A Customized CZ52 To Czech Out
NOTE: A Repeat - I can't help it, I just love this gun.
A customized CZ52 to Czech out: fast, cheap and easy — is this a pistol we're talking about?
American Handgunner, Sept-Oct, 2002
by David M. Fortier
The unfortunate reality, for most of us anyway, is that we probably won't be owning too many $2,000 pistols. It's not bad. It's not good. It just is. Even so, that doesn't mean we working stiffs can't enjoy a tastefully modified and unique piece of our own. There are a lot of well made, yet inexpensive, handguns out there that, with some subtle massaging, shine up like a new penny. Oh yeah, you can do it without busting the bank as well.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not trashing $2,000 custom guns -- and who wouldn't like to own one of those beautifully handcrafted pieces that look so good in a two page spread? But if you're like me, toward the end of the article about that fancy gun, you start to suffer from sticker shock. Enter the CZ52. First-aid for sticker shock
Ugly Can Be Good
Until recently, CZs were standard issue for the Czechoslovakian Army. However, with the breakup of the country and the adoption of the CZ82 in 9mm, these older 7.62x25mm service pistols have shown up on the surplus market. Actually it would be more appropriate to say they were dumped on the surplus market. You can usually buy one of these little jewels with a spare magazine, holster and cleaning rod for less than $175. Owning a genuine shooting-iron doesn't get much cheaper than that these days.
Okay it's cheap, but what exactly is it? The CZ52 is a short-roller-locked design built at Uhersky Brod in Moldavia. This unique pistol was designed by Jan Kratochvil and Presne Strojirentsvi and if you can say that three times you're a better man than I am. Intended for use by the Czechoslovakian Army, prototypes and test weapons were originally made in double action and 9x 19 configurations.
However, when the pistol was adopted in May of 1952, the final configuration was as a single action, chambered for the M48 7.62x25mm cartridge. A full-size service pistol, its roller lock-up is very similar to the German MG42 GPMG. From 1952 until production ceased in 1954, approximately 200,000 of these pistols were manufactured.
The pistol itself is 8.25 inches long and tips the scales at 2.1 pounds. Barrel length is 4.71" and the beast is fed from 8 round box magazines. The weapon's controls are pretty straight forward, being intended for conscripts and people who might otherwise be inclined to be elsewhere.
On the pistol's butt is a European-style heel magazine release which not everyone likes (including me) and on the right side of the frame is a three position manual safety. Pushing the safety all the way up safely drops a cocked hammer. Pushing the safety to the middle position places the weapon on safe and all the way down is fire. Since this is a single action, if the hammer is decocked via the safety, it must be thumbcocked in order to fire. While the slide locks back on the last shot there is no external slide release. The slide must be manually retracted and released like a Walther PP series. All in all it's a basic 1950's vintage service pistol. Think anything Russian from the same era and you'll get the idea.
A Tiny Tornado
What most will find appealing about this Model A Ford of pistols is the cartridge it fires. The Czechoslovakian M48 round is dimensionally identical to the older Soviet 7.62x25 Type P pistol cartridge. But the Czech loading blows the doors off of the old Soviet round. The Soviet load pushes a .30 caliber 85 grain FMJ slug at a leisurely (?) 1,400 fps while the Czech load busts barriers at about the 1,600 fps mark. Whoa.
This is a substantial increase in velocity in an already fast cartridge. While people will always argue the virtues of fat bullets at low velocities or smaller bullets at high velocities, the Soviet 7.62x25 has proven itself in combat. This point was driven home during a recent trip I made to Russia. While I was test firing a Bizon 2 submachinegun in Izhevsk, the designer mentioned it was available in 7.62x25 as well as 9x17, 9x18, and 9x19.
Interested in why it was chambered for a cartridge replaced in Russian service in the 1950s, he smiled and replied, "Penetration!" Da, Komrade. With the 9x18 PM Makarov now being replaced in Russian service, I found it interesting to learn from my friend Mikhail Dragunov that the Russians seriously considered returning to the 7.62x25. With the wide-spread use of flak jackets and body armor on the modern battlefield, they came very close to readopting this old vest-buster. After all, hits stopped by a vest don't count.
To the recreational shooter the 7.62x25 has other virtues. Top of the list is the fact surplus 7.62x25 ammunition is currently very inexpensive. The surplus loads available are corrosive, Berdan primed, and drive 85 grain FMJ slugs between 1,300 and 1,550 fps. Consider it good, fun, blasting ammunition. However the cartridge is far from being relegated to a surplus-only deal. Sellier&Bellot and Winchester both offer FMJ loads in this caliber.
In addition, MagSafe offers a blisteringly-hot frangible load for self-defense. Their "Defender" load consists of a 52 grain projectile filled with birdshot driven at a claimed velocity of 2,120 fps. I would expect this to be extremely effective on a target. Let me know if you ever find out.