EXTREMELY RARE & DESIRABLE CZECH Z.H. 29 SEMI AUTO MILITARY RIFLE.
Cal. 8×57 Mauser.
Bbl. 23 5/16″.
Introduced in 1929, this rifle is a gas operated tilting block design by Emmanuel Holek, who was the brother of Vaclav Holek, designer of the Z.B. 26 LMG. The rifle has an unusual design in that the bolt locks into the left side of the receiver causing the breech to be offset to the left and requiring that the sights be offset to compensate. Features include the hinged receiver for takedown and cleaning as well as an adjustable gas cylinder to regulate the operating pressure. Forend terminates in a cast aluminum block with cooling fins. Rifles were made primarily in 8×57 Mauser and given trial in many countries including the United States.
According to Bruce Canfield in the book “The M1 Garand Rifle”, the ZH 29 as trialed by the U.S. ordnance board was not well-liked for its looks, but it did perform very well and importantly did not require lubricated ammunition. The rifle also weighed less than the minimum weight thought necessary & established that a full power rifle could be built within the weight limits. This was a crucial element and turning point in the development of the M1 Garand rifle.
Research reveals that the rifle was purchased in small quantities by China and Ethiopia, as well as being trialed by Japan, Lithuania, and the U.S. Little record is available on combat use of this rifle, but there is little doubt it would have performed well under normal circumstances. There are 15 examples documented, all between serial numbers 10100-10300. These guns are thought to have been sold to the Chinese in 1930 and later captured by the Japanese. The 15 documented guns are most likely G.I. souvenirs taken at the end of the war. One GI related a story of him liberating and sending home to New York one of these guns, individually cased with accessories & magazines along with a wood box, and there were many more at the arsenal in Tokyo. Most guns in this serial range are in very good condition and the story makes sense for this serial range.
Most likely the production of ZH 29’s is 500-600 guns. The exact serial range on the ZH 32 is unknown but most likely no more than 200 made, as serial ranges of later ZH36 and 37s are known and appear chronological. Receiver marked on left side “CESKOSLOVENSKA ZBROJOVKA, AKCIOVA SPOLECNOST BRNO”. Receiver marked on top rear “AUTOMATICKA PUSKA Z.H. 29.”. Tangent rear sight graduated to 1600m, inverted “V” front sight. Bayonet lug is mounted on barrel shroud and has matching serial number. Rotary safety on right side of rifle. Rifle is equipped with detachable box magazine which can be loaded through the top using integral clip guides in receiver. Bottom swivels. Butt plate is grooved sheet metal. Walnut pistol grip buttstock and matching 2-piece handguards.