Curious Relics #030: The CZ52 – The Classy Czech Handgun


Curious Relics #030: The CZ52 – The Classy Czech Handgun

Welcome, if you are a newcomer to this fun bi-weekly segment of! The last time around I covered the venerable CZ52 pistol and its history. Today usually would be the day where we cover variations on the design but in all its service history I was unable to find any substantial variations in design besides much later 9mm conversion barrels. All that being said I do have some information on dating, markings, and specifications. Let’s dive right into the rabbit hole!

Welcome to our recurring series of “Curious Relics.” Here, we want to share all of our experiences, knowledge, misadventures, and passion for older firearms that one might categorize as a Curio & Relic  – any firearm that is at least 50 years old according to the ATF. Hopefully along the way you can garner a greater appreciation for older firearms like we do, and simultaneously you can teach us things as well through sharing your own expertise and thoughts in the Comments. Understanding the firearms of old, their importance, and their development which lead to many of the arms we now cherish today is incredibly fascinating and we hope you enjoy what we have to share, too!

Dating & Markings: CZ52

Thankfully the Czechoslovakian government went ahead and made it extremely easy to identify not just the year of manufacture but also if the weapons were military issue. Besides markings such as those, there is commonly an important mark. This one that I own was imported by Century Arms and this is denoted by the “C.A.I.” marking along with the location of importation. This import mark is located on the right-hand side of the slide just forward of the ejection port.

  • Date of Manufacture: Located on the right-hand side of the frame just above the forward portion of the trigger guard. Typically will have two swords that are crossed. The swords symbolize their independence from Austria in 1919. The two-digit number directly right from the swords is the year of manufacture. Mine is 53 meaning 1953.


  • Military or Civilian: The main way to tell between a military model and a civilian model is on the left side of the frame just out in front of the trigger guard is typically the serial number. At the end of the serial number, there will be a three-digit word spelling “rid” which designates that this pistol was manufactured for military use. If it is a civilian gun (from what I understand it was not a super common thing) it will be marked “CZS” or “Česká Zbrojovka Strakonice”.


  • Arsenal Refurbishment: If a CZ52 went through arsenal refurbishment for whatever reason it should be marked “VOR” or “VOP”. This indicates that the military took in this firearm, repaired it, and sent it back out. This marking is commonly found near the date marking on the right side of the frame.

Specifications: CZ52

The CZ52 is a roller-locked firearm. Other well-known roller-locked firearms would be the MG42, H&K MP5, and G3 style guns. Roller-locking is a firearms delay in cycling is due to pressure being applied to a set-off literal rollers that will only unlock once pressures are at a safe level. This makes them a very easily replaceable wearing part on a firearm but the firearm manufacture and engineering can be sort of tedious. The CZ52 is a metal frame handgun much like 1911 in that it is single action only. It sports a right-handed thumb safety and there is no slide release as is, although aftermarket extended slide releases do exist.

  • Years Produced: From 1952 to 1954
  • Service: 1952–1982
  • Number Produced: Roughly 200,000
  • Chambering: 7.62×25mm Tokarev
  • Barrel Length: 4.7 inches
  • Overall Length: 8.3 inches
  • Weight: Roughly 2 lbs
  • Action: Single Action, Roller-Locked
  • Capacity: 8 Rounds
  • Magazine: Heel Release Detachable Magazine
  • Front Sight: Small and Thin Fixed Front Ramp
  • Rear Sight: Dovetail Square Notch
  • Grip: Bakelite

End of Part Two: CZ52

That is all for today folks! It is crazy to think that this classy Czech pistol was only made for two whole years and a whopping 200,000 manufactured. This Roller-locked handgun was admired by the Czech military for decades and was very popular as a surplus gun when it finally hit the states.  Makes sure to tune in next time because I will cover the usual aftermarket supplies plus parts. Not just that but I will also cover a short-range session I had with my old 53′ CZ52 handgun. See you soon and take care.


In closing, I hope our Curious Relics segment informed as well as entertained. This all was written in hopes of continued firearm appreciation and preservation. We did not just realize how guns were supposed to look and function. It was a long and tedious process that has shaped the world we live in. So, I put it to you! Is there a firearm out there that you feel does not get much notoriety? What should our next Curious Relics topic cover? As always, let us know all of your thoughts in the Comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.

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Writer | TheFirearmBlog Writer | Instagram | sfsgunsmith Old soul, certified gunsmith, published author, avid firearm history learner, and appreciator of old and unique guns.

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