CZ-USA vz-58 TACTICAL SPORTER MODEL
Initial Impressions: Out of the Box
Sideview of the vz-58 Tactical Sporter with Czechoslovakian issue magazine pouch.
Since a lot of people have built vz-58s on the Ohio Ordnance receiver, or purchased a rifle built by OOW, I
thought that there might be some interest in a review of the CZ-USA vz-58s, since they are built on a new-production Slovak receiver.
I was very impressed with the fit and finish of the CZ-USA offering. The rifle is much
tighter than any AK or Mini-30 I have ever handled. The exterior finish appears to be polycoat applied over a phosphate
undercoating, as seen on modern production CZ-UB pistols. In the photos below, the finish appears dark gray, due to the
camera flash. To the naked eye, it appears black.
The vz-58 Tactical Sporter as sold by CZ-USA comes with the following: vz-58 rifle with Zytel stockset, cheekpiece for stock, rubber recoil pad for stock, new military cleaning kit, one thirty (30) round remanufactured magazine, nylon sling, and vz-58 CD-ROM. (More on this in a moment.)
I immediately had one small problem. I couldn't get the receiver cover off the rails! The manual (CD-ROM) isn't much help. This morning I watched a YouTube video showing the correct disassembly, and I realized I am an idiot. The manual doesn't tell you that you need to dryfire or otherwise relieve the tension on the striker spring. Otherwise, you are fighting two captive springs when you try to remove the receiver cover. Trust me; I don't think it can be done otherwise. (God knows I fought with it a while last night.) Once you know what the heck you are doing, it may be faster to disassemble than an AKM.
The CD-ROM is worth having on its own. It gives a seven century retrospective of the Czech arms industry. (I was happy to learn it didn't contradict my recent article on the subject!) It gives a fairly extensive overview of the designs that led to the vz-58 and the political machinations at work from 1952-1958. You may have trouble when you first try to access the manual through the main interface. I was able to work around it by accessing the PDF file from the disc itself (My Computer panel). After I did that, it would load smoothly either way.
The Zytel stock is very comfortable with a "normal" LOP. With the recoil pad installed, it is about as long as an East German plastic AKM stock with a recoil pad.
CZ-UB provides the following specifications for this model:
Caliber: 7.62x39 mm
Action: Gas operated, tilting breech block
Overall length: 913 mm / 35.94''
Barrel length: 410 mm / 16.14''
Weight: with empty magazine 3.32 kg / 7.32 lbs
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds
Sights: 100 to 800 meter adjustable rear, hooded front
Stock: Zytel Stock (Tactical Sporter), Wood-impregnated plastic (Military Sporter)
The CZ-USA vz-58 Tactical Sporter has the following U.S. manufactured parts for the purposes of compliance with 18 U.S.C. § 922(r):
1.Magazine follower (polymer);
2.Magazine base (polymer);
4.Sear (steel); and
In other words, the OEM magazine and all magazines sold by CZ-USA are remanufactured military surplus with two U.S. compliance parts. Most mil surp magazines are dark gray. The remanufactured magazines are refinished in black, but obviously use surplus parts. (The mag spring on the OEM magazine was caked with cosmoline.)
The following parts count against the ten maximum imported/foreign manufactured parts for the purposes of compliance with 18 U.S.C. § 922(r):
7.Buttstock (fixed or folding);
9.Handguard (both peices considered one); and
Initial Impressions: At the Range
Initial testing proved very encouraging. The vz-58 Tactical Sporter will feed and function with any of the readily available loadings regardless of bullet type or weight. Tested loads included: Barnaul FMJ, Barnaul HP, Brown Bear FMJ, Golden Tiger FMJ, Sellier & Bellot FMJ, Silver Bear HP, Ulyanovsk FMJ, Wolf Military Classic, Wolf JSP, and Wolf HP. There were no malfunctions of any type. Even the least accurate loads would hold under 4" (four inches) at 100 meters.
