Well, it finally came home, today
The seller managed to find two clips for it and generously sent those as well (a 5$ value or so). Condition is better than the CZ52 I bought, except for the barrel interior, which is as crusty as a juggler but still has decent rifling. All other metal is very flat and smooth, aside from very scattered and faint pitting, and hairline scratches. I didn't know stainless existed back then, but there are several pieces like the mag follower that actually look polished.
I can tell the grips are fatter than the original scales would have been, adding a good .25" to the width, which I find comfortable for a magwell as long as this. The screw head has started a crack in the bottom of the grip where the wood is thin which I can easily repair. The slide release/bullet fountain button is tiny and quite hard to actuate; as with many service pistols, it would be faster to just slingshot the slide after loading (safer for both your thumbs, too). The manual safety/slide latch gets a lot of bad rep for wearing easily, but mine appears to function, and isn't difficult to switch. It switches up for safe and is really far back, so it's easier for your weak hand to move it to safe, but a thumb can swipe it down quickly to fire. The slide is fairly hard to draw back, probably almost as tough as my CZ52 with the 20lb Wolff spring in it, but the giant knobs on the rear make it easier to get a grip than the CZ.
The trigger is light and smooth, with a good deal of first stage takeup before a squishy but short release. Really light --around 3-4lbs. I'm convinced the sear is worn down, since the barrel indicates this was not a match shooter's gun
. However, jostling the pistol, banging on the hammer, racking/releasing the slide, and the like would not dislodge it, so I will trust it to not run away for now. I do notice occasional hammer follow on manual racking, especially if done slow, in which I can tell the sear only ~1/2 engages --the hammer stays back, but isn't rotated down quite far enough to clear the slide, and is banged loose by it when the slide is released (it I try to ride the slide forward, it will actually block the slide's motion). My hope is that the energetic operation of the slide by recoil will avoid this scenario most times. The hammer is pretty small, too, with a short pivot and horn that makes it tough to manually cock/drop, which I think stands out from other guns of the day whose hammers looked more at home on revolvers. It definitely smacks pretty good, though.
Takedown is an absolute pain, though simple. The spring loaded push pin at the front must've ripped the thumbnails off countless Austrian troops. I did get it out, though, for a field strip. All parts are smooth non-corroded metal, the rotary cams very slick. Other than being a machining/tooling nightmare, the design is quite simple and clever. Relative motion of the frame cams the barrel to rotate, in so doing it pulls away from the breechface a hair for very strong initial extraction, after which the slide separates and ejects the casing. There are a total of three lugs that hold the barrel back, not counting the camming surface which is set at a steep angle to the bore, for a total bearing surface that has got to be twice that of my CZ52's rollers, and probably more than a 1911's. The gun feels lighter and is much more balanced than the CZ, the slide side panels are only 2mm or so thick. The moulded/machined cam surfaces are about 3/32" tall.
Now the bad news (not really); 7.62x25 Tokarev will not quite fit
. It fits the clips perfectly, but is about .5mm too long to get through the slide opening, and about 1-1.5mm too long for the magwell (rake angle). Interestingly, one round will sit comfortably below the slide in the feed ramp, and will strip/feed like it was made to. I'll have to look around and see if shorter bullets exist in 308 caliber (the tok's round nose sticks out really far) because this gun is just screaming to be in that caliber (I can hear it even now...
The box is in fairly good condition, considering what its age must be. There's one joint that's coming unglued (with an old Elmer's glue repair) that I can hit with some Titebond III to cure for the rest of time. It's made of something like cherry, I think, and has a light satin varnish. The felt interior is a DIY job, and is starting to come up at the edges where the contact-adhesive is deteriorating. The felt is in pretty good shape, and its contrast in workmanship compared to the rest leads me to believe it may be a recent addition (and the box was originally unlined). I know cloth is a bad thing to store guns on, but it obviously hasn't hurt this one recently. There is a clever 8x3 + 1 holes drilled for loose rounds, but the pattern looks cool, and they do hold 9mm/tokarev snugly. The block is short enough that a loaded clip can sit atop it with the lid shut. The brass hinges/latches are tarnished but in working condition. The box really adds to the class of the pistol, the LGS guys were pretty impressed with the whole package. It's kinda making me want to look into making functional "shadow boxes" for my other old guns. Line it with the colors/flag of the nation, and etch or burn an insignia on the interior/exterior --instant cool.
If I'm not distracted by a box-building kick by this, I'll be looking into reaming out the barrel and having it sleeved for Tokarev (if shorter OAL bullets exist). That or getting a replacement barrel. The round is cooler, and the thicker sleeve would make me feel better, too (the barrel is pretty thin for a 9mm as is --about as thin as my CZ52 9mm conversion barrel). I would test this guy out this weekend, but there is no ammo to be had, hence the 7.62x25 in the clips
. I'll wait for someone to sell both ammo and clips online and pick up some of each
PS-the box makes it really easy to take a nice picture of the gun, btw