If you ask five different people what the best platform for home-defense is, you’ll probably get five different answers; however, most of them will agree that whatever you choose needs to be nimble, have sufficient capacity, be easy to secure and be effective beyond contact distances. While convincing one camp to cross over to another’s on these opinions is unlikely, the CZ Scorpion 3+ carbine could make this happen, as its unconventional design turns out to be just right, and it adapts to nearly any scenario.
The CZ Scorpion 3+ carbine is a blowback-operated semi-automatic chambered in 9 mm Luger. It feeds off a 20-round magazine (two included). A 30-rounder is available from CZ. Intended to be compact, it wears a folding and adjustable stock, along with a 16.3-inch barrel that runs through a faux suppressor. (The stock can be removed with a press of a button, which makes it resemble a large-format pistol, but it is still categorized as a rifle.)
When you first see the Scorpion 3+ carbine, you might notice undertones of the classic AR-15, as well as the H&K MP5. Proponents of Stoner’s design will appreciate the thumb-actuated safety selector that can be engaged or disengaged from either side of the receiver, as well as the familiar magazine-release button. Fans of the iconic German sub-gun will enjoy its top-side charging handle that requires nothing more than a slap to drop the bolt. This is of the non-reciprocating variety and can be installed on either side of the firearm to accommodate both dexterities.
Firing the last shot locks the bolt back and, provided that the charging handle isn’t rotated into the retaining notch, the bilateral bolt release situated directly behind the magazine well can be depressed, which can then strip a round off a fresh magazine to put the gun rapidly back into action.
I was expecting this gun to be a fair bit heavier than it turned out to be. Although aluminum-like in appearance, both receiver halves, as well as the fore-end, are carefully crafted from high-temperature polymers. Parts that must endure the stress of firing are reinforced in nearly the same manner as a polymer-framed pistol, with metal deployed only where necessary. This includes the stock sights, which wins points from me, as these are often undervalued and constructed from lesser materials.
Also, scoring big was the fact that this firearm’s sights are completely adjustable and even removable should you wish to upgrade in the future. Curiously, the Picatinny rail that they mount to is made of plastic, but there is enough of it there to ensure rigidity—plus, polymers have come a long way—so I can’t fault them for that.
The furniture set of the Scorpion 3+ might be my favorite feature. As previously mentioned, the stock can be folded in or even removed, but it can also be adjusted to one of three lengths. Often, defensive-minded firearms throw comfort to the wind, so it was refreshing to see this wasn’t the case; after all, the more enjoyable something is to shoot, the more one will practice, and such proficiency could decide the fate of the homeowner, so features like this shouldn’t be discounted. Moving to the other end of the gun, the modernized fore-end sheds its Picatinny sections and is instead cut with an MLOK, which expands on its modularity.
In preparation for my range day, I selected three different types of ammunition to represent the typical user experience. I chose CCI’s Blazer load for affordable practice and Federal’s 135-grain Hydra SHOK Deep alongside Remington’s Golden Saber Bonded to represent defensive options. Being that accuracy testing was on the table, I mounted a Riton 5 Tactix 1-10x optic to the rail to ensure a positive and repeatable sight picture. Using a Warne Vapor one-piece mount put it at the perfect height, and I had everything I needed to see how tight this CZ grouped.
I started the day from a sturdy benchrest position, firing groups over a chronograph and cleaning up my zero. The Scorpion 3+ certainly had its preference in ammo and put the Remington well inside of everything else; however, despite the wide range of dispersion, it fed everything without issue, and no group was so large that it wouldn’t be serviceable. It’s an observation that only a gun geek would make, but nonetheless, one I feel needs to be reported.
The trigger weight, on the other hand, is something that anybody of any experience level will notice, as it is both long and heavy. From a tactical standpoint, that’s good because it mitigates the chance of a negligent discharge, but from a precision position, it’s not for the squeamish. Timney makes an outstanding aftermarket unit, and, having heard this rumor beforehand, I requested one to work into this review. It’s not fair to evaluate accuracy or function with enhanced components installed, so I waited until this portion of my test was finished to drop it in.
Moving from static shooting to moving-and-shooting practice showed me what the Scorpion 3+ could really do. All the weight-reduction efforts paid dividends when it was time to swing from target to target and engage from the low-ready position. Using a start timer, I found that the gun hit my shoulder and face like a hand-fitted shotgun, so ripping through a course of IPSC targets and 12-inch gongs was about as much fun as it’s possible to have on the range. The overall ergonomics and the oversized controls, which were easy to actuate under stress, ensured a fumble-free experience—an important factor should you need to grab this carbine out of a dead sleep. Firing with the stock closed proved to be a perfectly viable option for emergency or close-quarters use, and I shot far more rounds in this configuration than I ever imagined I would.
Digesting close to 300 rounds with the Scorpion 3+ carbine happened way faster than expected, and I honestly wish I had more time and ammunition to expend. Sadly, the life of a gun writer also includes a tremendous amount of paperwork, something that doesn’t ever seem to make one of these reports. After policing my brass, I closed the stock and was able to transport the gun in the front seat of my UTV. I appreciated the bracing system and was able to see the benefits of this firearm both on and off the range. This latest product from CZ proved to be an eye-opener and forced me to look at this platform a little differently. It’s a fun but also seriously convincing option for home-defense.