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This Ceskoslovenska Zborjovka Vzor 52 or CZ-52 for short was manufactured in 1953 and is a recoil operated, roller locked, semi-automatic pistol that is chambered for the 7.62 x .25mm Tokarev round. This pistol incorporates a blade type front sight and a V notch rear sight. It is fed by an 8 round detachable box magazine. The pistol has a barrel length of 4.7 inches and an overall length of 8.2 inches with an unloaded weight of 2.09 pounds. The manual safety which is located on the left side of the pistol, also acts as a decocker when pushed up beyond the safe position. Warning, if the firing pin has been replaced or the pistol has worn or damaged parts, an accidental discharge can occur if the decocker is used while there is a round in the chamber. When engaged, the manual safety blocks movement of the sear and prevents the hammer from releasing. The CZ-52 utilizes a second safety in the form of a spring loaded firing pin block. This safety prevents the pistol from being fired unless the trigger is pulled. This safety device is some times referred to as a "drop safe" meaning that an accidental discharge can not occur should a loaded pistol be dropped. The grip panels are a bakelite type of plastic with a single "U" shape steel clip securing them to the pistol.

The 7.62x25mm Tokarev pistol cartridge has a bottle-necked shape and at one time was widely used in the former Soviet Union and Soviet satellite states. The actual caliber of the bullet is 7.85 mm or .309 inches. When fired from a pistol, this cartridge has an unusually loud report and bright muzzle flash that can surprise any onlookers, a loud flame thrower might be a better description. On average, this 90 grain FMJ(full metal jacket) bullet leaves the muzzle at a velocity of 1340 FPS(feet per second) which produces 380 foot pounds of energy. The Czechoslovakian M48 version of this round traveling at 1600 fps has excellent penetration and can easily defeat lighter ballistic vests such as class I, II and IIA. Today, there are some police and special forces units in Russia and in China that still use this cartridge rather than the more popular 9 mm Makarov ammunition.

It is because of the strength of this cartridge that the CZ-52 has a some what complicated, yet strong, roller locking mechanism design. This roller locking mechanism is composed of the barrel, two rollers, and a locking cam.  While in battery, the pressure of the recoil spring compresses the cam which then forces the rollers outwards and toward both edges of the slide, locking the barrel and slide together. When the pistol is fired, the barrel and slide recoil together while the cam block is held stationary by a lug in the receiver. After traveling rearward a short distance, the rollers are allowed to disengage from the slide via recesses in the cam block. At which point, the slide is now free to continue rearward, cocking the hammer, extracting the spent case from the barrel's chamber and ejecting it well clear of the pistol. The slide is returned to battery by the compressed recoil spring all the while collecting a fresh cartridge from the magazine and inserting it into the chamber of the barrel. Many modern Heckler & Koch firearms such as the model G8, 91, 93, MP5 and P9 pistol series as well as several other models, along with the old MG 42 German WWII machine gun, incorporated a similar version of this roller locking mechanism design.

After WWII the Czechoslovakian military was in the market for a sidearm and pistol trials were held beginning in 1948 to replace the aging CZ-27 pistol. There were seven prototypes that were being tested including some pistols that were chambered in the war time proven 9mm parabellum cartridge. None of these early prototypes were found to be acceptable, so starting in 1950 the Ceskoslovenska Zbrojovka or Bohemian Arms Factory located in Strakonice, Czechoslovakia concentrated it's efforts solely on a pistol design based on the Russian 7.62 x 25 mm Tokarev round. Initial tests in 1951 of this new design was unsatisfactory. Later an improved pistol design was tested in early 1952 that eventually became adopted by the Czech military in May of that year as the Model 52 or CZ-52. The pistol was designed by Jan Kratochvíl and Frantisek Myska and built by Presne Strojirentsvi in the town of Uhersky Brod in Moravia and by Ceska Zbrojovka in Strakonice. The pistol was manufactured between 1952 and 1954. It is thought that a total of between 150,000 to 250,00 pistols were produced.

