Ceska Zbrojovka is a celebrated firearms concern that originated in the former Czechoslovakia in the years following World War 1 (1914-1918), founded in 1919 in what is present-day Czech Republic. The concern produced numerous weapons in their time and this included a collection of rather strong, good quality semi-automatic pistols. The semi-automatic pistol arrived prior to World War 1 and, lacking the simplicity, reliability and ease of manufacture, failed to replace revolvers entirely. Instead, both gun types continued in service side-by-side, a fact that still holds true even today. Regarding Ceska Zbrojovka, they began a line of semi-automatic pistols with their acceptance of the vz. 22 (vz = "model") of 1922.
The vz. 22 pistol was from the mind of gunsmith Josef Nickl who was brought over from the German concern of Mauser in the post-war years to assist in setting up of a rifle plant in neighboring Czechoslovakia. Once there, he managed to interest Czech authorities on a semi-automatic pistol design he had spawned in 1915 - a recoil-operated, 9mm Parabellum-chambered sidearm utilizing a locked-breech design. This pistol was then accepted into Czech Army service though in 9x18mm Browning Short as the national army's first modern pistol. The design then begat the vz. 24 of 1924 which incorporated a magazine safety feature preventing management of the trigger until the magazine was inserted. It was from this line that the interwar/World War 2-era vz. 27 of 1927 was born which parted from the preceding designs by utilizing a standard blowback action and the 7.65x17mm Browning SR cartridge.
In 1938, Hitler's Germany formally occupied the northern and western sections of Czechoslovakia (the Sudetenland) also conveniently encompassing Czech border defenses in these areas. The occupation only grew from there until Czechoslovakia was partitioned and ceased to exist. The German occupation would last until the final days of World War 2 in 1945 when "liberated" by the Soviet Union.
During the time of the German occupation, Czech military factories fell under the control of the conquering power. This included the Ceska Zbrojovka facilities which produced the vz. 27. As with other quality, useful, foreign-originated military goods falling under the control of the Germans, the vz. 27 was adopted into German Army service to shore up weak stocks of such weapons - particularly for local security duty. The vz. 27 proved it worth through general reliability, ease of handling and - perhaps most importantly - ease of production. This ultimately led to stocks of vz. 27 pistols being produced directly for German use. While there proved no true physical discernable changes in the German format, these examples were marked with "Pistole Modell 27 Kal. 7.65" at the slide with the additional marking of the place of manufacture ("Bohmische Waffenfabrik Prag"). As such, the pistol was recognized in German nomenclature as the Pistole M27(t). Early vz.27 production included wooden grips while later forms were given grips of lower manufacture cost.
The general form of the vz 27 series was highly conventional and sported a rather clean slide with only light ribbing at the rear. Sights are fitted along the top in the usual way (forward and rear). The grip was given a checker pattern finish while the solid trigger was seated in an oblong ring. Magazines were inserted into the base of the grip as expected. The barrel protruded only a short length ahead of the slide and the cartridge ejection port was seated at the right side of the slide/frame. All original Czech guns were clearly marked along the left face of the slide with the serial number and "Ceska Zbrojovka as v Praze". The vz. 27 was chambered for the 7.65x17mm Browning SR (.32 ACP = "Automatic Colt Pistol") cartridge, featured a running length of 6.25 inches and a barrel measuring 3.8 inches. The weapon was fed through an 8-round straight detachable box magazine and performed with a muzzle velocity of 920 feet per second.
The vz. 27 was a rare "conquered" design which originated prior to World War 2, survived the whole of the war in constant production, and managed further manufacture after 1948 and into 1951 despite the Soviet influence (now marked as "Narodni Podnik" along the slide). The design became the most recognized and numerous of the prewar Ceska Zbrojovka offerings with production under the Ceska Zbrojovka Brno and Ceska Zbrojovka Prague brand labels but to also include Bohmische Waffenfabrik Prag during the Nazi occupation.
While records are somewhat variable as to total production, as many as 650,000 vz. 27 series pistols may have been produced. Operators went on to include the United Kingdom, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, South Africa and Egypt among others.