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The CZ 75 is 45 Years Young

By David Pazdera

The Czech arms design community has a number of models that are ranked among the best in the world in their categories. In the case of service pistols, they rather missed the mark for quite a long time. That changed 48 years ago. Based on the specifications given to a company known today as ?eská zbrojovka Uherský Brod, the CZ 75 pistol was born.

For a brief period after WWII, Czechoslovakia bet on the 9x19mm cartridge for their new army pistols, which resulted in several interesting prototypes. In 1950, the Czechoslovak Army was pushed into a pro-Soviet orientation, which caused it to favor the 7.62mm Tokarev (7.62x25) cartridge for pistols. Czechoslovaks then introduced the vz. 52 pistol, which was a roller-locked, short, recoil-operated handgun. Unfortunately, the fifty-two was not a great success and suffered from several drawbacks, even of a manufacturing nature.

Parabellum for the West

In 1960s Czechoslovakia, today’s ?eská zbrojovka Uherský Brod produced three semi-automatic pistol models, having gradually gained a monopoly in this field. The quite modern ?Z vz. 50 in 7.65mm Browning (.32 ACP), originated and first produced in Strakonice, was followed by the small personal defense pistols ?Z vz. 45 and “Z” or DUO in 6.35mm Browning (.25 ACP). At the time, the bulk of production went to civilian customers in foreign countries; the most interesting of these customers, in financial terms, were in the West.

For a while, it seemed that everyone was happy and that this arrangement could continue for a long time. But early in the second half of the 60s there was a brief reprieve in the political situation in Czechoslovakia, and domestic enterprises could—for the first time since the communist takeover—get thoroughly familiarized with the situation and trends in Western markets. This brought an unpleasant surprise. The arms factory located in the town of Uherský Brod found that a significant portion of its products had only a limited sales potential in the West. Therefore, if the firm wanted to maintain its growth, it would need to embark on a radical modernization of its portfolio. In the...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N6 (July 2017)
and was posted online on May 19, 2017

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