Military Review

Submachine gun with a longitudinal store - ZB-47

The desire of designers to do weapon compact, while not losing in combat and operational characteristics, sometimes gives rise to these masterpieces. It is true that only other designers can appreciate such samples, and the military and law enforcement agencies do not like unusual and complex weapons.

The reason here lies not only in the fact that most people do not like change and something different from what they are used to, everything is much simpler. A more complex mechanism is almost always less reliable, and even if reliability remains at the proper level, a relatively low increase in individual characteristics is unjustified in costs in the production of more complex, and therefore more expensive weapons. This also includes the time and cost of retraining people. Even if the maintenance and operation differs in the smallest detail, both funny and unhappy events are guaranteed without retraining.

Submachine gun with a longitudinal store - ZB-47

Despite the very small chances of launching weapons into mass production, the designers worked and are working on new, not always perfect models, and sometimes their work is really taken seriously and give a chance to a new weapon to become a mass model.

In this article, I propose to get acquainted with the submachine gun not only the original design, but also with a somewhat unusual appearance. This submachine gun was developed by the famous Czechoslovak gunsmith Václav Cholek, participated in the competition for a new PP for the army of Czechoslovakia and reached the final, but lost to its main competitor Sa. 23.

Submachine gun ZB-47 - not the first, but unique

The first question that arises when considering a ZB-47 submachine gun: where does he shop? And the store is not just a store, but a store for whole 72 patrons. Its design is completely ordinary, but not everyone can find its location, even if you give it a weapon in its hands.

The answer to the question about the store lies in the butt of the weapon, this is where it is located, and it joins fairly easily, unless of course you know how, from the bottom of the butt.

This location of the store and the layout of the weapon as a whole, despite its unusual nature, is not new. Back in the early thirties, the Italian gunsmith Guillo Sosso developed a submachine gun of the original design with a similar location of the store in the butt. It is worth noting that there is very little information about these weapons, many experts generally question the existence of a workable sample of these weapons, however, the design itself existed.

One of the main problems with the location of the store with ammunition in the butt is the orientation of the cartridges with respect to the axis of the barrel. In this case, they are almost perpendicular to the barrel, which means that before the bolt delivers the cartridge to the chamber, the ammunition should be turned to 90 degrees.

In the submachine gun Guillo Sosso, this issue was solved not so much originally, as it is interesting from the point of view of design thought. A very difficult system of levers connected the bolt group with the feeders, which had to pick up the cartridges from the magazine and along the tube bent into the arc with a cut-out, to pass the feeder, to deliver them to a special shelf located along the path of the congestion. From this shelf, the bolt picked up the cartridge and sent it to the chamber.

If we consider the system of levers on the preserved photographs, then we can note that she had the ability to adjust. One can only guess whether this adjustment was a consequence of fitting the system to ensure its efficiency, or whether it was possible to change the characteristics of the weapon, for example, the same rate of fire.

There is another very remarkable moment in this weapon. Judging by the patent on it, food was produced not from one, but in fact from two single-row stores combined into one building. That is, the weapon shop was really in the full sense of the word two-row. Why the designer chose such a store option is not clear, because it does not give any advantages.

It is often noted that this weapon could have a magazine with a capacity of almost a hundred rounds, as evidenced by a sectional photo of the structure. However, there is one detail in this photograph, or rather, it is missing, which makes it possible to cast doubt on such a capacity of a weapon shop. If you look closely, the store does not have enough springs and a feeder, and the cartridges are packed so that there is simply no room for these parts. Despite this offhand, you can safely talk about the capacity in 60-70 cartridges, which is also very good.

That was the predecessor of the Czechoslovak submachine gun ZB-47. Now let's try to get acquainted in more detail with the design of this weapon and compare with the Italian software the implementation of feeding cartridges from the store.

The design of the submachine gun ZB-47

If you look closely at the weapon, then its differences become apparent even in the layout. Despite the fact that the shop has a significant part in the butt of the weapon, all the other parts of the submachine gun are located above it. In addition, the magazine is not inserted into the butt from the back, and snaps from the bottom, which greatly simplifies and accelerates its replacement.
Once we touched the theme of the weapon shop, we need to give some explanation on the difference in information about its capacity. So in some sources indicated capacity in 32 cartridge, in others 72 cartridge 9х19. Both this and other information is completely correct, and the different capacity is explained by two versions of the weapon.

One of the variants of the ZB-47 submachine gun was a weapon with a fixed wooden butt, this option also had a magazine with an 32 cartridge capacity. In addition, a submachine gun with a retractable metal butt was also developed. Of course, the retractable butt could not allow a long store to be placed in the weapon, because for this version of the submachine gun the stores had a capacity of 32 cartridge. Thus, a weapon with a folding butt did not have an advantage in the capacity of the store, but won only in overall dimensions. But back to the automation system PP.

The basis of the new machine gun pistol became automatic with a free gate, the shot was made from the open bolt. Weapons had the ability to conduct, as an automatic fire, and single.

Submission of cartridges from the store was carried out to the genius simply - using a ratchet mechanism. So the feeder of cartridges had a 4 cutout for grabbing cartridges from the magazine, while moving the bolt forward, the ratchet mechanism was rotated 90 degrees, thereby substituting the bottom of the cartridge case under the bolt that sent the ammunition to the chamber. In comparison with the leverage system of Sosso, one can say that they have nothing in common, not to mention the simplicity of implementation, and most importantly the reliability of such a system for the supply of ammunition.

