For firearms enthusiasts interested in acquiring and constructing interesting historical weapons, two popular options are the Vz.61 Skorpion submachine gun and the Yugo AK47 assault rifle. Both were originally produced decades ago in Eastern Bloc countries, and today individuals can purchase kits containing many of the necessary parts and assemble them at home. This allows collectors to own iconic guns in a legal manner.
In this post, I'll provide a detailed technical breakdown of constructing each from a parts kit, comparing the steps and intricacies involved. We'll look at the full process, from receiving the kit to final assembly and function testing. I'll also give my perspective on which build is more complex and time-consuming overall.
Overview of the Vz.61 Skorpion
The Vz.61 Skorpion is a select-fire, blowback operated submachine gun that was developed in Czechoslovakia in the late 1950s and produced into the 1990s. It fires the .32 ACP pistol cartridge from a 20-round curved magazine. The Skorpion is very compact, only about 16 inches long with the stock collapsed. It was designed for concealed carry by vehicle crews, special forces, and security forces.
Kits to build semi-automatic recreations of the Skorpion at home typically contain the following parts:
- Receiver assembly with trigger components
- Bolt, bolt spring, firing pin
- Collapsible wire stock
- Recoil springs
- Lower handguard
- Small hardware and pins
Constructing a Vz.61 Skorpion from a Kit
Step 1 - Inspect and Clean Components
When you receive a Skorpion kit, the first step is a thorough inspection and cleaning of all the included parts. Examine each component for damage or missing pieces. Use solvents to remove storage grease and debris. Wear eye protection.
Step 2 - Install Trigger Components
The receiver will arrive with the trigger mechanism and safety selectors already installed. Insert the trigger pin to hold the trigger in place. Test the trigger manually to ensure smooth movement.
Step 3 - Install the Bolt
Slide the bolt into the receiver channel, aligning the bolt slots with the receiver grooves. The bolt spring fits around the bolt. Insert the smaller end of the spring into the recess at the rear of the bolt.
Step 4 - Attach the Barrel
The barrel slides into the front of the receiver and locks in place with a downward twist. Ensure it seats fully and test for play by trying to twist it.
Step 5 - Insert Firing Pin
Drop the firing pin into its slot in the rear of the bolt. It will be retained by the bolt spring tension.
Step 6 - Install the Recoil Springs
Locate the large and small recoil springs. Use a slave pin to compress the springs and insert them into the receiver cavity behind the bolt. Remove slave pin carefully.
Step 7 - Attach the Lower Handguard
This metal piece fits around the barrel and attaches to the front lip of the receiver with pins. Insert pins and use hammer to peen ends.
Step 8 - Mount the Grips
Use a screwdriver to secure the plastic or wooden grips to the receiver with the grip screws.
Step 9 - Install the Stock
Extend the collapsible wire stock and insert it into the rear of the receiver. A push pin will hold it in place.
Step 10 - Install Magazine and Sights
Insert loaded magazine and lock into mag well. Attach front and rear sights to upper receiver using pins. Peen pins ends with hammer.
Step 11 - Function Test
Perform safety checks. Pull charging handle to cock bolt, flip safety to fire, pull trigger to release bolt and dry fire. Check that all components function smoothly.
The Skorpion assembly is now complete! It required installation of the major components using pins and springs in the receiver and barrel areas. The blowback action is simple and most steps focused on the receiver. With some care and patience, the build can be completed in an afternoon.
Overview of the Yugo AK47
The AK47 is the most produced and recognizable assault rifle in history. It was designed in the late 1940s in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. The Yugoslavian M70 version featured heavier furniture and a some different components under the hood.
Parts kits for home builds typically contain:
- Bolt, bolt carrier and piston
- Recoil spring and guide rod
- Trigger and hammer components
- Lower and upper handguards
- Gas tube and block
- Small pins, springs, screws and hardware
Assembling a Yugo AK47 from a Kit
Step 1 - Inspect and Clean Parts
As with the Skorpion, inspect and clean all kit components thoroughly before starting assembly. AK build parts often have heavy cosmoline coating.
Step 2 - Headspace the Barrel
Proper headspacing is critical for function and safety. Place barrel into trunnion in receiver. Install bolt and carrier without spring. Use headspace gauges to test fit between barrel and bolt face. Adjust as needed by removing material from rear of barrel.
Step 3 - Install the Barrel
Once headspaced, secure the barrel back into the receiver trunnion using retaining pins. Make sure barrel is fully seated and centered.
Step 4 - Attach Trigger and Hammer
Insert trigger and hammer pins to hold these components in the receiver. Use slave pin to compress hammer spring for insertion.
Step 5 - Install Fire Control Group
Step 6 - Attach Buttstock
Use screws to attach the buttstock to the rear of the receiver. The pistol grip also secures with a screw.
Step 7 - Install Gas System
The gas block slides over the barrel and is pinned in place. Attach the gas tube from the block back to the receiver. Align with receiver port.
Step 8 - Attach Bolt Carrier Group
Install the piston onto the bolt carrier, then slide group into the receiver channel. Ensure smooth movement.
Step 9 - Insert Recoil Spring
Slide recoil spring assembly into the receiver with guide rod in back. Depress to allow bolt carrier installation.
Step 10 - Install Handguards
The lower and upper handguards attach to the barrel and receiver using retaining clips. Ensure proper fit.
Step 11 - Add Sights, Hardware
Attach front and rear sights using pins. Install sling swivels if desired. Use captured pins to close any open holes.
Step 12 - Function Test
Check headspace, safety operation, smooth bolt carrier movement, trigger reset, magazine insertion, and firing pin protrusion. The AK47 build is now complete!
The AK assembly process involves more receiver work, metal fitting, springs, and small pins. Adjusting the critical barrel components takes time and care. With proper tools and jigs, an AK can be assembled in a day or weekend.
Comparison of Build Complexity and Cost
When comparing the process of constructing the Skorpion vs the AK from parts kits, the AK47 is the more intricate and time-consuming build. Key reasons why include:
- AK has more small pins, springs, and parts
- Fitting the AK barrel and adjusting headspace is meticulous
- AK fire control group is more complex
- AK has wood handguards to fit and install
- Skorpion is blowback operation, AK has piston and gas system
However, the Skorpion build still requires careful assembly and testing, especially of the receiver and bolt. Troubleshooting misaligned parts or malfunctions can be tricky with both guns.
In terms of cost, complete Skorpion kits seem to run $450-600, while AK47 kits are $550-800 or you can get fancy and spend much much more. So the AK is also the pricier option. However, the historic AK platform has enthusiastic collectors willing to pay more.
Overall, constructing a functional Vz.61 Skorpion from a kit is very viable for an advanced hobbyist, taking some time and care. Building a proper AK47 requires more existing gunsmithing skills and a litany of gunsmithing tools due to the fitting and complexity. Both provide satisfying projects for the firearms devotee! With practice and patience, producing your own Eastern Bloc classic is within reach.
Building guns from parts kits allows enthusiasts to create their own versions of vintage firearms and understand their mechanics intimately in the process. Comparing the assembly of the Skorpion submachine gun versus the AK47 rifle shows the AK is the more complicated and expensive option. However, the Skorpion still requires research and care during building. With proper procedures, testing, and troubleshooting, both can be successfully constructed at home. For the firearms aficionado up for a challenge, converting kits into functional historical weapons is an engaging undertaking.
Want to dive deeper into what goes into building a Vz.61 Skorpion from a DIY parts kit?