Category Archives: Pistols and Revolvers

A Roundup of Glockery from KD4

Kyle Defoor has been posting some interesting Glock stuff lately, good and less good. Some of this applies to Glocks alone, but some of it can be extrapolated to other pistols and even other firearm types.

The Well Accessorized G19

Here’s an interesting rig: Aimpoint Micro T2 in a Balor mount and light on a G19 with the red-dot-ready slide. In this image it has a Streamlight TLR-1 and a stock Glock barrel, but he also runs it with a Gemtech barrel and suppressor. By the time the suppressor is on it, why a G19 and not a 17? Thing’s a horse pistol. Mind you, it’s a horse pistol set up for not-too-loud rapid work, mostly indoors. For most users, G17 and G19 is a distinction without a difference; the 19’s a bit more concealable, if you’re not going to accessorize it to near-carbine size. (If you’re in ICE, though, the 19 is forbidden fruit).

g19-aimpoint

Asked about what it took to get the mount to fit with the T2, KD4 replied, “a little grinding.” Otherwise, the G19 is fairly stock, with some stippling, but few of the common modifications (no extended slide stop or mag release, for example).

Maybe Centered != Zeroed

Unlike many (most?) pistol users, he’s a big believe in sighting in the pistol, and adjusting the sights to zero the pistol, rather than just live with the factory sight installation or use a mechanical-zero method or centering, or some kind of boresighting approach. That sometimes means your “fixed” sights won’t be centered when they’re fixed appropriately. As he puts it with hashtag poetry: #notcentered #shootsstraight.

off-center-glock-sight

It’s all about accuracy. Any Glock or modern service pistol has more innate precision than the guys shooting it, but for that precision to be accuracy it has to shoot to point of aim. Many people think, “at pistol ranges, so what if i’m off a few inches/centimeters? Minute of bad guy is minute of bad guy.” Look at it this way: you are better off having accuracy you don’t need, than needing accuracy you don’t have.

This is especially true when you consider how combat itself will degrade your accuracy. It is much harder to shoot straight when your heart rate rises to allegro and beyond.

The Dreaded Glock “Face-Off”

Then, the bad. Kyle hadn’t seen this before, but others have, and it’s been an occasional subject on forums like pistol-training, glock forum and glock-talk. Yes, if you dry-fire a Glock a whole lot you can get some pretty weird failure modes, like the whole freaking breechface coming off. 

glock-face-off-kd4

In case you’re not up on Glock topography and immediately up on what you’re seeing, the upper half of the picture is looking aft from off the front side of the slide, and you can see a truncated-conical divot has been dry-fired clean out of the breech of the pistol. The lower half is the divot. These happen from time to time in heavily dry-fired Glock firearms, and the way to forestall them is to use dummy rounds or snap-caps for dry-firing so that the striker (or firing pin) stops in the “primer” substitute, not by slamming its shoulders into the back of the thin breech face. Snap caps have several other benefits, but Glock users should probably just get a SIRT trainer which removes the necessity to cycle the whole slide to get a trigger reset.

Glocks, like AKs, are extremely reliable and durable, which leads to a general perception that they’re indestructible. That’s not a correct perception, as they’re not (neither are AKs). They’re just more tolerant of abuse and neglect than most of their competitors, which is certainly something.

One of these Guns is Not Like the Others

Sing along with us, kids:

One of these guns is not like the others;
One of these guns just doesn’t belong.
Can you guess which gun is not like the others,
Before I finish my song?

(Puzzled international readers, that’s from a long-running and hell-for-saccharine TV kids’ “educational” show which everybody’s mother made him watch at least a few times). Now that we’ve had our sing-along, here’s the photo. Which one doesn’t belong?

ghanahomemadeguns

The photo ran a couple months ago in the always entertaining Impro Guns website, with this heading:

Locally produced firearms seized in Ghana

And all of the pistol-things on the table are, indeed, the sort of thing you’d expect from Ghanaian village blacksmiths — except the Luger P.08 that’s the second one back on the right.

Wonder what its story is? Unfortunately, some Ghanaian copper has probably already either thrown it into a smelter, or sold it back onto the black market.

The constant panoply of odd creations that turn up on Impro Guns illustrate many things, but one of the major ones is, “What a simple machine a gun is to build,” and another, “How universal the desire for firearms is,” Most of these improvised guns are made where strict gun control reigns, or tries to. A great many of them are made by criminals and terrorists. Others, however, seem to be the product of hobbyists, and still others, made by or for people who simply feel a need for self-defense, a need that is never met perfectly by The State.

Indeed, in most strict gun control jurisdictions, the state makes nearly no effort to step in and defend its disarmed populace. Look at LA or Chicago, with hundreds and thousands of murders respectively, most of which go unsolved even though none of them seem to be committed by criminal masterminds. So at some point, the peaceable and formerly law-abiding person breaks out and builds himself, or has built for himself, a tool of self defense.

The criminal element, meanwhile, skips simple defensive handguns and long guns, and goes right to making suppressed automatic weapons, as the police in Australia have discovered. The Australian gun ban (semi-autos and pump and lever shotguns) has not seriously inconvenienced the criminal element, which is well armed with auto weapons on the conceptual level of the Sten or Mac-10. Criminals used to avoid these weapons because of the disparity in consequences for getting caught with one, vis-a-vis a revolver. Now, a criminal is as well hung for a sheep as a lamb, and goes direct to St. Valentine’s Massacre capability.

The only consequences you can always count on are unintended consequences.

Note: we’re still running late here, over 12 hours behind schedule, for which we beg your forbearance. Your Humble Blogger has been a bit under the weather, and dealing with it by drinking plenty of fluids, skipping PT (unfortunately) and spending plenty of time snoring in the recliner with Small Dog Mk II. These are wondrous and joyful activities indeed, but they don’t get the blog written on schedule. Bear with us — Ed.

