A mysterious, if soft spoken, Czech
The Germans in WWII were the ultimate locusts when it came to re-purposing captured weapons. Not only did they quickly turn around and put everything they found that went bang in an occupied country to good use, they also kept the local factories churning out new guns and munitions for the war machine. In Belgium, FN’s Herstal works kept pumping out Browning Hi Powers for the Third Reich just as Poland’s Radom worked around the clock to make 9mm VIS pistols.
Czechoslovakia was no different and the CZ concern in Brno was forced to keep making their pistols, rifles (which were Mauser 98 copies anyway) and light machine guns until as late as 1945– but for Teutonic use.
One of the more peculiar CZ produced guns made during occupation was a special Böhmische Waffenfabrik 7.65×17mm Browning SR (.32 ACP) CZ Model 27 pistol with an over-length 5-inch barrel, some 30.4 mm longer than normal.
Given a phosphate finish, these guns were marked “fnh Pistole Model 27 Kal. 7.65” and the barrel served as a male counterpart to the knurled female coupling of a rather large steel suppressor can.
Fitted with a sight on the top of the can (as the body occluded the standard front post on the slide) the suppressor was made specifically for the CZ27.
There is at least some anecdotal evidence of a more svelte silencer design being issued as well, sans sights.
While some .32ACP is spicy enough to be supersonic, the Germans had a run of “X” headstamped 7.65 Browning rounds made by Geco and DWM Berlin-Borsigwalde which were suitably subsonic for use in these guns. Coupled with a very large baffle can, they were likely very quiet indeed.
According to Czech sources, some 5000 of these guns were ordered in September 1944 (OKH Wa JRu /Wu.G.Z G2-0161-0121 IV 44) and about 4220 were delivered. While some claim they were meant to be used in concentration camps, it is more likely they were intended for commando operations such as those run by Skorzeny which were increasingly popular in the late stages of the war (remember he went into the Ardennes with a unit illegally dressed as U.S. Army MPs in December of that very year).
Another likely use for these guns was in “stay behind” operations by Werwolf resistance units.
A silenced pistol (possibly a CZ27?) was used by an SS hit team in Unternehmen Karneval to assassinate Burgomeister Openhoff after Aachen fell to the Allies in 1945, arguably one of the only documented operations undertaken by Werwolf-style units (though they were parachuted in behind the Allied lines and not overrun in this case).
While they were not fielded in great numbers before the conflict ended, there is some rumor that intelligence agencies on both sides of the Iron Curtain used inherited examples of these pistols throughout the Cold War– with a few even popping up in North Korea of all places. After all, what is more “sterile” and deniable than a German contract Czech-made pistol that both East and West captured at the tail end of WWII and takes .32ACP, which is commonly encountered in even the most exotic third world country?
Today, the cans are a rarity, but the pistols themselves sell for about $3,000 at auction.
The gun/can design did go on to inspire others by CZ.
In 1959, Miroslav Rybář of CZ designed the .32 ACP-chambered closed-bolt blowback action vz. 61 Škorpion machine pistol which proved popular in Warsaw Pact countries throughout the Cold War, and still endures today. The suppressor designed to accompany the gun attaches by a quick attach/detach knurled collar that clamps onto the barrel in much the same was as the CZ27 that preceded it by 15 years.