Scorpion VZ-61 - Maruzen
I had never really given the Maruzen Scorpion much thought. I had heard it was quite good, but it was not until I came across one on a stand at the 2006 Phoenix meeting at Bisley that I got a chance to handle one.
Firing off a magazine in semi and full auto, there, convinced me that, should the chance arrive, I should review one - A few days later one appeared on the forum and it was mine in minutes.
Would I find it better than Maruzen's other gas SMGs or was my initial enthusiasm misplaced?
In the Box
If you have seen any other Maruzen airsoft guns, the box will seem familiar.
There is a basic cardboard lid, with line art style artwork and lots of 'Jap-glish' terms (such as "The new heart beating of the full auto blowback!" - Go figure...).
Inside, the Scorpion sits in a tight fitting, ceiling-tile-style, polystyrene bed with the wire stock folded closed.
As well as the gun, there is the usual collection of manuals, target and sundry other pieces of paperwork and, of course, there would be a small bag of .2g BBs with a new gun.
As you pick it up, the Scorpion feels pretty solid and well made, especially compared to the Micro UZI.
The Vz61's not an ostentatious gun, with a generally very plain appearance, looking, with its magazine ahead of the trigger, a bit like a modern-day Mauser C96.
The body is plastic and there is a faint seam running along the top and bottom of the gun, where it was moulded in a left/right mould. This actually looks worse in the photos than it does in reality and is nowhere near as bad as on some TM guns. It had escaped my notice (and I'm picky about seams) until I looked at the photos.
A lot of the internals are metal, as are the trigger, folding stock, magazine release, cocking 'handles' and sights, giving the Vz61 a very hefty, solid feel.
Starting at the front, there is a plain plastic barrel sticking out of the front of the upper receiver, there are a number of metal, aftermarket replacements, most with threads for a suppressor, should you wish to fit one.
On top of the receiver, is a simple peg foresight, with protective ears either side, all made of metal.
Moving back down the upper receiver, you find the cocking handles, which are button shaped, requiring you to cock the gun with thumb and finger, rather than the palm of your hand, which is a little fiddly.
With the cocking handles/buttons mirrored on each side, the ejection port is on top of the upper receiver and it opens and closes as the gun is cocked or fired. The gun fires from a closed bolt, as does the real thing, but unlike the Maruzen UZI and MP5K, with which it shares much of its internal design.
Also unlike the UZI and MP5K, the Vz61 locks the bolt back on empty, which is good as it prevents dry firing and this seems to work reliably on both the examples I have tried.
The disassembly pin is below the cocking handles, on the lower receiver's front end.
The rear sight has two positions (both seem pretty similar, really) although someone had painted mine (very well) with white outlines (one just the left and right edge, one as a box including the lower edge).
The trigger is metal and ahead of it is the magazine release button (left side only). The magazines are big and heavy and, despite their appearance, need to be pushed straight up into the receiver - I always want to lever them in, back end first.
The grip is hollow plastic (the real thing always seems to have a lanyard loop on the base, but both wood and plastic versions seem to have been made and there is an aftermarket wood grip available) and very much designed for the right hand, with a thumb rest on the left side. However, it is not too uncomfortable for left handed shooters.
The all metal folding stock is well made and solid. It folds down simply (it grips the foresight ears slightly to stop it falling back down, cleverly), but must be squeezed together to close it back up. When extended it feels well located and stable, but it is really too short to be truly comfortable to shoot from the shoulder.
The Selector is on the left side, over the trigger, on the lower receiver. There are three positions, marked 0 (for safe), 1 (for single shot) and 30 (full auto) and the mechanism seems to work reliably and with a reasonable degree of precision between the different positions. The Scorpion must be cocked before the first shot is fired, but both examples I have tried work flawlessly once firing, unlike the MP5K, which has a tendency to jam.
Markings on the Scorpion are Maruzen specific and disappointing. Thankfully, though, they aren't too prominent or numerous.
