Friday, September 9, 2011

Quest for the Holy Handgun: CZ-82

On this entry of QHH, we're kicking it Surplus-style.  We'll be taking a look at the CZ-82.

Looks pretty beat up huh?  We'll get to that in a minute.
To cover some of the history of the CZ-82, we have to cover some of the history of the 9x18mm cartridge it shoots.

After World War II, Russia was looking for a new service cartridge.  They decided to develop a new cartridge rather than go with the highly popular .45ACP or 9mm Parabellum (commonly known as just 9mm today).  Their thinking was that when soldiers get gunned down in the inevitable war with those capitalist pigs,  their ammo would be incompatible and therefore useless to said swine when they looted the bodies of the proletariat.  So the 9x18mm round was born.

9x18 millimeters of full metal jacketed communist oppression.
The Russians developed a gun just to shoot this new cartridge named the Makarov.  Thus, the cartridge became known as the 9mm Makarov.

So fast forward 30 odd years to the 1980s.  Czechoslovakia is still using the WWII-era Tokarev pistol and cartridge.  The USSR leaned on them to modernize and adopt the 9x18mm Makarov cartridge.  Rather than just go with it and take up the existing gun, the Czechs made a better version of the Makarov pistol.  They added a double stack magazine to increase ammo capacity, changed the barrel design to add reliability and accuracy, and made all the pistol controls ambidextrous, so southpaw soldiers could shoot with confidence.  The result was the CZ-82

Fast forward another 30 odd years to today.  Surplus CZ-82s are shipped to the United States in the thousands.  The guns are readily available and very inexpensive.  But is the CZ-82 the perfect starter handgun?  Let's see how it matches up.

Reliability: Every review, report, and video I've seen praises the reliability of these guns.  CZ is known for making very high quality firearms.  The CZ-82 is a very simple design, very few moving parts so there isn't alot to fail and go wrong.  Any failure I've read about is attributed to cheap ammunition.  There are no guys dropping this gun out of a plane or burying it for years just to see if it will still work but it is a fairly modern military firearm, designed to go to war.  I can't say it's as reliable as a Glock but we'll still give reliability a PRO.

Price:  By far the least expensive gun we'll look it.  The market is proliferated with slightly-used CZ-82s that came over from Europe in crates.  You can get said guns for $210. (and with a brand new USA-made barrel for $30 more.)  Combine this with the fact that 9mm Makarov ammo is close to the least expensive on the market and you have a very thrifty option.  For the cost of a used Glock, you can get a CZ-82 and 1000 rounds to practice.  The $600 price tag of an entry-level 1911 gets you a CZ-82 with a new barrel, a DIY refinish (I promise we'll get to that finish in a minute) AND 1500 rounds!  Price, more than any other gun we'll look at, is a PRO.

Capacity: Blah.  Here's where things fall off a bit for our Czechoslovakian friend.  The CZ-82 ships with one 12 round magazine.  Meh.  The pistol is smaller than the Glock so even though it uses a double stack magazine, capacity suffers a bit.  Also, only shipping with one magazine is kind of a bummer. Then again, with all the cash you save, you'll have plenty of money for spare mags.  Getting a spare magazine or two helps things out, as 25 or 37 rounds of 9x18mm would get the job done I imagine.  Still, in the shadow of Glock's 17 round magazine, capacity is a CON.

Caliber:  From the numbers I've looked at, it looks like the 9x18mm Makarov round (230ish ft/lbs) is below the 9mm Parabellum that the Glock shoots (over 400 ft/lbs, depending on the cartridge) in terms of energy delivered to target but slightly above the .380ACP round that many consider the bare minimum for self-defense (200 ft/lbs).  .380ACP has blown up in popularity over the past couple years and if so many people are carrying it and trusting their lives to it, something stronger should be ok. 9x18mm Makarov also beats out the .38 special (also averages right around 200 ft/lbs), trusted by cops all over the country for years and still used by many for self defense.  Penetration might be an issue but if I bought a CZ-82 and 1500 rounds and fired those rounds becoming proficient with said gun, I'd probably be better equipped to defend myself than getting a Glock and firing 500 rounds or a 1911 and 0 rounds.  However, price of gun/round and capacity aside, the 9x18mm round leaves alot to be desired when compared to 9mm or .45ACP.  CON.

Carryability:  The smallest gun we've looked at so far.  If you search for reviews on the CZ-82, alot of the reviewers laud the ability of the gun to make a good CCW piece.  It is a half inch shorter than the Glock 17, an inch and a half shorter than a full-size 1911, and fairly slim due to it's small magazine.  If the average person has no problem carrying this gun concealed, I shouldn't have an issue.  Also, unlike the Glock, this gun has an external safety, so it would give me less heebie-jeebies to have it loaded with one in the chamber.  Carryability is a PRO.


  • Looks:  I love the way this gun looks and I know exactly why.  It looks like James Bond's gun.
PPK.  Walther PPK.
CZ-82.  See the similarity?
I'm a Bond nut.  I have every movie up until Daniel Craig.  (Yes, even the George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton ones.)  I guess I could just get a PPK but I'd be spending twice as much and lowering my magazine capacity.  The coolness of having the exact gun isn't worth that much to me.  But it is a cool similarity right?
  • Finish: Told you we'd get around to it.  This kind of goes along with looks.  A majority of the guns imported into the US were carried heavily and show heavy signs of wear on the finish.  Also, the importer for alot of them had to stamp some markings into the slide and the cheap commie paint just flakes off.  For a $200 gun what do you expect?  This was a turn off to me initially until I found out that there is a process called dura-coating that you can do yourself for about $50 and make your gun look like this:  
or this:
Both pictures borrowed from this forum post.
Or any of a hundred other colors.  Really anything you can think of.  So like I said, for about $300, you can get a gun with a brand new barrel, in orange or red or "barney purple" (yea, it's really an option) and plenty of money for practice ammo.

