Hangfires & Ballistics Gel: Czech vz.52 at the Range

Yesterday we took a look at the vz.52/57 rifle in 7.62x39mm, and today I have one of it’s 7.62x45mm predecessors out at the range. Not so much to do some shooting, as it turns out, but to fix malfunctions and wait for hangfires and duds…

However, we did have enough success to put some 7.62x45mm into ballistics gel and see what it does.

If you want a nice small resource on the 52 and 52/57, check out Donald Woolley’s book:

Also available on Amazon, but he gets less from Amazon sales than from direct ones:


  1. I remember these in Cuba sometime up until 1969 when I emigrated to the US in 1969 at age 14; so, when I had a chance to buy one sans the black crinkle paint for $300 some years back, I did. As you mention, all the ammo is corrosive. Would you review what method you prefer to remove the corrosive salts residue after you shoot it? Thank you!

    • Rey, I used to use Windex or ammonia, rinsed with hot water just like a blackpowder gun, but Ballistol by itself works really well.

      • Thank you, Dan! When I shot cowboy matches, that’s what the BP shooters used too, but I’ll go with the Ballistol solution as per you all’s recommendation.

    • “(…)all the ammo is corrosive(…)”
      Wait, if they planned that from start, why they elected to pair it with annular piston, which seems to be more complicated to clean than just gas tube?

  2. If you don’t mind an answer from the crowd, a 50/50 mixture of Ballistol and water seems to be the universally favored answer. Especially if you can spray or swab some down the barrel as soon as possible after shooting. See C&Rsenal, InrangeTV, Bloke on the Range, and a few of the other old gun channels.

  3. Recoil seems sharper on these than an SKS, but the ergonomics are much better. I’d love to have one in 5.56mm.

  4. Ian,

    I must have missed it when you calibrated the clear gel w/ a measured velocity bb.

    Also, the US invasion of Grenada took place in 1982, long after the attack on the 2nd Amendment with the 1968 “Gun Control” Act.

  5. I bought one of these CAI ‘Commando’ versions off the rack at a local gun store on a whim years after they were imported (still have it) and found an interesting surprise hiding under all that black truck bed-liner nonsense.

    Century Arms International’s marketing billed these as South American jungle “Commando” versions of the Vz52 SHE. Their hokey scheme of selling these off as having been some kind of jungle-black-ops carbine was simply too silly to contemplate. It was the equivalent of a bad 1990’s JCrew catalog ad-copy “story” but with a firearm.

    In any case, I removed all the black mess on mine with some epoxy-paint remover, finding NO cracks, chips, dings or anything of that sort – it was a beautiful wood which I then brought back to luster with 220-grit/400 grit/600 grit, to a very smooth marble-like surface, then stained it with a honey-colored stain and lastly a thin coat of amber-colored Shellac as was originally used.

    HOWEVER – one interesting discovery under all that paint was that someone had deliberately scratched the letters “FMLN” into the right side of the butt, and again more clearly into the left side of the fore-end. This likely indicates CAI had sourced these rifles from either El Salvador or Columbia.

    FMLN stood for ‘Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front’ (in Spanish: Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional, FMLN) formed as a parent organization comprising five left-wing communist guerrilla organizations on October 10, 1980 which became a leading arm in the Salvadoran Civil War.

    The FMLN was named after the rebel leader Farabundo Martí, who led workers and peasants in an uprising to transform Salvadoran society after the devastation caused by the eruption of the volcano Izalco in 1932. In retaliation, the military regime led by General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, launched a brutal counterinsurgency campaign, “La Matanza” (“The Massacre”) in killing more than 30,000 people, many innocent victims, as most had been peasants or members of indigenous groups that inhabited El Salvador at the time.

    After peace accords were signed in 1992, all armed FMLN units were demobilized and their organization became a legal political party. The FMLN is now one of the two major political parties in El Salvador, often cited as being “too communist.”

  6. Early 1950s brass cased Czech 9mmp also had pointy steel cores with lead surround and a thin steel jacket that was coated with something bright.

    I never checked out whether it was a tin or a nickel alloy.

    I also don’t know whether the steel cores were simply an economic measure

    or whether they were also intended to give better penetration against helmets, body armour and thin skinned vehicles.

    the 9mm was 30 and 40 years old when I was coming into contact with it, it had duds and hang fires, and was corrosive primed

    At 70 years old, and having been stored goodness knows where in the tropical or desert fourth world, its a wonder that you got any of them to go off.

  7. See if you can sweet talk Steinel Ammo into bringing out original specification 7.62×45 ammo for the people who have these. Steinel loads a nice variety of milsurp ammo in new production and have just added my favorite handgun round, .41 Magnum to the lineup.

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