Gun Review: Czech Vzor 58

The Czechoslovakian Sa Vz. 58 assault rifle has to rank high as one of the least understood and most underappreciated military rifles of the twentieth century. Case in point: for many years I thought that it was simply a copy of the AK-47. But I’m not alone: I’ve even seen it described in books as being an “AK.” However, outward appearances aside, they only thing the Vz. 58 has in common with an AK-47 is the round it shoots:  the M43 (7.62 x 39mm). In fact, internally this rifle has more in common with Walther P38s, Beretta 92s, Brens, and Glocks than it does with an AK-47. Over the past couple years, I had the opportunity to test two civilian-legal adaptations of the original Czech design: the D-Techniks Vz. 58 “Sporter”, and a Century Arms International Inc. parts kit build called the “Vz. 2008.” . . .

Courtesy Joe Grine

Century Arms Int. Vz. 2008

A couple of introductory points: First, a short primer on terminology.  The “Sa” is an abbreviation for the Czech word “Samopal,” which I am told means something along the lines of “automatic firearm” or “submachine gun.” The “Vz.” is an abbreviation for “Vzor,” which means “model.”  You will see folks refer to these guns as “CZ 58s,” but that name is technically not correct, despite the fact that CZ did manufacture them.    

Second, I should point out the first photo, above, shows a modern, pimped-out sporter version of the Vz. 58 with furniture provided to TTAG courtesy of the Mako Group/and FAB Defense. I review these accessories separately in a companion article.  The second photo shows a common parts kit gun with OEM furniture.  This particular sample is a rifle from Century Arms International known as the Vz. 2008.

And with that, let’s start with a little history….

History and Evolution of the Vz. 58

Courtesy Joe Grine

When it comes to making military and sporting small arms, the country formerly known as Czechoslovakia had a long and rich history that dates back to the 17th Century. Prior to World War II, Czech-made small arms were prized for their innovation, quality machining, and attention to detail. As an example, the VB Vz. 26 and its later variants became the template for both the British Bren gun and the Japanese Type 96 / 99 machine gun. The British also built a licensed version of the Tk Vz. 37,  an innovative belt-fed 7.92 x 57 machinegun that featured an adjustable cyclic rate for use against ground and air targets. Czech-made Vz. 24 Mausers  were considered to be among the finest bolt action rifles in the world, and were widely exported.

During World War II, Czech arms manufacture fell under the control of the Germans. The Nazis made extensive use of many of the Czechoslovakian arms factories to supply both the SS and the Wehrmacht. For example, Mauser K98s, MG34s, and other weapons were produced at the world-renowned Československá zbrojovka, akc. spol. (now called “Zbrojovka Brno a.s.”) in the city of Brno. This city is also referred to as “Brunn,” esp. by German-speaking people. This factory produced German-designed rifles in WWII, and today Mauser collectors will frequently see samples of K98s with this factory’s “Dot” code. The Germans also oversaw production of German Mausers at a lesser-known factory located in the Slovakian town of Provazska Bistrica. These rifles featured the “Dou” factory code, as shown in the photo below:

Courtesy Joe Grine

After the Soviets ousted the Germans from Czech territory in 1945, they allowed the formation of a new coalition government. Sympathy for both the Soviets and Communism ran high, and the country created strong ties to the Soviet Union. In 1946, candidates the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (“KSC”) gained 38% of the vote in the first national elections. But the commies were not content with sharing power, because, as history teaches us, totalitarianism is the silent partner of Communism. So with the help of their Soviet overloads, KSC launched a successful coup d’état in 1948, in which the non-KSC parties were driven out of the coalition government. Czechoslovakia became one of the most loyal of the new Soviet puppet states.

In the years following World War II, Czechoslovakia recognized that technological inovations were driving a  need for lightweight, compact infantry rifles with high rates of fire. Nonetheless, the first post-war design to be fielded by the Czechs, the Vz. 52, was not such a design. Rather, the Vz. 52 was a tilting-bolt lock action with a short-stroke gas piston operation; similar in appearance and function to the Simonov SKS, MAS 49, or a FN 49. It used a new, proprietary, 7.62 x 45 mm round, which would prove to be short-lived.

But the Vz. 52 was merely a stop-gap, and even before it was adopted, the Czechs began development on an improved rifle that could combine select-fire and higher magazine capacity of the submachine gun with the longer range and energy of the self loading rifle. Unlike other satellite states such as Poland, Hungary, and Romania, however, the Soviets rewarded Czech loyalty with some degree of autonomy:  they allowed the Czechs to pursue their own rifle design rather than insisting on the production of a Kalashnikov clone.

In 1951, three independent engineering teams were working on designs for a new assault rifle based on the 7.62 x 45 round. The first was the Koucky brothers (future CZ 75 designers), who submitted the ZK 503. The second was the Czech gun designer Vaclav Holek, who had previously invented the ZB 26.  His submission was the ZB 530. Finally, a team headed by a 25-year-old gun designer named Jiří Čermák (1926–2006) submitted the “Cz 515” prototype. Though seemingly an unlikely candidate to run such an operation, Mr. Čermák had gained considerable experience as part of the CZ team that designed the Vz. 52.

