Last week, we talked about carry guns under $300. Despite having severely limited options in this price range, a lot of people have asked for my advice buying a carry gun with this price as their absolute top limit. Reliability should be a top priority for self-defense firearms, and since many of the budget gun shoppers also happen to be relatively inexperienced shooters, a gun that’s easy to use is also high on the list.

With those constraints in mind, one of the best options available right now are the military surplus CZ-82 and CZ-83 pistols. Chambered in 9mm Makarov and .380 ACP respectively, these two pistols offer a nice balance of ammo capacity, size, and shootability, and I personally would trust my life to a well-functioning sample of either model over most of the budget-priced new carry guns on the market.

CZ-83 Review: Part 1

Today’s video is the first of a two part review on the CZ-83, and it covers the basic features of the CZ-83 and my first impressions after taking it to the range a few times. For part 2, I’ll be carrying the CZ-83 for a couple of weeks to see how the small-yet-hefty pistol compares to the lightweight polymer carry guns I’m used to. I also have a few less experienced shooters lined up to try out the CZ-83 so we can learn whether it really is a good choice for a beginner.

Browning’s Fingerprints

Field Stripped CZ-83


In many ways, the CZ-83 exemplifies the type of pistols that were popular in Europe in the mid to late 20th century, but it also bears the influence of everyone’s favorite All-American gun designing genius: John Moses Browning.

The CZ-83 has a lot of things going for it, but its appearance is not usually thought of as a selling point. In other words, it’s kinda ugly. Part of the reason for this is the oversized trigger guard that allows the gun to be fired with heavy gloves. The gun also looks slightly out of balance due to having a wide grip with a rather svelte upper-half. That’s a consequence of the blowback action, which eliminates the need for a recoil rod and spring to be situated beneath the barrel. Instead, the recoil spring surrounds the barrel itself. Most newer gun designs feature a tilting barrel with a recoil rod, often called the short recoil or “Browning” style action. Ironically, the type of blowback action used on the CZ-83 is also a Browning design, first used on the FN 1910 pistol.

You can also see Browning’s actual name on the slide of the pistol. 9mm Browning is another name for the .380 ACP, which was designed by Browning in 1908. The CZ-83 was originally developed as the CZ-82 (or Vz. 82) military sidearm to fire the 9mm Makarov cartridge which was the standard for the Czechoslovakian military at the time. The pistol was later re-chambered in .380 ACP and .32 ACP for commercial and civilian use.

Other Bargain Pistols

In last week’s post, you guys responded with a lot of budget carry pistols you’ve used, both old and new. Keep the suggestions coming, but this time, try to keep in mind the novice shooter.

What ideas do you have for an inexpensive gun under ~$300-350 for a beginner that’s easy to shoot, but also has a little more punch than a .22 LR?

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Leave a Comment Below

  • Bruce Alex Durham

    Love my CZ-82, would love to have a CZ-83 for shooting. Great guns.

  • Jerry W. Downey

    S&w sigma 9mm or .40
    Poor mans glock and everyone says the triggers are horrible but they’re not

    • Humberto Martinez

      Oh yes they are horrible, they traumatized my finger… never agan.

    • Brandon Wells

      The new sdve 40 is great a glock copy and is pretty accurate and handles bullet really well

    • James P Irvine

      after a little trigger work I love me S&W .40

    • Johnny Tanner

      Humberto Martinez ,there not that bad. Just about everyone can pull a trigger,I use the sigma & sd9ve. you must train at lest once a month,as my self I train two day’s a week,sometimes more,weak handed,one hand ,right left , pull from hip one handed with double tap,if you are going to use a firearm,you must train,and be able to do what they are made,keep you and love one’s same,be able to hit what you need to,not what you don’ bad man I go on about training a lot,very important !!!

  • Derek D. Smith

    Love my CZ-82 and Bulgarian Makarov. One or the other is usually with me wherever I go.

  • Robert Petrick

    I want one where do I get it

  • Stanton Ferrell

    Sig P-6 are or were fairly cheep and reliable. I carried one under cover for a wile because it didn’t look like a cop gun

    • LG Chris

      I mentioned the Sig P6 last week. They aren’t as cheap as they were for the brief time that they flooded the market a few years ago, but you can still find them for around $400 if you look hard. Not bad at all for a classic Sig.

