Kind of off-topic for an AK board, but these Czech rifles are
usually considered a footnote to Kalashnikov history. The Czechs
didn't adopt the AK design, but instead developed their own assault
rifle and put it into production in 1958.
They look slightly similar to AK's in their layout, but are
completely different in operation. For example, the bolt locks
differently, the firing mechanism works differently,
and it has a short-stroke gas piston operation. Nothing
interchanges with an AK. The original uses a milled receiver, and
OOW sells a very nice semiautomatic version that they
call the vz 2000 for $1250 (!)
I purchased a dummy Vz.58P from the Sportsmans Guide in
the hopes that it would satisfy my curiosity about the design,
but it only makes me want a "real" (but semi) one all the more. It's kind of
chintzy, with a plastic receiver and only the major parts present,
but it will suffice as a wall hanger (from a distance).
The good news is that an 80% receiver is in the works at
Prexis/Sten and it is supposed to offer a substantial savings over
the OOW one, so an affordable build may be possible soon. With this
in mind, I ordered a Vz.58P kit from AKParts.com.
Since this will likely be my only Vz.58 build, I really wanted a
decent kit. The AKParts site describes the Vz.58 kits as being in
"Excellent condition", but I contacted Chris (the owner, I believe) for some
reassurance. He defined it like so:
"EXCELLENT: All original parts; over 80% original finish; sharp
lettering, numerals, and design on metal and wood; unmarred wood; fine bore."
This exactly describes the kit I received, and I think it will make a great
basis for a semi build. It's been carefully demilled: no burns, no
cuts, and nothing is bent. Sharp, shiny bore.
It's an earlier one. Marked with the code "she 62", it was
manufactured at Povaska Bystrica in 1962. The Czechs painted all the
metal on these rifles with dark gray enamel. Note the barrel pin (arrow); I
it is only pressed and pinned.
The Czechs used a unique material for the handguards and pistol
grips. It's a phenolic resin impregnated with wood chips. Early
buttstocks were solid wood (beech?), but later ones were made with
this same plastic.
Neat stuff: strong, light, and attractive. The AKParts kit came with
the wood butt and the dummy is a later example that has the
plastic. That funky drooped shape gives a surprisingly comfortable cheekweld.
Here, the plastic butt's on top, wooden one underneath it.
Even the bayonets use this material for grips.
The magazines are aluminum and do not interchange with AK's, but
they are sturdy and extremely well-made. Like the earlier Vz.52's,
these rifles were originally chambered for the unique Czech 7.62 x 45
ammunition, and later were adapted to use 7.62 x 39. The AKParts kit
comes with one mag and the dummy came with a
pouch and 4 mags. That built-up track on the spine houses a sturdy
bolt hold-open projection on the follower.
All of the internal parts are included with the AKParts kit (most of which
were left out of the Sportsman's Guide dummy gun). It's
fairly clear where some of the pins and screws go, but I'm going to
need a very
good diagram to sort out the rest of the parts.
A Vz.58 build, like an AK, will be subject to the parts
restrictions of 922r. OOW sells
a set of U.S. made compliance parts, but it comes in a package with
their receiver ($795!). Don't know if they'll sell it separately or
not. Anyone know?
I'm very pleased with my Vz kit from AKParts.com, and, without any
reservation, I can recommend ordering one from them.