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Romania Copies the Jericho: Cugir Models 95 & 98

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By the end of communism in Romania in 1989, the standard service pistols for the army and police were still the old Tokarevs and the Cugir Model 74 “Carpați” Walther PP copy. These were obviously outdated, and as it moved more towards the West, the Romanian military wanted a modern handgun. In 1992 they assessed what was available, and decided to make a domestic copy of the IMI Jericho, with a few minor tweaks. The process of reverse engineering the design took until 1995, when production began on an order of 10,000 for the Army as the Model 95.

The guns performed well, but were considered too heavy. When the Romanian police decided to adopt the pistol in 1998 and placed an order themselves, they asked Cugir to reduce the weight. This was done by eliminating metal in several different places, most notably shorting the full-length frame dust cover and replacing the steel grip backstrap with a more skeletonized design covered by a wraparound grip. This shaved a few ounces off the gun, and 5,000 were made as the Model 98. In addition, a few manufacturing changes were made during this production run, most notably moving from chrome-lined barrels to hard nitrided barrels.

Production of the guns ceased in the mid 2000s, until the Army requested another small batch in 2021. By this time Romanian industry had moved form Russia material standards to Western ones, and much of the TDP had to be reworked to accommodate the materials now available. Once that was done, 1100 were produced – 1,000 for the Army and 100 as a commemorative batch for ANCA, the Romanian national arms collectors’ association. These remain the standard service pistol for Romanian army and police forces, although they have not entirely replaced the Model 74 today.

Thanks to Uzina Mecanica Cugir S.A. for giving me access to these pistols for filming, and to A.N.C.A., the Romanian national firearms collectors’ association, for organizing the trip that made this video possible!

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