Is Yoshitomo Imura Out of Prison… and Tweeting?

The Japanese 3D Printed gun inventor was arrested in May 2014 and sentenced to two years in prison in October of that same year, for posting a video on YouTube which showed him firing a 3D printed gun of his own design. This is that video.

Imura’s Zig Zag revolver (he named it so, because of the similarity of its lockwork to the 19th Century Mauser Zig Zag revolver) was only designed and manufactured to shoot blanks, and that’s all it ever did, but that didn’t stop Japanese officialdom landing on him with both tabi. 

Prosecutors for the case argued that Imura could have caused major damage to society as he had made data for the 3D models of his firearms easily available on the internet.

Imura-san’s sentence seems to be up, a little bit ahead of time. Or, at least, someone claiming to be him is tweeting up a storm in both English and (mildly broken, probably robotranslated) Japanese using the handle Yoshitomo Imura. (Hmmm. Wouldn’t a Japanese say he is Imura Yoshitomo?) The bulk of his tweets stake out a principled and absolute position in favor of a borderless, international and unalienable natural right to bear arms.


Among his follows are conservative and libertarian-leaning politicians worldwide, including Texas Governor Rick Perry.

It’s worth keeping an eye on the doings of this martyr for freedom and former prisoner of conscience.

 

Meet Erika

Erika’s a mere slip of a girl, skinny as a rail…

erika-04

Even from behind, she’s a skinny one. Baby don’t got back, as some singer never sang.

erika-05

She’s also got an odd profile, hasn’t she?

erika-02

She fires the inconsequential 4.25 mm Liliput cartridge, a fraction the size of the 6.35 (.25 ACP) you see above it.

erika-09

And yes, the magazine is in front of the grip, for reasons known but to the designer. Of course, that makes it difficult to change magazines while holding the firearm, but then, when have you ever seen any interwar pocket pistol with a spare magazine?

erika-08

The 4.25 has a muzzle energy of 17 foot-pounds — more than a sneeze, and less than a CB cap.  While the frame is unique in its form, the slide is a little reminiscent of the 1900 Browning, with the barrel below the recoil spring, but the slide is only the rear part (like a Woodsman or Hi Standard target pistol’s), because Browning’s slide patent was still in force.

erika-07

Erika was an interwar Austrian pocket pistol that was as a small as a .25, but with less than half the power: astounding no one, she was a commercial failure, making these oddball pistols rare today. This one showed up at Gun Broker at an initial bid asked of $1,800, which produced from us a snort slightly more powerful than the 4.25 Lilliput round.

Rare Austrian Erika pistol in 4.25mm. Gun is missing safety lever, otherwise in excellent condition. Original bluing about 95+%. Very hard gun to found especially in high condition.

As mentioned, this example is not perfect, missing the safety which would have ridden below the slide on the left half of the pistol:

erika-01

About a year ago, Ian had a video on one of these pistols that was, then, up for auction at Rock Island. It’s typically a very informative video, with lots of details on the ingenious and tiny mechanism inside. Highly recommended! And there are some interesting images and some roughly robo-translated text at a Russian website.

An Interesting P.38 — and What’s Different About Collectors?

This interesting Walther P.38 up for auction is interesting both due to the quality of the listing — there are over 100 pictures with it (also available here, which may require you to accept a certificate mismatch) — and the degree to which small details drive the collector market (or try to). This particular pistol presents as an ordinary, Walther-made, 1943-production P.38.

p38-ac-43

What makes it unique, and a bestower of bragging rights on the owner, is that it is the highest known pistol of Walther’s 1943 production. In that year the pistols were marked, “ac 43” and serial number, and Walther serial numbers were one to four digits and a letter suffix (all running in numeric and alphabetic succession, with Teutonic precision). Previous reference sources have documented ac 43 “Third Variation” production from serial numbers 218m to 7932n. This pistol is 9248n, and records suggest it was made in December, 1943, after which month Walther transitioned to marking pistols ac 44.

p38-9248n-ac-43

It may have been the last one made that year; it’s definitely the last one to turn up so far. 

p38-9248n-ac-43-front

It’s a nice condition, all matching example, but the buy-it-now is set at $1,700, which suggests that the reserve (unmet at press time) is also high.

p38-9248n-ac-43-right

(For the record, “First Variation ac43” production ran from ac 43 1 to ac 43 8xxxg from Jan 43-Jun 43, and “Second Variation ac 43” from approximately ac 43 9000g and ends in the -l or -m range, made from June to October. Third variation was produced from about Oct 43 to Dec 43. If you were fuzzy on the three variations of 1943 Walther-built P.38s, you’re not alone, but as in all things Nazi, they’ve been exhaustively researched. The auction says this of the differences:

The Second Variation differs from the First Variation by the following: 1) the lightening hole in the frame, located in the front of the partition between the take down lever well and trigger well, was omitted; 2) elimination of the narrow secondary extractor spring plunger relief slow on the slide; 3) the left side of the slide’s cavity now included the extractor spring relief cut, which became standard on all subsequent models; and 4) increasing the thickness of the area between the trigger axel hole and the trigger guard to eliminate a weak spot in the frame.

The Third Variation ac43 P.38 differs from the Second Variation in several key respects. First, the previously used stacked code was eliminated and, in its place, the new line code was first introduced. This resulted in a new slide marking configuration: P.38 on the far left on the slide center line, the serial number, which is now just above the center line and beginning at the point of the slide parallel with the breech face, followed by the company code “ac 43.” The second principal difference is that, beginning with the Third Variation, the barrel was now left with the milling marks on the outer surface. Prior to this, the barrel had been polished smooth prior to bluing. This change was undoubtedly implemented to speed production.

With what we know of industrial production, this certainly sounds like collectors are sperging out and trying to bundle normal running production changes, something that happens on every production line for everything, into sets that they call “Variations,” a distinction that would have been quite meaningless to any of the production planners in Wehrmacht ordnance offices or in Walther’s production-engineering spaces.

All these serial number calculations assume, of course, that Walther retired the ac 43 stamp with a ceremony on 31 Dec 43 and opened the new year stamping guns ac 44 — firearms factories don’t often work with such military precision, but maybe all these Germans did. In the real world, stampings and serial numbers often get out of sequence and overlap.

This all matching gun has been bid up only to a low price for an all matching generic P.38, with a few hours to go in the auction (we think it’s very likely to be relisted). But that’s the sort of thing that collectors dig deep into, and one reason many people with quite a few guns don’t think of themselves as capital-C Collectors.

One last note — the collection of well-lit and well-shot pictures is a good look at the internal workings of this very interesting, world’s first DA/SA service pistol, if you’re not already familiar with its many innovations (for its era).

Update

With three hours remaining in the auction, the bid is now $855, and the reserve price remains unmet. The $855 strikes us a low to average price for a superior condition P.38 like this (collectors also prize condition), but we are not experts in the Nazi pistol market. The question is, does the rare nature of this very-late-1943 gun justify its price?  After all, it might be the last known ’43 Walther gun forever, or just until some higher number n-suffix ac 43 firearm turns up. It’s a very nice high-condition wartime P.38, though, and clearly one that hasn’t been buried in a bunker in Belarus for the last seventy years.

When Your Friends Call You a Bond Villain…

…You might as well get the props you need to play the part.

spectre-luger

Here’s the story behind these striking grips:

My roommates have joked for a while that with my choices in guns, cars (German), decor (maps, minimalism), and high tech gadgetry, I clearly aspire to be a Bond Villain.

To further that image, they bought me these grips for my birthday. Hand made in Turkey, they were a couple months delayed due to the geopolitical unrest… But man, was the wait worth it!

The logo is Stirling silver sheet that’s been inlet into the wood, then hammered to shape and glued in place, it’s flush with the surrounding wood.

[M]y roommate is the one who did all the ordering and correspondence, but he got them from http://www.handmadegrips.com/.

From what he said, they were super professional, and really good at communicating through the whole process (even when a coup was going on).

We never had roommates like that… they bought stuff for their own jeezly Lugers.

And here’s the tale behind the Luger:

This was shot before the grips were fully fitted, so they are just lying on it. I thought going a bit artsy to cover up the gaps would be alright, but I guess there’s no pleasing you [censored]s, lol.

The other side is the same pattern. Sadly, this is not a great example of a Luger, it’s got plenty of spots where there was surface rust, and was re-blued cheaply, so there are discoloration spots on the muzzle.

Good news is, because it’s not a museum piece, I have no qualms about taking it to the range and shooting it all the time!

I actually happened across it in my local gun shop. There was a Webley .455 in really good shape that I’d been debating for a while, and I’d finally decided to go for it, went to the bank to grab cash for it, came back, and the Luger was there, right next to the webley, for $645. There was about 3 seconds of thought that went into that purchase!

Both from this thread in Reddit’s /r/guns. (Well, the picture is from Reddituploads, but it’s linked at the Reddit comment thread).

Bohemian Mysteries

In the course of reviewing reference works for the upcoming Firearms of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic 1918-2018. Volume I: Handguns, we came across The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Handguns by Alexander B. Zhuk, a work that was published in 1983 (revised 1990) in Russian as Pistolet i Revolver, and published in English in 1995, as translated by Nikolai N. Bobrov. The English edition was edited by the well-known British firearms historian John Walter.

Zhuk, drawing on reference collections in the former Soviet Union, makes a game attempt at an encyclopedic (i.e., complete) description of all the cartridge handguns of the world, with an emphasis on centerfire and service pistols from 1870 to the date of publication (the English edition says, “to 1995.”) As a result he describes pistols in this volume that are not listed in other books. Our particular study interest at this time is Czech and Czechoslovak pistols, and Zhuk documents several of these Bohemian mysteries that go unreported even in the Czech-language sources. Each of the Zhuk entries has a number and

Unfortunately, Zhuk did not illustrate his book with photographs, but with sketches. Our guess is that this was a consequence of its 1980s genesis, and the historical fact that the Soviet printing industry of 1983 was not up to the US, UK, German, etc. standard of 1883. (Nowadays Russian printers can produce beautiful books, and Russians can get books printed well in China also. But 1983 was a long time ago). The good news is that the sketches do reproduce clearly and are simple to scan. So we will show Zhuk’s sketches with each of these rare firearms. (If you see a photograph in this blog post, it is only for comparison to the sketched firearm).

There are also some small errors in the descriptions and the keying. Whether these errors were made by Zhuk, by Bobrov in translation, or by Walter in the process of editing is unclear but they are small and easily corrected here. So with no further ado, here’s how Zhuk describes the Czechoslovak arms industry:

The first automatic pistols were made almost as soon as the country was created in the aftermath of the First World War. This was partly due to the efforts of Alois Tomiška and Josef Nickl, who had experienced success prior to 1918 with the Little Tom and Nickl-pistole respectively. Nickl, indeed, had worked for Waffenfabrik Mauser for some years. The first locked breech pistol adopted by the Czechoslovak army– The “Pistole N”– was a Nickl design. It was succeeded by a simplified version, known as vz. 24, whilst a blowback derivative (vz. 27) was adopted by the state police force. Large quantities of 6.35 mm pocket pistols we’re also made prior to the Second World War.

