So as you can all probably read from my bio, I said I talk politics in addition to cooking. You may have also noticed that as of yet, there have been no politics posts. What's the deal? Well, that ends today. I'm starting a short series of posts titled "Our Own Way" talking about the politics of the former Czechoslovakia through its military service weapons.
Yes a gun is the focal point of a politics talk. To most this is just a gun. But to the rest this retro-futuristic handgun encompasses the intricacies of politics, manufacturing, and the lingering questions of the 20th century.
This is the CZ 52.
To properly discuss the political significance of this pistol, we actually need to start with the chambering. This guy shoots the rather goofy looking 7.62x25mm Tokarev (center). The gun was originally designed to shoot the common 9mm Luger (right). Its a shame that it did not stay that way, as 9mm is still the most ubiquitous pistol chambering by a longshot, while 7.62 Tok has very much fallen to the wayside. Interesting sidenote: the Russian army has a longstanding and unparalleled history of using the same diameter bullets for their service rifle and their sidearm so that they can cut their barrels all from the same blanks.
The 7.62 Tok was originally designed for the red army's PPD submachine gun. The cartridge features a necked case (higher powder to bullet weight ratio) and packs a punch. Between you and me, this cartridge, especially the comblock surplus ammo, can easily penetrate most Kevlar armor. That velocity makes it a rather crappy choice for a pistol cartridge as it over penetrates bodies resulting in smaller wound channels at best, and an extreme liability indoors at worst.
The Czechs being a border state of the Soviet Union, and the imminent adoption of a German caliber could not be tolerated under the iron fist of Stalin. The Union cracked down, and did so hard. The Czechs held their own and demanded the ability to produce their own firearms. Instead of forcing the Czechs to adopt their TT-33 handgun (below), they compromised and permitted the Czechs to be the only Warsaw Pact state to have a unique service pistol. The Czechs were forced to compromise on the caliber in turn.
Not only is this symbolic of political defiance in the Warsaw Pact, but this is a masterpiece of design and employs an entirely unique lockup. This single action full steel design feeds from an 8 shot mag and features a unique a short recoil roller locked blowback design that allows for the low bore axis of a straight blowback, but can tame the bark of the Tok. Having a short recoil operated system in this fashion allows for the barrel to move only horizontally, allowing for more accuracy than the Browning style tilting barrel as seen in the 1911 and TT-33. It works by having the full slide and barrel recoil backwards. The rollers in the first image below lock the slide and barrel assembly for a the length of the locking lug. As the assembly moves back, the center lug contacts a block on the frame so that it stays still and the rollers can move along the sides until they can fall into the recesses on the lug and will no longer be captured inside the divots in the slide. This stops the barrel in place and allows the slide to go fully rearwards to recock the hammer and pick up the next round. Once the cycle completes, the recoil spring returns everything to the forward locked position.
On the outside, it offers very spartan design in terms of features, coupled with smooth space age lines of a forgotten time. It opts for a European heal release for the mag and a metal clip that goes around the backstrap to attach the retro bakelite grip panels without the use of fasteners. Its oddly vertical grip angle causes it to point strangely for some, but that allows for it to be less obtrusive in its original belt holster.
In summation, this gun is more than a unique piece of engineering or an attractive sidearm. This is emblematic of Soviet repression and of a country that strived for a sense of self behind the iron curtain.
all photos used from wikimedia under CC-BY license