The VZ 70: A Review of a Classic

I really love the .32 ACP cartridge. I bought one .32 ACP Colt M1903 several years ago, and since then, I’ve loved this smooth shooting, micro-sized, little mouse cartridge. It’s gotten to the point where if I see a .32 ACP gun, I snatch it up. I have a hit list of guns in .32 ACP I want, which includes a Walther PP or PPK. However, those seem tough to find, but the VZ 70, also called the CZ 70, tends to be a bit more common. 

These guns originated from the VZ 50 and were often used as police weapons during the Cold War, but once the Berlin Wall fell, they were marketed and sold in the states. The little VZ 70 is a small pistol but is fairly large for a .32 ACP. It falls into that post-war European police pistol genre. In this era, European police, both Eastern and Western, often carried fairly small automatics. The VZ 70 is fairly small, especially when compared to the American revolver or M1911. 

In the American market, it’s about the same size as most concealed-carry firearms. With that in mind, could this old beast be a budget-worthy concealed-carry firearm? 

Specs and Features 

Most of the time, when we talk about .32 ACP pistols, we’re talking about little guns like the Beretta Tomcat, the Kel-Tec P32, and similar pistols. It can be hard to remember that at the dawn of semi-auto handguns, the .32 ACP was a hot little cartridge. It was introduced with the FN M1900, which threw the .32 ACP projectile at 950 feet per second, which was faster than the vast majority of small revolver loads. 

VZ 70 in hand
The VZ 70 is a small gun, but larger than most .32 ACPs.

With that in mind, guns like the VZ 70 seem odd in their size, but they were fairly standard for the era. The gun has a 3.8-inch barrel and an overall length of 6.5 inches. The gun weighs 25 ounces. The Iron Curtain certainly wasn’t afraid to use real metal. For comparison, the Glock 19 weighs 22 ounces unloaded. The size did allow for an 8-round magazine, plus one in the chamber. 

The VZ 70 is basic a Walther by a different mother. It bears mentioning nothing in the Walther was new, but it was an effective combination of existing technology. This includes a fixed barrel, a blowback design, the use of the barrel as a recoil guide rod, and a DA/SA trigger system. The VZ 70 uses that same overall layout to create a very Walther-like pistol. 

vz70 safety
The safety offers three positions, with a fire, safe, or decocker position.

There are differences, like the safety. It’s on the frame and has three positions. There are fire, safe, and decock positions. The grips are Bakelite, a Soviet Union special. The sights are a bit simpler, but the inspiration is very clear. Now, a Walther PPK might be a bit of a dated option, but it’s still viable for concealed carry. What about the VZ 70? 

To the Range 

At the range, I had a few handfuls of different .32 ACP rounds, including the ‘hot’ Fioochi stuff, some Remington, and PMC Bronze ammunition. They were all FMJs and worth a small fortune with the way .32 ACP is priced. The mags loaded easily, and it’s interesting to see how far guns have come in development when you hold the P365 magazine right beside the VZ 70. It’s crazy that ten 9mm rounds fit into a magazine shorter than an 8-round VZ 70 magazine. 

man shooting vz 70
The VZ 70 has got a little snap to it.

As a DA/SA gun, I fired it the way the good lord intended, with a first-round double-action. Holy crap was that trigger-heavy. It’s beyond the measurement of my Lyman trigger scale, which tops out at 12 pounds. It’s somewhere between 20 and the weight of a small elephant. I can’t think of any reason why a DA/SA pistol with a manual safety would ever need a trigger this heavy. 

VZ 70 in nature
The VZ 70 is Czech perfection and uses Walther as its inspiration.

It’s not just heavy, but it’s gritty and long. Once it breaks, the sweet feeling of relief breaks across your trigger finger. Oddly, you expert a bad single-action trigger, but I was surprised. It’s super crisp and light, with a short travel. It’s like two different guys designed the gun, and one hated you, but the other was a cool guy. 

The recoil was stiffer than I expected. My P32 weighs a little less than seven ounces and has the same recoil as this blowback-operated 25-ounce gun. That’s the joy of a blowback-operated gun and the difference a locked breech makes over a blowback action. 

The VZ 70 Accuracy 

The VZ 70 utilizes a fixed barrel, which can boost accuracy. The double-action trigger was so heinous. I didn’t want to see what my group looked like with a DAO group. I did, and it wasn’t impressive. At 15 yards, I created a five-inch group, and that was taking my time and shooting slowly. The short sight radius and minimalist sights don’t help either. 

man shooting vz 70
The VZ 70 is a real smoke wagon.

However, my DA/SA and single action-only groups were much smaller. Even with smaller sights and a short sight radius, I was fairly capable with the gun. Hitting a 10-inch gong at 25 yards wasn’t hard, and it’s amusing to see the gong barely move between shots. The little .32 ACP doesn’t carry much energy with it. On paper, a 15-yard group shrunk to about three inches. 

It’s accurate enough, but the trigger does nothing to help you in double action. For concealed carry, I think it’s more than 

Soviet Sized Hands 

The .32 ACP has an overall length of .984 inches. It’s not a big bullet. Why the grip feels a bit like a 2×4 is beyond me. It reminds me more of an early single-stack 9mm more than a .32 ACP pistol. It’s not terrible, but it’s an odd design decision all around. It’s made for Soviet-sized hands, I guess. 

vz 70 grip
A single stack .32 ACP has no business being this thick in the grip.

The slide is surprisingly easy to rack, especially with the hammer manually cocked. The magazine release is placed right forward of the grip, similar to the Walther. It’s awkward and not set up for fast reloads. The safety is placed on the grip and is easy to access. Decocking the gun takes a dedicated press, but accessing the safety isn’t tough. 

A Concealed Carry Option? 

I really wouldn’t mind carrying this gun. It’s small and flat, although somewhat heavy. It’s nowhere near as efficient or as nice as a P365 or other 9mm modern gun. Still, it’s reliable, accurate enough, and shoots a cartridge capable of decent penetration. That doesn’t mean I don’t have some issues with carrying the VZ 70. 

VZ 70 with magazine in hand
The VZ 70 uses a single stack 8-round magazine.

As a .32 ACP, the best round to use is an FMJ. With that said, the longer 3.8-inch barrel will likely give the little .32 ACP enough velocity to allow projectiles to expand adequately while penetrating well. 

However, these older .32 ACPs were designed for FMJs, and the combination of a semi-rimmed cartridge and the shorter overall length of a JHP bullet can create something called “rim lock.” Rim lock occurs when the rim of a round gets locked on the rim of the round below it. This creates a serious malfunction that you can’t tap, rack, and bang your way out of. 

The VZ70 on concrete
The VZ 70 is a hefty 25 ounces, making it heavier than the Glock 19.

Another issue comes down to the decocker and some safety problems. When these guns start to get worn, the firing pin block can fail. This kills their drop-safe capability and causes issues with the decocker. When you decock, it’s possible the gun will fire. For that reason, I would be very careful about carrying my gun. These are all used guns, so many get a new firing pin just because. 

The VZ 70 is a neat little firearm. It’s older but still capable. While it’s not perfect, if it was the only gun I had, I wouldn’t feel too underarmed. It’s not my first, second, or third choice. Heck, it’s not in the top 20, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a capable gun. It’s certainly the cheapest Walther wannabe in .32 ACP I can find.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

Sign Up for Newsletter

Let us know what topics you would be interested:
© 2024 GunMag Warehouse. All Rights Reserved.
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap