Art of the Gun: The Interesting History of the CZ-75

By CTD Scott published on in Firearms, News

I was reading some history about the Cold War and how the Iron Curtain affected the economic abilities of the Soviet Bloc. (Sounds riveting, doesn’t it?) Anyway, part of the article discusses the development of the CZ-75 for export and sale outside of the Soviet Bloc. Chambered for 9mm instead of 7.65x25mm Tokarev or 9x18mm Makarov it makes sense; however, I really wanted to dive into the history of the pistol.

Picture shows a black, steel CZ 75 9mm pistol.

The CZ 75 may have started out as a secret, but is quite well-known today.

Czechoslovakia has always had a surprising history with firearms. The British Bren light machine gun was based on a Czech design, as was the Besa machine gun that topped many of Britain’s tanks and heavy vehicles. Unfortunately, in 1948 the Communists took control of Czechoslovakia and all manufacturing came under direct control of the State. The non-Communist world cut off Czechoslovakia—being part of the Warsaw Pact—and severed all trade from outside the Iron Curtain.

The Czech arms manufacturer Česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod (CZUB) was among one of the many arms manufacturers owned and operated by the Communist State. However, in 1969, they approached one of their former designers, František Koucký to come out of retirement to work on a pet project. The company wanted to design a 9mm Parabellum pistol that was new and innovative. Since he technically was not employed by the company, he had complete control over the design process and allowed full freedom in design. Gray areas in the Czech and Soviet patent laws allowed him to file “secret patents” that prevented anyone—citizen or apparatchik—from finding out about the design, but also prevented anyone else in the country from filing the same design. The design, finished and tested in 1975, went into production the following year.

However, the story gets more interesting. A 9mm Para handgun was not allowed for military issue, as all Warsaw Pact states were using the Tokarevs or Makarovs. The gun, meant for sale outside the Iron Curtain, was a big “no-no” for Soviet countries. Additionally, Soviet countries or nationals were ineligible to file for patents outside of the Eastern Bloc, so CZUB and Koucký could not protect their intellectual property. One more layer of difficulty was the inability to sell the firearm in the United States due to arms importation law and heavy duties exacted on communist countries. Luckily for us, but unfortunate for the designer and manufacturers, anyone with the means to do was free to copy and clone the CZ-75. Italian, Chinese, Turkish, Swiss, Israeli, Filipino, American, and many other countries cloned and produced their own version, allowing the world a chance to legally own one of these “Wonder Nines.”

The cloned CZ-75 became very popular within the sport shooting world. As sport shooting is very popular in Czechoslovakia, they lifted the rules and allowing CZUB to finally sell the firearm domestically in 1985. Four years later, the Velvet Revolution brought Czechoslovakia back into the world of democracy and the Czech military adopted the CZ-75 as their official sidearm.

Today, the CZ-75 remains popular around the world and CZUB has expanded to the United States with the founding of CZ-USA.

To learn more about the merits of the CZ-75 for home defense, click here.

Do have you a CZ-75? Have you shot the CZ-75? Tell us about your experience in the comment section.

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Comments (3)

  • Nathan W

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    I own a CZ 85 combat which is a direct descendant of the CZ 75. I absolutely love this pistol and am considering buying another slightly different model! The gun just feels like it belongs in your hand, so comfortable and easy to shoot. I was a Glock guy for years until I bought this! Excellent firearm!

    Reply

  • Guest

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    It may be worth mentioning that the CZ has such a high demand for CZ75s lately – especially the polymer P07 and P09 versions, that they recently opened new factories in Slovakia and Brazil.

    Reply

  • Swampthing

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    Yes I have shot one. Great pistol. Im mostly into big bore stuff but I did enjoy shooting a friends CZ 75. I dont think it gets any better than that.

    Reply

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