Friday, July 6, 2012

The Next One

**SPOILER** Firearm Content.  Someone, to whose blog I will not link here, does not like when I blog about firearms.  I won't mention this person's name; don't want to embarrass him or her, but I said to this person, "Josie, I'm not gonna stop writing about them..."

It required a selection process that encompassed months of research, discussion, advice, Internet hoo-haa, forums by wacko 2nd-Amendment types, and comments by my readers. However, after said herculean effort, Team Southpaw has at last made a decision on the firearm that both Tootsie and I are comfortable with as a primary means of defending Shangri-La (also known as The Jakewood). It has been purchased, inspected, approved, and is currently waiting out its purgatorial term of 8 days, the waiting period here in Rhode Island, at my local gun shop.

Before I tell you what I have decided on, allow me to articulate the needs that this particular firearm needed to fulfill.

The winner of this RFP, as it were, needed to be:

1. Above all else, capable of stopping an intruder to the house with one shot.  I interpreted this need to actually be a conglomerate of several sub-needs:
  • It needed to be of sufficient caliber to provide stopping power;
  • It needed to be accurate enough and easy enough to shoot to score a hit the first pull of the trigger; and
  • It needed to be user-friendly enough such that a female without significant experience with firearms could hold it, aim it, and squeeze off a shot without it frightening, intimidating, or injuring her.
2. As ambidextrous as is practical, as Tootsie is a righty and I am, well, a southpaw
3. Reasonably priced
4. Chambered for an inexpensive round (a 3-dollar razor that needs 5-dollar blades is no bargain)
5. Recommended by those who've purchased one
6. Easy to break down, clean, and reassemble
7. (if it fulfills items 1-6) A weapon of some historical significance, because a lot of my interest in firearms is based on the stories one can tell

As time passed and I started focusing my research, I made two preliminary recommendations to Tootsie and sent her some data and a few YouTube videos. To my great satisfaction, and some small surprise, she came back with some thoughtful and intelligent questions, asked for some further data to determine the differences between the two semi-finalists, and really took an interest in the process. Ultimately, she came to the same conclusion that I did; the best gun for the job is...

...The CZ-82, the Czech equivalent of the Soviet Makarov pistol.

Ain't she a beauty? Here's a little history.  If you're this far in, you're probably going to be interested, but if not, just skip ahead a bit.

The Soviet Union (the "Russkies") were, at the end of World War II, still arming its officers and non-combat enlisted men with the Nagant M1895 revolver and a clumsy simplification of the Colt 1911 called the Tokarev TT-33. The revolver was a nice enough piece but practically useless as a weapon.  It was inaccurate, used ammunition that was expensive to manufacture, and had a trigger pull that, at 11 pounds, was just one lead pipe bitch-and-a-half to fire. And they never saw the TT-33 as anything but a stopgap (though ironically the weapon is still in use in several countries).

They knew they had to make a change, but instead of first designing the weapon, they developed a round they wanted to use and built the gun around it.  The round they decided upon was a 9mm x 18mm round with a pretty good powder load.
Knowledgeable readers will note its similarity to the .380ACP round - and they'd be right

The winning design was submitted by Nikolay Fyodorovich Makarov, and has become the country's standard sidearm for over sixty years, from 1951 all the way to and through the fall of the Soviet Union; in fact it is still in use by the new Russian Federation to this day.

Eventually, around 1980 or so, the Soviets determined that all of the Warsaw Pact countries would develop firearms around the 9x18 round, now named the 9mm Makarov round. The Bulgarians, Poles and East Germans developed what were essentially clones of the Russian Makarov.  But the Czechs, long known as expert machinists and gun manufacturers, developed a weapon that outclassed the Mak and all its clones, with a completely different set of guts, and they named it the CZ-82, based, like so many firearms, on the year of its release.

The CZ-82 was the class of the 9mm Makarov guns; it was easier to field-strip, offered ambidextrous magazine releases and safeties; and featured a barrel that, instead of having rifling etched into it (the spiral that makes the bullet spin as it fires), was polygonal on the outside, then twisted, so that the spin was imparted by the barrel itself.  This made for a completely smooth barrel which meant that it was incredibly easy to clean and to keep clean.

Another difference between the CZ-82 and the Makarov is that the 82 could accommodate a double-stacked magazine, so it can hold 13 rounds instead of the Mak's 8.

For some reason the US Government put the 82 on its Curio and Relic list, making it easier to import into the US.  And, like so much else coming in from the former Eastern bloc, they're dirt cheap.  The first huge batch they brought in sold out right away, and those who didn't act were made to wait.  But eventually they sent another gigantic batch to the US, and at this point anyone who wants one can certainly have one.

The one they sent me was manufactured in 1990 and yes, I know it was refinished before it was exported to the US, but it doesn't look like this thing was ever shot. The finish is near-perfect (gun people use percentages; mine was estimated as a 90%), there isn't a drop of wear on any of the insides, and the barrel literally shines when held up to the light. It's as perfect a specimen as a 22-year-old piece of machinery could ever be. The trigger pull is beautiful - soft without being mushy - in either single- or double-action (in other words, pulling the hammer back and shooting or letting the trigger do both jobs).

And I paid the princely sum of $229 for it, which is less expensive than any but the absolute shittiest of available firearms today (can anyone say Hi-Point?). It came with an extra magazine, a cleaning rod, and a holster that, unlike just about any other holster on the planet, was ambidextrous.  Bet you didn't even know holsters had hand-bias, did you?  Well they do. Think about it: You put a holster on your left hip and the gun sits backwards in it.

