Odd Guns: CZ 26 SMG

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**Scroll down for video**

I am a huge fan of Czech small arms. The boys over in the Czech Republic have a handle on churning out very reasonably priced and high quality armaments that have saturated the US market place, and I think that is awesome!

An ingenious design that often gets overlooked in the West that emerged from Czechoslovakia in 1948 is known as the CZ Model 25 series, which was perhaps the most revolutionary post-war submachinegun mainly for one reason: it employed the use of a telescoping bolt.

Before this innovation, SMGs were large and obscenely heavy (as any Thompson or MP40 shooter can attest to) and most designs afterwards used a telescoping bolt including the prolific Uzi. In a system employing a telescoping bolt, the bolt travels over the barrel with the face being inside the actual bolt, rather than at the front:

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This allowed for a lighter weight and a more compact gun. So thank you for that, Czechs!

Anyways, onto today’s odd gun. The model I am testing is a CZ 26, which is a model 25 chambered in 7.62×25 and with a folding stock:

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The gun handles great but is definitely better suited for a person with smaller hands and wearing thick clothing. The stock mechanism is excellent too, allowing it to be folding forward and used as a foregrip:

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The bolt at mid stroke.

Other than that I think the gun just looks fantastic, especially for a tube gun:

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Shootability is excellent. The gun’s progressive trigger is interesting too: pulling the trigger half way will result in semi automatic fire, while a full depression will allow the gun to run until it is out of ammo or the operator lets off. Pretty neat huh?

But the low recoil and cyclic rate do make the CZ 26 a comfortable gun to shoot and I have not had this much fun with a machine gun in a long time (if only cheap surplus 7.62×25 would come back in, I would be a much happier man!).

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To illustrate some of the points above, I have made a video:

I apologize for the wind noise!

After a range session I always clean my guns meticulously and load mags up for the next trip. The CZ 26 has an integral feature to allow for loading mags with stripper clips that is very clever:

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And of course field stripping is it a cinch: press the button on the back of the tube, rotate the end cap, and pull out the bolt:

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The barrel can also be removed similarly to an Uzi.

This innovative firearm doesn’t show up much to shoots or get much credit for the innovating features it brought to the table, but it is a great shooter and most certainly odd. The combination of a telescoping bolt, stock that doubles as a foregrip, user friendliness, and ease of manufacturing make the CZ 26 a fantastic and unfortunately obscure gun.

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for more odd guns!



Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


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  • Jeff Smith

    Does the progressive trigger require the shooter to release the trigger when going from single shot to full auto or can you fire a single round and a full auto burst without having to reset the trigger?

    • You could fire a single and then depress the trigger to auto. Neat system but I would prefer a selector.

      • JSmath

        What about a selector that simply blocked the trigger from traveling back to the full auto position? :]

        I think that’d be pretty keen.

        • Yes, the Aussies have installed such a device on their F88 rifles.

  • Cahal

    Check out the Rhodesian Kommando LDP and the South African Sanna 77. Both based on the original Czech CZ 24 in 9mm which became surplus after the Warsaw Pact standardised on the 7.62 round. There has been speculation that the early Rhodesian weapons were actually Czech in origin.

  • Internet Browser

    I love that the ejection port is only open to the internals mid cycle. More open bolt SMGs should have done that. Other than this family of Czech guns, the Jatimatic is the only other SMG I can think of that does this.

  • Dan Atwater

    Very cool

  • Blake

    Super cool, very high on the want list.

    Know of anyone making decent & affordable semi-auto-only versions for us mere mortals?

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    Alex, thanks very much for posting this! As a long-time user of, and hard-core believer in, Czech small arms ( D-Technik vz.58, CZ-75B and CZ-75 SP-01 tactical, CZ-527, vz.61 Skorpion, CZ Canvasback Gold 12-gauge O/U, CZ Mallard 20-gauge O/U, CZ Ringneck 12-gauge SXS, etc. ), I am thrilled to see this article being posted that does real justice to what is perhaps one of the most under-rated and largely-forgotten yet first-rate SMG’s of all time ( does that old bugbear, “market timing”, come to mind once again? ). Perhaps the CZ 26 will now get a bit more recognition, as it has always richly deserved.

    If I remember correctly, one of our erstwhile commentators for whom I have the greatest respect, “dp”, was an armorer in the old Czechoslovakian Army back in the 1950’s-1960’s and probably has a lot of familiarity with the CZ 26. If you are reading this, “dp”, I would love to hear your personal inputs on this weapon from a military user’s standpoint, as I am sure many others would. It has occurred to me that you haven’t posted on TFB or FW for awhile, so I sincerely hope all is well with you and your family. Take care care and hope to hear from you soon.

    • Blake

      dang, that’s a lotta CZs

      …not jealous…
      …not jealous…
      …not jealous…

      We have a CZ-527 and a CZ-83, and if 22LR ever gets cheap again we’ll probably get a CZ rimfire.

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        Blake, thank you for mentioning the CZ rimfire. Your words immediately brought back a lot of fond memories.

        When I was 9 years old and started hunting regularly with my dad, one of his hunting / fishing buddies was kind enough to teach me how to use one of his rifles, which was a CZ .22LR bolt-action. I don’t remember which model it was, but apart from the indelible impressions of those days so many years ago, I will never forget how that CZ felt — perfectly balanced, heavy ( for a 9-year old child ), solid-feeling, and incredibly accurate with almost no recoil ( even for a 9-year old, allowing for the fact that it was a .22LR ). I distinctly remember being amazed at how well-made and well-finished it was, and I loved the solid wood furniture. The only caveat was that it had a full-length stock intended for an adult, and as a 9-year old I found that the LOP was a bit of a stretch :).

