What is a CZ-52?

CZ-52 or ČZ vzor 52 pistol with 7.62x25mm ammunition.

Česká Zbrojovka vzor 52 pistol and 7.62x25mm Tokarev ammunition.

The Name

What is a CZ-52? Let's start with its name.

The pistol is commonly called the CZ-52 but that isn't really its name. Its real name is the Česká Zbrojovka vzor 52, usually shortened to ČZ vz. 52.

Česká Zbrojovka is Czech for "Czech Armory". You would pronounce it as Cheska Zbroyovka, and to be authentic, a Czech would pronounce ČZ as cha zet.

Vzor, commonly abbreviated as vz., means "model".

So, a literal translation of its full name is the Czech Armory Model 52. Compare that to a name like the Springfield Armory Model 1911.

The CZ-52 was designed by brothers Jan and Jaroslav Kratochvíl.

Česka Zbrojovka factory entrance in Strakonice, Czech Republic.

The entrance to the Česká Zbrojovka factory in Strakonice. Image from Wikimedia Commons


Several Czech firearms makers have used the trading name Česká Zbrojovka, including one established in 1919 in the city of Strakonice as a branch of the Škoda Works Armament company.

ČZ Strakonice is most famous for building motorcycles, having been a prominent builder of them from 1932 through 1997 and still producing automotive parts. ČZ Strakonice was the second largest motorcycle manufacturer in Europe after World War II and through the 1950s and 1960s was among the world's most successful makers of competition and street motorcycles.

ASIN: B0031QVU90


ČZ Strakonice manufactured about 200,000 ČZ vz. 52 pistols from 1952 to 1954. It was used as a military sidearm from 1952 through 1982.

The larger firearms manufacturing operation was Česká Zbrojovka Uhersky Brod, which dates back to 1936. It had been nationalized under communism, but it was privatised in May, 1992. The CZ-USA web site has lots more on the company's history.

Technical Overview

The ČZ vz 52 is a roller-locked short recoil-operated, single-action semi-automatic pistol. It fires the 7.62x25mm Tokarev cartridge and is fed with an 8-round detachable box magazine.


Because of the high power of the cartridge the roller-locking mechanism is rather complicated but strong. The roller lock is composed of the barrel, a locking cam and two rollers. See our hardened rollers to improve your gun's performance and longevity.

When at rest, the pressure of the recoil spring compresses the cam and forces the rollers outward toward the slide. During firing, the rearward motion releases the cam and the continued pressure pushes the rollers out of their detents and allows the slide to travel relative to the barrel. A version of this locking mechanism is used in some modern Heckler & Koch firearms.

How the CZ-52 rollers work

The original military design included either a parkerized finish or gray oxide coating, although some have been arsenal refinished blue in the 1970s. These can be identified by the letters "VOZ" and the year of re-work stamped above the trigger.

Detailed technical description of the CZ-52

The ČZ vz 52 can be converted to fire 9x19mm simply by changing the barrel. Some were retrofitted at the factory with a 9mm barrel, and aftermarket barrels have been available.

The ČZ vz 52 in the original 7.62x25mm is considered a "curio & relic" by the BATFE and is on the C&R list for collectors with a C&R FFL.