The ZKR-551: Czech six
In the mid 20th century, one of the disciplines under the aegis of UIT (Union International de Tir, ISSF’s predecessor) was the Centre Fire Pistol Match. Competitors would first need to fire 30 rounds at 25 meters for a “precision” score. The “Dueling” portion of the match would entail a further 30 shots at a 25-meter target that would be exposed for three-second intervals.
In 1956, prolific gun designers Josef and František Koucký, who would later go on to design the CZ 75 pistol, came up with a superb sixgun designed for this specific style of competition and maximized for accuracy. The ZKR-551 was a single action, fixed cylinder revolver with an ejector rod design direct from the 1873 Colt SAA, as well as a swing down loading gate. They had assistance in this effort from Augustin Necas, who had a hand in designing previous Czech revolvers.
Manufacture and Importation of the ZKR-551
The ZKR-551 was manufactured by Zbrojovka Brno. From 1957 until 1971, about 2500 of these guns were made, chambered in 7.62 Nagant, .22 LR, .32 S&W Long (a popular UIT/ISSF competition chambering) and by far the most used in competition, .38 Special. A further run of 300 pieces was made during Zbrojovka Brno’s second incorporation in the 1990’s-2006. They were a success in the UIT competitive setting, helping Czechoslovakian shooters win and place well.
Though not well known in the United States, the ZKR-551 does have a lot of good design elements and quality materials that come together to make it one of the most accurate and modern single action revolver designs in the world. Though they are excellent revolvers, values are not too exorbitant likely due to their very specific niche of use. Be wary, however, as one is likely to encounter an “I know what I got” price tag if one goes looking for a ZKR-551 to purchase.
Though there’s no doubt offerings from Ruger and Freedom Arms would give the ZKR-551 a run for its money, given CZ’s recent acquisition of Colt one can only help but wonder if CZ will perhaps bring some classic Czech revolver designs over to the states and have Colt crank them out. It would only be fitting, as the ZKR-551 already incorporates an 1873 SAA-style ejector. True, I know that Zbrojovka Brno and CZG are not one and the same, but whats a few designs among Moravians?