even the Gunny thinks so.

There’s absolutely no reason, IMHO, why every gun owner shouldn’t be allowed to have one or two.

#2 vz. 61 Skorpion

Cool & Sexy

I’m not a big fan of shoulder-fired full-auto, even in poodle shooting calibers, but I have to admit that the vz. 61 Skorpion machine pistol is awful sexy and cool. With a telescopic bolt and folding wire shoulder stock, the thing is only 10-1/2 inches when folded. With 10 or 20-round magazines, you can fire either semi-automatically like a regular pistol or flip the safety one more notch and hose ‘em out at 850-900 rounds per minute.

Name your flavor. Since its introduction in caliber .32 ACP in 1961, they have since been made in .380 ACP, 9x19mm Parabellum, and 9x18mm Makarov. I’m not too sold on the stopping power of any of those cartridges, but with their low recoil and ability to put fifteen rounds out in a second multiple hits would probably make up for it.

Did I mention it’s just so cool and sexy?

#3 The Hetzer

Let's go hunting the ultimate big game...panzers!

The Skoda LT vz 38 tank was, at the time of its adoption, considered a medium tank and a dandy example of tank technology of the late 1930’s. It was being built for both a lucrative export market as well as for the Czech military. Then came Munich, and the LT vz 38 became the German Panzerkampfwagen 38 (t), and was used in Poland, France, and the early days of Barbarossa, the invasion of Soviet Russia. The Panzer 38 (t) was actually superior to the two most widely-used German-made tanks at the time of its adoption/theft; the Panzer Mk I, which had only twin machine guns, and the Panzer II with its 20-mm cannon. The 38 had a 37-mm main gun, the standard anti-weapon of the day, and boasted great mechanical reliability and maneuverability.

Eventually, the little tank was obsolete against the newer Soviet tanks, but the reliable chassis was adapted to a variety of other roles. My favorite was the Jagdpanzer 38(t) tank destroyer. With a solid frontal hull with 60mm of armor sloped at a good 60-degrees, the little hunter had the equivalent of 4-3/4 of armor protection. It’s 75-mm Panzerjagerkanone 39 (L/38) main gun, while not as impressive as the dreaded “88”, was good against most Allied tanks with the exception of the Soviet monsters like the JS-1 Stalin, firing a hard-cored AP round at 2,500 fps which could penetrate 82mm of armor (sloped at 30-degrees) at a thousand meters. Other rounds included HE for those pesky infantrymen, as well as a roof-mounted MG34 7.92mm machine gun on top, which was fired via remote-control from inside the vehicle. As a big bonus, the Hetzer was barely seven feet tall and just over eight feet wide, making it easy to hide while lying in wait in ambush and providing a small target to hit as well.

After WWII, the Swiss decided the Hetzer was custom-made for the defensive military strategy and purchased 185 of them, while the Czech Army kept 180 in service, both armies using the weapons up to the early 1970s. I see no good reason why you or I can’t own one of these things to go tooling around in. It would make a helluva great elk hunting rig.


8x8 = twice the fun as 4x4

What’s that you say? Your elk is out of range of the little Hetzer’s 75mm gun? No problem! You've got a date with DANA. DANA's a Delo Automobilni Nabijene Automaticky (self-propelled auto-loading gun). No matter how reliable, tracked vehicles are a bit of a pain in the ass in the maintenance department, especially if relying on a government re-supply system such as the Army Quartermaster Corps. Wheeled vehicles, on the other hand, are relatively cheap, easier to maintain (with civilian truck parts in the case of the DANA), and can really move on down the road at 50 mph. Mercy sakes, looks like we got us a convoy.

The DANA was built in the early 80s on the chassis of the Tatra 815 military truck, a HEMMITT-looking 8x8 rig, which was then the best off-road military truck around. Eight-wheel-drive, tire pressure regulation for cross-country travel, a 350-horse V-12 diesel engine, power assist on the front two steer axles, air-conditioning (I shit you not) in both cab and turret, and the ability to cross a 5-foot vertical obstacle or ford 4-1/2 feet of water. What’s not to like?

But wait, we haven’t even gotten to the good part yet; a handy-dandy 152-mm gun/howitzer in an armored air-conditioned turret with a traverse of 45-degrees, elevation of 70-degrees, and a 20 km range. Say you spot a coyote on a distant mountain top. No problemo. Just start lobbing 96-pound high explosive projectiles at him at the rate or 3 rounds per minute until you whack him, or rearrange the terrain features enough that he gets hopelessly lost. For those little pests at short range, you also have the good old DShK 12.7mm machine gun, aka the “Russian Ma Duece”.

Uh-oh. You can’t find enough 152-mm and 12.7mm ammunition at the local sporting goods store on the Mexican border? Not to worry. There are also export versions fitted with the popular 155-mm cannon and a 7.62x51mm NATO machine gun.
So there's no reason not to rush out and buy one today!

#5 M53/59 Praga

Without the option for a jumping front axle, the M53/59 has not been popular with Mexican drug cartels so I think the ATF should sell them surplus to American citizens.

Let’s say you’re also a duck hunter, and an increase in gas prices has you looking for something a little more economical in the mileage department. The Czechs have you covered there as well with the M53/59 Praga self-propelled anti-aircraft gun.

Based on the ”indestructible” V3S Praga 6x6 truck chassis, aluminum armor helps keep the weight down and the Tatra 6-cylinder 110-horse diesel gets you 500 klicks on a single tank of fuel, roughly 9.8 miles per gallon, or the equivalent of my old F350 work truck. Just don’t let the DOT catch you using red dyed agricultural use only diesel fuel.

In back of the cab, you’ve got one hellva gun rack, mounting twin M53 30x210mm auto-cannon in an open-topped turret. Each gun carries only a 50-round magazine but don’t worry, you’ve got 800 more spare rounds stored. With High Explosive rounds you can pick off ducks and geese at up to 3,000 meters. With Armor Piercing Incendiary you can take out prairie dogs using light armored vehicles to 2,000 meters.

No legitimate sporting purpose my ass.

WARNING: Ben just emailed and said this column isn’t up to our usual obnoxious and irreverent standards, so I'll close with an insensitive ethnic joke.

Czech guy goes to the optometrist to see if he needs glasses.

The doctor points to the eye chart, the lowest line of which reads Z-B-R-O-K-Y-X, and asks the patient if he can read it.

“Read it!” The Czech exclaims. “Hell, I know the guy.”

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