The Čz 515 fired from the open bolt – a requirement specified by the Czech army. During testing, the Čz 515 did not meet military accuracy requirements, a fault attributed to the open-bolt design. To address the issue, Mr. Čermák re-designed a second prototype rifle, the Čz 522, to fire from the closed bolt position. In addition, the barrel of this new prototype was shortened to 350 mm and had the charging/cocking handle attached directly to the bolt carrier.

By 1954, the designs from the three competing engineering firms were put to a series of tests by the both the Czech Army and the Red Army in the Soviet Union. Although this testing revealed that all three designs needed further refinement, the Soviets praised the ČZ 522 over the two competing designs.

Around that same time, the KSC had nationalized and centralized virtually all industry in Czechoslovakia, gradually bringing about the end the independent design offices of individual arms factories.  In their place, the KSC built a large specialized research and development center, which was initially named “Konstrukta Brno” (after its place of residence in the City of Brno). Jiří Čermák began working at Konstruckta on October of 1954, and development of a new assault rifle began there shortly thereafter at this facility.

Unfortunately, Soviet meddling slowed progress.  Specifically, the formation of the Warsaw Pact meant standardization on military ammunition, and the end of the Czech 7.62 x 45 round. Nonetheless, it wasn’t until the first quarter of 1956 that the Soviets were able to provide Czech designers with the technical specifications for the M43 7.62×39 mm cartridge. With the specs for the new round in hand, resumption of design work commenced. However, somewhere in that timeframe, the other two design teams bowed out of the running.

The first of Mr. Jiří Čermák’s prototypes to use the M43 cartridge was the model Sa 56. It was another “close-but-no-cigar” affair. During the next phase of design work, the hammer was replaced with a striker system, in order to achieve a lower cyclic rate of fire. Testing also confirmed that this change increased accuracy in full automatic fire. Additional weight reduction was achieved by manufacturing the magazine from aluminum alloy (the weight savings with the six magazines around 2 pounds). By the time the Czech military accepted the final Sa Vz. 58 design, they had a weapon that was considerably lighter and more compact than an AK-47 or AKM, while achieving better accuracy in semi-automatic mode.

Production of the Sa Vz. 58 commenced in 1959 at the Ceska Zbrojovka Uhersky Brod, a.s. factory (“CZ-UB”) .   Located in the town of Uhersky Brod (pop. ~18,000), this company is known to most U.S. shooters simply as “CZ.”  CZ-UB produced around 920,000 copies of this weapon system from 1959 to 1984.

 Courtesy Joe Grine Courtesy Joe Grine

Of course, having gone to the dark side, Czechoslovakia was more than happy to supply the world’s worst leftie despots with military arms. It wasn’t long before the Sa Vz. 58 started showing up in the all the world’s garden spots, from Vietnam to Angola to the Ivory Coast. The list of countries that purchased the Vz. 58 for their militaries reads like a nightmare: Cuba, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Uganda, Libya, Somalia, India, Lebanon, Angola, Mozambique, Iraq, Tanzania, and Grenada.

The good news is that after the cold war “ended,” the Czech people regained their sanity, jettisoned the brutal communists, and joined NATO. Since that time, the Czech Republic has begun to move on to newer rifle designs, thus allowing for the importation of surplus Vz.58s into the U.S.

 Overview of the Vz. 58 Design

Courtesy Joe Grine

D-Techniks Vz. 58 “Sporter” w/ North Eastern Arms top Rail and Vortex SPARC

First off: this ain’t no stinkin’ AK. Although outwardly similar to an AK-47, it is important to note at the outset that none of the SA Vz. 58 parts are interchangeable with an AK: not the mags, not the pistol grip, nothing. Nadda. Fuggetaboudit.

When you pick up a Vz. 58, the first thing you will notice is how light and handy it is. In terms of weight and portability, it feels remarkably similar to a M-1 carbine. Even with the milled receiver, the Vz. 58 is more than a pound lighter than a stamped AK-47. And unlike the pistol-caliber M-1 Carbine, this beast will spit out 123 grain rifle-caliber projectiles at over 2200 fps.

The basic features of the Vz. 58 include:

  • Milled steel receiver.
  • Striker fired (similar to a Glock pistol).
  • Short stroke gas piston.
  • Reciprocating bolt handle.
  • a tilting lock action with a dropping block (similar to Walther P38s or Beretta 92s).
  • Bolt hold-open on empty magazine.
  • Aluminum alloy 30 round magazines.
  • Tangent rear sights, protected post front site.
  • No ejection port dust cover  (the receiver is completely enclosed by the bolt carrier).
  • stripper clip guide to facilitate loading magazines with chargers.

