ČZ vz. 52

ČZ vz. 52

Infobox Weapon
name=Vz. 52

caption=Vz. 52 pistol
type=Semi-automatic pistol
service=1952-1982 (Czechoslovakia)
designer=Jan Kratochvíl, Jaroslav Kratochvíl
number=Approx. 200,000
weight=kg to lb|0.95|sp=us|abbr=on|precision=2|wiki=yes
length=mm to in|209|abbr=on|precision=1|wiki=yes
cartridge=7.62x25mm Tokarev
action=Recoil operated, roller locked
range=50 m
feed=8-round detachable box magazine
sights=Rear: fixed notch (dovetailed); front: fixed blade

The vz. 52 [Předpis pro výcvik ve střelbě - 7,62 mm pistole vz. 52, Pěch III-140, Ministerstvo národní obrany, Praha, 1953] (also known as CZ 482 or CZ-52) is a semi-automatic pistol designed by two brothers, Jan and Jaroslav Kratochvíl, in the early 1950s for Czechoslovakian military. Around 200,000 vz. 52s ("vzor 52" means "model of 1952") were made by Česká Zbrojovka in Strakonice from 1952 to 1954. It replaced the 7.65mm Browning caliber (.32 ACP) Vz.50, which had acquired a reputation for unreliability and also was underpowered for its role as a military service sidearm. The vz. 52 was, after 30 years of military service, eventually replaced in service by the vz. 82.


The vz. 52 pistol is a roller-locked short recoil-operated, detachable box magazine-fed, single-action, semi-automatic pistol firing the 7.62x25mm cartridge. It weighs approximately two pounds when unloaded. Military models feature either a parkerized finish or a gray oxide coating, while some vz. 52s have been arsenal refinished blue. This was done to a number of pistols that were factory rearsenaled in the 1970s. Re-arsenaled guns are usually marked as so.

The vz. 52 is considered by somewho to be somewhat ungainly to hold (due primarily to its deep (front-to-back) but slim (side-to-side) grip, as well as the low "hump" meeting the web of the hand at the rear of the grip. These unusual ergonomics cause the barrel and slide to sit rather high above the grip. This causes recoil force to be turned into upward flip of the muzzle and torque on the wrist, doing nothing to improve the comfort of the shooter or the controllability of the gun. The vz. 52 is also well known for its very sharp report and the great amount of muzzle flash it produces. Nevertheless, manywho consider it a reliable and remarkably powerful weapon.


Operating controls of the vz. 52 consist of a single-action trigger, an external hammer, a magazine catch located at the heel of the grip frame, and a combination de-cock/safety lever located on the left side of the receiver behind the left grip panel. The manual safety blocks movement of the sear, preventing the hammer from releasing and so firing a round. A second safety in the form of a spring-loaded firing pin block prevents the pistol from firing unless the trigger is pulled to the rear, rendering the pistol "drop safe". Because the sear must overcome the additional spring pressure of the firing pin block, an unusually heavy trigger pull results, often in the range of 8-10 pounds. The hammer is of the rebounding type, meaning that it does not contact the firing pin while in its uncocked position and cannot do so unless the trigger is pulled, another safety feature.

When a full magazine is inserted, the slide is retracted then released, cocking the hammer and collecting a cartridge from the magazine and inserting it into the chamber. Rotating the safety lever fully downward, exposing a red dot between the receiver and hammer pivot pin, renders the pistol ready to fire. Rotating the safety lever upward, covering the red dot, engages the sear block (allowing "cocked and locked" carry), and rotating the safety lever fully upward decocks the hammer by releasing the sear and intercepting the hammer's rotation. This allows safe carry of the pistol with a round in the chamber. The hammer must then be cocked manually and the safety disengaged before a round can be fired. As the trigger is pulled in this state, the trigger bar rotates the sear, a lug on the sear disengages the firing pin safety located directly above it, and the opposite side of the sear releases the hammer. The hammer impacts the firing pin, the firing pin impacts the primer of the cartridge and the shot is fired.

