CZ82-The Not-So Bad Czech, Version 2
By Charles Brown

If The CZ 52 was the “Bad Czech” due to muzzle flash, recoil and throwing the fired cases into some other time-space continuum, the CZ 82 should be called the “Not-So-Bad Czech.” This would be a much deserved nickname.

As the Soviets gained the political upper hand in Czechoslovakia in 1948 they began to harass the Czech military about small arms in general especially handguns and submachine guns and commonality of ammunition. A compromise of sorts was worked out; the Czechs developed their own sidearm, the CZ52, and chambered it for the Soviet mandated 7.62X25 Tokerev cartridges with their own loading. While all this arm twisting was going on the Soviets were abandoning the very same cartridge and the TT30 and TT33 Tokerev pistol that used it.

In the Soviet Union the left hand never knew, or cared much if at all, what the right hand was doing. There had been much discussion in Soviet small arms circles dating back to the late 1930s about adopting a double action semi-auto blowback pistol of slightly larger bore diameter that would not be common with the standard 9mm Parabellum (Luger) cartridge and more powerful than the 9x17 (.380 ACP or 9mm Scurt, Corto, Kurz or whatever you want to call it).

Nicolay F. Makarov, an assistant in the arms design bureau at the Tula Arsenal, worked on such a firearm. He borrowed some design features from the Walther PP and the abortive design of a 9mm cartridge the German Luftwaffe considered for a pistol of their own. Given his excesses in nearly everything, even Riechsmarshall Herman Goering eventually came to the conclusion that this was not practical and the whole business got shelved.

Eventually Makarov prevailed both with his pistol design, the PM (Pistolet Markova) which was a double action, blowback design having only 27 parts. The cartridge it was chambered for was the 9x18 or 9mm Makarov. While the cartridge was/is called a “9mm” the projectile diameter is .365 rather than the standard reading of 9mm as .355. The Warsaw Pact/Soviet standard cartridge fired in the Makarov pistol developed about 1,050 fps of muzzle velocity and 231 Foot Pounds of muzzle energy.

The Makarov PM went into production in 1952, the same year the Czechs, tired of being badgered and displaying their usual intransigence and superior weapons design capabilities, introduced the CZ52 using a common chambering and their own high velocity cartridge.

Having browbeaten the foot dragging Czechs into adopting the 7.62x25 Tokarev cartridge the Soviets left the matter at rest until the late 1970s when they began making the same noises they had made nearly 30 years previously. The Czechs responded the same way they did 30 years previously. They developed a new indigenous pistol and a more powerful cartridge loading, the Pistolovy Naboj vz82, which was supposed to be a 20% improvement over the Soviet cartridge. The Cheska Zbrojovka Vzor 82 or Czech Armory Pattern (model) 82 pistol was the end result.

The main “drawback” to the new Czech design was that it had over twice as many parts as the Makarov PM increasing the unit cost considerably. Among other things all those “extra” parts produced a very smooth and even double action trigger pull. The 3.8 inch barrel keeps the overall length of the pistol convenient for pocket carry without a holster.

The principal designer, Augstin Necas and his assistant Stanislav Strizek, took into account more modern features like the ambidextrous safety and frame mounted magazine release and a grip better designed for the hand, right or left, and a high capacity 12-round magazine.

They succeeded in designing a better firearm than the PM Makarov pistol which was, like most things under the Soviet thumb, something less than an ergonomic success having only an 8-round magazine, poor quality control, and a design at 30 plus years old.

Necas adopted the takedown feature of the Makarov but everything else was updated. Necas also decided to correct a few of the design flaws of the CZ52.

The CZ52 had a firing pin retracted by cam action rather than a return spring. Another fault with the firing pin was that it was cast and subject to breakage if the weapon was dry fired. The CZ82 featured an inertia style spring loaded machined and properly hardened firing pin held in place by a removable stop similar to the M1911A1.

Another shortcoming of the CZ52 was that the design of the magazine release on the butt, a common European failing, besides being decidedly unhandy, prevented either loaded or empty magazines from dropping free when released. The CZ82 magazine release was moved to a location just behind the trigger guard and made an ambidextrous push button, which cleanly dropped the magazines. The CZ82, like the CZ52, also had a slide hold open on an empty magazine feature with an extended style slide release. The magazine was redesigned to a double column 12-round style with witness ports on the back at 4, 8 and 12 rounds.