That’s generally accurate, although there’s a dozen quibbling points there for the expert. (The “Nickl-pistole” pre-WWI was arguably the Mauser 1910/14 and various Mauser experimentals, although other Mauser engineers like the Feederle brothers contributed — whether more or less than Nickl is lost, but the Mauser-werke design shop seems to have been focused on teamwork and collaboration, not individual credit. And to be truly pedantic, the Pistole N, which was closely based on wartime Mauser prototypes designed by Nickl, was actually the vz 22, and the “vz. 27” was never adopted by the ČS military and therefore the correct nomenclature is CZ 27).

We’re going to list the unique Zhuk-only pistols in order by Zhuk’s entry number (and match the correct image to the description). The order Zhuk used is not entirely clear to us, as it’s neither chronological, nor alphabetical, nor by caliber… so what’s left? Maybe examination of the Russian-language volume will help.

409: ZKR-590 or Grand; Ceskoslovenska Zbrojovka, Brno.

 

zhuk_409_zkr_590_grandZhuk says:

ZKR-590 or Grand; Ceskoslovenska Zbrojovka, Brno. .22 LR rimfire, •357 Magnum or .38 Special; 50mm, 100mm or 125mm barrels (.357 and •38), or 125mm and 150mm barrels (.22). A copy of the Colt swinging- cylinder system. The Mayor (or ‘Major’) is virtually identical with the long-barrelled .22 Grand but has adjustable target- pattern sights. Production apparently ceased in the 1970s.

We knew of this target revolver, as it’s mentioned proudly in all Czech sources (it was used by many national and world champions in Olympic and other bullseye target shooting events in the 1960s and 70s). But we didn’t know about the .22 version (note that his illustration represents a .38 Special example). In retrospect, an Olympic target revolver would be expected to have had a .22 version

1573. Automatická Pistole; Česka Zbrojovka, Prague. .22 Short rimfire.

Zhuk actually has no description of this pistol beyond the single title line, but looking at the picture (which is labeled 1574, but the slide markings can be seen to correspond to # 1573), this little-known pistol clearly is a derivative of the Z Pistol, the former Dušek Duo, the manufacture of which was transferred to ZB after Dušek’s plant in Opočno was nationalized and closed after World War II. Some Duos were then made and marked as the “ČZ Automat. Pistole” and then the “Z Automat. Pistole” marking was used with the ZB Z-in-a-rifled-bore trademark on the grips.

zhuk_1573_22_short_z

This pistol has the Z grips. The slide has two reliefs behind the breechface, presumably to lighten it for the limited recoil of the .22 short. Otherwise, it’s a ringer for any Z or Duo. The curiously extended truncated-conical muzzle makes us wonder if it is a blank-firing or starter pistol. We’re not aware of this oddball Duo variation in any Czech-language source, but we don’t have 100% of Czech sources.

1574, 1575. CSZ; Ceskoslovenske Statni Zbrojovka A.S., Brno (later Ceskoslovenska Zbrojovka).

Zhuk has just the barest facts about this early firearm, one version of which has an illustration misnumbered 1573.

zhuk_1574_zb_25

CSZ; Ceskoslovenske Statni Zbrojovka A.S., Brno (later Ceskoslovenska Zbrojovka). 6.35mm Auto; 113mm overall, 55mm barrel, 330gm. Six rounds. This small blowback was made in two differing patterns.

zhuk_1575_zb_25We believe that these pistols may have been mentioned (but not illustrated) by Jaromír Lugs (1950) but our copy of Lugs Vol. II is in the book scanner at the moment. (Things To Figure Out Before Publishing the Book Nº. 32767).

1604. Perla; Frantisek Dusek, Opocno.

 

Again, Zhuk’s entry about the previously-unknown (to us) Dušek pistol is the soul of brevity:

Perla; Frantisek Dusek, Opocno. 6.35mm Auto; 103mm overall, 50mm barrel, 277gm. Six rounds.

zhuk_1604_perlaWhereas the original Ydeal/JAGA/Singer/Duo/Z is a conceptual copy of a 1906 Browning (minus the grip safety), and possibly a direct copy of an unknown Spanish intercedent, the Perla shows a great deal of Walther Model 9 DNA in its makeup. It reflects the same interwar trend to smaller vest-pocket rather than pocket .25s, as seen in the Model 9, the Mauser WTP I and II, and the Baby Browning, and that suggests that it is at least as late a development. However, the safety appears to hinge too far back for it to be a direct copy. Zhuk’s example seems to have a three-digit serial number (312). Prototype or production?

Some overall observations

One thing Zhuk doesn’t mention, because it was such a weird one-time artifact of the interwar Czechoslovak gun laws, is that any of these little .25s may turn up with a weirdly extended barrel. That’s because a handgun license was a hassle to get, but you only needed it for a gun with a barrel < 180 mm. The manufacturers responded with “Buntline Special” .25s and .32s! So did firms that imported French, German and Spanish guns into the Czechoslovak Republic.

In addition to these complete oddballs, and all the common Czechoslovak pistols, Zhuk also illustrates some rare firearms that are often described, but seldom illustrated. These are, again, mostly pocket pistols of the interwar period, and include the following:

  • The Tomiška-designed folding-trigger Fox pistol of 1919;
  • The Mars pistols of Pošumavská Zbrojovka;
  • Rare Duo precursors JAGA, Singer and Ydeal
  • The PZK (same company as the Mars, different design);
  • The Slavia.

He also illustrates the post-1970 grips of the Z Pistol (née Duo) and CZ 70 (ex CZ 45). If there’s enough interest in these oddities and entities, we’ll do another post with the images. Otherwise we’ll just roll what we learn into the book.