In some circumstances, the CZ-52 also replaced the under-powered Vz-50 pistol used mostly by police agencies and chambered in the  7.65 mm Browning(.32 ACP) cartridge. The CZ-52 was officially adopted on May 17, 1952 by the Czech military and served with them for 30 years until it was eventually replaced in 1982 by the Vz. 82 which is chambered in 9x18 mm Makarov.  

While there are some exceptions to this rule, normally only weapons adopted by the Czech Republic military will have "vz." in the name. I have called this pistol the CZ-52 instead of vz-52 due to that name being adopted erroneously by most U.S. firearms collectors and distributors. The letters "CZ" is an abbreviation of "Česká Zbrojovka" meaning Czech Armory and "vz" is an abbreviation of "vzor" meaning model.

The history of Ceska Zbrojovka of Uhersky Brod dates back to 1936, when based on a political decision by the National Defense Council, it was established as a branch plant of Ceska Zbrojovka located in the town of Strakonice. On January 2, 1937 production of military and civilian arms commenced. The first products were aircraft machine guns, military pistols and smallbore rifles. Then during the Nazi occupation period the plant was forced to produce and repair military arms for the German war machine.

Beginning in 1945 the plant returned to the production of military and civilian arms. In 1950 the Company became a separate state enterprise called "Presne strojirenstvi Uhersky Brod" or The Precision Machine Tooling Company located at Uhersky Brod, and was subsequently reorganized into a number of specialized directorates. In the 1970s and 1980s the Company merged with Agrozet Brno, where it engaged in its traditional production of arms while also taking over the production of parts for tractors and aircraft engines. In the mid 1980's, a restructuring process began, with an emphasis on the production of arms. Then on July 1, 1988 the Company split from Agrozet Brno and became known once again as Česká zbrojovka, s.p.

 In 1990 production for the Czechoslovakian armed units ceased and the newly available manufacturing capacity was put to use in manufacturing arms for hunting and sporting purposes, as well as exports for police and military units. In the early 1990's, production of tractor parts was discontinued, and the production of aircraft parts was curtailed, this opened up space for the production of more recreational arms.

On 1 May 1992, the National Property Fund of the Czech Republic established the joint stock company Ceska zbrojovka a.s., Uhersky Brod in accordance with a privatization project. The Company has been granted the requisite authorization by the Office for Civil Aviation to manufacture and repair aircraft engine parts. The Company’s automotive industry manufacturing operation has received certification per CSN EN ISO 16949 standards. Today the company is located in Kansas and can be reached at CZ-USA, P.O. Box 171073, Kansas City, KS 66117-0073.  

The photograph on the left is of the back of the pistol and shows the "U" shape steel clip that secures the bakelite grip panels to the pistol. Also in this picture we can see the lanyard ring that is attached to the butt of the firearm. The picture on the right is of the underside of the slide with it removed from the receiver. Here we can see the roller locking mechanism that was discussed in the text above. The inset picture is a close up of this mechanism.

The full serial number on the CZ-52 pistol is found on the receiver, barrel and slide.  

The photograph on the left is of the right side of the CZ-52 pistol. The stamping at the far left is VOZ 78 and VOZ 80. These two stamps indicate that this pistol has been reworked by a Czech armory in 1978 and then again in 1980. This arsenal work was part of a 1970's era program for putting these pistols back in service again. The letters could be either VOZ or VOP which is an abbreviation of a military repair service company.

The next stamp is one that no collector wants to see on a historic firearm that is in their collection. This is an importers stamp that is now required to be placed on firearms that have entered the U.S. after the late 1980's. On the plus side, every marking on a firearm will help to tell us its history and this importers mark is no different.