The grip panels were changed to a conventional screw mounted black plastic checkered style with thumb/forefinger rests on both panels making the grip equally comfortable for both right and left hand shooters.

The CZ82 is rather heavy for its size at 30/32 ounces loaded, depending on the type of ammunition, especially when compared to today’s polymer framed pistols.

The CZ52 three position hammer drop safety was abandoned in favor of an extended ambidextrous two position style that was wiped downward to release the safety. A red dot is visible on the frame below the bottom of the slide when the safety is in the off position.

The drift adjustable rear sight was made larger and a simple painted two dot rear and a white stripe front sight gave a much improved sight picture. The rear sight is staked into position after factory alignment. The top of the slide has a flat surface with machined longitudinal cuts that remind one of the S&W target revolver style anti-glare sighting plane. This is an unusual and costly feature on a service weapon.

One feature that was a holdover from the CZ52 was the larger than normal trigger guard that would accept a gloved finger.

The CZ82 also has a chrome plated, hammer forged polygonal rifled barrel, which did away with the traditional lands and groves in favor of a faint wavy appearance that, at first glance, looks like an unrifled barrel. The chief advantage of this style of barrel is less fouling when using jacketed projectiles and when combined with the chrome plating’s resistance to the damage caused by the use of corrosively primed ammunition, greatly extended barrel life.

The CZ 82 has a baked on black paint like finish, which is durable if not overly attractive.

Field stripping is simplicity itself. Remove the magazine, pull the slide completely to the rear cocking the hammer, VISUALLY CHECK THE CHAMBER, let the slide run forward, pull downward on the front of the trigger guard, pull the slide completely to the rear and lift the rear of the slide to clear the frame and allow the slide to run forward and off the frame. The trigger guard cannot be lowered with the magazine in place.

The manufacture of arms for export has always been important to the Czech economy and with the production of the CZ82, which was a well made, reliable, ergonomically efficient hand gun, it was decided to produce a civilian version the, CZ83, that would have caliber choices, no lanyard attachment at the butt and a squared off serrated trigger guard front surface for a two handed hold. The CZ83 was marketed with a choice of more traditional finishes in 9mm Makarov (9x18) .32 ACP (7.65 Browning), .380 ACP (9mm Browning Short/9x17) chambering, the latter two with conventional rifling and one version, the 9mm P.A., for anti-riot duty with a smooth bore designed for rubber projectiles.

The Czechs designed an ambidextrous service holster for the CZ82 which looks more like a tool pouch with a flap than anything else. The holster is quite versatile it can be used right or left hip with the butt to the rear or butt forward in cross draw style without any adjustments. The holster will hold a spare magazine and has internal pockets for the obligatory cleaning rod that seems to be a European fetish.

The CZ82 was produced in the Cheska Zbrojovka facility in Uhersky Brod and served the Czech military and police from 1983 until about 1993.

Following the collapse of the Soviet empire and its loss of political hegemony, the CZ82 started to be replaced in general use by the CZ75 in 9mm Parabellum (9x19). Czech Special Forces and police anti-terrorist units had been using the CZ75 for quite some time.

Like the hand gun it replaced, the Czechs sold off the CZ82s as surplus but most were sold as-is and not arsenal reconditioned like the CZ52.

The CZ82 is a naturally pointing firearm with a good grip to bore alignment. It has low recoil with fast first shot recovery due to the weight of the firearm and power of the cartridge and a dependable safety that is suitable for both hammer down on a chambered round and cocked and locked carry. The safety is designed to prevent the weapon from firing unless the trigger is pulled. The CZ82 also has a rebounding hammer.

The double action trigger pull is smooth without clicks or jerks. Its main drawback is the rather stiff recoil spring required by its blowback design and the use of the 9x18 cartridge.

The author’s sample is a well designed and well made high quality product and has found this an easy firearm to operate and become comfortable with and a reliable performer despite its weight.

This article first appeared in SmallArmsReview.com on October 4, 2013


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