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Vz58 the easy way: Century arms VZ2008.


The Czech military has always marched to its own drumbeat. As members of the Warsaw Pact, while they were II forced to convert their caliber 7.62x45mm (M52) small arms to 7.62x39mm (M43), they retained a host of indigenous and sometimes quite unique small arms.

Surrounded by what was to become 100 million Kalashnikovs, the Czechs marched around their own parade grounds with the innovative and fascinating Samopal Vz58 (Vizor 1958--Model 1958) assault rifle, supplemented by the belt or magazine-fed caliber 7.62x39mm Vz52 squad automatic and the belt-fed, 7.62x54R Vz59 GPMG, neither of which were Kalashnikov types.

Designed by J. Cermak, the Vz58 was manufactured by Ceskoslovenska Zbrojovka in Strakonice. While no longer in service with the Czech army, although available for export, the Vz58 was fielded by the Palestinian Liberation' Army (PLA) and the Black September Group.

There are precious few selective-fire Vz58 assault rifles, of either the rigid stock (Vz58P) or folding stock (Vz58V) variety, in private collections here in the United States. I have been fortunate to have fired both variants, here in the United States and in South Africa. To their great credit, Century Arms International, Inc. (Dept. SGN, 430 South Congress Avenue, Suite 1., Del Ray Beach, Fla. 334451 phone: 1-800-527-1252; fax: 561-265-4520, website: www.centuryarms. com) has just introduced a semiautomatic-only version of the Vz58V that meets the politically correct requirements of the ATF (18 U.S.C., section 922[r]).

With the sunset of the so-called Federal "assault gun" ban, some military-style rifles in a semiautomatic-only format (and hence not really assault rifles, which by definition are selective-fire weapons) that have not been available for a decade and some configurations that have never been seen in semiautomatic-only versions are now available to consumers, and thus the playing field has very much changed (that is, until President Obama decides otherwise).


They may now have folding stocks of any kind, bayonet lugs and flash hiders of all types (providing they do not modify the sound pressure level in any way, i.e., be determined to be sound suppressors by the BATFE). But, most important, under US Federal Statute 922[r] at least six of the following components for stamped receiver semiautomatic-only AKs and five for machined receiver weapons, must be made in the United States: 1) frames, receivers, receiver castings, forgings or stampings: 2) barrels; 3) mounting blocks (trunnions); 4) muzzle attachments; 5) bolts; 6) bolt carriers; 7) gas pistons; 8) triggers; 9) hammers; 10) disconnectors; 11) buttstocks; 12) pistol grips; 13) forearms or handguards; 14) magazine bodies; 15) magazine followers; or 16) magazine floorplates. In almost all cases the receivers are made in the United States so that they conform to BATFE regulations with regard to semiautomatic-only capability.

Called the VZ2008, this 7.62x39mm (M43) rifle is patterned after the Czechoslovakian selective-fire Vz58V. The VZ2008 receiver was designed and fabricated to permit only semiautomatic fire and contains no provision for the installation of an automatic safety sear or automatic sear lever. The selector system has been designed to function only as a safety mechanism and the Vz58's dual sear system has been replaced with a single sear designed to permit only semiautomatic fire. The bolt carrier has no provision for tripping an automatic sear lever.

The Century International Arms VZ2008 has a single-strut steel, side-folding buttstock that folds to the right. The bayonet lug is present and the unusual Vz58 bayonet can be easily attached. Remember, the bayonet is attached from the rear end of the mounting lug, not the front, and to remove the bayonet after depressing the spring-loaded catch/release button, the bayonet must be moved to the rear.

The muzzle device is from the AKM. The original Vz58 was equipped with a threaded muzzle nut that could be removed for installation of a conical flash hider (used principally with the Vz58Pi variant, which has provision for installation of the Russian NSP infrared night vision device on the left side of the receiver and thus needs protection from muzzle flash) or a BFA (Blank Firing Attachment).


With a barrel length of approximately 16.25 inches (412.75mm), the overall length of the VZ2008 is 35 inches (889mm) with the stock extended and 27 inches (685.8mm) with the stock folded. The U.S.-made, four-groove barrel has a 1:9.5 right-hand twist. The weight of the rifle is 7 pounds (3.175kg), empty.

The original Vz58 rifle series had a semi-gloss gray finish, which was a baked-on enamel over phosphate. This finish is also found on the magazines. The Century International Arms VZ2008 rifle carries a durable phosphate-only finish. The upper and lower forearms, and the buttstock of the fixed stock variants, are made of reddish Bakelite reinforced with wood fiber. Very early specimens of the Vz58 featured wood furniture.



