ZVS P20 and P21 Pistols by Cuan Robinson

  • Friday, 11 January 2019 10:20
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ZVS P20 and P21 Pistols by Cuan Robinson: A new kid on the block

MSM is a Slovakian manufacturing company dating back to 1927. During WWII, the factory was completely destroyed and took several years to rebuild. In recent decades, MSM has bought several manufacturing com­panies, ZVS being one such subsidiary which supplies firearms to both the military and civilian sectors.

Both the P20 and P21 pistols show similarities to Sig and Bernardelli. Each comes in a lockable case containing nylon and mop cleaning rods, two alternative pistol-grip adapters, two steel 16-round magazines, a magazine loader, plus a user manual and test target (in the lid). Neither test target, I was to discover, did justice to the accuracy potential of its respective pistol – more on that later.

Chambered for the venerable 9mmP cartridge, the P20 is a mid-sized, compact, double-­action pistol with full-length dust cover, intended for military, police and civilian markets.

The P21, a sporting version, is a mirror-image of the P20 only with longer barrel and slide. Their frames are dimensionally ident­ical and are interchangeable. Both use the conventional barrel lock-up system.

The pistols share some very well thought-out features: an interesting combination of old school ingenuity and 21st century innovation. The rounded burr hammer is external, which is a bit retro, considering almost every new polymer pistol is striker-fired. All controls are ambidextrous except the magazine release, which can easily be moved to the right-hand side for left-handed shooters. The frame-mounted safety also acts as a hammer drop mechanism when fully depressed, automatically returning to the safety OFF position. The safety can be engaged only with the hammer in the fully cocked position. However, unlike many pistols, this one’s slide can be racked with the safety in the ON position. 

Both pistols have internal firing-pin block safeties, meaning the firing-pin can move forward only if the trigger is pulled all the way through. There is no magazine safety and both pistols will fire without a magazine inserted.

The recoil spring runs on a polymer guide rod, a feature becoming more popular in modern designs. Interestingly, the recoil springs of both pistols are the same length; ZVS has simply extended the P21’s guide rod – ingenious, as it makes spares interchange­able but for the inexpensive guide rod. A picatinny rail is moulded into the underside of the dust cover for attaching torches, lasers etc.

A heavy-profile, flat-topped slide, machined from a solid billet of steel, runs on steel inserts in the polymer frame. I like a ‘beefy’slide on a combat-type pistol as it provides ample purchase for racking, especially when clearing stoppages. The slides are deeply grooved at the rear for secure grasp.  

Both front and rear sights are steel and dovetailed into cut-outs in the slide. The foresight is slightly ramped for a snag-free draw and to avoid glare; the rear sight is stepped to facilitate one-handed racking on your belt, pocket-rim or other surface. The sights (three-dot alignment system) have lateral adjustment only, but replacement foresights of different heights are available.

Grip-angle is about perfect and the pistols point naturally. Three grip adapters, small, medium and large are included to accommodate most hand sizes. A small flat punch and hammer are required to remove the split-pin at the bottom of the grip for swapping adapters. The grip has a rubbery texture which, while ensuring a secure hold, is not in the least abrasive, affording comfortable daylong inside-waistband carry. The pistol grips are recessed at the bottom to accept raised sections on the magazine base-plates which offer ample purchase in the unlikely event that you’ll need to free a stuck magazine. The mag-well is bevelled to facilitate fast mag-changes. An indent at the split-pin forms a lanyard attachment.

The read the full article in the February 2019 issue of Magnum.

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