Here’s a photo showing how you can use the bolt carrier as a guide to load mags from chargers:

Courtesy Joe Grine

How the Action Works

As mentioned above, the Vz. 58 is gas operated; it uses a short-stroke gas piston to cycle the action. The bolt assembly of the Vz. 58 consists of four separate pieces:  the bolt, the locking lugs, the striker, and the bolt carrier. Note that there is no traditional “hammer” in the trigger pack.  The photo below shows the bolt carrier, the striker (at left), as well as the bolt and locking piece:

 Courtesy Joe Grine

These two photos show the bolt, the locking piece, and firing pin. Note that the firing pin is not normally removed during field-stripping / cleaning.  While I have successfully removed and installed the firing pin,  putting the bolt back together is one of those “three hands required” operations. So I don’t recommend taking the bolt apart as part of normal cleaning.

Courtesy Joe Grine

Once a round is fired, gas bled from the barrel sends a gas pistol (i.e. a chrome-plated tappet rod) rearward. This rod slams into the bolt carrier, and a spring returns the tappet rod back to its forward position.  Nonetheless, energy is transferred to the bolt carrier, sending it rearward as it rides on rails located inside the receiver. The spent brass casing is pulled out of the chamber and racked over a fixed ejector, which jettisons the casing up and out of the receiver. The rearward force of the bolt carrier cams the locking lugs upward out of their locking recesses.

As the bolt carrier travels rearward, it brings the striker with it.  In the process, the striker rolls over the sear. The sear acts as a one way ratchet, and blocks the striker from returning to the forward position as the bolt carrier moves back forward under spring tension. The striker remains locked to the rear under spring tension, as it contains an internal striker spring. The bolt carrier moves back to the forward position, and in the process, strips a new cartridge out of the magazine and into the chamber. The locking lugs are cammed downward and lock the bolt in place.

When the trigger is pressed, the disconnector moves the sear downward, thereby enabling the striker to slam foward under spring tension and hit the back of the short firing pin contained in the bolt.  The round’s primer is ignited, and the process starts again.

Background on the Civilian Legal Variants Found in the U.S.

Courtesy Joe Grine

CAI Vz. 2008

Based on my experience, it appears that U.S. collectors will typically run across five different makes of Vz. 58s on the civilian market. The first are Vz. 58 “Sporters,” manufactured by Czech Small Arms (“CSA”) (formerly known as “D-Techniks”). D-Techniks began exportation of these guns to the U.S. in January of 2006. Collectors will encounter samples with various import marks, including Waffen Werks (“WW”), Tennessee Guns Int. (“TGI”), CzechPoint USA (“CSA”), etc.

To clear up confusion, it is worth noting that CSA and Ceska Zbrojovka Uhersky Brod, a.s., (aka “CZ”) are different companies. Czech Small Arms is a small manufacturing facility located in a town called Jablunka, Czech Republic. CSA currently owns the rights to build the Vz. 58, which it purchased from CZ.

CzechPoint, USA is the current U.S. importer and exclusive distributor for CSA. Before CzechPoint acquired the importer’s license, CzechPoint contracted with WW and TGI to import D-Technik firearms into the U.S. At that time, CzechPoint was acting solely as a distributor. Now that Czechpoint has an importer’s license, it manages both importation and distribution.

The Vz. 58s made by CSA are partially kit guns: the firm hand selects original military issue surplus parts and assembles them onto newly manufactured receivers with new hammer-forged barrels. CSA has been introducing more new parts into the production of their rifles, because surplus parts in excellent condition are getting more and more difficult to find. Although CSA purchases surplus military rifles on the surplus market for these builds, it is getting to the point where many of these parts are in too bad of shape to use on CSA rifles.  As a result, CSA is currently manufacturing the following parts in house:

  • Receiver
  • Polymer furniture
  • Trigger guard
  • Bolts (in 7.62 x 39 and 5.56 x 45)
  • Gas adapter/block
  • Front sight base
  • Pistons
  • strikers
  • various screws, pins, and springs

Soon, CSA will be manufacturing receiver covers, bolt carriers, and locking pieces in house.

A second commonly-encountered variant is the Century Arms International Vz. 2008. This is a surplus parts kit gun made on U.S. made receivers machined from 4140 steel, hardened to 40-45 RC. It features a new U.S. made barrel, rumored to be made by Green Mountain, as well as U.S. made “922r compliance parts.” It typically comes with 1 magazine, and a cleaning kit. AIM Surplus currently advertises these at $499 with 5 magazines, a used surplus bayonet and scabbard, and a used pigskin mag pouch, which is admittedly an incredible deal if you are willing to take the risk on a Century product.

A third, more rare type of Vz. 58 found on the secondary market are ones that bear the CZ label: CZ USA contracted with Czechpoint to import “tactical” and “military sporter” models of the Vz.58 into the U.S., from 2007-2010. Ironically, these rifles were “manufactured” by D-Techniks and combining original CZ Sa Vz. 58 components with a new semi-auto only milled receiver, a new trigger mechanism and new fire control parts.

CZ USA purchased both their Vz.58 rifles and Vz. 61 Scorpions from CzechPoint, until CzechPoint made the decision to be the sole distributor and grow the CzechPoint brand. Many people are under the incorrect assumption that CZ USA imported or manufactured the Vz.58 and Vz.61 – that is not the case.  CZ USA purchased the Vz.58 and Vz.61s from CzechPoint and their firearms were rebranded by CZ USA.