Appearance and ergonomics of the ZB-47 submachine gun

Even despite its layout, the ZB-47 submachine gun has a very interesting appearance. In this weapon, there is no usual grip for everyone to hold the PP. Instead, in the receiver there is a hole in which the thumb is inserted arrow, the index finger rests on the trigger, and the remaining grasp the receiver from the bottom. Actually a similar holding of weapons can be met at the submachine gun Р90.

The absence of a full-fledged handle to hold actually deprived the weapon of the possibility of firing, using only one hand, which is an important criterion, despite the low effectiveness of this option of firing a submachine gun. Nevertheless, such a decision was not just a whim of the designer, he had a very rational explanation. This submachine gun was designed taking into account its operation by the crews of armored vehicles, and the experience of the military period showed that even such a small detail as the pistol grip of the PP could catch when the crew left the wrecked car, which could lead to the most sad consequences. But for what a similar method of retention is used in P90 I personally do not know.

For convenient holding the weapon with the second hand, the ratchet-feeder housing of the cartridges was used, it also had a lock for disassembling the weapon during maintenance. When disassembling the receiver was divided into two parts.

All remaining weapon controls were located on the right side of the ZB-47 submachine gun. So to the right above the hole to hold the weapon was located the bolt handle, which moved with it when firing. Next to it was a fuse switch, also known as a translator of fire modes. It should be noted that there is a version of the weapon only with automatic fire, where this element is only the switch fuse. In general, for the entire time of the competition, about twenty weapons were manufactured, some of which differed from each other, even the shape and length of the barrel casing changed. In addition, even the ratchet mechanism had various options.

The sights were represented by the diopter and the whole front sight. Target flip, for firing at a distance to 100 and to optimistic 300 meters.

Separately, you need to pay attention to the holes in the store to control the amount of ammunition remaining.

Characteristics of the submachine gun ZB-47

As already noted above, the various weapon variants differed in their characteristics, but for the final result of the designer’s work, quite specific numbers remained. So for the last version of the ZB-47 submachine gun with a fixed butt, the following data is available. The length of the weapon is 760 millimeters with the barrel length 265 millimeters. The weight of the weapon without an 3,3 kilogram. The mass of the equipped magazine with a capacity of 72 cartridge - 1,2 kilogram. 550 rate of fire per minute.

Thus, by simple calculations, it is possible to calculate that the gun of a machine gun and three equipped magazines will weigh less than seven kilograms. And considering that the three equipped stores are 216 cartridges, this is already very good.

Pros and cons of the ZB-47 submachine gun

The main advantage of weapons in the first place are its dimensions. For the version of PP with a fixed butt, it is impossible not to mention a roomy store. However, a store with such a capacity has its drawbacks. The most important of them is the fatigue of the feeder spring, which occurs during long-term storage of the magazine equipped. In general, this effect can be observed in any stores, but in this case it is most pronounced.

Referring to the stores, it is impossible not to note that they are different for the version with folding butt and fixed, they are not interchangeable by themselves, although the design allows you to install a magazine with a cartridge capacity in 32 in a PP with a fixed butt, during the test with this magazine there were delays cartridges. Apparently due to the fact that the store was fixed only at one point, its angle changed, and the mechanism for feeding the cartridges could not cope with the functions assigned to it.
Not the most positive way on the convenience of weapons is the method of its retention. Of course, on the one hand, it’s great that the submachine gun simply physically cannot grasp the pistol grip for anything, but getting used to such a hold with an apparent thickness of the surfaces for which this very hold will be made is obviously difficult, especially for people with small palm sizes and short fingers.


The main conclusion that can be made when meeting with the ZB-47 submachine gun is that the weapon is, although very interesting, but clearly not suitable for general distribution. In principle, this is not surprising, since this submachine gun was developed almost specifically for the crews of armored vehicles, for whom it is not a weapon for battle, but rather a weapon for self-defense and survival in the event of loss of the car. So the designer with the task handled just perfectly well, just the submachine gun itself was considered in a slightly different context.

The ZB-47 submachine gun can be considered an excellent example showing the entire level of Czechoslovak gunsmiths. Simple solutions to complex problems have always been a kind of calling card of these gunsmiths, and this applies not only to the design of the weapon itself, but also to the production and processing processes. A striking example of this is the Italian complex, but interesting in its own way, the supply of cartridges through a curved tube and the simplest mechanism that accomplishes the same task and consists of three parts.
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  1. alatanas
    alatanas 14 December 2017 15: 59
    Interesting design. Thanks.
    1. bouncyhunter
      bouncyhunter 14 December 2017 18: 41
      I join your words. Mark, thanks - did not disappoint! wink hi
      1. AlexMark
        14 December 2017 19: 10
        It will be even more interesting machine, but apparently next week smile
        1. bouncyhunter
          bouncyhunter 14 December 2017 19: 16
          And I'm not in a hurry. wink You do a good and right thing! good Everyone has heard about famous samples, but rare and experimental weapons are always shrouded in a halo of mystery. You can search yourself if you know what you are looking for, but there are samples of which even in the directories are not. hi
          1. san4es
            san4es 14 December 2017 21: 01
            ... Here Pash ... a convenient design was found ... with a 64-barrel magazine
            1. bouncyhunter
              bouncyhunter 15 December 2017 18: 48
              Hi Sasha ! hi Surprised Newton with a binomial. wink There are enough samples with both underbarrel and with superbarrel stores. yes
  2. polpot
    polpot 14 December 2017 17: 09
    The Czechs at that time had an excellent design school, thanks for the article, we are waiting for the continuation
  3. Nova
    Nova 14 December 2017 19: 39
    This Czech software of half a century ago on innovation and design will plug any Kriss Super V and P90
  4. Chever
    Chever 15 December 2017 12: 37
    Thank you Very interesting stuff good hi