No AK this: the Czech Sa vz.58.
Dating back to the 13th Century, the Czech arms industry has enjoyed a long and rich history of innovative small arms design. Familiar examples coming to mind are the Bren light machinegun, the Scorpion machine pistol, the CZ 52 pistol with its distinctive roller-locking system, the CZ 75 (that rattled a few cages in the semiauto pistol business) and of course, those finely made CZ sporting rifles and shotguns.
Although subjected to Soviet domination during the Cold War, the Czechoslovakian military firearms industry seemed to have a mind of its own when it came to small arms designs and calibers. The first wave of Czech surplus to hit our shores included the Model 52 rifle. Mechanically, it was totally different but similar in concept to the Soviet SKS, but rather than being chambered for the 7.62x39 round, it was chambered for the Czech 7.62x45.
The Czech foray into unique military cartridges came to an end in the 1950s when the Soviets insisted on the "unification" of military ammunition within the Warsaw Pact countries. Still, rather than adopting the ubiquitous Soviet AK-47, Czechoslovakia soldiered down an independent path, creating a series of prototype assault rifles culminating with the Model Sa vz.58 going into production in 1959.
Chambered for the 7.62x39, the Czech Sa vz.58 shares not one interchangeable part with the AK-47 even including its similar-looking, 30-round magazine. The differences between the models are distinct. The Sa vz.58 features a fast, inline, striker ignition system rather than the internal hammer of the AK. In the Czech model, the gas piston is separate and not attached to the bolt carrier. The low profile receiver is milled, not stamped and riveted, yet, the Sa vz.58 is almost 2 pounds lighter than the AK. In fact, the Czech's were so concerned with weight they used an unusually lightweight alloy, rather than steel, to fabricate their magazines.
Gone is the AK's noisy, awkward, safety and dust cover. In its place is a handy, wing safety just aft of the trigger. Nor are the guts of the fire control system exposed on the right side of the receiver as they are in the AK. The bolt cover and bolt carrier of the Czech model completely seal and protect the action from the elements. A nice touch is the left side of receiver is milled smooth, so as not to irritate the back of a soldier when carrying the rifle slung.
Produced from 1959 to 1984, approximately 920,000 military Sa vz.58s were made. The model still soldiers on in the Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Cyprus, Angola, Guinea, Libya, Mozambique, Somalia, Tanzania, Cuba and Guatemala. In terms of large foreign military sales, however, the Sa vz.58 simply could not compete with the AK.
Stuck with a design for which there was little or no international market demand, the Czech's seized the opportunity to adapt the Sa vz.58 to the civilian sporting market, specifically the United States' sporting market.
Working with BATF, they modified the receiver and fire control system to semiauto only, added a barrel extension to meet our 16" minimum requirement and added a sculptured sporting stock and handguards made from Zytel. Otherwise, the Sa vz.58 sporter is pretty much milspec.
The bore, chamber, bolt and locking mechanism are chrome plated. The magazine springs are designed for a life of 30,000 rounds. The open rear sight is adjustable from 100 to 800 meters with a "U" battlefield setting of 300 m. The exterior metal parts are treated with a durable polymer finish. Overall, the fit and finish of the rifle is a testament to Czech craftsmanship.
The factory accuracy criteria for the sporter is 20 cm, or approximately 8", for an 8-shot group at 100 meters, and that's exactly what it delivered, regardless of what brand of 7.62x39 ammunition I fed it. The factory trigger has a long take-up but breaks cleanly at about 7 pounds
Out-of-the-box, the Sa vz.58 Sporter is a very svelte, good looking, nice handling rifle and comes supplied with two, 30-round, light alloy magazines, sling, cleaning kit and an instructional DVD containing the history of the Sa vz.58 models and an owner's manual. It's an intriguing AK-type variant and a worthy addition to any collection, just on the basis of its unique design alone.
Remove the magazine. Check the chamber to verify the rifle is unloaded. Cock the action and pull the trigger. At the right rear of the receiver cover, pull out the retaining pin to the fight until it clicks. Push forward on the rear of the cover and lift it together with the attached striker mainspring and recoil spring up and back to remove (1). Pull the bolt carrier fully to the rear of the receiver and tilt the entire assembly up from the front and remove (2). Pull the striker out from the rear of the bolt assembly (3). Remove the bolt and locking unit as one piece (4). On the fight side of the rear sight block, pull the upper handguard retaining pin fully to the fight and remove the handguard up and rearward (5). Pull the piston back until the piston head clears the gas cylinder. Remove it to the front. Leave the piston spring in place (6). The Sa vz.58 fieldstripped (7).
Reassemble in reverse order. Helpful Hints: When reinstalling the bolt carrier assembly at the rear of the receiver, point the rifle muzzle toward the ground as you slightly jiggle the carrier into the receiving relief cuts in the receiver rails. Push the bolt carrier fully forward, pull the trigger and push the end of the striker rod forward flush with the rear of the bolt carrier. If you don't seat the striker flush, you will not be able to reseat the rear cover. When reinstalling the rear cover, the large recoil spring fits into the big hole in the bolt carrier and the smaller mainspring fits inside the hole in the hollow striker, not into one of the two smaller holes in the bolt carrier.
SA VZ.58 SPORTER
MAKER: D. TECHNIK A.S.
756 23 JABLUNKACZECH REPUBLIC
3327 NORTH 7TH ST.
KANSAS CITY, KS 66115
ACTION TYPE: Semiauto
BARREL LENGTH: 16"
OVERALL LENGTH: 35-1/2"
WEIGHT: 7 pounds, 2 ounces
SIGHTS: Open, adjustable
to 800 meters.
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|Title Annotation:||SURPLUS LOCKER[TM]|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2009|
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