November 2002

Firing Line: 11/02

CZ-52 Pistol
Re September 2002, “Pistol Showdown: CZ and Tokarevs Match Up In Bargain Test”:

I liked your article on the CZ-52, 7.62x25 pistol. I couldn’t agree more. A tech at Sierra put me onto the CZ-52 several years ago. I thought you might be interested in a little-known item.

Before these pistols left the factory way back when, they were test fired for accuracy. Those found to be very accurate were given a single (small) punch mark on the site rib. Less accurate pistols were given two punch marks. There were some given three punches, and the least accurate but still acceptable for military use was given four punches. It’s very difficult to see these indentations unless you catch it under the light. Check your specimen to see how many indentations are on your pistol. Remember, this only applied when the pistol left the factory back in the 1950s. Today’s accuracy would depend on the number of rounds through the barrel and the care given the pistol over the last 50-plus years.

-Gary M. Burchner
Fallentimber, PA

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7.62x25 Ammo
Re September 2002, “Pistol Showdown: CZ and Tokarevs Match Up In Bargain Test”:

“Old Russian surplus 86-grain FMJ” was one of the rounds used in testing the TT-33s and CZ-52. Common Czech surplus ammo is often mistaken as Russian surplus, and I wonder if the old Czech stuff is what you guys used; Russian surplus does not have the reputation as hot stuff, but the Czech stuff does, and your test showed the Russian stuff as hotter than either the S&B or Redbox. Common Czech surplus 7.62x25 will have three marks on the bottom. A single digit number, usually a “1.” A one-third turn clockwise from this single-digit number will be the year of manufacture. The stuff that’s going around now will be early to mid-1950s.

Another third of a turn, and there will be the marking, “bxn”. This stuff comes in boxes of 40, five stripper clips of eight rounds. I only mention this because this Czech ammo is all over the market for dirt cheap, and wondered if you guys had been fooled. I agree with your analysis of the CZ-52, it is a very nice gun. One thing your article did not mention, and unless you’re big into ex-combloc military surplus you wouldn’t know, is that the firing pin has a reputation as being fragile. Normal firing is just fine, they’ll last for years, but don’t dry-fire the CZ-52. Stronger firing pin replacements are available all over, but it’s best not to break them in the first place.

-Dana Booth
@makarov.ath.cx


The ammo we had that we correctly called Russian came in paper-board boxes of 70 cartridges, with Cyrillic (Russian) markings on the box. The ammo had sealed primers. The headstamp included four markings, one of which was a five-pointed star. The more recent ammo used in our test was from a different supplier and had obviously been repackaged. That mixed-headstamp ammo did not have sealed primers, though some of the headstamps were similar to the Russian ammo.

Though we haven’t seen any of the “hot” Czech ammo, I’d suggest shooters be very careful with it. Per my report about the information I found on Czech ammo, some of it would be way too hot for anything but the CZ-52 (1600 fps).

I specifically told readers to not dry-fire the CZ-52 because of reports the firing pins are fragile.

-Ray Ordorica

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CZ Is Impressive
Re September 2002, “Pistol Showdown: CZ and Tokarevs Match Up In Bargain Test”:

Gun Tests’ review of the CZ and Tokarevs did shooters a real service by pointing out something that some of us have known for quite a while: That you don’t have to sell your favorite dog in order to buy a serviceable, well-made, fun-to-shoot handgun. Much to their own disservice, many shooters tend to think that all inexpensive imported guns are somehow undeserving of their consideration, being merely so much junk. A wise gun-dealer friend set me straight on that score several years ago.

At his urging, I bought a Makarov, a Chinese Tokarev 9mm, and a CZ52. The combined cost of all three was far less than the single cost of most of my other guns. The CZ 52 is worth the price just for its “fun factor.” Believe me, when you touch off that baby at an indoor range, you get attention and lots of questions!

You had better have lots of ammo (fortunately ,it is cheap), because I guarantee that almost everyone will want to try it. I love to watch other shooters’s reactions to the big muzzle flash and the Casull-like report. Recently, while shooting with some SWAT-cop friends, the Glocks, SIGs, Kimbers, etc., were put aside while they argued over who got to shoot my CZ-52. And after shooting up all my ammo, the ingrates still would not fix my ticket.

