Unblinking Eye

Trigger Job for the Czech Model 52
by Ed Buffaloe

After having the article about installing a “competition” trigger on line for six years, I have come to believe that a better option than changing out firing pins is to do a trigger job on the Czech pistol.  Once you replace the firing pin as described below you essentially have an unsafe gun, and if someone else acquires it they may not realize how unsafe it is.  A trigger job is easier than a lot of people may think.  One advantage of the Czech Model 52 is that it is cheap, and parts are cheap, so if you screw it up you can always buy new parts.  But the gun provides an opportunity to learn something about gunsmithing--it is very easy to work on.  The book I found essential for the task is J.B. Wood’s Gun Digest Book of Automatic Pistols Assembly/Disassembly.  It gives directions on how to disassemble and reassemble some 89 different automatic pistols, and is an invaluable reference.  Wood always provides good, clear photographs of critical parts relationships for each gun.

There are various videos on YouTube that also provide useful information on the Czech Model 52, though not all of them show the activity as clearly as I would like.  They are worth looking at and listening to, nonetheless.  I also recommend the instructional videos available from the American Gunsmith Institute.  You have to pay for them, but they are not expensive and are well worth the money spent.

The first and easiest thing to do is to polish the firing pin and the firing pin lock plunger.  I put the parts in a vise and cut some very thin strips of 320 grit wet-dry sandpaper to work them over with.  Polishing these parts is a very slow process, particularly because they are so small, but worth the effort.  After they are as smooth as I can get them with the 320 grit, I switch to 600.  You can also move on to 1500 grit, but it isn’t absolutely necessary.  An alternative to polishing the old firing pin is to buy the Harrington replacement pin (not the “competition” pin), which has much better steel.  But you still need to polish the locking plunger.  You should also polish the holes in the slide that these parts fit into.  I used a thin dowel with a piece of 320 sandpaper wrapped around it.

The other easy steps you can take are to polish the sides of the hammer and trigger.  I simply put a wide-enough strip of sandpaper on a flat surface and rub the part over it until it is smooth.  It can easily take 10 or 15 minutes per side.  Start with 320 grit and finish with 600.  This means you will be removing the black phosphate finish.  I went ahead and polished the front surface of my trigger as well.

You should also polish the connector bar, removing as many of the sharp edges and rough surfaces as possible.  I didn’t get all the phosphate off my connector, but it feels much smoother than it was before.  While I was at it I polished up the hammer strut--I noticed how roughly the hammer spring moved around it.  Every little bit helps.

Finally, a bit more tricky, but not that difficult, is to stone the two surfaces where the hammer and sear interact.  It is very important not to change the angles of these surfaces, so do this at your own risk.  I worked with a fine man made stone and some honing oil.  Using a fine stone takes longer, but makes it less likely that you will remove too much metal or change the angle.  I wasn’t able to get the surface of the hammer full cock notch perfectly smooth (it was really rough), but the improvement was noticeable just the same.

Before I put the gun back together I cleaned the interior with G96 Gun Treatment and a small bristle brush, then I carefully lubricated all the moving parts with Tetra Gun Grease or Hoppe’s 9 Moly Oil.


My Czech Model 52 after polishing the trigger and hammer and various internal parts.
I bought the wooden grips on Ebay.


A Quick Note on Installing the Harrington Competition Firing Pin

I bought the Harrington Competition Firing Pin and Trigger Enhancement for my Czech vz 52 from Makarov.com.  The instructions are thorough and seem to cover all possibilities.  The competition pin is quite different from the stock pin.  The stock pin is flat on one side and lacks a return spring, whereas the Harrington competition pin is round and has to have a spring.  The competition pin is machined instead of cast.  It is much less brittle than the stock pin, and so less likely to break if the gun is dry fired.  These guns should not be dry fired, if they have the factory firing pin. 

Using the competition pin effectively disables the firing pin lock safety, making this gun unsafe to carry with a round in the chamber. The safety will still disable the trigger, but if the gun were dropped, there is a possibility that the hammer could fall and strike the firing pin.  The competition firing pin can also make it dangerous to use the hammer drop mechanism, as the gun might discharge, and so great care should be taken when handling weapons that have been modified like this, and they should never be carried with a round in the chamber.  But the reduction in trigger pull and smoother action is worth the effort, and for me this is not a carry gun anyway--it is a fun gun to take to the range and shoot.

CZ 52 ExtractorThe instructions for installing the competition firing pin say that with some guns the return spring for the firing pin may be interfered with by the back side of the extractor, which extends into the firing pin chamber.  I did two of these replacements, one for myself and one for a friend, and both of them had this problem.  Unless you have a significantly different extractor than I do, you will have this problem too.  Which means you will need to drift out the pin that holds it in and modify the extractor.  If you aren’t prepared to remove the extractor and modify it yourself, you should take the new firing pin to a competent gunsmith for installation.  However, taking the extractor out was quite easy, as the pin was not in very tightly, and a round file is really not that difficult to use.

Extractor radiusedThe instructions say to remove as little metal from the back of the extractor as possible.  I ended up taking the extractor out of the slide about a dozen times altogether to get it “radiused” correctly.  I kept trying to remove a small amount of metal, then test, but ultimately on both extractors I modified, I had to make the radius as shown, lowering the middle by a millimeter or so without lowering the two sides.  I used a round file that was just over 2/10 of an inch in diameter, but a slightly smaller one would probably have served.  The radius can’t be too deep, or it will interfere with the hole for the pin.  I hope this helps folks who may be unclear about what to do.

I replaced the recoil spring in my vz 52 with the Wolff 18.5 pound spring.  This made more difference than I thought it would.  I could swear the gun is more accurate with the heavier spring.  You can buy them from Makarov.com or direct from Wolff (stock number 50418).

CZ-52 Links

A Customized CZ-52 to Czech Out
The Awesome CZ-52
CZ-52 Pistol
Great Firearms - The CZ-52
Parts List & Diagram

 Copyright 2007-2013 by Ed Buffaloe.  All rights reserved.

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