Fourth, you will also run into U.S. made parts-kit build guns made companies such as Ohio Ordnance Works, Ohio Rapid Fire, or Waffen Werks.

The guns made by Ohio Ordnance Works will be marked “VZ. 2000,” and my understanding is that they started production in 2003 and are still making them, well equipped, for around $1000. Ohio Rapid Fire manufactured Vz. 58s from around 2008-2010, but the company is now defunct. Quality was reportedly spotty on the ORF guns, but I have no first-hand experience with them.

Lastly, it’s possible to encounter one-off parts kit builds made on U.S. made receivers by who knows who. These “bubba-build” guns are the least desirable and should be avoided unless of known provenance or accompanied by a good guarantee / warranty. The now-defunct company “Ohio Rapid Fire” made receivers, and from the internet chatter you read, there were many problems with them being out of spec.

A new company known as “Assault Weapons of Ohio” apparently bought ORF’s inventory and is advertising that they will perform repair and rebuild work on Vz. 58s. Note that D-Techniks also sold stripped receivers for a while. Although they are rare (< 50 in the U.S.), it is consequently the case that D-Techniks marked receiver is not a guarantee of a D-Technik’s build.

To complete this review, I used two different rifles: a 2006-era D-Techniks rifle imported by TGI, and a 2008-era Century Arms Vz. 2008.  Both of these guns are part of my personal collection and were obtained from FFL dealers on the open market (as opposed to being test samples from the manufacturers).

 CSA: Changes Made to the Civilian Versions 

Courtesy Joe Grine

D-Techniks Vz. 58 Sporter

The CSA (formerly “D-Techniks”) rifle is imported into the United States in a “Sa Vz. 58 Sporter” configuration, which features a 10-round single-stack magazine.  Once in-country, CzechPoint then converted it back to a “military” configuration. A company called Waffen Werks converted older D-Technik rifles for CzechPoint, because, at the time, Czechpoint only possessed a Type 01 FFL. Currently, CzechPoint imports and does the conversion manufacturing in house.

Czechpoint uses at least 5 U.S.-made parts to fully comply with Title 18, U.S.C., Section 922(r): (1) sear, (2) disconnector, (3) trigger, (4) magazine follower, (5) and magazine floor plate. Of these five aforementioned parts, the first two are made from 4140 steel, while the last three are made from Leona 90 G 60 and Zytel ST 801 polymer. In addition, since U.S. law prevents the importation of semi-automatic rifles with bayonet lugs, all U.S. import Vz. 58 rifles made D-Technics / Czech Small Arms do not have the standard bayonet lug. .  According to Mr. Dan Brown at CzechPoint USA, they will soon be building Vz.58 rifles in house on stripped receivers using factory presses and fixtures imported from Czech Small Arms.

The military version of the Vz.-58 sports a 15.4 inch barrel, which is only legal in the U.S. as an NFA weapon. As a result, the civilian version comes either with a short barrel extension or muzzle brake pinned and welded in place. Because of that, adding a different flash hider or muzzle brake requires a gunsmith (perhaps it’s a DIY job if you have the equipment and skills).

The CAI version simply uses a threaded 16.25-inch barrel for its Vz. 2008 build, which is one of the few perceived advantages to the CAI version.

Operator Controls 

Courtesy Joe Grine

D-Techniks Receiver and safety.

You don’t hear many complaints about the imported versions of the Czechpoint Vz. 58, but when you do, it’s usually about the trigger:  the trigger in the D-Techniks/CSA imports are made out of polymer. The gripe is not that they break; rather it’s simply that they are made out of plastic. Kind of like dudes who gripe about GLOCKs, I guess. Truth be told, I’ve got no complaints, but if the thought of a plastic trigger freaks you out, Bonesteel Arms will sell you a steel replacement.

Putting the whole plastic thing aside. I think the D-Techniks Vz. 58 has one of the best triggers of any com-bloc military rifle I’ve fired. In fact, I’d stack it up against most any other military semi-automatic rifle, from HKs to AKs, with perhaps the exception being the new breed of aftermarket, non-mil-spec AR triggers.

Having said that, the Vz. 58 trigger takes a bit of getting used to. It starts out with 3/8 inch or so of easy take up, and then you hit a nice “wall” like you would on a typical U.S. two-stage military trigger. However, the trigger doesn’t break just past the wall, as it does with a nice AR trigger. Rather, the trigger continues to the rear in a smooth and steady manner for another 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch (or so), finally breaking without any further wall or warning. In some ways, it reminds me of an HK MP5 trigger, only lighter and smoother.

It’s a trigger that is somewhat difficult to master, but it will really reward you if you apply your fundamentals and concentrate on squeezing the trigger. Fired correctly, the trigger’s break will surprise you every time. Personally, I think the trigger on my D-Teckniks is really excellent, but again, it took a ½ hour or so to get the hang of it.

