Czechoslovakia’s First Pistol: Praga Model 1919

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This is part of Lot 3447 in the upcoming RIA December 2019 Premier auction.

Having gained independence after World War One, Czechoslovakia looked to standardize and improve its armaments. Václav Holek went to work for the Zbrojovka Praga factory in Prague in 1918, and they introduced the Model 1919 pistol the next year. It was purchased by both Czech military and police forces, as well as selling commercially. The Army bought 5,000 in 1919 and another 4,600 in 1921. Early models have a script slide legend, which changed to block letters later in production. Some also have large lanyard loops.

Mechanically, the gun is a simple blowback .32 ACP (7.65mm Browning). It uses a shrouded hammer to fire, and has a couple neat mechanical features. The recoil spring is nicely contained for disassembly, and the breechblock drops free for easy assembly or maintenance. However, the Praga factory was poorly managed, and went bankrupt in 1926. Holek would move to the Brno factory and perfect his machine gun design (the ZB-26), and the Czech army would make a more complete rearmament with the vz.22 pistol developed from Josef Nickl’s work at Mauser.

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