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CZ-USA VZ 58

by Stan Trzoniec   |  September 23rd, 2010 1


With the rising interest in military-style rifles, it’s no wonder that over the past few years the availability of such guns–from both here and abroad–has been on the increase. One such rifle that is catching the eye of many is the Czech SA vz. 58 service rifle, which with modifications CZ-USA is bringing into this country as the VZ 58.

Available in a skeletonized Zytel stock (the Tactical Sporter) or a wood-impregnated plastic stock (the Military Sporter), the rifle resembles the AK-47 but was actually inspired by the German StG 44.

The gun was developed by Jiri Cermak in the mid 1950s and adopted by the Czechs in 1958. Over a million of these guns were produced by Ceska Zbrojovka in Czechoslovakia by 1983 and used in such countries as the Czech and Slovak republics, Cuba, India, Libya, Angola and Iraq, to mention just a few.

The civilian model that CZ-USA is offering here is a gas-operated semiauto-only version, fed from a detachable, curved 30-round lightweight alloy magazine (where legal). It’s chambered for the readily available 7.62×39 round, and a 1/2-inch extension is welded onto the barrel (which without it is too short) to meet BATF requirements.

The action is a short-stroke piston type. Like most semiautomatics, the piston is actuated by bleeding off a small amount of gas, which is fed into a gas cylinder located on the upper part of the barrel.

The locking system features a tilting locking piece that is hinged from the breechblock. It rides within internal rails machined into the receiver to help guide the bolt carrier assembly during the loading and ejection cycles.

Propelled by the action of the gas piston, the breechblock moves to the rear, depressing the disconnector so the gun operates only as a semiautomatic (military versions are selective-fire). The gun ejects the spent case and, upon reaching its rearward limit, it is propelled forward by a strong return spring, stripping a fresh round from the magazine. The bolt locks open after the last round is fired.

Being a traditionalist, I prefer the wood-impregnated plastic stock of the Military Sporter to the Tactical Sporter. It seems more secure and comfortable while shooting, as the buttstock blends into the contours of your shoulder better. The length of pull is 121⁄2 inches–a bit short–but since the gun is made for iron sights and bulky military uniforms, this shorter sighting radius is comfortable and provides rapid target acquisition.

Both the top and bottom of the stock has a metal line running from front to back, which I surmise is to strengthen the plastic. Removing the steel buttplate reveals the stock screw that holds the buttstock to the receiver and the twin cavities that serve to store the supplied cleaning rod and tools.

The pistol grip is contoured to hold the gun securely when firing but is a little short; my little finger hangs over the bottom edge. The grip is hollowed out, and looking inside one finds a grip screw that allows it to be replaced if damaged. The fore-end is split to surround the barrel and gas system and is made from the same plastic material as the butt.

This VZ 58 has a milled steel receiver, but, according to the folks at CZ-USA, it’s actually about one pound lighter than an AK-47, which has a stamped receiver. Both the VZ 58’s receiver and additional metal parts are well-finished and blued to a military blue/black color.

The barrel is press fit into the receiver and, to increase service life, both the bore and chamber are chrome-plated.

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Specifications:

CZ-USA VZ 58

ACTION TYPE: gas-operated semiautomatic
CALIBER: 7.62×39
BARREL LENGTH: 16 1/4 in.
OVERALL LENGTH: 36 in.
WEIGHT: 7 lb., 5 oz.
STOCK: wood-impregnated plastic or Zytel
FINISH: blued/ black
SIGHTS: adjustable rear, hooded front
PRICE: $970 to $990
ACCESSORIES: Attached sling, magazine, cleaning kit, owner’s manual and history on factory-supplied CD
MANUFACTURER: CZ-USA, cz-usa.com , 800-955-3386


Crude as it may look, this rear sight is adjustable up to 800 meters.

The safety lever is found on the right side of the receiver, and when the rifle is on safe the lever falls directly under the trigger finger, enabling a shooter to know by touch what fire mode the firearm is in. Simply push it to the horizontal position to disengage it.

The trigger guard is squared off to accommodate gloved fingers and is relieved to allow access to the magazine release. Pushing the release forward allows the magazine to drop out of the receiver. Even though CZ-USA changed the trigger on the VZ 58 from the military version, do not expect target quality. Mine broke at between nine and 11 pounds, with more than a half of inch of slack.

The rear leaf sight is adjustable for distances from 100 to 800 meters via a plunger/slider. There is a “U” setting which, according to CZ-USA, is for moving or close targets. The front sight is a basic post.

Firing the gun was a lot of fun. While my stock of 7.62×39 ammunition was not what I’d like it to be, I did manage to send more than a few rounds downrange. Because of the rather long magazine, it is hard to benchrest, but I made do with a toolbox from the truck and shot groups with open sights at around 30 yards, with both Remington and Winchester ammunition. In all I put about 120 rounds through the gun with no hint of a malfunction.

If you like military history, this is a chance to own a fun piece of it, as well as an excellent home defense gun.

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Accuracy Results:

CZ-USA VZ 58 MILITARY SPORTER

7.62×39 Bullet
Weight (gr.)
Muzzle
Velocity (fps)
Group
Size (in.)
Remingtion softpoint 125 2,186 3.0
Winchester softpoint 123 2,223 3.5
NOTES: All groups are five shots fired from a modified offhand benchrest position at 30yards. All velocities were recorded with a Shooting Chrony chronograph.

  • Dennis Hanisch

    I've had this rifle for several years now after going thru AK's of one sort or another, VEPRs, etc. Ideal rifle for down here on the border. It refuses to malfunction, it's light and easy to handle and accuracy is acceptable. If I want tack driving accuracy, I get out my CZ 500 in 6.5×55, but for a Ranch Rifle, you can't beat the VZ58. Wonder why CZ discontinued them?

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