The Vz. 58 is not an AK.
We just have to get that out there. More than a few people have that belief and that’s wrong. It’s a unique rifle to itself, although no one will disagree that it draws from other designs, namely the StG 44. It’s a lightweight, milled rifle that operates on the same level of reliability as the AK, but is made to a much higher standard of precision.
It’s considered to be one of the more accurate battle rifles out there and has some interesting features that many guns just don’t bother with. For instance, it does have a last-round-bolt-hold-open, and you can reload it with stripper clips through the action of the rifle. The magazine release is very finger-friendly, and it has a crisp single-stage (~7lb) trigger. And it’s pretty.
Many of these rifles have been made and some are still in use by the Czech military, (as well as the Slovenian military, and smattering of other Com-Bloc militaries) although they’re planning to phase them out and replace them with the also-Czech-made CZ 805, which is considerably sexier but less classic-looking. And while there are plenty of used rifles coming from their military to the surplus market, the Czechs are still making new ones.
Because not everyone wants a used rifle chambered in 7.62x39mm; and thanks to the Czech Small Arms company, (not Česká Zbrojovka although they’re in the same city) the world gets to lay eyes and hands on brand-spanking-new Vz. 58s chambered in 5.56 NATO/.223 Winchester.
CSA is making two models for sale in the U.S., the Tactical and the Sporter. The Tactical comes with a modern forearm with rails, a folding stock, and a muzzle break-slash-compensator. The Sporter is dressed up with polymer furniture and a thumbhole stock, and will be sold in two versions, one with a high-capacity 30-round magazine, and one with a cut-down 10-round magazine for people who require them.
Other things to note: it has a 16″ barrel with a 1:7 twist, weighs 7.4lbs, and will cost about $900, the same as any non-Century Vz. 58. So yeah, if you’ve been holding out on a Vz. 58 because you have issues with Russian cartridges, well, you don’t really have any excuses any more. Of course, this does mean you won’t be finding surplus magazines for them, but Vz. 58 mags were never so cheap anyway. The .223/5.56 mags are transparent polymer, let’s hope they’re as durable as we expect from any arms manufactured in the Czech Republic—and they do look suspiciously similar to those CZ 805 magazines…
We wonder, though, how long it’ll take before someone makes an AR mag adapter. ‘Cause that would be awesome.