Ceska zbrojovka—better known as CZ to enthusiasts—is celebrating the 85th anniversary of its founding this year. To mark the occasion the company, which is the largest manufacturer of small arms in the Czech Republic, is releasing limited editions of its popular CZ 557 rifle and CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow pistol. Both versions wear special embellishments yet maintain the refinements that have made them some of the company’s best-selling models. Only 2,000 of each will be produced. MSRPs were not available at press time.
The company began as a small-arms factory in Uhersky Brod in the summer of 1936, one of many projects Czechoslovakia had underway as it prepared for the inevitable war against Nazi Germany. Operations began at the site in 1937.
A branch factory was soon established in the Czech city of Strakonice to make machine guns for airplanes. The facility grew fast and word of the quality it produced spread. By the end of 1948, it began concentrating on production of small arms, soon becoming a key supplier to the nation’s armed forces and exporting its popular firearms across the globe.
In 2018, Ceska zbrojovka became part of the international holding group CZG—Ceska zbrojovka Group SE—a world leader in the production of small arms. Earlier this year the company added Colt to a portfolio that already included Dan Wesson, Brno Rifles and more.
Despite the latest acquisition, Ceska zbrojovka remains the largest manufacturer under the corporate umbrella. Last year was a record setting one for the company and it currently employs 1,540 people.
Its firearms are exported to nearly 100 different countries. Kansas City, KS-based CZ USA, which was established in 1998, is the exclusive importer CZ firearms in the United States. It also handles Dan Wesson firearms, CZ-USA suppressors and Turkish-made CZ-USA Field Sports Shotguns.