New 3D Printed Revolver Design: Imura Works Supreme Revolver

This revolver has some unique features, including provision for detachable cylinders. It has .38 caliber chambers that can work with the .38 S&W Special round or the older .38 S&W (.380/200 to ancient Britons, who could have own it, unlike their modern descendants). Files for 4-inch and 8-inch barrel versions are available on GrabCad. These files are at 80% scale; if you can’t get from 80% to 100% before printing, maybe home gunsmithing is not for you. In its 8-inch iteration, it’s a huge hogleg:

imura-supreme-01

Unlike, say, the Liberator, it is not 100% printed. It uses commercial springs and common metric sized screws, and it is designed to have its screw holes printed undersized and threads cut with a proper tap. Its lockwork is unique with a roller follower, and an interesting DAO trip release. And there’s that cylinder catch, something that was never really practical with steel revolvers, but might just work with hybrid steel/plastic ones.

imura-cyl-change

The design is credited to Yoshitomo Imura, the incarcerated Japanese 3D gun pioneer. Imura himself is unlikely to have access to the internet at present; this is just an example of the Streisand effect. When they struck him down, they just made him more powerful than they could ever imagine.

There’s also a 4-inch-barrel version, here in the assembly drawing:

imura-assembly-4inch

Here is a video which unfortunately doesn’t show the parts moving.  On all these videos the music is an acquired taste that may make the mute button more to your taste.

That builds on Imura Works’ earlier Marvel revolver…

These designs are Zig Zag revolvers, which updated lockwork concepts from the old Mauser of the same nickname, also used in the Webley-Fosbery Automatic Revolver (probably best known from the abominable Sean Connery film Zardoz).

The files of the Marvel revolver at 80% size can also be found on GrabCad.

And here is an Imura Works video of historic Zig Zag revolver types, back to the percussion black powder era, and culminating in their Zig Zag and some other 3D variants like James Patrick’s:

Old technology is new again — thanks to new technology.

Imura Works is named for the first martyr of the 3D gun community, which seems entirely suitable. We may not all be Spartacus, but we all are Yoshitomo Imura.

 

From Czechoslovakia with Double Action

(Note: we’re going live without some of the photos. We’ll be inserting the photos Real Soon Now™. Trust us! Pictures are now “live.” Thanks for your patience. -Ed.)

Hey, this is a Czech bag, and it has a lot of pockets. Wonder what's inside?

Hey, this is a Czech bag, and it has a lot of pockets. Wonder what’s inside?

The Czechlands were the birthplace of the double-action autopistol, and have arguably produced such pistols for longer than any other nation in the world.

Many of these were, prior to 1975, small pocket pistols, but the small pocket pistols were not only important for the companies that made them and the general export strength of interwar Czechoslovakia, but also to the modernization and mechanization of the Czech manufacturers, including not only the major arsenals but also such firms as the Poldi steelworks at Kladno, the Škoda foundries at Pilsen, and many smaller parts manufacturers.1

Yay! Pocket pistols. From top down: Little Tom 6.35; Little Tom 7.65; 1946 CZ 45; 1939 CZ 36; Intratec Protec-25 n Box.

Yay! Pocket pistols. From top down: Little Tom 6.35; Little Tom 7.65; 1946 CZ 45; 1939 CZ 36; Intratec Protec-25 n Box. Now, let’s dig into the details, a little bit.

The Little Tom — ca. 1908-1926

The first DA autopistol is illustrated by this 6.25 mm (.25 ACP) Alois Tomiška “Little Tom” pistol we’ve featured before. This was the first successful DA/SA pistol. Its original name in Czech was Tomašek, which is at once a play on the designer’s name, and also means “Little Tom.” Tomiška, who lived from 1867-1946, patented the Little Tom in 1909 (some sources say 1908) and produced a few in a Pilsen workshop before mass production began at the Wiener Waffenfabrik in Vienna (both Vienna and Pilsen were in the Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to late 1918).2

This example was made in Vienna and proofed there in 1922. Note the safety (up is safe, down - here - is fire). No sights; brass mag loads through the top!

This example was made in Vienna and proofed there in 1922. Note the safety (up is safe, down – here – is fire). No sights; brass mag loads through the top! The faint MADE IN AUSTRIA supplemental rollmark suggests it was exported, but to where?

This example was made in Vienna and proofed there in 1922. Note the safety (up is safe, down - here - is fire). No sights; brass mag loads through the top!

According to the Vienna proof house records as reported by Mötz & Schuy, #26,854 may have been proofed on 22 Nov 1922. It was one of 8,426 6.35 mm Little Toms proofed that year (which also saw the first proof of 7.65 models). Vienna proofed over 26,000 6.35 mm Little Toms.

Some sources call it DAO, because, even though the slide leaves the hammer cocked, the trigger spring (which is also the recoil spring) returns the trigger all the way forward. The first pistol to have the DA/SA trigger of an autopistol behave like then-familiar DA/SA revolvers’ triggers was the Walther PP of 1929; by then, production of the Little Tom, which had taken place in Tomiška’s small shop in Pilsen but mostly at the Wiener Waffenfabrik in Vienna, was wound up.

A few Little Toms were made in .32. This rough-condition example is innocent of most marks and was sold (by Rock Island Auctions) as a possible Pilsen example.

Pretty rough condition (note the pitting on the frame forward of the trigger guard. Probably why it was filed down). Serial Nº 30941 no longer bears its proofs, but is probably is one of only 1,686 7.65 mm Little Toms proofed in Vienna.

Pretty rough condition (note the pitting on the frame forward of the trigger guard. Probably why it was filed down). Serial Nº 30941 no longer bears its proofs, but is probably one of only 1,686 7.65 mm Little Toms made and proofed in Vienna.

