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.
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.