  • Customizability: You can refinish it and change the color and you can get replacement internal parts to adjust functionality but there aren't under-gun lights/lasers/etc (obviously) and while you can find replacement grips and such, there isn't near the market out there like there is for Glock or the 1911.
  • History/Track Record: Although it was the official sidearm for the military, it was for the Czechoslovakian military.  Not exactly a top world power.  Also not used by any police departments/etc.  The 9x18mm round has plenty of history but it doesn't quite match up to the likes of 9mm or .45ACP. 
  • Surplus: The fact that this gun was produced to defend a people is a plus.  Also, this gun is C&R eligible.  What that means is that anyone with a Curio&Relic Collector Federal Firearms License can have this gun shipped directly their door.  For $30 and a couple months of waiting, you don't have to deal with doing everything thru a gunshop and paying the transfer fee.  Another little plus.
  • Ambidextriocity: I'm a lefty.  Well, I write left lefthanded and do everything else right handed.  I recently figured out that I'm left-eye dominant.  I haven't done alot of pistol shooting so I don't know how this is going to affect me.  I know alot of guys just shoot right handed but shift the gun so it's over on the left side.  But if I can be a better marksman by shooting left handed, it would be nice to have a gun with southpaw-friendly controls. 
  • Competition:  The Sportsmen's club my awesome wife just got me a membership too runs monthly practical shooting competitions thru USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association).  USPSA only allows competitors to use rounds of 9mm Parabellum or greater power.  Since I'd love to try practical shooting, not being able to use this gun is a big drawback for me. 
 So Misc kind of works out to a wash. 

We have 3 PROs, 2 CONs and a pretty much neutral Misc category.  I think the CZ-82 warrants a serious look, especially from those who have a limited income.  You get a military firearm in a caliber within the range most people would consider adequate for self-defense for a price lower than anything else we've looked at.  That said, I'll probably only be looking at the CZ-82 if it becomes evident that I wouldn't be able to afford something with a higher capacity and in a different caliber.  Five more rounds in a caliber that packs more of a punch is much more appealing to me.  Who knows though, it might be a good choice to start me out for the next couple years while I save for something more substantial.

What about you?  Would you be comfortable defending your life with the 9x18mm round?  Have you ever shot a CZ-82 or seen one shot?  Any thoughts?  


Savage said...

CZ makes a good gun, and for under 250 it will probably be good. The only down side to it is ammo. 9x18 is hard to find and even harder to find in something other than ball ammo. I gues that being the only down side. I would just go up to a 9x19 and the world is your oyster when it comes to ammo.

Mark said...

It does seem pretty rare, but I have found that seems to have cases of cheap Brown Bear FMJ ammo for about $100 for 500 rounds. HP Silver Bear is only a bit more.

That in mind, you're right. It's got nothing on the 9mm or .45ACP in terms of availability or stopping power. You can go to a thousand different websites or any gun store/walmart in the country and get 9mm/.45ACP.

Cost is the only thing that keeps this gun in the running.

Team MiRketti said...

Where would you purchase one of these, along with the ammo, and the finish? I like the size, look and the price. Thanks for sharing these comparison's with us.

Mark said...

The easiest way would be to have your local gunstore order it for you.

Go to and check out the options you want. Should be under "handguns > CZ surplus". Head into your gun store, check to see if they have any in stock (not likely) and then ask if they can order it for you. The ones around here will handle the whole transaction for you and call when it's in. It's usually a $20-40 transfer fee to them to do this.

The ammo can be had at Like I said above, it's about $100 for 500 rounds. Idk what ohio law is regarding ammo shipping (here in IL you have to have a FOID card to purchase ammo) but if you meet the requirements for the state, J&G should be able to ship it to your house, along with an extra magazine if you decide to get one.

The duracoat is available at The kit that they have on there for 49.99 says it covers about 2 firearms. That's what I would get. If you google "cz 82 refinish" you can find a few different methods (parkerizing, blueing) but I think the Duracoat looks the best. My recommendation would be to buy the gun, put a few hundred rounds thru it and make sure you're happy. Then get the duracoat and make it look nice when you decide to keep it. The chipped up finish appears to be totally cosmetic. I haven't read of anyone having pitting or rust issues from it.

Glad you got something from the writeup. Let me know if you get the gun. I'd be very interested in your firsthand opinon on it.

ComradePIe said...

The 82 is a great little pistol. I've shot it and I own it's younger brother, the 83 (in .380). Can you compete with this pistol? Mostly no. But my local gun stores sell TONS of self defense Mak ammo. Hornady even makes some, from what I recall. This is a solid pistol, shots right where you point it, is more than enough for self defense (unless you routinely go up against bad guys with kevlar jackets who are also on PCP, and is worth FAR more than the $250 you can get them for. Add on one of those cool Dura-Kote finishes and you are on a roll!

Chopped Liver said...

I certainly come down on the PRO side on the 82, but I'd like to share a few thoughts.

First, I've found mine to be very reliable, but it's not true that they have few parts - 55 parts (not including the magazine) compared to a Glock for example which has 30 some-odd including the magazine.

When it comes to buying one, one should know that they are originally imported with two magazines, and many places sell them as such. If you see one being sold with only one, the second was probably taken out by the distributor in order to sell separately for more profit. Also, at least in my opinion, there's no advantage to going for a new barrel - the original barrels are excellent, chrome lined with subtle "polygonal" rifling. The new barrels have traditional rifling.

Lastly I'm just going to emphasize two more words: accuracy and FUN! :D

PS. When I brought mine home the very first comment my wife had was to make a Bond comparison just like yours.