After close examination, we believe it to be a Wiener Waffenfabrik example, and the relative lack of markings is a consequence of the slide and frame being filed or stoned because of rust and pitting. It retains collector value only because of the extreme rarity of Little Tom .32 pistols. Note the condition of the slide serrations, which suggests someone’s been sanding or draw-filing away at this firearm. We haven’t tried hard to bring the proof marks back up.

Unlike the 6.35 model, this 7.65 Little Tom's safety is labeled (down - here - is fire, and exposes an F for Feuer).

Unlike the 6.35 model, this 7.65 Little Tom’s safety is labeled (down – here – is fire, and exposes an F for Feuer).

The trigger mechanism on this Little Tom is not working properly — a common condition on these pioneering guns.

The CZ 36

The next Czechoslovak DA .25 was a true DAO pistol, the CZ 36. A contemporary of the simple single-action striker-fired Dušek “Duo” pistol (and its variants) made in Opočno, the CZ 36 was rather more advanced with double-action lockwork. It was designed by the prolific Czech engineer, František Myška, starting in 1934. Here it is compared to the Little Tom:

cz_pocket_pistols10

The CZ 36 was made with an external safety on the left side of the frame forward of the grip, marked with a Z. A safety is somewhat redundant on a DAO gun, but the whole idea was new. On the pistol’s right side, the round axis pin integral to the safety is visible.

cz_pocket_pistols16

cz_pocket_pistols28At some point in production, the safety was deleted. No one has explained why some pistols have the safety and some do not; earliest pistols all tend to have it, and with-safety is more common than without-safety on a CZ 36.

Production numbers are all over the place, with Berger guessing (and Buffaloe seconding him) at about 12,000. Most of these pistols were exported, but they were used by some police agencies (Czechoslovak and later, German), such as the Railway Police. This example, Nº 18615, was proofed with the Czech twin-tailed lion in 1939.

The European flap holster shown with our CZ 36 came with it, but without specific provenance as far as we know.

Most sources agree that the CZ 36 was discontinued after the German occupation, except for some assembly from pre-war parts, but the existence of small numbers of CZ 36 pistols with Nazi-era German proof marks and German wholesaler (Akah or Geco) markings challenges that conventional wisdom.

The CZ 45 and its Successors

After the war, Myška (according to some sources) and/or Jan Kratochvil (per Dolínek et al.) reworked the CZ 36 for manufacturing ease, producing the CZ 45.

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The CZ 45. This is an early model, proofed in 1946, and it retains some CZ 36 features.

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Flip side of the CZ 45, showing the absence of the safety pivot pin.

(In parallel to the CZ 36 and 45, the simple Duo — later the “Z” — continued to be manufactured; but prior to 1946 that is because it was made by a different firm. The firms were nationalized and merged postwar).

All CZ 45s that we have observed were made without the safety of the early CZ 36, but it is reported that some were made with it. Modifications include a different barrel lug arrangement, and a different trigger mechanism. The original CZ 36 mechanism bears some traces of the Tomiška design, and the trigger bar only rides along one side of the magazine; the CZ 45 uses a yoke à la John Browning’s 1911. (This particular CZ 45, made in 1946, retains the CZ 36 style barrel lug and trigger bar). In both pistols, a magazine safety, activated by that same trigger bar, is incorporated.

The pistol was made by Česká Zbrojovka at the original Strakonice pistol factory originally set up for the vz. 24 contract. Later, production shifted to Uhersky Brod. (The UB plant was originally established in 1936 because Czechoslovak strategists considered the Strakonice plant too close to the threat of Nazi Germany).

The CZ 36 and CZ 45 were imported to the USA in small (36) and medium (45) quantities prior to the Gun Control Act of 1968, which both required import marks and banned further importation of compact pistols.

Cosmetic and production redesigns since have been named CZ 70 and CZ 92 for their years of introduction (not all sources mention the CZ 70; to add to confusion, a later version of the Duo/Z was called vz. 70, and so was the common CZ police pistol in .32/7.65 mm). These later pistols have never been legal for commercial importation to the United States.

The ZVI Kevin

The Kevin was the only pistol ever produced by the Czech firm Zbrojovka Všetin Indet (mercifully, for English speakers, abbreviated to ZVI). ZVI was primarily a producer of large caliber ammunition, and arms such as machine guns, automatic cannon, and AT rocket launchers, and so forth. It is (in its most common iteration) a .25-sized DAO .380 with an internal hammer and (standard) six-round magazine.

kevin-704-right

We have no idea why it is named Kevin. In Germany, the name Kevin has a connotation of roughneck thuggery! But we do not believe that connotation extends to Czech.

The pistol was introduced at the European trade show IWA 2007, and came to be made in many models, distinguished by chambering, grips and finish options — they were all the same basic gun. The standard chambering was .380 ACP (9 mm Browning Short, 9 x 17), but it was also available in 9 mm Makarov (9 x 18), and was made for export (we believe, to CIS nations) in “9mm PA,” a cartridge that fired a non-lethal rubber projectile.

There is no external safety. It is not necessary, as the Kevin has a revolver-like long and heavy (~10 lbs. new, may lose a pound after hundreds of rounds) trigger pull. Takedown is like many early Browning pistols, and the Little Tom and CZ’s mentioned above: after ensuring the pistol is clear, align the slide appropriately (unlike the older pistols, the Kevin has helpful witness marks), rotate the barrel out of engagement with the frame, and slide the slide off.

Barrel turned for disassembly (here on the CZ 45, but all these pistols save the Little Toms work like this).

Barrel turned for disassembly (here on the CZ 45, but all these pistols save the Little Toms work like this).