Like the original, the VZ2008 receiver, as well as the bolt carrier, has been CNC machined.from solid bar stock (4150 steel for the receiver body). The sheet-metal receiver cover carries a double-coil helical recoil spring set and a single-coil hammer spring, each with guide rods. The bolt and lock are, chrome-plated.

The 30-round, staggered-column, detachable box magazine has a sheet-metal body, bent over and spot-welded, The receiver's hold-open mechanism is activated by an attachment to the magazine follower. The hold-open release button is located just to the rear of the magazine well on the right side. The Vz58 magazine cannot be interchanged with those of the Kalashnikov series. Guide' rails milled into the bolt carrier permit loading with the magazine attached to the rifle by means of SKS 10-round stripper clips.

The sights are similar to those found on the Kalashnikov series. The post front sight has protective ears (the original had a protective hood with a hole in the top for insertion of the elevation adjustment tool). Windage adjustments require the use of an armorers' tool designed for that purpose or a punch and hammer (which will mar the finish).

The sliding tangent rear sight has an open square notch and can be adjusted for elevation only in 100-meter increments from 100 to 800meters. There is a 300-meter battle sight setting, marked "U". The sight radius is 13.94 inches (354mm).

Both the pistol grip and buttstock (of the fixed stock Vz58P version) are somewhat unconventional in configuration. The buttstock has a relatively thin wrist and odd bottom curvature. The pull length of both folding stock and fixed stock variants is approximately 12.75 inches (324mm), rather short by U.S. standards. The steel, sheet-metal buttplate of the fixed stock has no storage trap. The pistol grip is more than a little reminiscent of the last (or Type 'F') model of the World-War-II-era German FG42 (Fallschirmjagergewehr 1942). But the VZ58 pistol grip exhibits excellent human engineering and significantly add to this rifle's overall superb handling characteristics.




The Vz58/VZ2008 series is both lighter and shorter than either the AK47 or AKM. The AKM with a sheet-metal receiver still weighs 1.5 pounds (.68kg) more than the Vz58/ VZ208; and the AK47, with a milled and drop-forged receiver, weighs 2.5 pounds (1.14kg) more. The Kalashnikovs are almost 2 inches (50.8mm) longer than the Vz58/VZ2008.

All testing of the VZ2000 was conducted using Russian steel-cased 7.62x39mm ball ammunition with conventional 122-grain FMJ projectiles. The ammunition was manufactured at Tula Arsenal in Russia and imported by Wolf Performance Ammunition (Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 757, Placentia, Calif. 92871; phone: 888-757-WOLF; fax: 714-632-9232; e-mail:; website:

Previous extensive testing with both the selective-fire Vz58V and Vz58P has indicated to me that these rifles provide more reliable performance with steel-cased ammunition. At 100 meters, the accuracy was consistently about 3-4 moa, which is typical performance for rifles of this type in 7.62x39mm.

Magazines must be rocked in and out in the Kalashnikov manner, using the flapper-type magazine catch/release, which is offset on the left side of the front of the trigger guard. As a consequence, magazine changes are considerably slower than those permitted by the M 16/AR-15 series.

Well-executed, lightweight and handy, the VZ2008 exhibits less perceived recoil than the Kalashnikov series, probably a consequence of both the unusual buttstock configuration and the bolt locking system. In burst fire, the full-auto versions of the Vz58 overheat quickly. This criticism doesn't apply to the semiautomatic-only VZ2000.

The Czech Vz58 bayonet is quite distinctive and shares nothing in common with the AKM wire-cutter-type bayonets. The Vz58 bayonet is a so-called knife-type, although the blade is unsharpened. The bayonet's natural leather scabbard has an odd offset belt loop. There is also a quite rare anti-NBC green or gray plastic scabbard that was fielded in very limited quantities, as well as a white parade scabbard.

The 6 3/4 blade has a 4 1/4-inch fuller on each side. Contrary to popular belief, fuller grooves on a bayonet blade are not "blood gutters," but are actually used to strengthen and/or lighten the blade, much in the manner that an I-beam shape adds strength to a steel rod.

The steel components on this bayonet are phosphate-finished. The blades usually carry a serial number. Early specimens had wood grip panels, but most will be encountered with reddish-brown, wood-fiber-impregnated handles.


Other small differences, of interest only to the most dedicated collectors, include short and long tang versions, the number of rivets used to attach the grip panels (from zero to three) and special presentation pieces. Once quite rare, you can purchase a Czech Vz58 bayonet and scabbard in almost new condition for less than $30.

Vz58/VZ2008 Method of Operation

These rifles are gas-operated, locked-breech, short-recoil types that fire from the closed bolt position. The barrel's gas port, located 8.5 inches (216mm) from the breech face, opens into a 25mm (about 1 inch) gas block just above the barrel.