In contrast, the trigger on my CAI Vz. 2008 is not as nice. It’s not horrendous, mind you. But the fact that Century Arms designed their own sear, disconnector, and trigger feather spring leads to a heavier, albeit perhaps more robust, trigger.

The paddle-style safety on both rifles is located on the right side of the receiver above the pistol grip. In the photo above, the D-Techniks rifle is shown with the safety selector in the “fire” position. When engaged in the safe position, it prevents the disconnecter from engaging the sear, and results in a very positive safety mechanism. When “on safe,” the lever protrudes downward into the area where one would normally hold the pistol grip, thereby giving the operator a tactile indication that is in “safe’ mode. Moving the safety to a “fire” position requires the operator to move the safety forward and up 90 degrees.  This replicates the movement required to place the weapon from safe to full-auto mode on the original design.

Most right-handed shooters will use their index finger on their trigger hand to accomplish this task, although some will be tempted to break their grip and use their thumb. The safety works independently of the striker, and can therefore can be manipulated regardless of whether the rifle is cocked. In the same vein, the rifle can be loaded or unloaded while the safety selector is in the “safe” position. Overall, I rate this safety as a solid improvement over the AK-47 design, but it is admittedly not as ergonomic as an AR-15 safety.

Although not technically an ambidextrous design, many left-handed shooters will be able to turn the safety to “fire” position by pushing it forward using the thumb of their firing hand. Flipping the safety down using the non-firing hand will place the rifle back in a “safe” condition.  As an additional aside, North Eastern Arms makes an ambidextrous safety, but frustratingly they are out of stock more often than not.

Courtesy Joe Grine Courtesy Joe Grine

The safety on the CAI Vz. 2008 is installed in a manner that replicates the safe-to-semi movement of the original design.  In the photo at top left, you see the Vz. 2008 safety in the “safe” position.  The photo at top right shows the safety in the “fire” position. As you can see, you have to rotate the safety clockwise (i.e. towards the rear of the gun) to get it in an operational mode.  You pretty much have to break your grip on the pistol grip to accomplish this task.

Courtesy Joe Grine

The magazine release is located on the bottom left of the rifle, just forward to the trigger guard. Pushing forward on the release lever will release the magazine. It’s pretty ideal for a right-handed shooter, but difficult for a leftie. There are ambidextrous mag releases available as aftermarket accessories.  These work well even for right handed shooters, as they allow the operator to drop the mag using the trigger finger of the shooting hand, similar to an M-16.

The follower of an empty magazine engages the bolt stop (see photo above), which is located forward of the trigger guard and to the right of the magazine release lever.  The bolt stop can also be engaged manually, in a manner similar to a Ruger 10/22, HK G-36, or similar designs.

Barrel & Muzzle Devices

Czech Small Arms uses new production 15.4 inch, chrome-lined, cold-hammer-forged, four-groove barrels featuring a 1 in 9.5 inch twist. The barrels are manufactured by Lothar Walther in Germany, a company well regarded for making some of the best production barrels in the world. Based on my experience with these rifles, the ones made for D-Techniks / CSA are no exception.

The chrome-lining process will soon be performed in-house by Czech Small Arms.  The following video shows how the barrels are pressed in to the receiver. 

Note that CSA has to weld on a barrel extension to bring the barrel up to 16.25,” as required by Federal law. When I first purchased my D-Techniks, I figured I would be able to replace the muzzle cap/extension with an aftermarket AK flash suppressor. However, it turns out that the CSA Vz. 58 uses right handed threads, as opposed to the left handed thread on a typical AK variant. So much for that idea. I purchased a really nice “Crusader” muzzle  brake from North Eastern Arms, but I have not had it installed yet.

CAI’s Vz. 2008 uses a U.S. made 16.25 inch barrel with a 1 in 9.5 inch twist. These barrels are not chrome-lined. It has been widely reported on the internet that these barrels are made by Green Mountain, but I have not independently verified that information. Nonetheless, my Vz. 2008 barrel appears to be well-made.  I originally  posted that the Vz. 2008 uses left handed threads common to AK pattern rifles.  That apparently was not entirely correct.  I called my gunsmith and he confirmed that my CAI Vz. 2008 has “14mm – 1mm right hand” threads.  Czechpoint posts the following on their website pertaining to the Vz 2008:

ATTENTION CENTURY VZ2008 OWNERS:

THIS BRAKE WILL FIT ORIGINAL CZECH BARRELS WITHOUT ISSUE, BUT MANY CENTURY VZ2008 OWNERS HAVE EXPERIENCED ISSUES WITH SCREWING THIS BRAKE ONTO THEIR BARREL THREADS. JUST A HEADS-UP THAT THERE IS A LIKELY CHANCE THAT THIS BRAKE WILL NOT FIT THE CENTURY VZ2008 RIFLE WITHOUT CHASING THE RIFLE MUZZLE THREADS WITH A 14X1RH DIE. OR, THE BRAKE MAY NOT FIT THE VZ2008 WHATSOEVER AS SOME OF THESE RIFLES ARE THREADED LEFT HAND (OPPOSITE OF ORIGINAL VZ.58 THREADED MUZZLES). IF YOU PURCHASE THIS BRAKE, AND IT DOES NOT FIT YOUR CENTURY VZ2008, CONTACT US FOR RETURN INSTRUCTIONS – OF COURSE IT MUST BE RETURNED IN NEW/UNMODIFIED CONDITION.

