WTW: Czech-Mate with the CZ52

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Weapon Trivia Wednesday: Czech-Mate with the CZ52 

Mike the Mook

This week’s pistol is the CZ52, a relic of the Cold War brought to America by Century International Arms and a few other importers who like to celebrate diversity in our personal arsenals. We first heard of the CZ52 from an after-action report going back to the 1970s while researching terrorism and counterterrorist tactics as a Marine.

The terrorist Carlos the Jackal used one in an assassination in Paris. According to the report, he shot his victim in the head in a second floor apartment. The round penetrated the victim’s skull, went through the back of a chair and out the front, through a coffee table, through the floor, through a ceiling of the lower apartment, through a light fixture in the ceiling, through another piece of furniture and through the floorboards until it was stopped by the concrete sub-floor.

It sounded like large scale over-penetration. While we had not seen the pistol or round in question, we knew that someday we had to have that combination, however unlikely that may have seemed in 1987. Almost a decade later we found ourselves working for Century International Arms when these pistols started coming in, and picked up a few. This almost started our writing career as we talked with a number of Czech Armorers and considered writing a book on their history.

 

How it works

Designed by two brothers, Jan and Jaroslav Kratochvíl (say that five times fast), the CZ52 is a single-action pistol that relies on a roller locking mechanism as opposed to blowback or the Browning recoil system which was more common on service pistols from that era. The recoil spring wraps around the barrel and provides tension in order to keep it locked with the slide while in battery. When a round is fired the barrel and slide recoil simultaneously. The locking block remains stationary but the rollers disengage from the slide through two recesses in the locking block which causes the slide to move rearward.

This movement of the slide recocks the hammer, extracts the fired case and ejects it. As the slide resumes forward travel it strips another round from the magazine in order to chamber it. When the slide locks rearward on an empty magazine, the shooter has to pull it slightly to the rear after inserting a fresh magazine to load a round. The pistol’s left handed frame-mounted safety functions as a decocking lever by pushing it upward.

This has been reported as a point of failure with some shooters attempting to decock the pistol. We have never experienced this personally, but after experiencing a broken hammer strut and becoming intimately familiar with the hammer, sear, etc. we could see how a damaged or ill-fitting part could cause a problem. Just remember to always point the muzzle of this Roscoe in a safe direction and keep your booger hook off the bang switch and it shouldn’t be an issue.

The pistol’s weakest link is another part of the fire control group: the firing pin. It is prone to shattering if the pistol is dry fired. We haven’t determined if it is the steel used to make the pin, a poor heat treatment (or lack thereof), or a Commie plot to take over the world. Aftermarket US-made stainless steel firing pins are floating out there from a few dedicated gunsmiths who appreciate the CZ52. If you can’t bring yourself to invest $20 to $25 for a replacement don’t dry fire the fucking thing, or use snap caps.

Tearing the CZ52 down is pretty simple and lucky for us, it’s retard proof. You pull down a pair of serrated latches located in the area where the slide release should be (almost Glock-like but intended for man-sized thumbs) and lift the slide from the frame. Removing the grips is an ass-kicker for people looking for grip screws. In true, “save $0.03” commie fashion, the grips are retained by a C-shaped clip  made from cheap spring steel. It is simply pried off by either a flathead screwdriver or the cleaning rod that comes with every pistol (along with a pig skin holster and two magazines).

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Shooting the CZ52

We bought our first CZ52 because of what we heard in the “Carlos AAR“. However, as a trained ballistician we were still skeptical of the power of this round. We surmised that Carlos used the higher pressure submachinegun ammunition with a steel jacket or maybe even custom rounds sourced from Europe.

With that in mind, recoil is noticeable and may have more to do with the grip angle than the power factor of 7.62X25 ammunition. These pistols could never be described as tack drivers, but they don’t exactly pattern like a shotgun either. Their loud and really hot ammunition can throw a nice fireball, particularly the steel cased Polish surplus that used to come in a big Spam can. If all you know with these handguns is Sellier & Bellot or Privi Partizan commercial ammo, you’re missing out on half the fun.

CZ52-BRNO

-Mike



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Searson 1About the Author: Mike “the Mook” Searson is a veteran writer who began his career in firearms at the Camp Pendleton School for Destructive Boys at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire life, writing about guns and knives for numerous publications and consulting with the film industry on weapons while at the same time working as gunsmith and ballistician. Though seemingly a surly curmudgeon shy a few chromosomes at first meeting, Searson is actually far less of a dick and at least a little smarter than most of the Mad Duo’s minions. He is rightfully considered to be not just good company, but actually fit for polite company as well (though he has never forgotten his roots as a rifleman trained to kill people and break things, and if you look closely you’ll see his knuckles are still quite scabbed over from dragging the ground). You can learn more about him on his website or follow him on Twitter, @MikeSearson.

 

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Many of you are familiar with RCS and their outstanding quality and craftsmanship; for those of you late to the game, we’ll break it down Barney style so you can get up to speed: Out of the nearly 20 wretched, execrable minions we have slaving ceaseslessly writing for us, over 2/3 of them utilize RCS gear every day.  Frequently duplicated, often imitated, their modular holsters allow a whole series of different modes of carry. With practical inventions like the Vanguard, they even have helped popularize efficient means of appendix carry. For those that attend professional firearms training, its more common than not to see many of the best instructors running RCS rigs. In fact, many of their products are used throughout America’s elite SOF community, federal, state and small town law enforcement, competition shooters and plenty of regular Joe Sixpacks.

Read about our adventures with them at SHOT Show, and be sure to check them out online at RCSgear.com

Mike Searson

Mike “the Mook” Searson is a veteran writer who began his career in firearms at the Camp Pendleton School for Destructive Boys at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire life, writing about guns and knives for numerous publications and consulting with the film industry on weapons while at the same time working as gunsmith and ballistician. Though seemingly a surly curmudgeon shy a few chromosomes at first meeting, Searson is actually far less of a dick and at least a little smarter than most of the Mad Duo’s minions. He is rightfully considered to be not just good company, but actually fit for polite company as well (though he has never forgotten his roots as a rifleman trained to kill people and break things, and if you look closely you’ll see his knuckles are still quite scabbed over from dragging the ground). You can learn more about him on his website or follow him on Twitter, @MikeSearson. [huge_it_gallery id="19"]


Mike Searson has 92 posts and counting. See all posts by Mike Searson

One thought on “WTW: Czech-Mate with the CZ52

  • December 7, 2016 at 8:30 pm
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    I’ve heard similar things about the 7.62x25mm. I knew a couple of indoor ranges that wouldn’t let you fire a pistol using the round, if they knew about it. I’ve got a Tokarev TTC, & can testify that it’s a hot little round. I haven’t done any extensive testing to see where the limits are, but I know it’ll penetrate quite a thickness of pine. I may have to make that a project if we ever again get a non-rainy weekend (my backyard “range” isn’t covered); I have enough scrap 1x and 2x to screw together & find out what’ll stop it.

    Doesn’t matter, usually, because we all check the backstop, right? Still, it’s made me hesitant to use the Tokarev much as a carry weapon.

    I’ve got some pretty decent hollow-point rounds, and a lot of old Soviet ball. Should be interesting to see what each will do, & what the differences are.

    Reply

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