-Lee Fowble
Edmonds, WA

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Roller Recoil System
Re September 2002, “Pistol Showdown: CZ and Tokarevs Match Up In Bargain Test”:

Just a note on the delayed-recoil operating system (roller type). In 1939, the German army invaded Poland and captured a prototype machine gun designed by Edward Stacke. Stacke’s prototype featured a two-piece bolt with a roller-type delayed operating system. The German weapons industry used Stacke’s prototype roller-bolt design to produce the MG-42. Another weapon, the STG 45(m) assault rifle, used a delayed-recoil operating system similar to Edward Stacke’s design. The German designer of the STG 45(m) moved to Spain by way of France, and in 1950 designed the CETME rifle. The CETME rifle used a delayed-recoil operating system similar to the STG(m). In 1957 Germany purchased the rights to manufacture the CETME rifle and awarded the manufacturing contract to Heckler & Koch. The rest is history.

-R.B. Nix
@mail.Ev1.Net

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Pocket Defense Guns
Re July 2002, “Derringer Match-Up: Are These Pocket Guns For You?”:

Your publication did a good job of evaluating the American Derringer versus the Bond Arms. Your magazine was very factual and thorough in stating safety and other features. The article stated very favorable things about Bond Arms’ quality, usability, and safety. This lets me know that Bond Arms mission has been met to build a Remington-style derringer that is safer, easier to use, and of higher quality than has been available.

I would like to point out the feature of the article that was a bit disconcerting. I have been a longtime subscriber of Gun Tests and understand your mission: truthful, honest evaluations of firearms. The problem I have with this article is the subjective editorializing at the beginning. The first four paragraphs of the article paints derringer owners as “gamblers, no-gooders, and unmanly malcontents.” This is an offense to derringer owners. My customer base is made up of professionals, business owners, and other law-abiding citizens.

My original model of gun was the Texas Defender with the removable trigger guard. But the Cowboy Action shooters petitioned me to build the Cowboy model to their specification, a derringer without the trigger guard. The overwhelming majority of guns sold to SASS members are the Cowboy Defenders. I realize that your personal opinion agrees with mine that the Texas Defender with the trigger guard is the better chioce for general shooting. But the 2001 and 2002 World Championships at End of Trail were both won with Bond Cowboy Defenders.

I must admit to being somewhat puzzled. Your technical review cites several excellent points about both the Texas Defender and the Cowboy Defender, and both parts of the review favorably compare my derringer to those from the other manufacturer, but your recommendation seems to ignore your own research and findings. The editorializing at the beginning of the article was derringer negative, even though the Bond Arms evaluation was positive.

Please allow me to recap the derringer concept: the Bond Arms Remington style derringer is a purpose-built handgun for people who want to shoot major-powered ammunition (.45 Colt, .410 shotshell, .44 mag, .357 mag, etc.) in a pocket pistol. It is not comparable to a 1911 or any other firearm except in the most general terms.

There have always been alternatives to derringers, and the derringer market has always been a niche market. But the Remington-style derringer has been in continous production for over 136 years and has outlived such favorites as the broomhandle Mauser, Walther P38, and the A5 Browning shotgun. There are a lot of derringer people out there, and my job is to build the best possible gun for them. If history is any indication of the future, the Remington-style derringer will outlast both of us.

-Greg Bond
Bond Arms, Inc.
Granbury, TX


What we actually said was, “...that’s how we begin this evaluation of four pocket guns, which, at least historically, have been viewed as appropriate carry pieces for gamblers, ne’er-do-wells, and other malcontents....” In our eyes, that doesn’t malign current derringer owners in the least. We go on to say that for the self-defense shooter, there are other, better options, in our view, but that derringers are fun and have a place in Cowboy Action shooting.

-Todd Woodard

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1911s Not So Special?
Re July 2002, “Full-Size .45 ACPs: Valtro Tops Our 1911 Field”:

I keep seeing these letters from people who buy one brand or another of 1911 autoloading .45 ACP pistols. No matter how much they pay, they have jamming problems until they spend $1,500 to $2,000 for modifications and/or aftermarket parts, followed by shooting the total .45 ACP ammunition output of all U.S. ammo manufacturers for a six-week period.

Gee, I feel left out. I took my SIG P220 out of the box, put ammunition into the OEM magazine and then put holes in my targets where I aimed the gun. It never jams or gives trouble with any ammo. It will even function most of the time with snake-shot loads, which are not supposed to work the action on an autoloader. I haven’t needed to buy any aftermarket parts or modifications. When it needs cleaning, I don’t need special tools or three hands. I don’t need to carry it “cocked-and-locked” and hope nothing breaks. And if I need it for personal defense, I can hold it on a miscreant with the trigger in double-action mode, where my adrenaline rush won’t result in an accidental discharge; 95 percent of the time that is the maximum level of force required in a criminal vs. armed civilian or police officer confrontation. Let’s relegate the 1911 to target ranges and other competitions, and use improved pistols in the real world!

-Ben Shaw
Grove Hill, AL

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Where’s the FEG
Re August 2002, “Hi-Power Showdown: Browning Wins Out”:

I agree totally that the FEG PJK-9HP should have been tested with other Hi-Powers. Perhaps it can be in future. I am amazed that people are afraid of Hi-Power clones, but totally accept clones of 1911s, ARs etc. I think the problem is people do not know who FEG is. This is not an issue in Europe. Not many know that FEG made Hi-Powers marked and sold as Mauser. I’m sure Mauser is particular as to quality when its name is on a gun.

On the .45 Auto Rim issues: I think S&W is putting out bum dope if they say the extractor doesn’t hit the rim. Also, it is impossible to put .45 AR into clips, depending on the brand. Remington has full-diameter case right to rim (0.473 inch). The clip is designed to go into the extraction groove, much less diameter than case body. Also, PMC is selling a new .45 AR round; I bought two boxes this week.

-Robert Kellner
@hotmail.com

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Century Arms R1A1 Sporter Rifle
Re September 2002, “FAL Rifle Test: Do Less Expensive Models Make Sense For You?”:

Four days before receiving the September issue I purchased a Century Arms R1A1. I suppose that I would have still purchased it even after reading your evaluation, but I may have given it a bit more thought. I purchased it from Federal Arms in Fridley, Minnesota, so I was able to receive the dealer price ($389) on it, which reduces the sting. I also purchased used inch magazines in good to very good condition for $5 apiece, so that part was somewhat better than your article indicated.

Now to the problem. The rifle doesn’t chamber rounds manually (I have yet to take it to the range); it appears that the tip of the bullet is hitting just below the chamber. There is no ramp of any sort, so the bullet just stops, jamming the bolt and of course making a semi-automatic not automatic at all. I have emailed Century Arms requesting any suggestions that they might have and have yet to receive a reply. I thought that I might check with you and see if you have any thoughts other than to throw it away. I had expected that I would have to tinker with the rifle a bit and had in fact looked forward to it (I am obviously not going to use this rifle for anything serious or else I would have bought an M1A). I had expected that it would perform the basic functions of feeding, firing and extracting straight from the box, however.

Do you have any recommendations in terms of what could be going on and how I should approach it? Your rifle had feeding problems with the inch magazines at times, but at least it seems you got part way through the magazine before problems arose. Do you think the magazines sit too low, or would it help to Dremel a small ramp at the base of the chamber?

-David R. Moody
@yahoo.com


Your problem is very similar to what we encountered. The cycling bolt of our test rifle drove some of the bullets into the cases when they struck the front wall of the magazine. It appeared to me that a possible solution would have been to somehow arrange for the magazines to sit higher in the action, so the front ends of the bullets would get past the front wall of the magazine cutout. A second solution, which I can’t properly assess because I no longer have access to the rifles, might be to increase the depth of the ramp. A good gunsmith may be able to advise you about that.

It may be easier to modify the magazines to rise slightly higher within the magazine well. Whatever you do, it seems to me that the seller of the rifle ought to make it right somehow.

-Ray Ordorica

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Porting Fan
Re March 2001, “Mag-Na-Port Adds Comfort and Control,” and September 2002, “Ported Vs. Nonported: Six-Way Revolver Test”:

After your excellent article concerning the Mag-Na-Porting of my S&W Model 60 2-inch stainless revolver, I decided to Mag-Na-Port my new ultralight S&W 342PD.

I am pleased to report that the results have been outstanding. The porting, a two-stage process with these titanium alloy/steel-insert barrels, was cleanly done with no rough edges under microscopic examination. The perceived recoil has been reduced 20 to 25 percent with a substantial reduction in muzzle flip. Before porting, this ultralight revolver was unpleasant to shoot. Not necessarily a bad thing for a self-defense weapon when used in an actual confrontation; however, to maintain one’s proficiency with any firearm, one must practice on a regular basis.

Before porting, I was ready to quit after 25 rounds and had one really sore hand. After porting I went through 100 rounds and had to quit just to get back to court on time. While still a handful to shoot, especially with grips designed for concealment, I have a heightened confidence in the handling of this revolver and my ability to shoot it quickly and accurately. I will be sending Mag-Na-Port my Glock 27 next week.

-Name Withheld
Los Angeles, CA