Czech service pistols

Praga-The first service pistol made in Czechoslovakia was the Praga, a 7.65 mm. pistol made by Zbrojovka Praga. Just when production was started is not known, but very likely in 1919. All of the specimens seen by the author were marked as made in 1920 and 1921, the highest serial number being 6409 (date on barrel, 22-12-21). Production ceased by 1926 as the firm went out of business in that year.

This pistol was a modification of the F.N. Browning Mod. 1910. The barrel had three lugs, and the barrel bushing was different. The position of the ejection port on the top of the slide was changed. The inscription on the left side of the slide has always been found to read ZBROJOVKA PRAGA PRAHA. This pistol was adopted for use by the Czechoslovakian Police in 1921, and these were supplied with serrated or plain wooden grip pieces, which is a common practice for military arms. Pistols sold for commercial use were supplied with very attractive hard rubber grip pieces, with the word Praga (in script) embossed thereon. Some specimens sold commercially had somewhat longer barrels than the standard model.

VZ 1922-Actually this is unofficial nomenclature for the 9 mm. short (.380) Nickl pistol, the design for which was acquired from Mauser. As made by the Czechs, the original German design was followed very closely. How many of these were made is not known, but a specimen examined by the author, marked as having been made in 1923, bears the Serial No. 17,590. Since specimens of the next model (Mod. 24), which superseded this model, bear numbers at least as low as 21,086, it would appear that the production of this short-lived model was not very great.

VZ 1924-The 1924 model follows closely the design of the preceding model. The design was changed slightly with respect to the barrel locking arrangement, and a number of other minor changes were made. The „hooding" of the trigger is the only important externally-observable difference between the original and the Mod. 1924, as first produced. Later it became more streamlined in appearance.

No figures as to total production by the Czechs are available, but a specimen examined by the author bore the Serial No. 134,738, and was marked as having been made in 1937. A variant of Mod. 24 having an extra-large magazine capacity appeared in about 1930. These reportedly were made on a special contract and not for use by the Czech army. A specimen examined by the author bore the Serial No. 1903 and was dated 1930.

VZ 1927-In 1926 Frantisek Myska redesigned the Model 24, eliminating the rotating barrel lock and converting it to a blowback design. This 7.65 mm. pistol went into production as the VZ 27 (Mod. 27) and was the standard Czech Police pistol until 1951. Like the Mod. 24, it was made in Prague.

By the time the Germans took over in 1939 a considerable number of these pistols had been made. Specimen No. 30,020 bears the inscription BÖHMISCHE WAFFENFABRIK A.G. IN PRAG On the top of the slide and is thought to have been made soon after the Germans took over the factory. The highest serial number observed bearing the code „fnh" (Böhmische Waffenfabrik A.G.) is 473,056 (made in 1945) and the lowest serial number bearing the immediate postwar inscription CESKA ZBROJOVKA A.S. V PRAZE on the top of the slide (also made in 1945) is 481,894. It would seem from this that at least 443,000 pistols of this model were made during the German occupation.

A special silencer was devised and made for the Mod. 27 pistol, for use by the German army. The length of this device was 205 mm. and pistols equipped with it had slightly larger barrels with a groove on the end for the attachment (Fig. 143).

A specimen, Serial No. 8363 (dated 1930), with smooth wood grip pieces and without commercial markings has been reported. This may very well be a special contract piece for some police or military use, and production was probably limited. Possibly other specimens will be found with full commercial markings, thus refuting this hypothesis.

During the German occupation, an experimental Mod. 27 in .22 caliber rim fire was produced. This pistol bears the inscription KAL. .22 LANG FÜR BÜCHSEN and obviously was intended for target practice. With the exception of the caliber this pistol was identical to the regular Mod. 27. Apparently not many were made.

While the Mod. 27 pistol was intended for police and civilian use when made by the Czechs, the Germans found it suited to the needs of the Luftwaffe, and by 1942 all production was diverted to such use. All specimens so used bear the „fnh" code mark and German acceptance marks; and commercial markings are absent.