The receiver is aluminum alloy and the barrel and slide steel. In some ways, Alois Tomiška would recognize it as a descendant of his own Little Tom, but it has a modern push-button mag release behind the trigger guard, and much better sights — fixed, to be sure — than any of the other pocket pistols mentioned here. It has several interesting features.

Unlike most .380s, it is not a straight blowback pistol, but a gas-retarded blowback. A pair of ports in the barrel forward of the chamber — in other words, where the pressure is max — vent forward against the surface of the slide, and into a sort of temporary gas chamber forward of the ejection port. The force against the breech face moving the slide rearward must overome this gas pressure as well as the simple inertia of the slide. This does make for a messy gun, especially when firing a lot of ammunition. (Like any powerful pocket pistol, it tends to enforce limits to shooting sessions. It’s just not fun to open that second box of ammo).

To keep the gas chamber and recoil spring from interfering with one another, the Kevin dispenses with the usual around-the-barrel recoil spring and uses instead two small-diameter recoil springs and guide-rod assemblies set into grooves in the frame, inside the slide — an arrangement reminiscent of the dual springs in the Walther P.38 and its immediate derivatives like the P4 and P5. Plastic recoil buffers distribute the impact of the slide on the frame.

The basic finishes were shiny “plating” or black, both of which were high-tech nickel-teflon paint, with grips of plastic or walnut. Fancier versions included gold-finished barrel, trigger, extractor and gold-color fill in the rollmarks; there was also a version with etched decoration that imitated engraving.

Several magazine capacities have been available, including a 9-round mag with a large plastic grip extension, which not only added firepower but also addressed the gun’s biggest strength and weakness, it’s extremely compact size. The 9-round mag was introduced in June, 2012.

9rnd-for-kevin

Production of this pistol seemed to have ended with the 2013 bankruptcy of ZVI, which had nothing to do with the Kevin and everything to do with the Czech Republic rejecting the idea of renewing ammo contracts with ZVI, when it could get the rounds cheaper by importing them. However, there is some life on the Czech language side of the ZVI website this year, including an offering of a new magazine extension for the little Kevin, in February 2016. The pistol is small and smooth (there is no checkering or grooving on front or rear strap) and so anything that helps you hold it is welcome.

kevin_zasobnik_600

No ZVI Kevin has ever passed through normal ATF import channels as it cannot pass the Nazi-derived “sporting” test of  the Gun Control Act of 1968. A copy was available in the US (see below).

What’s Missing Here?

We’ve listed all Czechoslovak and Czech double-action pocket pistols known to us at present, and welcome any word of omissions. While some would call the Walther-PP sized CZ 50 / 70 in .32 and even the very large CZ 82/83 pistols “pocket pistols,” these were, in the Czechoslovak context, police pistols normally carried openly in flap holsters, and in shoulder holsters when carried undercover. There are quite a few small Czechoslovak single-action pocket pistols, most of them made between the wars. Indeed, the Russian writer A.B. Zhuk, chronicles some models that are missing from most Czech-language sources!4 But he mentions no other double-action pistols than we do.

The American Cousins

Two of these pistols have “American cousins” — US-made auto pistols that are clones, or at least close or modified copies of their Czech forebears. The CZ 45 was cloned, more or less, as the Intratec Protec-25 and the ZVI Kevin appeared in the US as the Magnum Research Micro Desert Eagle.

 

The Micro Desert Eagle was a US-produced clone of the ZVI Kevin, legally licensed by ZVI or by the designer. It is no longer cataloged by Magnum Research. It was available in nickel, blued, or two-tone (nickel frame, blue slide and barrel) versions. The nickel version is most common. As in the Czech original, this finish is actually a form of high-tech paint and is extremely durable.

This image of the Micro Desert Eagle and Baby Browning is from the blog Gun Tales.

This image of the Micro Desert Eagle and Baby Browning is from the blog Gun Tales, where the pistol is reviewed. As you can see, it really is a .25-sized .380! It is also really a ringer for the ZVI version — parts do interchange.

Like the Kevin, the MDE is made of investment castings. In our opinion, the finish on the Czech gun is superior, but the same process is supposed to be used.

Again, like the Kevin, the MDE has a reputation for reliability and near-indifference to ammunition, although there are some defensive rounds with which it does not work reliably, and the would-be carrier is well-advised to check out the rounds he plans to carry for social work well in advance. Like the Kevin, it gets very dirty if fired a lot, but thanks to that modern finish, cleans up very nicely.

 

The Intratec Protec-25, conversely, was inexpensively made with a die-cast receiver, steel slide, and painted exterior. Many users have reported reliability problems, which are rare in a simple .25; but a ready solution is at hand. The pistol will usually function reliably if you replace the Intratec magazine with an original CZ 36/45 mag or a Mec-Gar replacement. As our present example is is new, in box, we haven’t fired it. (They’re only new once).

cz_pocket_pistols26As you might have guessed, the “Protec” was both a play on the company name Intratec, and the word protection; it was intended to be part of a what they called the Pro “Tec” tor Series of small handguns, but the company didn’t survive to achieve those now-lost ambitions.

The Intratec had slightly different frame contours from the CZ 45. This modernized the styling, but may have been required by the manufacturing process. The similarities in the firearms are evident in this triple field-stripped view, but, the parts do not interchange.

cz_pocket_pistols23

Both the slide/receiver grooves and the barrel bed and lugs don’t mate properly. (In fact, the barrels do interchange between these CZs, but the slides don’t; each one is fitted to its own frame).

