Why are the .38 Special headstamped blanks clearly 9 mm Para? A picture would
help. The one I have is identical in all ways to except headstamp to the normal Czech
blanks, steel and brass case, using the various symbols for the manufacturer’s code.
They are clearly 7.62 x 25, both in design. The year 1952 is very significant, because
that is the year that the Czech CZ vz. 52 pistol, caliber 7.62 x 25 mm, was adopted.
A comparison of the cases of my blanks to 7.62 x 25 cartridges, shows the shoulder,
which on the blank becomes also the crimped case mouth, at the same height. There
was no need to make the case full shoulder different, and they headspace on that shoulder.
That is why there is no well defined “case mouth” as their is on the latter 9 mm Para steel
If you look at the model numbers of many of the Czech small arms of that period, such as
the so-called “She Rifle” (slang-named for the manufacturer’s code found on them), the are all
most vz. 52, adopted in 1952, not 1954.
Had these early blanks been 9 mm Para, it would not have been necessary to make the very
well-defined 9 mm Para blanks later on.
Regarding the Czech pistol that replaced the Vz. 52, the CZ vz. 82, yes, the normal pistol is in
caliber 9 x 18 mm. But, once again, the blank-firing version of it is not, although they kept the
cartridge designation as 9-82, probably to avoid confusion. It is actually chambered for a blank
cartridge, as mentioned above, of the same dimensions in all respects as the blanks for the
7.62 x 25 mm vz. 52, roller-locked pistol, now very common in the United States. I own one, although
not the one I had in my auto pistol collection at a much earlier time, when only seven “sneaked in” to
the US, either in error or purposefully, described a M1950 French 9 mm Pistols, to which they bare
some superficial similarity due to the parkerized finish and the black grooved grip panels. I am well
familiar with these Czech pistols. The chambering of the blank-fire vz. 82 pistol prevents the chambering
of a 9 x 18 mm ball cartridge, since the bore in the barrel is no where near 9 mm. It is a very wise safety
feature that the pistol cannot chamber a ball cartridge of either 9 x 18 mm or 7.62 x 25 mm.
I mentioned above that it is quite possible that the blank cartridges could be fired in a 9 x 19 mm weapon,
although the headspace would be quite sloppy.
Regarding the earlier version of the Vz. 52, they were in prototype form. The initial Model designation for the prototype was CZ vz. 482. In was improved into the CZ vz. 491. Both of these were 9 mm Para. However, due to the unification requirements imposed by the USSR, these were abandoned in 1950 (not 1954), and the Soviet 7.62 x 25 mm cartridge was prioritized. The year 1954 is when the improved 7.62 mm version, prototype designated vz. 513, was finally accepted in the Czech service. The conversion of the design (not any pistols) into the 513 was evidently troublesome, causing a delay in finalization of the design into the Vz. 52, but during the development period, 7.62 mm ammo types were required, of course.
Ball ammunition was no particular problem, since it had been manufactured in Czechoslovakia since 1947, not surprising considering the quantity of Russian SMGs and Pistols that floated around the Eastern block
countries until standardization and rearming began c. 1950. So, it is also not suprising to find training blanks in 7.62 x 25 mm Tokarev made in Czechoslovakia in 1952, a full two years after it was decided the “new” pistol was to be in that caliber. All of the Cz vz. 52 pistols were made in 1952-1954. My own vz. 52, purchased some time after selling my collection when they appeared on the market in the USA at incredibly cheap prices, was made in 1953. It was too tempting to not buy one once again, especially since I wrote the first article to appear in a U.S. gun Magazine, “Shooting Times,” on this pistol, in June 1970. The same unification requirements were applied to the SMG 23 and it was redesigned for the 7.62 x 25 mm cartridge beginning in 1950 and culminating in the adoption of the SMG 24 (infantry model) and SMG 26 (paratroops). It is almost certain that the blanks in 7.62 x 25 mm were more widely used in these SMGs than they were in pistols.
Reference (Primary): “Czech Firearms and Ammunition,” by Vladimir Dolinek, Vladimir Karlicky and Pavel Vacha.
References (Secondary): “know your Czech Pistols,” by R. J. Berger
“The Little Known Czech M52 Pistol,” Shooting Times, by John Moss
Miscellaneous notes on Czech vz. 82/83 and vz. 52, John Moss files