So, again, Century buyer beware.

Sights

Courtesy Joe Grine Courtesy Joe Grine

The sights on all Vz. 58s are the typical combloc design, and consist of an open notched leaf rear and a wing-protected front post front.  The front sight is adjustable for windage using a tool, and can be screwed up or down to adjust for elevation. The rear tangent sight is adjustable for elevation to 800 meters. It also features a “U” (“univerzální”) marking, which is used a 300 meter battlesight zero.

The sights on my D-Techniks are right on the money, because they get checked and test fired before they leave the factory. The Century Arms Vz. 2008s are a bit more hit and miss in the department. While my sample had sights that were close enough to be considered acceptable, it is common to find samples that are significantly out of alignment.

There are three options for mounting optics.  First, CSA manufactures a Picatinny scope rail mount that replaces the receiver cover.  CSA also manufactures a side mount plate to the receiver. Finally, the most common optic solution is to use a mount with replaces the top handguard.

Metal Finish

All CSA rifles are phosphated, and then a baked-on finish is applied on top of the phosphate. The finish is baked at 300F degrees for one hour. This finish is extremely durable – similar to a KG Coating’s Gun Kote.

The finish on the Century Arms Vz. 2008 is simple parkerization over bead-blasted metal. Its adequate to get the job done but that’s about all you can say about it.

Furniture

Courtesy Joe Grine

In true commie style, the Vz. 58’s stock furniture is a cheap-looking, wood-chip impregnated plastic that vaguely resembles particle board. Despite the cheap looks, the furniture functions well and is very durable and long-lasting. Colors can vary in shade from a medium color red to a dark color red (and can exhibit slight variations in hue, such as: reddish brown and reddish purple). The wooden stock has a short length of pull, similar to a Warsaw length stock on an AK. In the photo above, the black handgrip is a U.S. made 922r compliance part, whereas the other parts are all Czech-made mil-sup “factory” parts.

One nice thing about the Vz. 58 furniture is that owners can switch between the factory side-folder and the fixed butt stock with nothing more than a large flathead screwdriver. However, owners of Vz. 2008s need to be forewarned: some of these guns have been built so far out of spec that aftermarket parts won’t fit. In talking about this issue with the guys from the Mako Group, it appears that aftermarket parts fit on some Vz. 2008s but not others. In most cases, you can get them to fit with some hand fitting. However, aftermarket parts will not be returnable if you bubba them in your effort to get them to fit.

Magazines

Courtesy Joe Grine

The alloy magazine of the Vz. 58 is a proprietary design, and is not interchangeable with an AK-47 magazine. The fact that it doesn’t use AK mags seems to be a source of great frustration for many, and I’ve heard some refer to it as a “deal-killer.” Frankly, I don‘t understand this complaint.  The Vz. 58 mags are roughly half the weight of the steel AK-47 magazine. They rock into place more easily than the mags made for the AK-47, and have none of that annoying wobble that is common to the AK builds you see here in the states. They’re easy to load to capacity, and as mentioned earlier, the mags can be loaded from stripper clips by using the rifle as a guide. Based on appearance and feel, one would expect it to be not as strong as a steel AK magazine, but I have only run across one surplus mag that did not work as advertised.

Granted, they aren’t as ubiquitous as AK mags, and I am not aware of after-market substitutes. Nonetheless, extra mags typically run $15-20 for used surplus, and $25-33 for new magazines. I’ve only got 15 or so, so I need to get some more!

Disassembly

Courtesy Joe Grine

D-Techniks w/ FAB Defense furniture / accessories and AIMPOINT T-1

Although different than an AK, disassembly takes only a slight amount skill/thought. You begin by making sure the striker is in a forward, uncocked position (i.e. by pulling the trigger on an empty chamber, similar to a Glock). You then move the captured pin located on the receiver cover from left to right. The receiver cover (and attached springs) can be removed once this takedown pin is out of the way.  Once the receiver cover is removed, the bolt carrier group slides up and out of its rails in a manner similar to an AK.

Once apart, the bolt can be removed from the bolt carrier, and the striker can be removed from the bolt carrier. This later operation is a bit tricky at first. You first pull the striker all the way to the rear, then return it approximately a ¼ inch forward and then twist in a counter clockwise motion for 20 degrees or so and then pull outwards. It may sound complicated, but in practice its pretty easy once you get the feel for it.

The gas piston rod is easily removed once the top handguard is taken off the rifle. The top handguard is held in place by a single captured retaining pin, not unlike an AR-15 pin.

Assembly is simply the reverse operation. The only tricks you need to know are: 1) the locking lugs should be in a retracted/unlocked position as you guide the bolt carrier group back on the recover rails, and 2) the striker should be in the forward (uncocked) position before attempting to reinstall the receiver cover.