Toward the end of the war the Germans were hard pressed for time and pistols made in that period were poorly finished and more crudely made. Czech workmen were probably not cooperating very enthusiastically!

Immediately following the end of the war in 1945 the Czechs resumed the manufacture of pistols and changed the inscriptions back to the prewar name of Ceska Zbrojovka A.S. V. Praze, but in 1948, following the Communist coup d'etat, the name was changed to Ceska Zbrojovka Narodni Podnik and this name appears on pistols made since that time. For various markings to be found on Mod. 27 pistols see Fig. 144.

Production of Mod. 27 is thought to have ceased in 1951, at the time of the introduction of a new model (Mod. 50). The highest serial number seen by the author for a Mod. 27 is 568,519, and though marked as having been made in 1947 it bears the Communist form of the firm name, indicating that it was one of the last made before the Communists took control or that it was assembled from parts made before that time.

VZ 1938-In 1937 a 9 mm. pistol of entirely new design was developed by Frantisek Myska and production was started in 1938; hence this model was designated Mod. 1938. By 1939 it was being supplied, in limited quantities, to the Czech army. The Mod. 1938 (or Mod. 38) is characterized by having a double-action firing system, and hinged forwardpivoted barrel assembly. To lift the barrel for inspection or cleaning, all that is necessary is to push to the left the catch on the left side of the slide. Because of the double-action feature and the impossibility of cocking the arm by hand (the hammer being set so low), the use of a safety lever seemed superfluous and it is rarely found. Numerous early variants and modifications of this pistol exist; one rare modification does have a mechanical safety lever on the left side of the slide (Figs. 145 and 146). Mod. 38 pistols are marked simply CESKA ZBROJOVKA AKC. SPOL. V PRAZE. Serial numbers are on both slide and frame on the left side, and the inspector's mark and date are on the right side of the frame.

The German occupation, beginning March 15, 1939, took place just about the time the production of this new model was getting well under way. All stores of pistols and parts were immediately taken over, the nomenclature was changed to Pistole 39(t), and production was discontinued.

All of the many specimens of the Mod. 1938 pistol seen by the author have serial numbers falling in the range 250,000 to 290,000, which suggests that the numbering may have been started arbitrarily at 250,000. None have been observed to have German acceptance marks, but all bear Czech markings and the year of manufacture. It seems that the manufacture of this pistol was not resumed after the war.

VZ 50-This pistol, officially designated Pistole VZ 50, is a 7.65 mm. blowback Walther PP type and was designed by Jan and Jaroslav Kratchovil. It was developed in 1947-48. In 1951 it was supplied on a trial basis to the Czech police as VZ NB 50 (the letters NB standing for Narodni Bezpecnost, i.e., National Police) and was sold commercially both in Czechoslovakia and in the export trade.

This pistol has a push button release of the magazine (just back of the trigger) and a finger rest. The thumb-operated safety is located on the left side of the frame (below the finger grip serrations on the left side of the slide) rather than at the rear on the left side of the slide as on the Walther. The loading indicator has been changed from the Walther pin protruding to the rear (over the hammer) to a button which protrudes (when loaded) through the left side of the slide just over the serrations. The right side of the grip (which resembles that on the P-38) bears the customary CZ monogram, whereas the left grip piece is moulded for a large safety lever and bears no monogram. The take-down lever is on the right side just above the front part of the trigger guard and the trigger guard is solid (not hinged as on the Walther). The hammer is modified slightly, the perforated ring spur being replaced by a solid elliptical spur. Like the Walther, this pistol has an automatic safety block to prevent discharge by a blow or fall, if dropped in a loaded condition. The pistol has a very attractive appearance and seems to be well made.

VZ 52-Pistole Model 52 is a more recent military pistol, replacing the Russian Tokarev. It is chambered for the new Czech cartridge Model 48 in 7.62 mm. caliber. This new cartridge is interchangeable with the Russian 7.62 and the 7.63 Mauser cartridges. It is loaded about 20% heavier than the Russian. This recoil-operated Mod. 52 pistol has a locking system similar to the German MG 42 machine gun.

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  • lisa
    How to operate a ceska asv praze?
    6 years ago

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