Ammo for it is dirty-dirt-dirt cheap: I bought a box of 50 for 11 bucks.  Compare that with the $40 I "shelled" out for the 50 round box for my Nagant revolver! That shit pays for itself pretty much right away.  Josie, if you're still reading this, I'll give you a dollar - don't nobody tell her or I'll be pissed.  The inexpensive ammo makes it easy to practice with it, which is important for Tootsie, who needs to make herself more familiar with this, as she needs to use it as well, in case some shit goes down when I'm not around.

Just as important as anything else, nobody who owns one and gave an opinion on it had a single harsh word to say.  Praise for the gun was universal.

Anyway, there you go.  A quick shout-out to Duggle Bogey, whose glowing review of his Makarov led me down the road to the CZ-82.  Thanks, brother Duggle!


  1. Personally I'm a Sig fan tho finances made me end up with a Ruger P-85 when I eventually went the auto loader route. Can't complain altho its stopping power isn't as great as some. Of course the fact that it was able to handle a 20 round clip before they were banned didn't make that as important at the time. Of course there was always the Llama .357 hunting piece if I needed something to knock someone down and walk all over him. Both are locked away now that my daughter is old enough to go snooping so that my katana is primary household defense these days. Much more elegant.

  2. Nothing in the world wrong with that Llama .357 - probably a lot cheaper than the S&W it emulates. I wasn't familiar with the Ruger P-85; a little research told me of its short life. But I have a lot of respect for Ruger: my 10/22 is just a gorgeous little plinker, and still what I'd use for the zombie apocalypse. In fact, just had that very argument with the boys in the gun shop today. From middle range - say, 20 yards - you can empty your mag in a two-inch grouping.

    And yeah, Sig Sauer is the bomb diggity, if you have a grand to blow on its .45 1911. For that kind of coin though I can get a Colt in a presentation box, not like I'd spend a grand on a handgun anyway.

    Pity about the magazine capacity. Rhode Island has a few really stupid rules (an 8-day period for any firearm, long or short), but mag capacity ain't one of them.

    But a katana? Really? Something that goes bang would prevent anyone from getting close enough to USE a katana. Besides which, I'm a coward: I'd need to shoot an intruder as opposed to running him through.

  3. Thanks for the shout Gary. The CZ looks like a nice improvement over my Makarov, especially the southpaw-ness and the magazine. Kind of a shock that the Soviets, whose solution to the pens don't work in space problem was "use a pencil" actually addressed the lefties with something other than "use your right hand."

    Congrats on the purchase, I think it's quite a score.

    1. Well thank YOU brother Duggle, for your advice and counsel in this matter. And you're right about the Soviets and their seeming aversion to elegance in mechanical design - Soviet products weren't so much designed and engineered as they were bludgeoned into life. But I also think that the Czechs were, of all the SU's puppet governments, the most reluctant.

      "The Reluctant Communists" - I rather like the sound of that!

  4. Nice looking gun Gary. I didn't realize the CZ82 was that cheap. I am also looking for a weapon that the PQ and the daughter can handle easily. My S/W .40 has a bit much kick for a lady and I was really looking at the Ruger P95 for the ladies. I'll check out the CZ soon and see what it looks like. Did you order it online or does your gun shop carry it? I didn't know RI had such a silly rule like 8 day waiting periods but it doesn't surprise me much. Of course you could be like MA and have a list of banned guns and a limit of a 10 round magazine. Because having 10 round or less magazines really protects the law abiding citizen.

  5. My local shop had the CZ-83, a consumer version of the weapon that is chambered for .380ACP. It was over 400 squeeds and I don't really like the .380 round. I got the gun from AIM Surplus, I paid the extra ten-spot for hand-selection: worth every penny.

    And yes, I fucking hate the game each side plays with firearms. The left imposes stupid rules, like mag capacities and waiting periods (at one point a good idea but with computers, now obsolete), and the right throws up ridiculous arguments against laws designed to increase safety, like trigger locks, background checks, and other common-sense laws. I believe the NRA does its members a great disservice by being so intractable concerning any legislation along those lines, and I think Progressives overreach when they try to ban things like large-cap mags and certain weapons for no other reason than they look menacing. If both sides would just calm down and (God forbid) take a common-sense approach, none of this would be an issue. But then the NRA would be irrelevant, so it has to foment a paranoia in its members about upcoming assaults on the 2nd amendment. And the anti-gun lobby has to do ITS thing. Meanwhile, no actual governance takes place. It's enough to make a man sick.

  6. Yes really, a katana. Always prefered something with an edge to something that goes bang but I'm not snobbish about it. it's just that altho I've drilled my daughter in the propers firearms protocol she's at the age where they do stupid things which means the guns are now under lock and key which kind of screws up their use as a quick home defense item. The katana OTOH can be out and swinging in 2 seconds. Besides you can play around with edged weapons with a lot less chance of it being fatal if your hand slips tho it sometimes leaves interesting marks on your epidermis as many years of mumbley peg will attest to.

    1. Listen, don't get me wrong: locking up your weapons if you have a shred of doubt is obviously the right thing to do, as if you needed my approval of how you run your house. But a katana is not the easiest hand weapon to wield, is all I'm saying, and - all due respect here, really - I'm guessing you don't wield it at an expert level. But if it's all one has, one does what one must. In an identical situation I'd use a baseball bat, but that's me.