        I hope you and yours will have as much enjoyment out of your CZ .22LR as I did with that rifle — which reminds me, I am definitely going to put a CZ .22LR ( probably a 452 or 455 ) and CZ-83 ( probably in 9mm Makarov — what a jewel of a gun ) on my list of “guns to be owned”! Thanks very much once again, Blake.

        • Blake

          Thanks for the cool story. I’ll share my introduction to CZ. Sorry it’s kinda long-winded (& I’m not as good a storyteller as Claymore).

          When my father was a kid he learned to shoot well at long distance as they boarded horses on their farm (my aunt still does), & my Grandfather would give him a quarter for every groundhog he brought in, as groundhog holes are pretty much the perfect size for a horse’s hoof to slip into & break it’s ankle or leg (a quarter was pretty decent money for a kid in 1957).

          He would sit up in the top of the barn looking out over the pasture on groundhog patrol with a bag of peanuts, a Coke, and a Savage 23D chambered in 22 Hornet. Not sure what his longest kill was at the time but I’d guess it was somewhere over 200yds; being in the hay loft of the barn certainly helped. It also made him mostly deaf in his right ear.

          Fast forward to a few years ago, & my brother’s buddy’s grandfather passed away & left him a Savage 23D in 22H. He wasn’t into shooting so he sold it to my brother for a hundred bucks, who gave it to my Dad for his birthday. Needless to say he was ecstatic.

          So we take the old Savage apart & clean it up (this one was probably “grandpa’s gopher gun” too judging from the state of it), and take it to the range. My Dad sights it in at 25yds & it prints a decent 5 shot group at 50yds for an old worn-out gun. Then it’s time for “balloon race”, which consists of a wooden target frame with 5 balloons taped to each vertical. Someone yells “go” and two standing shooters try to break their five balloons first (bonus points if you can break some of the other guy’s after you’ve shot your 5). So my brother has the Savage and I’ve got my Dad’s lovely Marlin 39D.

          Dad yells “go”, my brother breaks his first balloon, cycles the action, and the bolt stop pin on this old Savage is so worn out that the bolt comes completely out of the receiver & the 5 rounds in his magazine go flying up out of the action & all over the place (including one that landed in his shirt pocket). Needless to say, peels of laughter all around.

          So I do a little homework to find out what’s out there chambered in 22 Hornet (as it turns out, not much these days; seems everyone wants .223). We take the old Savage off to the LGS and he’s got a 22H Ruger single-shot in there (hmm, nice rifle but kinda pricey for a single-shot), and then he brings out a CZ 527 American. I had read that the 527 had a set trigger, so I set the trigger & handed it to my Dad to try it out. Bonus, they would give us IIRC about double what my brother paid for the Savage. Needless to say, we took the 527 home.

          So we take the 527 out to the range the next day & are just starting to bore-sight her with the bolt out (no iron sights on CZ American models) with the scope rings half screwed on, and the biggest damn groundhog I’ve ever seen comes waddling out of the woods into the 50yd range right in front of the berm, glances over at us like we’re selling blingy plastic knicknack lights at a disco, waddles across the 100 & 200yd ranges, & off into the woods on the other side. The one damn time we’re out at the range with only one gun & it’s taken half apart & has no sights… Needless to say, peels of laughter all around.

          Anyway, about the time we finally get the thing sighted in & zeroed, a guy & his son that my Dad has met there a few times show up. I’ve got ten cubes of pool chalk taped to the 50yd target, and IIRC I think I made ten clouds of blue smoke with 11 shots while my Dad’s talking to him about our new rifle. He asks “what did you say that was again? 22 magnum?” so we hand him a round of 22H V-max and let him handle the CZ. I He’s obviously impressed with the precision and fit & finish (& that trigger!), asks where we bought it, & said he’ll stop by on the way home & have a look at one.

          So you could say we were CZ converts from day one, as we pretty much managed to convince someone else to get one the first day we had it at the range…

          • DiverEngrSL17K

            Thanks for sharing how you came to be a CZ aficionado — what an interesting story! And .22 Hornet — now there’s a nice little round with an intriguing heritage and which has it’s advantages, and which I feel should be kept alive even in the face of market preferences for other, similar, cartridges.

  • Blake

    Thanks for the links.

    Unfortunately I think the US BATFE would disagree might have something to say about bringing one in (actually I looked it up a while ago; you’d have to have it shipped to a Type 8 FFL, which are few & far between & probably unwilling to jump through the necessary hoops to clear a single pistol).

    I did some research on the Sa 26 & friends. It turns out that it’s not terribly expensive to put one together, but basically you have to buy:

    – an imported non-gun that has had the FA receiver torch-cut & is otherwise de-miled in accordance with BATFE rules.
    – a parts kit that sometimes includes an 80% semi-auto receiver

    you then finish the receiver & put the whole mess together yourself, & hope you have all the parts & finished the receiver correctly, & that whomever torch-cut the original didn’t mess up any of the critical parts.

    I’d be up for this if it was just a question of fulfilling a list on a parts bill & building her up, but I’d want a finished receiver (it’s not like going through an FFL is difficult).

  • UCSPanther

    The Czechs made good firearms.

    The rather not-too-well known VZ 52 and VZ 52/57 rifles could be called the “Rich man’s SKS” with their nicer trigger pull, Garand-type safety and detachable magazines.