Czech CZ-50 Pistol: CIA Assessment

So those CZ50 little semiauto pistols that came into the US as surplus a few years ago? Well, those weren’t always cheap and easy to get – when first introduced, of course, the were novel and unknown. We may not think about it much today, but a new pistol like that was a development of interest to the US intelligence community. Don’t believe me? Check out this declassified report on the CZ50, which the CIA produced in 1952:

CIA Information Report: Czech 7.65mm Automatic Pistol (December 10, 1952 – PDF format)


  1. CIA probably produced reports of every new weapon or weapon system they could possibly get information from, and did not yet have sufficient open source data available. That does not mean that they considered a new Czech .32 Auto pocket pistol a particularly important part of Communist arsenal…

    • Yeah, you’d have to evaluate any new weapon to determine it’s capabilities, and importance. In so doing, you’ll have the report from that evaluation… so, basically, they’re like “Yep, it’s a new model of .32ACP PPK. Cool cool.”

    • Important part of communist arsenal…?

      Yeah, that’s for sure. -:) Have you ever seen a ‘country’ a ,nation’ or state system which was able to keep internal order without security apparatus of some sort? Thus pistol is for police officer as important as brick for bricklayer.

      This particular “highly dangerous part of communist arsenal” was routinely carried by police officers and members of secret police. In common folks language they were called “svacina”(snack). This model was later replaced by CZ70, basically same SA/DA compact pistol with 8rds single stack magazine. I purchased one as a souvenir after Berlin wall fall.

      • BTW: Which designation is proper: CZ50, CZ 50, CZ-50 or vz. 50? I encountered all variations, but which was used originally?

        • Generally, “vz” is for firearms designated to military use while “CZ” is for civilian and police.

          One such example might be vz.24 (pre-war military pistol in 9mm Browning) and CZ27 (civilian and police model in 7.62).

        • Good question. I don’t know for sure but that doesn’t stop me from saying what I think.

          In the form ‘vz. 50’ (with period and space) the period is there because it is an abbreviation for ‘vzor’ which just means ‘Model’.

          In the more common form ‘CZ 50’ (with space) the CZ stands for ‘Česká zbrojovka’ which is the manufacturing facility in what was Czechoslavakia – now Czechia which is the official short name for Czech Republic which is only recommended for use in official documents.

          I use the ‘CZ 50’ form but if you are searching for them on line you have to use all sorts of variations because of the general confusion about this.

        • As with most socialist countries it was extremely rare that a pistol would be privately held. Those which were privileged to hold (I am purposely not using word “own”) such ‘arsenal’, part of police services, were people such as judges and higher end communist party officials.

          I am not aware that this particular model was available to foreign market. Most of international fame for CZ made pistols, as I believe, was made by pre-war model CZ27. Those were indeed well made guns.

      • Of course you should never expect police and security officers to face dissidents “man to man.” How would they make “western sympathizers conveniently disappear” had the officers been armed only with truncheons?

        • U might me interested to hear one funny story.
          One of my relatives was in police force. They were one time called to tame out-of-control bull. So, without taking any proper equipment (novadays it probably would be taser) they just went on with the task.

          The bull was mad and in no mood to take prisoners. My cousin pulled his service .32cal pistol and opened fire. After couple of shots aimed elsewhere it became obvious that this is fruitless. Luckily, one of just arrived officers brought in Skorpion (in same caliber). My ‘hero’ took aim and opened fire. First thing he saw was that “horns flew off”. Then the animal fell and fun was over.

          • “I said ‘tame the bull,’ not ‘maim the bull,’ officers.” Was the Skorpion therefore overkill? And what became of the horns?

          • I made this point to highlight the fact that amount of energy delivered to target in TIME is of significance. There are countless debates on this topic elsewhere.

            To add another page from my cousin’s experience he told me of case he had to deal with rabbied male pig. This time he picked vz58 and it took just one shot. As you see, no “western minded dissidents” were the target in either of cases. But I do not know by far enough as what was taking place in early 50s; that was different story altogether.

          • Energy delivered is not really significant when it comes to subsonic pistol cartridges. A SMG in full auto just greatly increases the chance of hitting something vital, whether the target is a bull or a human being. Hitting the head of an angry bull at the right angle with a pistol is not easy unless you are a seasoned pistol marksman, which most policemen are not.

            .32 Auto, by the way, is well capable of penetrating the skull of a any domestic animal at close ranges, and it’s even recommended by veterinarians for emergency euthanasia if no bolt pistol is available. It was once also popular for farm slaughtering of pigs and cows before bolt pistols became common.

      • I have difficulty to ascertain whether you agree or disagree with me…? My point was, as Daweo put more clearly: “Generally, automatic pistol have very low priority from espionage point of view.” Like you wrote, they can be important for internal security.

  2. Robustly made well designed pistol. It is the first in the safety department with a frame mounted, two position, sear blocker and hammer decocker safety lever and a passive firing pin block which retracting back the non springed firing pin when the trigger is released. DA trigger pull needs a herculian claw however.

    • Besides,it’s magazine does not fall freely. There is a small flat spring located as protruding inside the magazine well to prevent this. It may be easily taken off however.

  3. I thought the vz.52 did have the same automatic firing pin saftey as the larger vz.52 (the roller locked pistol) had. Did the CIA overlook that?

  4. So apart from mis-representing the factory location (not Strakonice but Uhersky Brod), the CIA experts also overlooked the central feature of the pistol: an automatic firing pin safety that is only disengaged when the trigger is pulled — compared to Walther P38 where mere cocking already disengages it. Invented by the Kratochvil brothers, I think. It took about 25 years until other production pistols (Walther P4, P5, SIG P220) caught up in this respect.

    • From what I read in past I gather that R&D of pistols such as CZ50 and vz52 took place in Strakonice. That same factory (its other division) started to pickup more and more motorcycle production (pattern very similar with other European firearms making companies such as Suhl, BSA, Steyr or FN) during 60s. Later, production of pistols, namely CZ70 and CZ75 was transferred to Uhersky Brod (CZUB).

      Funny (if it can be called that way) thing is that shortly after “velvet revolution” CZ in Strakonice lost much of its motorcycle production and as I understand now is involved mostly with automotive components production. That is kind of shame because CZ brand was one time on top of motocross popularity.

    • There were many defectors, like border guards, during the cold war. The West had its fair share of defectors going the other way. Mostly because of personal troubles, not political motivation.

    • Given that sketches, not photos, were in the report perhaps a gun was not acquired, but only examined for a time.

  5. I own a VZOR 50, no import markings, not even a manufacture date on the rear of the slide. Made in Czechoslovakia. Doesn’t appear to be tampered with. Just would like to know date of manufacture. Help!! Serial #691XXX

    • Pictures would definitely help identify and date.
      The vz. 50 production started at Strakonice in 1950 at ser# 650001, however, the {VZOR 50 CAL over Made in CZECHOSLOVAKIA} left side marking was not started until the 4th variation in 1957 after production had been moved to the Uhersky Brod factory at which time the serializarion changed from a 6 digit # to a 5 digit # proceeded by a letter prefix. The VZOR 50 marked pistols are in the “B”, “C”, and “D” series from 1957-70.

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