There is no gas regulator and thus the full force of the expanding propellant gases are exerted upon the 12.5-mm (1/2")-diameter piston head. The entire piston is chrome-plated to reduce fouling. Gas pressure drives the piston back about 3/4" before a shoulder on the piston's shank butts up against its seating to prevent further movement.

A relatively light recoil spring held between the piston's shoulder and the seating returns the piston to its forward position. The gas block has two vents On its underside and the gas pressure provides the piston with its impulse to the rear before exhausting to the atmosphere alter the piston has traveled rearward 16mm (approximately 5/8"). The piston travels under an upper handguard/gas piston guide covered with the same reddish Bakelite reinforced with wood fiber used for the other furniture found on this series.

The short, tappet-like stroke of the piston impinges upon the bolt carrier and drives it rearward. After 22mm (approximately 7/8") of free travel, during which the chamber pressure drops to a safe level, an inclined plane on the bolt carrier moves under the locking piece and lifts it out of engagement with the locking shoulders inside the receiver body.

As the locking piece swings around the periphery of a circle, the slow, but powerful, leverage required for primary extraction is provided. The bolt is then carried rearward, extracting the empty case from the chamber. A fixed ejector in the receiver passes through a groove cut in the underside of the bolt and the empty case is rotated around the extractor and propelled about 2 meters to the right of the rifle.

The continued rearward movement of the bolt carrier and bolt compresses the double-coiled helical spring set, which fits into the top hole of three drilled into the bolt carrier. A smaller single-coil spring rests in the hollow steel tube that acts as a hammer.

As the bolt carder is driven forward, the feed horns on the underside of the bolt face force a round out of the magazine and into the chamber. When the round is fully chambered with the extractor sprung over the cartridge case's extractor groove, the bolt carrier still has about 16mm (about 5/8") of travel and as it moves forward, a transverse cam face forces the locking piece down and its two lugs engage the locking shoulders in the receiver body.




There is a strong resemblance to this locking system and that found on the Walther P.38/P1 and Beretta 92 series pistols, except that the Vz58/VZ2000 locking piece drops downward into battery, instead of upward.

Trigger Mechanism

Most modern military infantry rifles have a rotating hammer that strikes the firing pin. Both the Vz58 and VZ2008 use a hollow steel bar that serves as an unusual linear hammer. The hammer spring travels inside the linear hammer. Grooves on the side of the linear hammer permit it to slide on the receiver's guide rails. The hammer enters the rear of the hollow bolt to strike against a fully floating firing pin. While this may sound potentially dangerous, drop testing has indicated that the linear hammer concept is completely safe.

The Vz58 has two sears side by side with the left sear slightly forward. The right-hand sear is connected to an auto sear trip operated by the bolt carrier. Unless the bolt carrier is fully forward, in full battery, the trip holds up the right-hand sear and the hammer is held back.



The left-hand scar. together with a disconnector. provides semiautomatic fire. These two sears have been replaced by a single sear on the VZ2008 that performs the same function as the left-hand sear on,the vZ58. No coil springs are used in the trigger mechanisms of.these rifles.

The Vz58 selector is located on the right-hand side of the receiver. Semiautomatic fire is indicated by "1" and full-auto by "30". When the selector is rotated forward to "30". the disconnector is lowered and disengaged from the left-hand sear.

When the bolt carrier is fully forward, the right-hand sear is depressed and the linear hammer is held on the semiautomatic sear only. When the trigger is pulled, the trigger bar is moved forward and the semiautomatic sear is depressed to release the hammer. As long as the trigger is held back and there is ammunition in the magazine, the firing sequence is controlled by the bolt's closure into battery. Each time the bolt recoils, the automatic safety sear rises and holds up the hammer and then as the bolt group locks into battery the right-hand sear drops and the weapon fires.

When the selector is rotated to the rear to the semiautomatic position, the trigger bar is lowered and forced clear-of the left-hand sear, but the disconnector is allowed to rise to engage the left-hand sear. Trigger operation then fires one round only.

The bolt carrier travels rearward and the auto safety sear rises. The bolt carrier strikes the disconnector and lifts the left-hand sear. The hammer is held up by the tight-hand, sear, which is released when the bolt carrier goes forward into battery, and since the right-hand sear is 1/16" (1.6mm) behind the left-hand sear, the bolt goes forward and is held up by the left-hand sear.


To fire another round, it is necessary to release the trigger to permit the disconnector to move back and up to engage under the left-hand sear. The trigger can now be pressed and the hammer will go forward off the left-hand sear.

At the safe position, with the selector pointing vertically downwards, the trigger bar and the disconnector are lowered and there is no connection between the trigger and the left-hand sear which holds the hammer.

