Ask The Experts

CZ 26?
Forty years ago, when I was stationed in Italy, a friend gave me a pistol. I was told that the pistol was taken off a German soldier and hidden since the war. It is in good mechanical condition but shows pitting on one side due to being stored underground for years. It is a CZ 26. I have not been able to find out about this version, even though the CZ 27 is well known. What can the experts tell me about my pistol?

John Poulos, SMSgt, USAF ret.
Seffner, FL

A. Your CZ can be one of two different handguns. First, depending upon the markings, you might actually have a CZ 1924 or CZ 24. This was a locked-breech handgun made from 1927 until about 1938 in .380 ACP. I have seen some photographs of these handguns with a marking on the rear left side of the slide reading "cz26." Frankly, I don't know the significance of this mark. By the way, there is a photograph of a CZ 24 in Handguns of the World by Edward C. Ezell that has just such a marking.

The other possibility is that your pistol is actually a CZ 1926. There were some minor changes in the CZ 1924, and a limited number of handguns were made as the CZ 1925 and CZ 1926. These may well have been prototypes, as the design gradually changed to the simpler CZ 1927 in .32 ACP.

I do hope this will be of some help. Thanks for writing to us and for your service in the USAF.

Reid Coffield
Gusmithing Editor

More Than Maximum?
I have a custom Mauser that I put together myself in .284 Win. I used a Stoney Point/Hornady O.A.L. gauge to check maximum length with a given bullet and found the distance to my rifling to be approximately .050 longer than the stated maximum length in most of the loading manuals.

My question is this: Can I get away with heavier than maximum loads because of the additional case capacity I gain by seating bullets farther forward, especially with heavy bullets?

Manuals say that max. length is 2.8 inches to facilitate feeding, but this is not an issue with my rifle because it has a .30-06-length action.

Mick Schenck
Via e-mail

A. Reloading any cartridge with charges above those shown as maximum in loading manuals is a perilous undertaking. The load data developed for manuals reflects charges that are usually safe in all rifles, though reloaders should always approach max. loads with caution. Trouble can brew up if you happen to have a "tight" barrel--one that was reamed, rifled, and chambered on the minimum side of SAMMI specifications.

High-pressure signs can be caught early by careful reloaders that begin their load development with minimum charges and work up carefully.

I'd say more important than increasing powder charges is the potential increased accuracy that seating bullets to nearly engage the rifling might offer. As you mention, the standard-length box in your Mauser action will allow you to seat to longer than specified overall length. Use your Stoney Point/Hornady gauge and try seating bullets just kissing the rifling lands, as well as a few thousandths short. Do not load them so far out that they engage the rifling: If you have to remove a live round from the chamber, you do not want to leave the bullet behind stuck in the rifling.

If your rifle seems to like the bullets seated long, then work up a powder charge carefully, but honestly, I just can't recommend exceeding the maximum shown in your manual. A few extra fps just aren't worth the risk.

That said, innovative handloaders have been exceeding maximums for a century, and your case is a candidate for such activity. I just don't think it's worth it, unless you have some seriously sophisticated equipment to let you know when you are about to blow yourself up.

Joseph von Benedikt
Editor in Chief

If you would like any of the experts on our panel to answer your question, mark it to their attention and send it to Ask The Experts, Shooting Times, 2 News Plaza, Second Floor, Peoria, IL 61614. Or e-mail questions to Please include your name and address with your e-mail. Individual responses cannot be made, but questions of general interest may be published.

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