The original Intratec manual — if “manual” is the word for a single-sheet-of-paper fold out — suggests that the gun was available in three finishes, and also refers to a Protec-22 whose magazine held 10 .22 LR rounds. If such a variant was made, we’ve never seen one, but it was developed at least as far as parts numbers, SKUs, and manual entries. The gun — and the company that launched it — seems to have come and gone in the span of about three years. Today, it’s nothing but a sidebar to the Czech double-action pocket pistol story. We suppose someone could carry a Protec-25 or CZ-45 as a defensive gun, but why would you, when you can find a Desert Eagle or Kevin (depending on where you are in the world) for about the same money?

Notes

  1. Dolínek et al., p. 60.
  2. Dolínek et al., p. 32.
  3. Dolínek et al., pp. 102-103, 107.
  4. Zhuk, A.B. pp. 194-199.

Sources

Personal examination of examples of the named pistols.

“Angus”. Micro Desert Eagle .380acp. Gun Tales. Retrieved from: https://guntales.blogspot.com/2011/03/micro-desert-eagle-380acp.html (unfortunately this promising blog has not been updated in five years. Pity).

Berger, R.J.Know Your Czechoslovakian Pistols. Northridge, IL: Blacksmith Publications,1989.

Buffaloe, Ed. Two Czech 6.35mm Pistols. The Unblinking Eye, n.d.. Retrieved from: http://unblinkingeye.com/Guns/2CZ25s/2cz25s.html

Brown, James D. Cold War Pistols of Czechoslovakia. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2009.

Dolínek, Vladímir, Karlicky, Vladímir, and Vácha, Pavel. Czech Firearms and Ammunition: History & Present. Prague: Radix, spol. sro., 1995.

“Lloyd in Vegas.” Poster at Jan V. Still Luger Bulletin Board, 24 Nov 2007. Retrieved from: http://luger.gunboards.com/showthread.php?12714-CZ-36-E-N-Geco-Trademark

Uncredited. ZVI Kevin Catalog. Prague: ZVI, Inc., 6 Jun 2008. Retrieved from: http://www.zvi.cz/download/KEVIN.pdf

Uncredited. Micro Desert Eagle, Nickel. Magnum Research, Kahr Firearms Group. Retrieved from:  https://www.magnumresearch.com/Firearms/Magnum-Research-Micro-Desert-Eagle-Nickel.asp (The pistol is discontinued and this page is not discoverable through the website menus, but it comes up in a search as of press time).

Uncredited. Products – 9 mm pistol Kevin. Prague: ZVI, Inc., n.d. Retrieved from: http://www.zvi.cz/en/products/9-mm-pistol-kevin.html (The company is apparently defunct, but the website is undead at this writing).

Zhuk, A.B., Bobrov, N.N. (trans.), Walter, John (Ed.). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Handguns: Pistols and Revolvers of the World, 1870 to 1995. London: Greeenhill Books, 1995.

Ted Bundy’s Pistol?

Somebody owns this, and takes pride in the ownership of Ted Bundy’s former boot gun. And it can be yours, instead: for a price.

ted bundys rossi pistol 5

The GunBroker ad is headlined:

TED BUNDY’S BOOT GUN. YES, TED BUNDY, SERIAL KILLER

ted bundys rossi pistol

That certainly endears it to you, no?

The pistol is, to be blunt, a piece of crap: a Rossi .22 caliber cap-and-ball double-barrel pistol, with dual hammers and dual triggers. These used to be sold widely (and may still be, for all we know) as essentially unregulated toys in most states.ted bundys rossi pistol 7 (Some states, like Massachusetts and New Jersey, regulate antique and replica guns as stringently as real, modern, practical guns). The seller says (although he said it in ALL UPPER CASE, we’ll spare you the shouting, and his erratic punctuation, too):

ted bundys rossi pistol 6

 

Theodore Robert “Ted” Bundy’s Boot Gun. Yes, Ted Bundy, serial killer of at least 36 murders and experts say closer to 100…. Firearm is a Rossi 22 black powder cap and ball. Comes with holster and letter of authenticity of how a special operations officer Grover Ayers, Jr with the Ft. Walton Beach Sheriffs Office acquired the firearm. Truly one of a kind. There is only one.

ted bundys rossi pistol 2Bundy was a nasty piece of work, “the most cold-hearted son of a bitch you’ll ever meet” in his own words, so nasty that being a serial killer of young women wasn’t the most rebarbative of his behaviors. He would stash his kills and return to them, to commit bizarre necrophiliac rituals.

Worse, he attended law school (although he did do society a solid and drop out to focus on rape and murder instead).

Unlike most serial killers, Bundy seems to have been eager to alter his MO in order to conceal his misdeeds. Most of what we know about his murders comes from forensic evidence. There is a great deal of information from Bundy’s own statements, confessions and boasts, but Bundy was the archetype of the unreliable narrator. Still, his preferred methods of homicide appear to have been strangling or bludgeoning with bare hands or improvised weapons such as a crowbar, and he is not believed to have ever used a gun in a killing. He was not carrying a gun in any of his many arrests. (As well as being released for lack of evidence, he escaped from prison at least twice).

This is the cop who supposedly seized the weapon.

This is the cop who supposedly seized the weapon.

This peculiar little gun may be of interest to a crime museum, or to a Bundy groupie.

Bundy groupies? Yes, they’re a thing. One of them, Carol Ann Brown, so reveled in her fandom that she corresponded with and ultimately married the creep, having his kid by conjugal visit before he went to Old Sparky. As sick as it sounds, almost every serial killer has women who write him in prison and fall in love with him.

But is that as sick as a society that lets a Ted Bundy procreate in the first place?

Update

Apparently the groupie thing is well-documented, as well as commonly obeserved. (“Chicks dig jerks,” and who’s a bigger jerk that a serial killer, rapist, and necrophiliac?) It even is a named disorder: hybristophilia. Bundy’s fan mail peaked at 200 letters a day.