Ceská Zbrojovka Model 27 - CZ27
by RJK Ventures
The CZ27 pistol was introduced in 1927, between the wars, and was primarily a commercial product for civilian and police. It did not achieve much success prior to WWII, with fewer than 15,000 sold in the first 10-11 years of production. The term CZ27 actually didn’t come into use until post‑war, but it’s commonly used to refer to all Model 27s, so we’ll stick with it here. The CZ27 was produced in Strakonice, Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic.
This high-polish CZ27, # 27087, is DR marked. Most collectors believe these were contract guns for use by the Deutsche Reichsbahn (German Railway).
In March 1939, Hitler’s forces invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia. The Strakonice arms factory was under control of the Germans and to supply several types of arms to the German war machine, including the CZ27. By 1941, small arms production shifted into high gear.
The CZ27s went primarily to the German Army, but pistols were produced for the Kriegsmarine, Police, and a small number for commercial / non‑military use. Army guns were WaA76 proofed, Police guns Eagle/K proofed, and Kriegsmarine guns used two variations of Eagle/M proofs. Commercial guns carried a Czech Lion and a year. There are also a couple other interesting variations, outside the scope of this article.
CZ27 serialization for wartime production can be quite confusing. Unlike other wartime manufactured pistols, the CZ27 serialization scheme changed twice in less than a year, so there are three ways a wartime CZ27 is numbered. Wartime CZ27 production started around 20400, with the frame, side plate, top slide, and barrel all serialized with full numbers.
This early high-polish CZ27 shows the four numbered parts. This scheme lasted up to about serial number 200000, or about 180,000 guns. No other parts were factory numbered.
At about serial number 200000, the serial number scheme changed quite dramatically. Only the top slide carried the serial number adjacent to the rear sight, and the frame, barrel, and side plate were completely unnumbered. The “why” of such a significant and unusual change is unknown, but it didn’t last.
This military blue finish CZ27 shows the abrupt change to a single serial number on the top slide. The frame, side plate and barrel are unnumbered. It is was made shortly after the 200000 cut over. This serialization confuses many collectors, but at least 42,000+ CZ27s were produced this way.
The “top slide only” scheme continued until somewhere in the upper 243XXX range, when the frame serial number reappeared on the front right side. It’s hard to know how cleanly this change occurred. There may be considerable overlap in the two schemes. The lowest “top slide only” serialized CZ27 I have observed is 200595 and the highest is 242804. The lowest “top slide and frame” serialized CZ27 I have seen is 249151. If anyone can expand / refine these ranges, please let me know.
The practice of numbering the top slide and frame continued to the end of the war. There are also quite a few un-serialized CZ27s that are obvious wartime production, but completely devoid of numbers. There are lots of theories on these un-serialized pistols, but no definitive information.
Over the course of production, the slide marking was changed to use the [then] secret fnh code and the CZ logo on the grips was “scrubbed” off to further hide the identity of the manufacturer. A number of other changes occurred, all aimed at making the manufacturing process faster and more efficient. The finish went from high-polish, to military blue about serial number 200000, then to phosphate about serial number 400000. The firing pin retainer, side plate, and magazine catch, all went from milled parts to stamped parts, at different times over the course of production. While the functionality was never compromised, the pre-war high-polish CZ27 with milled parts, ended up by the end of the war as a phosphate finish pistol with several stamped parts. Over the course of wartime production, Strakonice produced over 450,000 CZ27s.
This military blue finish Eagle/K proofed Police CZ27 is one of 500 of this variation produced. It also featured a rare matching numbered magazine, which was most likely done by a police armorer. The factory did not number magazines.
This left side of the Eagle/K proofed Police CZ27 shows the lack of a frame serial number, correct for this serial number. It also shows the lack of a WaA76 proof above the grip, also correct for an Eagle/K proofed Police gun.
In May 1945, the Factory was liberated by American Military Forces. Eventually normal conditions returned and pistol production continued. There’s an interesting story about post-war CZ27 production that would make a good follow up article.
This phosphate Army proofed CZ27 is one of the last before the Strakonice factory was liberated. Shortly after this serial number, non-proofed post-war CZ27s begin appear.
The large number of CZ27s produced during the war make them readily available to collectors. The [more reasonable] prices and number of variations make them a good focus for new and experienced collectors alike. Good collecting!
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