The CZ-52 really isn’t a forgotten weapons yet, but it is a pretty interesting gun mechanically, and well worth taking a look at. About 200,000 of them were made in Czechoslovakia from 1952 to 1954, and they served as that country’s standard military sidearm for several decades (which the rest of the Warsaw Pact bloc used the TT33 Tokarev pistol). Czechoslovakia has a long and outstanding tradition of arms design and manufacture, and they kept it going through the Cold War, developing and issuing the vz52 and vz58 rifles and the vz59 light machine gun, as well as the 52 pistol.

The CZ-52 looks like a pretty ungainly weapon, but don’t let that prevent you from giving it a chance. The grip angle is not to many peoples’ liking, but I find it to be a pretty comfortable pistol to shoot. The bore axis is relatively high and causes more muzzle jump than one would like, but the wide grip does a good job of distributing recoil energy and preventing shooter fatigue. Its single-action trigger gives a good break, and it is one of few single-action designs to incorporate a decocker as well as a manual safety (a feature I neglected to mention in the video, whoops).

Mechanically, the CZ-52 is a recoil operated, roller locked design. This is the same concept as the MG-42 machine gun, and not the roller-delayed blowback of the HK-91 family of rifles and the HK P9 pistols. It is a reliable, durable, and overall very effective design for a service pistol. You can still find CZ-52 pistols available today in the $250-$275 range, and they are an excellent deal for that price.



  1. I have one, like it. I have read that the Czecks loaded this round for their submachine guns, and that the pistol was regulated to fire the same ammo. I don’t know if this is true or not, but the surplus Chinese ammo I have sometimes jams, and it is a bugger to clear. All the ammo I have seen is berdan, so I’ll be getting a set of dies, and a hobby lathe, and start making my own out of .38 Special cases. Same head diameter. I found that neat. Turn the rim, recut extractor groove, cut to length and full length resize. An interesting project. By the way, my pistol is a tack-driver. I’m no great shot, but I was amazed how accurate it was. The thing hit exactly where I pointed it every time. Really like this gun.

    • All that work to adapt the 38S&W Special rimmed cases to 7.62Tok, when you can use the PILES of .223Rem cases lying around @ the range? Back before reloadable brass in 7.62Tok was available, the hot ticket was reusing .223 [split neck? No problemo!] by cutting it to rough length, annealing and forming via the sizing die & cutting to finish length. Done. Since the .223 shares base diameter w/ the 9mmP [as does 7.62Tok: both it & 9mmP are derived from the older 7.62x25mm Borchardt] there’s none of that lathe work needed to remove rims & cut an extractor groove…

  2. I purchased a brand new unissued VZ-52 from Czech Point about two years ago with a new holster.I have three guns in 762×25 and thousands of rounds of new and surplus ammo.It is very well made like my five other CZ/Brno firearms.

    Shawn Hauser

  3. MikeyM: No, No, No!!!
    CZ-52 were made at first for 9mm luger .Then, after communist revolution and soviet “military advisors” came, there was unification for tokarev. So pistol were redesigned for tokarev round. Why I’m talking about this?
    Thing is, that this round was (at first) not designed for 9mm. And after redesign, the gun is able to withstand standart tokarev round, but not anything more.
    Problem is, that in Czechoslovka military there was also SMG VZ-26 (ancestor of UZI btw.), which was chambered on tokarev but there were produced special, more powerfull rounds for it.
    That was OK, but problem came when some stupid conscript showed those “P+” rounds to pistol, which was hardly withstanding pressure of standard Tokarev. This is quite dangerous, as it could lead to cracking of gun and in worst case to failure. It’s said that CZ-52 can withstand only about 100 of such rounds.
    So when buying one, I recommend to double-check for cracks, that could be quite dangerous!!
    Otherwise it should serve well 🙂
    Also czech tokarevs are usually made in fifties so they are quite old.

  4. I purchased a CZ 52 on March 1st 2014. I have fired 250 plus rounds of military surplus ammo. I paid$16 per 50 rounds, including tax.I absolutely love this pistol.I have not had a single failure of any kind.It is a unique and well constructed weapons.Ironically, mine was made in 1954, which is the same year I was born!!! It is extremely easy to disassemble and reassemble.And I really like the fact that it is all steel weapon

  5. Hi.l have read your article on the CZ52. Can you tell me if there is a CZ 53. If so please let me know where to find that information.
    Many thanks.

  6. My brother has one, it will shoot a bullet through just about anything.
    box O’ Truth showed where the round would go through a PASG helmet.

  7. About 20 years ago, I got a Tokarev and some ammo. Mauser ammo. No fun.
    So, I consulted the “Big Book of Cartridge Conversions” and found two pathways: .223 or .357.
    I chose the .357 route, as I did not like the idea of shaving cartridge walls to thickness.
    Made a fullse tof tooling: forming die, collet-crimp, all that stuff!
    More later!

  8. Why does the top of the page say VZ-52 (a semi auto gas operated falling breech block rifle), when its about the CZ-52 (a semi auto blowback operated roller locked pistol). These two firearms have nothing in common, at all.

  9. The gun does not need to be pulled out of battery to for disassembly. Simply pull down on the mechanism and it pops apart. It is literally the simplest gun to disassemble and reassemble that ive ever seen. The hard part is removing the barrel entirely which i use either a flat screwdriver or the heel of a cartridge. Theres a little shelf you can see in the video. Push the barrel forward until the rollers clear a cutout a bit forward of where they unlock the barrel and lift up on the back of the barrel and out the assembly comes to the rear. Pretty awesome design and fairly accurate as the barrel moves in a linear fashion instead of the tt33 which has a traditional tilting browning design lockup. Ive heard its a weaker design than that, but ive shot many thousands of rounds through mine. In fact it was my first pistol i bought for $86 back in the day. Id spend the 250 to 300 for a new one now. Do not dry fire the gun. It will break the cast firing pin because the originals were designed with shoulders that hit the back of the breech face. Mine came with a spare firing pin which luckily i never needed.

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