Thursday, June 7, 2012
Dan Wesson Firearms (finally) became part of the CZ family in 2005 when the company was acquired by CZ-USA. Unbeknownst to any of the parties involved in the 2005 transaction, a relationship between the two companies was initiated 37 years earlier.
January 5th to August 21st 1968 is known to history as the Prague Spring. Many rights and freedoms restricted by the Soviets after World War II were returned to the citizens of Czechoslovakia during this brief season of change. It was also during this time period that an apparent agreement was made between Česká zbrojovka (CZ) and the founders of Dan Wesson Firearms to manufacture Dan Wesson handguns in CZ's Uherský Brod plant.
On August 21st, 1968 the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries invaded Czechoslovakia with 2,000 tanks and 200,000 soldiers. Though the details have been lost, it can be assumed that the invasion and subsequent occupation that ended the Prague Spring, also ended any hope of fulfilling the agreement between the two manufacturers.
A recently found entry from a CZUB official journal known as “The Chronicle" documented the forgotten beginnings of a partnership never realized.
The portions of the journal entry written in Czech have been translated to English below.
April 26, 1968
Visit of our customers from the United States of America
Accompanied by Mr. Hladik from Omnipol (State owned Export Company)
Purpose of visit: CZ factory tour and discussions about extending business relations
We are very favorably impressed with the facilities here and hope that this may be the begi9nning of a long and profitable connection for both your company and ours. With close and harmonious relationships we see nothing but continued success for your company and many firearms traded with the USA.
D B Wesson
I appreciate the opportunity to visit your country and especially your factory. Your factory is very well organized and the products are first class. I am happy that you will be manufacturing many fine products for our company to sell in the U.S. A. I toast to a long and prosperous friendship and understanding for all of us.
About Dan Wesson Firearms:
Dan Wesson Firearms produces a premium line of 1911s and interchangeable barrel revolvers. In 1968, three years after the Wesson family sold Smith&Wesson, Dan Wesson, great-grandson of Smith&Wesson co-founder Daniel B. Wesson, partnered with Karl R. Lewis to manufacturer the Dan Wesson line of revolvers. The current line of Dan Wesson revolvers and 1911s are built in the same spirit of quality and innovation that inspired partnerships involving 2 men of the same name over a century apart.
Posted by Jason Morton, CZ-USA at 1:53 PM