On the left side of the gun, there is a serial number over the trigger and the selector switch markings. On the right, near the rear of the lower receiver the gun is marked "MARUZEN"/"Vz61 SCORPION"/"JASG 6mm"/"MADE IN JAPAN". The lower, right side of the magazines are marked "MARUZEN"/"Vz61 SCORPION".
A Scorpion will probably fit into a nylon tactical holster big enough for a Desert Eagle or H&K Mk23, but a quite scan around the internet for Vz61 holsters found a number of Eastern Bloc army surplus ones, specifically designed for the Vz61, at very reasonable prices.
There is an adjustable hop-up on the Vz61 (again, unlike the MP5K and Micro UZI), although it requires a field strip to reach. Tinkerbell from Arnies pointed out "once you've stripped it down, if you look underneath the barrel assembly, you'll see a tiny hole. in the hole is a small grub screw, which adjusts the hop up. awkward to get to, but it is there." Thanks for pointing this out and a couple of other errors in the review.
Carrying out my standard 5m/6 round, off hand test, I got pretty good accuracy for a SMG fired as a pistol.
Click on image for bigger version in separate window.
4 of the 6 shots fell centrally, with a couple of outliers, probably due to my shifting the slightly uncomfortable grip (I am left handed, the grip fairly uncompromisingly right handed).
The best 5 grouping in semi-auto, hand-held mode was 45mm, although the best 4 were just 33mm across.
with the stock extended, and the gun switched to full-auto, I had no trouble placing most of the shots in and around the centre of the target (square outlines on the target shown above) - The best 5 were just 35mm across. I did find the stock quite short and difficult to aim with from the shoulder, though, and I'm not incredibly big at 5'9".
Over 10 shots, the Maruzen Scorpion averaged 218 fps (using 134a gas) indoors (at 22C), which is nothing exciting, but not embarrassingly poor.
Interestingly, a test at 32C (run earlier) produced a lower figure, suggesting I was getting light strikes even with 134a.
A subsequent test (at 25C) with Propane (using AI's Propane adaptor) yielded much higher figures (Around 70fps higher, on the day), giving a 4 shot average of 294 fps.
Rate of Fire was pretty good, emptying 23 rounds in 1.59 seconds, giving a ROF of 870rpm on 134a gas.
Click here to hear the Maruzen Vz61 Skorpion in action.
Trigger pull was 765g (27 Oz), which is a medium weight pull for a GBB and the trigger has a nice progressive pull with a distinct break point.
Take down is commendably simple with a single pin at the front of the receiver pushing out to allow the top of the receiver to push forward off of the lower half.
The bolt is removable from the receiver top, once the halves are separated.
It is reassuring to see that there is a lot of metal inside the Scorpion.
EDIT : Tinkerbell from Arnies wrote to say :
"The correct take-down procedure is slightly more complex than you've described. the pin which you remove (correctly) has grooves in it, which line up with a sprung catch on the left side of the upper reciever, to correctly take it down, you need to pull the pin out half way, then rotate it until it 'clicks' and then pull it out as far as you can without reistance, then rotate it again and pull it slightly out so it's not fouling the lower part of metal.
"You can then remove the whole upper, and not have to fiddle with the sprung pin. to put together again, simply reverse the process."
Mine didn't seem to work like this and from what I could tell from the manual there were no instructions to rotate the pin, so perhaps this has been changed at some point.
Overall, I would say that the Vz61 is Maruzen's best GBB SMG.
It feels solid, like the MP5K, but its lock back on empty and, seemingly, temperament free operation, make it a lot more practical as a skirmish gun (and less frustrating for the collector/plinker).
Rate of fire and accuracy are good, although the limited power (on 134a at least. Most reports suggest the Vz61 is pretty tolerant of Green gas, but I have not used mine extensively enough to state that personally) will probably limit range to CQB or sidearm duties only.
The Maruzen markings are a bit disappointing, but not that obvious and the real thing is hardly a riot of colour and text.
For something a little different in SMG terms, I would recommend giving the Maruzen Vz61 Scorpion a try.
Weight : 1,035g (240g magazine).
Realism : ***
Quality : ****
Power : ***
Accuracy : ****
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