Curious Relics #031: The CZ52 – The Peppy Czech Pistol Part III
Welcome, if you are a newcomer to this fun bi-weekly segment of AllOutdoor.com! The last time around I covered the venerable CZ52 pistol, its history, dating them, and specifications. This time around I found a short break in the below zero temperatures here in Minnesota to head to the range to get some hands-on time with this peppy Czech pistol. Today we are covering range time and aftermarket-related things! 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!
Range Time: CZ52
Before going over this well-made piece of Czech history I had only ever fired my personal CZ52 once since I had gotten it. Now, this is not because I own loads of guns or that ammunition is hard to get, but it was mostly because it is a very unassuming handgun. What do I mean by that? Well, it does not have any super distinguishable or eye-popping features beyond its general footprint. It doesn’t quite look like what we are used to, but besides that, it doesn’t have any huge levers, controls, or eye-catching aesthetics that when you open the safe you go “that’s the one for today.”
The only thing I had remembered about the first range session I had with it was that it was snappier than it looks. Typically, metal-framed handguns have enough weight to slow the inertia of the firearm and make it a comfortable shooter. Although, I can confirm that the CZ52 is comfortable to shoot and not super recoil heavy it does have a bit of snap. This is almost certainly due to its 7.62×25 Tokarev cartridge. I call this a pistol with some pep for a reason. Beyond acknowledging the snap of the CZ52 my observations are as follows.
The CZ52’s ergonomics are comfortable enough even though the front and back of the frame are pretty square and blocky. The original grips are pretty plain with horizontal serrations, but I would definitely prefer shooting it with a more aggressive textured pattern. I actually have a set of aftermarket wooden checkered groups that are normally on my CZ52, but I reinstated its originality for these articles out of respect for the people who want to see the real deal.
The safety I noticed is tricky, but I cannot put my finger on why. It is the normal upward position being safe and downward being fire. It does not carry the stereotypical “red is dead” paint, and honestly, I do not think these ever did have that; I could be wrong. The CZ52 does not have a slide release so dropping the slide on an empty magazine is not really doable unless you pushed down on the follower which really is not an option. You would need to eject the magazine in order to pull the slide back and release it. That brings me to the magazine release! I very much dislike mine and I have no idea if it is just mine, but it is extremely stiff and both my original and aftermarket magazines are a very tight fit in there. I find myself taking the magazine out while holding the gun in an awkward way. I have noticed that my lanyard loop commonly gets in the way of proper magazine extraction.
Shooting the CZ52 is an enjoyable affair. It is comfortable, but a spicy sort of comfortable given the dash of snap in there. The sights could be better and I have seen better on far worse military-issued guns. The front post is pretty small and thin and the rear square notch is equally small and the notch leaves a little too much space on either side of the post. The trigger is decent although I do apologize I never had a chance to test its trigger pull. The CZ52 being hammer-fired and single-action helped it be a decent trigger pull. I never experienced any failures to feed, eject, or extract. The group I put on paper at 15 yards with the first full magazine of 7 rounds (I did not put an extra in the chamber) is in the photo above. Shot a little low, but a fair group besides the one stray off to the right which I would wager was me shaking with the slightly above zero temperature.
After Market Parts and Accessories: CZ52
As far as aftermarket parts and accessories go there is a whole bunch of options, unfortunately, none of them for sure include that 9mm conversion barrel I talked about in previous articles, those are hard to track down without already being in a gun. Let us start with parts! The CZ52 has a few options as far as parts websites like Numrich, Apex Gun Parts, or eBay, but one specific website caught my attention being Harrington Products which makes newly manufactured firing pins, extractors, and rollers which are all parts on the CZ52 that will probably break at some point before others. I have not spoken with them or ordered anything from them, but I plan to at some point. It is always smart to have a spare extractor and firing pin on hand for older firearms because they are CONSUMABLE!
Accessories are pretty lacking although magazines are fairly easy and cheap to get ahold of. I found a few magazines at Sarco as well as Liberty Tree Collectors. Liberty Tree Collectors has holsters too which is a good change of pace since they are around twice the price on eBay from what I have seen. There are whole hosts of companies that sell lanyard loops and cleaning rods, but from what I can tell these are just generic items and have no tie to the CZ52 beyond the fact they are made to resemble old military handgun accessories. What I mean is I have seen these exact same lanyards and cleaning rods marketed for other military handguns in my searches. As I mentioned earlier I did pick up some aftermarket checkered grips and I believe there are the ones at the following link here. They fit and feel well so it was well worth it to me to improve my experience with this lovely old gun.
Final Thoughts: CZ52
All in all, the CZ52 is secretly one of my favorite older firearms. This is mostly because it holds such a valuable place in history in which it is one of the very few roller-locked pistols and it was a cold war weapon that never saw intensive use. There were only roughly 200,000 made which in the grand scheme of things is not much and they will probably run dry in the next decade or so. They used to be a fabulous surplus gun to pick up for cheap but these days they are increasing in value and have a cult following. They are fun to shoot, typically ammo is easy to obtain for them, and they are a piece of history. Help preserve it! See you all next time and stay safe out there.
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.