The vz. 52 utilizes a fairly uncommon short recoil operating system in which a pair of vertical rollers are used to lock the barrel and slide together, via a cam block. This is similar to the system used in the MG 42 machine gun which itself hearkens back to a Polish patent of the 1930s. It results in an unusually strong lockup which allowed the Czechs to load ammunition for it to higher pressure levels (and therefore, higher velocity and energy) than compatible ammunition manufactured in other Warsaw Pact countries.

While in battery, the recoil spring, positioned coaxially around the barrel, provides the pressure necessary to lock the barrel and slide together via the rollers. When a shot 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 (about 0.16" or 4mm), the rollers are allowed to disengage from the slide via recesses in the cam block. At this point, the slide is free to continue rearward, cocking the hammer, extracting the spent case from the barrel's chamber and ejecting it clear of the pistol. After reaching the end of its stroke, the slide is returned to battery by the compressed recoil spring, again collecting a fresh cartridge from the magazine and inserting it into the chamber along the way.

When the magazine is empty, its follower presses against a catch, holding the slide open. The magazine catch is located at the heel of the pistol grip, in the common European position. It is pulled toward the backstrap, releasing the magazine from its well. A potential problem arises in that there is now minimal pressure on the magazine spring and the magazine catch is also under constant pressure from the mainspring, forcing it into contact with the rear of the magazine. This means that magazines do not drop free and occasionally take a few seconds to remove from the pistol. Releasing the slide catch is done by removing the empty magazine (or inserting a loaded one), retracting the slide and releasing it. There is no thumb-operated lever to release the slide (though an aftermarket slide release lever is available).


The vz. 52 fires a particularly hot loading of the 7.62x25mm cartridge developed in Czechoslovakia, designated M48. It is often referred to simply as the "Czech Load". This is an 85 grain (5.5 g) FMJ bullet fired at 1,640 ft/s (500 m/s), 18% faster than the stated velocity of the common Soviet load. The Czechoslovak load gives both an unusually flat trajectory and a relatively high penetrative power for a handgun.

Surplus 7.62x25mm Tokarev ammo from China, Russia, Austria, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic as well as current commercial ammo produced by Sellier & Bellot all measured 42,000 c.u.p. at the lab at Accurate Arms in 2000 by ballistician Ted Curtis. He measured the surplus Soviet ammunition the late 1990s, after the popularity of the surplus vz. 52 had started to increase, and hollow-point ammunition in 7.62x25mm became available from custom shops. The pistol proved capable of handling extremely "hot" loadings, and many shops sell custom or hand-loaded ammunition.

Replacement barrels are available to change the caliber to 9 mm Parabellum. Doing so provides a much wider range of ammunition choices. Currently, manufacturers have ceased production of 9mm drop-in barrels for the vz. 52.


External links

* [http://www.lonestarfab.com/projects/thecz52/f5_cz52.htm Detailed Strip Assembly Instructions]
* [http://www.your-gun.com/view/CZ_manual/ Vz 52 manual]
* [http://www.surplusrifle.com/pistolcz52/disassemble/index.asp Disassembly Instructions]
* [http://theboxotruth.com/docs/edu25.htm Pictorial guide to the Vz. 52 pistol]
* [http://www.buymilsurp.com/pictorials/cz52pictorial.jpgCZ-52 Pistol Exploded Parts Diagram]
* [http://makarov.com/cz52/ The CZ-52 Pistol]
* [http://world.guns.ru/handguns/hg58-e.htm Modern Firearms]
* [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BQY/is_11_50/ai_n6209994/print The Czech roller-locking hot shot]
* [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BTT/is_159_26/ai_90099729/print A customized CZ52 to Czech out]
* [http://www.vvmvd.com/zb_te/ostatni/pistol52.htm Pistole vz. 52 (in Czech)]
* [http://www.handgunns.com/shooting-range/cz52.html CZ-52 Shooting Range Video and Review]

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