One important safety note: It’s possible to reassemble the rifle without the locking piece installed onto the bolt.  If you fire the rifle without the locking piece installed, you re going to get a ka-boom, which will ruin your day, to say the least.

Accuracy

Courtesy Joe Grine

Let’s face it: the two biggest inhibitors to good accuracy on most military rifles are the triggers and the sights. As mentioned above, the Vz. 58’s sights are typical com-bloc, warts and all. So I did most of my accuracy testing with an Aimpoint T-1 red-dot sight.

When I first started accuracy testing the D-Techniks Vz. 58, I was only getting 2-3 inch, 3-shot groups at 50 yards using CAI’s “Red Army Standard” steel cased Ukrainian-made ammo and an Aimpoint T-1 red-dot. Not good. But when I really started concentrated on my trigger fundamentals, I got those groups down to about one inch (2 MOA-ish) at 50 yards. I then switched to Federal “American Eagle” brass-cased ammo and immediately started turning in a string of ½ inch (+/-)  three-shot groups.

With my confidence in myself and the gun restored, I then ran the targets out to 100 yards and was rewarded with a string of 5-shot groups what averaged just a hair over 1 MOA. A photo of one of those “typical” groups is posted above. Please overlook the fact that I used Yugo mil-sup ammo in the photo above– I had run out of American Eagle by the time I got around to taking the pics.

In any event, I’m confident that I could even achieve a few sub-MOA 5 shot groups if I used a magnified optic and more of the (admittedly expensive) U.S. brass cased ammo. But honestly, I’m not sure I want to bother with a magnified optic placed out on the handguard rail. Perhaps I’ll try to get one of the new picatinny rail equipped receiver covers from CSA (if they ever start importing them) and mount an IOR Valdada 1x-4x Pitbull scope on it. In the meantime, I am content with the 1 MOA accuracy I was getting with the Aimpoint T-1.  Hell, for the money the 2 MOA I was getting with Tulammo or Red Army Standard is pretty decent at half the cost.

I have not done any formal accuracy testing with the Vz. 2008 because its still in the shop getting repaired. Once I get it back, I will update this section of the review with accuracy results.

Reliability

Photo Courtesy of Oleg Volk

Photo Courtesy Oleg Volk @ www.olegvolk.net

When it comes to reliability, the design of the Vz. 58 is sound.  I will state in full disclosure that I’ve had some problems with both of my Vz. 58s, but for reasons that I will explain below, I still have full confidence in this weapon system.

First, the sear on my second-hand D-Technics Vz. 58 broke off after around 700 rounds, rendering the weapon inoperable.  According to Mr. Dan Brown of Czech Point USA, my rifle, serial number Vz. 58 011XX, was one of the first batch (circa 2006-ish) that were built with the new BATFE-approved semi-auto sear.  Apparently, the U.S.-made sear on this initial batch was flawed, but that issue was soon identified and fixed by redesigning the sear.  Dan sent me out a new upgraded sear for free the same day I called, despite the fact that my rifle was well past its 5-year warranty and I was not the first owner.  He even threw in some free swag in the form of a CSA logoed pen and some CSA stickers. Awesome customer service!

Since replacing the sear, I have put over 1,500 rounds through the rifle without any sear-related issues. Thus, as a precaution, it makes sense to upgrade to a current production sear if you have an early production run D-Techniks rifle.

In fact, I have only experienced two sets of malfunctions since that time. I tried a batch of cheap steel-cased soft points, and the gun would occasionally choke on these. Nonetheless, I ran at least 30 rounds of the new, uber-premium Winchester PDX-1 hollow-point ammo through the D-Technics with no problems. In March of 2014, I experienced two double-feed malfunctions using TulAmmo FMJ. Both jams occurred within a minute of each other using one of my older looking surplus magazines. I have since determined that the mag’s feed lips were slightly bent out of spec. Since that day, I have run an additional 400-500 rounds through the rifle (using different mags) without issue.  Based on these experiences, I remain highly confidence in the D-Techniks Vz. 58 Sporter.

The Century Arms International Vz. 2008 was another matter entirely. It ran great for the first 200 rounds or so before it went DMFB-DW on me. At that point, I started experiencing some light primer strikes. I tried switching ammo, but soon it would not fire any type of ammo. It took me a while to diagnose the problem; at first I suspected a broken firing pin was to blame. However, it turned out that the barrel was not pressed in tight enough, and had worked itself loose ever so slightly over the course of those 200 +/- rounds. This created a headspace problem that prevented the firing pin from reaching the primer.

I called Century and asked them to fix it under warranty. They declined, on the grounds that the one-year warranty had expired. I only had possession of the gun for a month prior, but apparently the gun had sat at my FFL for too long before I picked it up. Century has to be the only company I know that has a warranty that begins to run the moment the distributor or retail outlet buys the gun from the factory, as opposed to when the final end-user takes possession.

So I said to Century, “Ok, forget the warranty – please fix it and bill me.”  They responded by stating that they did not perform non-warranty-related repair services, even on their own guns.  Basically, they said I was on my own.  Too bad, so sad. So the rifle is now at a local gun shop in Keizer, Oregon getting repaired. Tres lame.

