CZ vz52: Don't let this happen to YOU

Waaaayyyyy back in 2012 or so, Midway offered CZ-52 magazines for a pittance. I got 4 of them. Or more.

When they arrived, they clearly were fakes. "CZ mfg." stamped on the floorplates. CZ didn't stamp anything for '52s in English. However, they seated and fed. I never gave them much thought until the Tokarev round began to obsess me. Why the obsession, you ask? To be covered in a future post.

I tried #2 CZ52 with them and noticed that they don't pull out of the mag well with the slide locked open.

One, the follower doesn't push the slide lock upward enough, so there was still the slide lock lodging against the follower.

Two, the floorplates are so weak that they bend instead of pulling the mag out.

OEM floorplates $5 ea from a little shop in Colorado Springs, Apex. They're hard, don't bend.

I miked the followers and compared them to the mags originally shipped with CZ52 #1. The lip on the conterfeit mags' followers is about .060" too short to push the slide lock up decisively. A dab of JB Weld on that spot pushes the slide lock up enough. It's a step down from the deck where the cartridge rests, so it won't interfere with feeding.

As I'm reassembling the CZ52, I notice in glints of sunlight off the slide that . . . .

there's a swelling on the side of the slide. Bowed outward.

Right where the locking rollers recess inside the slide. Both sides, but worse on the side with the ejection port.

There's a matching bright rub on the frame, right below where the locking rollers come to rest with slide in battery. Shaped like the bottom of a roller.

The barrel trunnion, where the rollers live, has little ears over the roller pathway, to keep the rollers inside. The ears are worn such that if I gave it more force (I didn't) the roller could be slipped out of the pathway.

Barrel is bad, allows rollers to bounce around inside, up and down as well as in and out. Rollers maybe failing. Failing rollers putting too much force on the insides of the slide. CZ52 #1, no evidence of swelling slide, but lots of rubbing of both rollers on the frame.

Cases fired from both show that head-to-cone is greater on #1 than #2, opposite of what I'd expect. #2 brass pushes shoulder out from .675" to .680" (Sinclair 20-degree bump gauge) with fair-to-midddlin' Blue Dot handload with 85gr PPU's. #1 pushes shoulder closer to .690". BUUUUUUT #1 groups at 25 yards, and #2 will not put holes on the paper. More red flags.

My Little Old German retired gunsmith says (paraphrased): "pad your vise, and squeeze the slide very gradually to push the sides back in. We do it to tighten 1911 slides all the time. Go easy, do it a number of times, checking fit. Get new barrel and rollers. Watch for reappearance of the swelling."

New slides are unobtainium, might as well get a new gun. I've heard of the trick with squeezing the 1911 slide before.

Some easy-going vise work and the swelling is visible only at the roller recess proper, not inches up and down the slide.

Barrel sold as new from Sarco on its way. Harrington rollers, not sure whether to order 1 set or 2. If the Sarco barrel is in fact "NEW" with roller ears unworn as they should be, versus "Very Good," probably a second one.

So: if you encounter a CZ52 in the wild, ask to pop the slide off and examine the slide at the point where the rollers recess. Light reflected at very shallow angle will reveal the spreading. Look on the frame for abrasion from the rollers. Show its owner what you're looking at and what it means.

The saga continues.