With this importers mark, we now know that this CZ-52 came in to the U.S. some time after the late 1980's. The first line of this import stamp reads as follows, CZ52 7.62 TOK and the line below it reads, C.A.I. GEORGIA VT. This two line marking is exactly what the law calls for except it would have been nice if the importer would have hid this stamp under the grips rather then stamping it on the side of the frame. The first line of this stamp identifies the firearm and the caliber. The first line tells us that the model of the pistol is CZ-52 and that the caliber is 7.62 x .25mm Tokarev. The second line identifies the importer as Century Arms International, and tells us that they are located in Georgia VT. The importer, Century Arms Inc. is still in business today and offers collectors a wide variety of firearms from around the world to choose from. The import law that is mentioned above can be referenced by viewing the gun control Act of 1968, Public Law 90-618 and under Subpart F-Conduct of Business sub-section 178.92 (a)(1) Firearms.  

The next stamp that we come to as we move to the right is a pair of crossed swords which is a Czech army acceptance proofs. Then right next to this is the number 53 which indicates the year of manufacture for this pistol as being 1953. The Czech army has been using a set of crossed Roman swords as its symbol ever since their independence in 1919 from Austria. This crossed Roman swords symbol is still in use today.

The last stamp in this sequence is the word CZECH. While I have no solid proof that this stamp was not added by the Czechoslovakian's, my own personal belief is that it was added by the importer, Century Arms International, so as they would be in compliance with the above mentioned import law..

While very difficult to see in the picture, there is a Z stamped on the bottom rear of the trigger guard. This stamp indicates that the pistol has had the new hammer decocker safety installed. You may recall the red warning text at the top of this page about this decocker. It has been found that this mechanism of the pistol has proven itself to be so dangerous that the importer, Century Arms International, will install the new components to make the operation of this decocker safe. If by chance your CZ-52 pistol does not have this Z stamp and it was imported by Century Arms International, it would be wise to contact them at the above address and inquire about this known and possibly deadly condition.  

The barrel of this CZ-52 is stamped with a serial number that matches the receiver as well as the rest of the firearm. Also on this barrel, there is the letter "T" enclosed with in a circle. I have been told that this indicates that the pistol was returned to the factory and the decocking system verified by CZ. I am researching this statement to verify its validly. The barrel on the CZ-52 can be readily changed out so stamping it with a mark to indicate the condition of the decocker mechanism seems unlikely. It is probably some type of a military testing or acceptance stamp.

The only markings on the left side of the pistol are found on the frame. It is stamped with the serial number and the letter code "rid" which indicates that the sidearm was manufactured for the Czech military at the Strakonice CZ factory. The commercial firearms were stamped Česká zbrojovka strakonice.

The picture on the right is of the four dots that are on the top of the slide. Some of these pistols are found with more punch marks while others have less. There is a ton of speculation and conjecture as to exactly what these punch marks really mean. One theory has it that these dots are supposedly said to tell how accurate the pistol is. Take a guess if more punch marks mean more accurate as we do not know. Some claim that one mark is the most accurate, while four punch marks indicate that the pistol is just barely acceptable for military use. Another school of thought is the condition of the pistol when it was shipped in for rework. Yet another train of thought has them as being hardness marks when the armorer was checking the strength or hardness of the slide. Again, is more punch marks seen on a slide better or worse? I have also read reports that the punch marks indicate where the bullet will hit the target. Being that there are four punch marks on the pistol on this page, should I expect that the bullets will hit the target at 4 o'clock rather then the bullseye? What if the barrel was changed? For now, no one really knows with absolute certainly about these punch marks and they remain one of the unique mysteries about this pistol.

In the picture on the left, at the forward top of the trigger guard one of the take down levers can be seen. These take down levers of the CZ 52 are well designed, simple to use, and robust. There is one located on each side of the trigger guard. To disassemble the slide assembly from the frame, simply pull down on both of the take down levers at the same time and pull the slide forward and remove it from the frame.

  

Resource:     

CZ52 instruction manual 

The standard directory of proof marks by Gerhard Wirnsberger              

Official guide to gunmarks by Robert Balderson

Cartridges of the world by Frank C. Barnes

Ceska zbrojovka website located at: http://www.czub.cz/en/Default.aspx

Wikipedia website located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CZ_52  

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