The Czech ZK-383 SMG

In true Forgotten Weapons form, Ian visited the James D. Julia Inc. auction house to found a weapon that no one but a few historical enthusiasts would be familiar with, the Czech ZK-383. The weapon was used by Bulgaria and the German SS during World War II.

As Ian goes into detail, the sub machine gun has some features not normally found on sub-machine guns such as a quick-change barrel and having a bipod. The idea of the Czechs was that the weapon could be used as a light-support weapon for ranges under 200 yards.

The ZK-383 feeds from a 30 round stick magazine, feeding from the left-hand size side (those who have shot STENs would find it familiar). Operation is from the open bolt and the shooter can select either fully automatic or semi-automatic fire. The safety is cross-bolt style. Sights are open and fully adjustable.

Interestingly, the weapon has user-configurable rate of fire by changing out a weight within the bolt. The “slow” rate was about 470-500 RPM and the high rate at 750 RPM.

For those interested, the weapon will be available at James D. Julia’s upcoming auction, transferable on a C&R FFL or through the standard $200 tax stamp. You can check out their rare firearms auction coming up on March 14th and 15th at their website. 


Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • DW

    Japanese Type 100 does have similar layout, but unlike this gun, Japanese one isn’t as well made and is chambered for an anemic cartridge.

    • Major Tom

      Type 100 not well made? I’m not so sure of that. From what I understand the Type 100’s only real failings were A) there were nowhere near enough of them made and B) the Nambu pistol cartridge was fairly lacking in power.

      It was a vastly better made weapon in terms of raw quality than a Sten Mk II or PPD-40. Especially since it had a chrome-lined barrel.

      • DW

        not “as” well made, it’s certainly not Nambu or Mosin grade crap.

        You can also argue that type 100s are too heavy, but that’s kind of how SMGs are at the time.

  • Iggy

    I remember reading somewhere that these were made for bunker defense, which is why they weren’t worried about using a pistol round in a support role.
    And I honestly reckon a ‘support smg’ with a reliable drum could be a pretty decent weapon for suppressing fire in urban combat. You can carry a ton more ammo and just blaze away at distances where it wouldn’t make a difference range-wise and as long as you’re keeping peoples head’s down it’s doing its job.
    They don’t care what you’re shooting at them, bullets is bullets.

    • iksnilol

      They should make a 5.7 support weapon. :O

      • UCSPanther

        A wood-stocked, side mag-fed, delayed blowback 5.7×28 SMG?

        That is a worthy machining/fabricating project…

    • Some Guy

      Yeah I can appreciate the value of turning cover into concealment but if all you want to do is keep heads down all that matters is that lead downrange in the vague direction of your target.

      inb4 someone claims they won’t seek cover for anything less than 7.62×51

  • Jeff Smith

    There are very few people that I can say I envy. Ian is one of them.

  • schizuki

    Hmm. Seems like it might be a good better-than-nothing support weapon for paratroopers.

  • UCSPanther

    There’s a certain charm to wood-stocked, side mag-fed SMGs with the perforated steel barrel shrouds.

  • Isaac FluffyWolf Rader

    According to imfdb, this was the inspiration for the SMG from Bioshock Infinite.