As previously stated, the VZ2008 has only one sear and it performs in the manner of the left-hand sear in the Vz58. The semiautomatic selector position is forward and is marked "F". The rearward position is safe and is marked "S". Trigger pull weight on SGN's test specimen was a fairly crisp, but somewhat heavy 7.25 pounds.

Disassembly Procedures

Remove the magazine by pressing the magazine catch/release found at the left front side of the trigger guard and rotating the magazine forward and down in the manner of the Kalashnikov series. Retract the bolt carrier and visually inspect the chamber. Close the bolt, under control, and press the trigger, which will move the linear hammer into the fired position.

If the hold-open has been activated by virtue of an empty magazine, you must retract the bolt group slightly and then allow it to move forward. Pull the captive receiver cover retaining pin out on the right side of the receiver as far as it will go. Lifting it up and to the rear, remove the receiver cover and its springs.

Retract the bolt group completely to the rear and lift it up and out of the receiver body. Slide the linear hammer to the rear of the bolt carrier to free the bolt and withdraw it from the carrier. Separate the locking piece from the bolt body.

To remove the linear hammer, pull it completely to the rear. apply slight counterclockwise tension, and align the notch on the hammer's shaft with the retaining tab on the bolt and then pull the hammer out from the rear of the bolt carrier.

To disassemble the gas system, first pull the captive retaining pin, located at the front of the rear sight base, out to the right as far as it will go. Hold the rear end of the upper handguard/gas piston guide and pull it up and away from the barreled receiver.

Note that the lower handguard, also covered with reddish Bakelite reinforced with wood fiber, is riveted in place and not intended to be part of the disassembly procedures. Push the gas piston tappet rod slightly to the rear and then carefully pivot it upward until its head clears the gas block. Withdraw it and its small return spring from the barreled receiver. Clean and lubricate (except for the gas system).

Reassembly of the VZ2008 is in the reverse order with the 'following cautionary procedures. Make sure the locking piece is installed properly on the bolt and that the bolt and linear hammer are installed in the bolt carrier before attempting to reinstall this entire assembly into the receiver body.

Be advised that the bolt group of the Vz58/VZ2008 rifles can be installed in the rifle without the locking piece. Firing the rifle without the locking piece would produce catastrophic results! Note that the bolt, locking piece, and linear hammer must be positioned fully forward in the bolt carrier before placing this assembly onto the receiver rails.

During reassembly, the linear hammer will remain cocked when the bolt and bolt carrier are driven forward. This will prevent installation of the receiver cover and attached springs. Pull the trigger while pushing the linear hammer forward before attempting to complete reassembly. Reinstall the receiver cover with the double-coil helical spring set and hammer spring into the bolt carrier and bolt and onto the receiver.


VZ2008 Specifications

Caliber: 7.62x39mm.

Operation: Gas-operated without a regulator, locked-breech with locking in manner similar to the Walther R38/P1 pistol, short-stroke piston fires from the closed-bolt position semiautomatic-only.

Feed: 30-round two-position-feed, staggered-column detachable box magazine.

Weight, empty and without a magazine: 7 pounds (3.175kg).

Length, overall: 35 inches (889mm) with the stock extended and 27 inches (685.8mm) with the Stock folded.

Barrel: Four grooves with a 1:9.25 right hand twist (235mm); chamber and bore.

Barrel length, including the permanently installed extension: Approximately 16.25 inches (412.75mm).

Sights: Post front with protective hood, adjustable for both elevation and windage zero. Sliding tangent rear with an open square-notch adjustable for elevation only to 800 meters in 100-meter increments with a 300-meter battle-sight setting (marked "U"). The sight radius is 13.94 inches (354mm)

Finish: Phosphate ("Parkerized").

Furniture: Pistol grip and both upper and lower handguards are made of reddish Bakelite reinforced with wood fiber.

Price: Approximately $900 to $1,000, complete with two magazines and cleaning kit.

Manufacturer: Century Arms International, Inc., Dept. SGN, 430 South Congress Avenue, Suite 1, Del Ray Beach Fla. 33445, phone: 1-800-527-1252; fax 561-265-4520 website:

Ammunition: Wolf Performance Ammunition (Dept. SGN, P.O. Box 757, Placentia, Calf. 92871 ; phone: 888-757-WOLF; fax: 714-632-9232; e-mail:; website:

T&E summary: Both lighter and shorter than either the AK47 or AKM. Excellent reliability. Superb handling characteristics. Satisfactory accuracy. High y recommended.
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Title Annotation:Century Arms International assault rifles
Author:Kokalis, Peter G.
Publication:Shotgun News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 20, 2009
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