Preliminary results were excellent. The few test groups I was able to shoot with iron sights were about
3" (three inches) with Sellier & Bellot 123gr FMJ. The groups were slightly larger with Wolf, and slightly smaller with Barnaul 123gr FMJ loads. That
surprised me, because the SKSs I have owned prefer S&B. I have had this S&B for over seven years, and I wonder if some of the rough storage is showing
up. I was able to hit the 6" gong over seventy times in a row with S&B and Barnaul at 200 meters. (I actually hit 89 of 90, but missed one near the
end of the third magazine.) That's considerably better than I have ever done with any AK build at 100m, much less 200m.
Recoil was significantly less than a SAR-1, WASR, or milled Yugo. This seems to be a function of the stock design/material, as well as the design of the action. The gas piston and bolt carrier on the vz-58 are separate pieces and operate by short recoil; this seems to eliminate the up/right kick of the Kalashnikov action. I was somewhat concerned that the rifle's ultra light weight would be a disadvantage in shooting, but this was not the case at all.
The trigger pull is comparable to an aftermarket trigger group for an AKM, but it is not adjustable like the majority of aftermarket triggers.
I really don't think this rifle could fail to extract. It does not
have an ejection port, per se. Instead, the entire action is open (bolt carrier to the rear) when the spent case hits
My only real disappointment was the heat. The vz-58 heats up every bit as fast as an AK. For some reason, I had hoped it would do better. After about 3-4 magazines, it's time to sit her down for a minute.
A Closer Look at the vz-58
To give you an idea of its relative size, here is the CZ vz-58 pictured alongside a CZ 712 Semiauto with a
A typical 100 meter group fired from a rest. This is Barnaul 123 gr FMJ. This is about 2.5" (two and one half inches). The best group thus far has been just under 2" (two inches).
Another typical 100 meter group fired from a rest. This is Sellier & Bellot 123 gr FMJ. This one is closer to 3" (three inches). Normally I obtain my best results with this load, but the rifle clearly favors the Barnaul loadings.
Three typical groups fired from the sling at 100m. Left to right: Barnaul 123 gr FMJ, Barnaul 123 gr HP, and Sellier & Bellot 123 gr FMJ. All three are between 3-4" (three to four inches). The better groups tended to be around 3" (three inches).
Notice that the vz-58 Czechoslovakian magazines look like AK magazines, at least superficially.
There is a channel at the rear of a vz-58 magazine for the follower tab, which activates the bolt hold open feature.
A view of the interior of the receiver. Notice that there isn't much wasted space in here. The magazine
(and thus the cartridges) sit higher in the receiver than on most other designs. If you look closely, you can see a notch in the bolt carrier to load the
magazine from stripper clips, while still in the rifle. Chinese manufactured SKS stripper clips do not work very well on the CZ-USA builds, but they appear to
work on other builds.
Top view, upper hand guard assembly. This is the upper hand guard and the piston cover. There is no gas tube, which is a major difference between the Czech and Russian designs.
Bottom view, upper hand guard assembly. Another major difference between the Czech vz-58 and the Kalashnikov rifles is that removing the lower hand guard is not a simple field strip procedure on the Czech rifle. Also, removing the upper hand guard from the piston cover is fairly difficult. Generally, upper hand guards are sold as a full assembly (guard, cover, and retaining pin), probably for this reason.
The gas piston is held captive by a spring in the rear sight block. Essentially, the hand guards act to extend the receiver forward. There is a gas adapter in the front sight block that diverts gas onto the piston head. The piston then recoils backwards into the bolt carrier.
If you look closely you can see the dimple formed by the impact of the piston into the face of the bolt carrier.
Another view of the bolt carrier and bolt face. The entire bore and bolt assembly are chromed.
A view of the gas piston fully retracted to the rear. Notice that the piston projects backwards past the rear sight block in this position.
A side view of two of the main assemblies: The receiver cover assembly (with return springs) and the bolt carrier assembly (bolt, tilting block, striker, and carrier body).
The sights come zeroed and loc-tited from the factory.
Due to its length, the vz-58 has to have a muzzle cap to add another inch or so for importation. This also covers the threads on the military version of the barrel.
A side view of the piston and partially stripped rifle.