  • Bullseye Bill

    I frequently carry my Bersa Thunder .380 CC model. Beside it’s bargain price, it’s slim, light, accurate, and dependable. It’s the poor man’s Walther PPK.

    • Javier Patag

      Sir, I’ve heard that in some ways the Bersa Thunder performs better than the Walther PPK. Just Google “Bersa Thunder vs. Walther PPK”.
      I’m not saying that the PPK is a bad gun but the quality and performance of the Thunder comes close or even slightly exceeds it while maintaining a budget-friendly price.

  • David Cole

    How reliable are the 82’s if you load 380 hollow points into them? The 1mm of difference shouldn’t really matter. My old Makarov didn’t care if it was 9×18 or 380. It just went bang every single time.

    • LG Chris

      I would not recommend trying this ever. The CZ-82 is designed for 9×18/9mm Mak ammo, not .380 ACP. The 1mm of overall cartridge length is not the only difference between the two rounds. The 9mm Mak bullets are actually 9.2mm in diameter and the barrel is designed accordingly. Shooting the smaller .380 bullets (which have a 9mm diameter) through the CZ-82 can wear out the barrel quicker and may very well have other unintended consequences. If the zombie apocalypse happens and you have no other choice but to use .380 in your CZ-82 to fight off the hungry shambling hordes, then it’s nice to know it will probably work. Otherwise, I would stick with using the cartridge that’s stamped on the slide.

  • Steve Scarlett

    I can’t find these anywhere?!…..any ideas?

    • LG Chris

      Auction sites are the best place to start. There are also a couple of CZ-specific discussion forums and the guys there will have the latest info on sources for CZ-82 and CZ-83 pistols.

  • Mark Wilcox

    I did a quick web search and I couldn’t find any of these for less than $400 +.

    • LG Chris

      If they’re over $400, then they’re probably the commercial version imported by CZ-USA. The military surplus ones are still cheap on auction sites and elsewhere. Try asking around on the CZ forums:

  • Omar Watti

    In general the CZ pistols family are very good and it well be a smart choice

  • Mick Wood

    Reminds me of a Makarov .380 (stamped on the barrel and slide) I wish I’d kept.

  • Mark Cather

    Gander Mtn. has some. As with everything they sell, they’re over priced. $349

  • Harold Kimble

    Yes,very informative. where could I possibly find a cz83?

    • Lucky Gunner Ammo

      Hey Harold, you can occasionally find CZ-83 used at some of the online gun shops. Gunbroker does have a few for sale right now but you may want to even visit a couple gun shows locally so you can get a good look at the firearm before you buy it.

  • John Longan

    cdisales on gunbroker has had them for a few months, various conditions. I purchased one of the $189 guns and it was in very good condition with muzzle wear near the barrel from holstering but not much else. For $200 it is awful hard to beat. I don’t carry it except as an occassional truck gun, due to heft, but it is 100 reliable. Robertsontradingpost on GB also had a 3 or 5 pack of cz mags for cheap a while back also.

  • Thor Wotanson

    I’ve fired the Browning 1910 in 32 acp before. It is a wonderful gun, even having the NSDAP eagle proof marks!!

    • bobfairlane

      Yeah that would be even better.

  • Douglas Holt

    Walther PPX often available for less than $300. Also Taurus PT111 Gen 2 often on sale for around $200.

  • Rudy

    where did you get that Kydex/plastic holster for the CZ 83, I can’t find them any where?

  • One thing to point out, these fixed barrel cz, and Makarov designs produce very good combat accuracy. Becuase no barrel slop factor like in other small pistols with a moving barrel. Another cz with awesome accuracy becuase of the slide to frame rail system employed is the cz75. Better trigger and custom level accuracy out of a box. Beats my glock hands down for everything involving the trigger or accuracy, plus it can be carried cocked and locked and it’s cheaper than a hi power.

  • Neil Pruett

    I got a canik tp9sa very nice and cheap 300 to 400 dollars great trigger and accurate