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Origins of the vz.82: A Western Pistol for Communist Czechoslovakia

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The vz.82 and its cousin the CZ 83 are pistols that originated when the Czech state export company during the Cold War began looking for arms it could export to bring in hard currency. The current service pistol, the vz.52, was, shall we say, not widely desirable and its 7.62x25mm cartridge was not widely used outside the Warsaw Pact anyway. The earlier vz.50 and vz.70 pistols were also not really suitable, as they were old and rather clunky designs. Something new was needed that could appeal to customers worldwide.

So, the export firm approaches the state arms factory – CZ – about designing something new. The Ministry of Defense got wind of the project in 1977, and joined in – they also wanted a new pistol – specifically something in 9x18mm Makarov. In 1978 the Czech Ministry of the Interior also joins in, looking for a new pistol for the police. To meet all of these requests, CZ developed a remarkably modern and effective compact pistol which would eventually be made in three different calibers – .32 ACP, .380 ACP, and 9x18mm Makarov.

The first prototypes were completed in 1979, and full scale production began in 1982. Today we are looking at specifically a very early prototype vz.82 in 9x18mm (with a decocking mechanism that would later be dropped from the design) and the standard production vz.82.

The 9x18mm pistols were designated vz.82, and they used polygonal rifling because they were initially developed for a unique Czech 9x18mm cartridge which used a sintered iron bullet. That would cause undue wear on traditional rifling, and so polygonal rifling was chosen instead. The cartridge was eventually scrapped, but the rifling choice remained. The guns in .32 and .380 were designated the CZ 83, and used traditional rifling. Large numbers of both have come into the US in recent years as surplus.

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