Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We'll Never See A Bargain Like This Again

Gun post, Just being up front about it.

About five years ago the US was flooded by imports of a sixty year old communist block pistol called the CZ 52, or vz 52. In the early 1950s somewhere around 200,000 of them were manufactured for the Czechoslovakian military to replace an underpowered pistol that proved unsatisfactory for them. For some reason, for a time, the CZ 52 was imported by the tens of thousands and was being sold all over the internet.

Foreign military surplus weapons find a welcome home in the states with shooters and collectors. Generally they're inexpensive and sort of looked down on by "serious" shooters and thought of as inferior, ancient technology, not even close to modern whiz bang, and much more expensive, Glocks and Berettas and Kimbers. Milsurps, as gun culture calls military surplus, wind up as curios at gun shows and sit in gun safes to be taken out every now and then to be shot or maybe inspected and cleaned. Certainly, as it's been said, you'd be nuts to carry an old reject as a concealed weapon. Inexpensive rifles have been dandy for a cheap way to get into hunting deer, but that's another story. There are things about the old CZ 52 pistol that made it the most fantastic gun bargain ever.

First a little background. American shooters have always preferred big bore handguns. The standards in the 1800s were the .44s and 45s. One of the first revolvers ever made was the Colt Walker, a five pound monster made in 1847 that except for some uncommon specialties was the most powerful handgun in existence for almost 100 years, until the advent of the .357 magnum in the 1930s. American military chose the .45 caliber 1911 as the standard issue firearm. Big bores were where it was at, son, and smaller handguns just didn't cut the mustard. When the american services switched to 9 mm from the .45 in the 1980s to conform to NATO standards, you would have thought the world came to a halt. In gun circles the 1911 has achieved mythic status, there's a nostalgia factor involved here and .45 caliber is always touted as america's favorite, etc etc.

Here's where it gets interesting. Certainly a big bullet means a big destructive hole but it comes at a price. Large projectiles physically move at slower speeds which mean less penetration. There are some ways around this with modern technology, and police/military ammo take advantage of it, but in general .45 rounds make a big initial splash but don't travel very far in medium. This was probably why american military forces chose a much smaller and much faster rifle caliber, the .223, for the M16 and clones as standard issue. So this country's military and by extension the gun culture, for whatever reason, decided on big and slow for handguns and small and fast for long guns.

Back to the CZ 52. It's cartridge is the 7.62x25, a bottleneck .30 caliber, which means the casing diameter expands behind the bullet to hold a lot of gunpowder.

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This is a very powerful round of ammunition. It was developed for sheer penetration in the old Soviet empire because, well, it's freaking cold in those countries and soldiers wear a lot of clothing. It's .30 caliber bullet can exit the CZ 52 and other pistols at over 1700 feet per second, a smoking fast velocity. Terminal energy can exceed the vaunted .357 magnum. But with the big bore fixation in the US a relatively small caliber handgun round like this was poo pooed as inferior to the mighty .45 and others. Add the fact that guns chambered for this round are all supposedly obsolete foreign commie pieces of trash compared to superior american steel and this caliber along with it's platforms was considerably overlooked. Nobody bought them.

Which meant the CZ 52 sold for dirt cheap. I bought mine on the intertubes for the grand total of $119, plus shipping. Ammo was, and actually still is, extremely inexpensive, especially now with other handgun calibers going for 3 to 4 times the cost.

One of the best things I ever did, because all of a sudden in the last couple of years people have seen the light about smaller handgun calibers. Not only is ammo, on average, cheaper for smaller, but you can stuff magazines chockablock with cartridges. FN has it's five-seven, which holds 20 speedy little cartridges. Later this year Kel-Tec is going to offer a pistol that holds 30 rounds of .22 magnum in the magazine. Technology advanced for all calibers and suddenly that big bore fetish isn't the only game in town. Approval of this new direction is growing, and of course it's gonna cost.

But there's one inescapable reason that small, speedy and immensely destructive bullets have boomed in popularity.
They defeat body armor.
I once had a cop neighbor who was a good friend that I went shooting with down in the cop shop basement range. He allowed me to know that police are more than a little concerned about this.

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my cold, commie steal

Smaller bullets can penetrate a vest's fibers, and of course the faster one goes the more apt it will be to do so. Just for the record any 7.62x25 round will whistle through a type 2 vest like a hot knife through butter and may defeat a type 3a. With easily available surplus steel core armor piercing rounds, forget it.

Availability of the CZ 52 is limited now. Apparently dealers can't bring any nore lots into the country for sale and prices are reflective of that fact. Russian TT 30s which shoot the same ammo are still around and are a good buy for around $200, but personally I think the CZ is a much better gun. You can get 7.62x25 ammunition for $130 a can with over 1200 rounds in it but that's sure to jump soon. I enjoy shooting, and I really have a blast, pun intended, with this bargain hand cannon that's older than I am.

2 Comments:

OpenID raji007 said...

i liked it..

cannon gun safe

31/1/10 11:08 PM  
Blogger nolocontendere said...

Not only was this pistol a steal but it's drop dead reliable. Aside from the odd primer in all the old surplus ammo I've fed it, the gun mechanism has never failed with a thousand rounds through it, not once.

2/2/10 6:26 AM  

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