Conclusion

Overall, the Sa Vz. 58 is a must-have addition for any collector of Cold War-era firearm design, as well for collectors just looking for a unique variant that uses Warsaw Pact 7.62×39 mm semi-automatic rifle, The Czech Small Arms Vz. 58 Sporter is a high-quality example of one of the more obscure military rifles of that era.

My CAI Vz. 2008, on the other hand, ended up having a major manufacture-related malfunction, which seems to par for course for the drunken monkeys at Century.  Others have gotten lucky and bought Vz. 2008s that ran great.  As always with Century, it’s the luck of the draw.  You feelin lucky?   The CAI Vz. 2008 may look like a good deal at first glance, but when you start comparing features, the CSA model comes out on top by a long shot:

CSA / D-Techniks                                                     Century Arms Int.

Czech Receiver, some mil-sup parts.                         Parts kit gun built on U.S. receiver.
Baked on enamel finish over parkerizing                  Simple parkerizing
Chrome lined Lothar Walther barrel                         No chrome lining in U.S. made barrel
Single feather spring; light trigger pull                     Double feather spring, heavier trigger pull
Safety moves forward for semi                                    Safety moved to the rear for semi
Uses Vz 58 muzzle brakes                                            God only knows.
2 mags standard                                                            One mag standard
No bayonet lug                                                               Bayonet lug
Works with aftermarket products                              Aftermarket parts may not fit / poor fit
5 year warranty                                                              Sketchy 1 year warranty
Excellent customer service                                         Crapshoot customer service

Smart money is on the CSA. Buy one, you won’t regret it. Unfortunately CzechPoint USA seems to be out of stock quite often, so jump on it when they do get them in.

Specifications (D-Techniks / CSA Sporter):

Caliber:  7.62 x 39mm (5.56 x 45mm and .222 Remington variants also exist)
Action:  Gas operated; tilting block, striker fired.     
Barrel: 15.4 inches, with a barrel extension to bring the final length to 16.25 inches
Weight: 6.7 pounds unloaded.
Length:  34 inches. 25 7/8 inches with folding stock retracted.
Capacity: 30 round magazines.
MSRP:  $950 to $1,200, depending on make and model

Ratings of D-Techniks/CSA Sporter (Out of Five Stars):

All ratings are relative compared to the other weapons in the gun’s category. Overall rating is not mathematically derived from the previous component ratings and encompasses all aspects of the firearm including those not discussed.

Accuracy: * * * *
The D-Teckniks rifle exhibited far better accuracy than a typical AKM; but the standard iron sights and trigger are a limiting factor.

Ergonomics: * * * * 
Better than an AK; not as good as an AR. Having said that, once the operator learns the manual of arms for this rifle, he or she can employ this system with a great amount of speed and accuracy.

Reliability * * * *
Now that D-Techniks/CSA worked the bug out of the semi-auto sear, the semi-automatic versions of the Vz.-58 are just as reliable as their military predecessors. Chrome-lined bolt, piston, and barrel help with durability.

Customization: * * * *
It’s not an AK or and AR, so I can’t give it five stars for customization. However, between Fab Defense/Mako, North Eastern Arms, Bonesteel and others, there are plenty of aftermarket toys out there for the Vz. 58.

Overall: * * * *
One of the finest light-weight “assault” rifles around. I would especially recommend this rifle for users whose mission requires a light weight rifle.  This would be my absolute first choice for operations in jungle environments or in forested mountainous terrain where a compact rifle is a necessity.

comments

  1. avatar AnotherOne says:

    Great review – although I don’t know how it’s an assault rifle since neither one is select fire? Looks more like a modern sporting semi-automatic to me.

    1. avatar Joe Grine says:

      Well, yes. The original military version is select fire, but the civilian versions are not. I would have thought that to be implicit in the article.

      1. avatar AnotherOne says:

        Quite right – your references were to the original, somehow I thought I saw it in reference to the vz2008 somehow .. again great review.

    2. avatar Cameron says:

      I own the 2008 Century Arms version. After receiving the rifle I tore it apart then put it back together leaving the firing pin out!!! What a nightmare after doing that brilliant move I could not get the cover off because the trigger obviously would not work. I ended up after sometime getting the top cover removed but destroyed the striker spring in the process had to order another one. Talk about fucking stupid!!! Other than what I did the rifle has been a pleasure to shoot with no problems. Like the man said don’t remove the firing pin!! I thought I was going to have a heart attack had to pop a Xanax to calm down.

  2. avatar PGT says:

    Shoots AK ammo. AK looking magazine . AK style hand guards. But not an AK. Got it.

    1. avatar Jeff says:

      not much into engineering I guess?

    2. Correct. Not an AK. Much better.

    3. avatar TTACer says:

      The action couldn’t be more different if it was direct impingment. It doesn’t even have a hammer.

  3. avatar Steve in MD says:

    If this article had come out before I bought the Century Arms one, that would have been great.

    1. avatar Joe Grine says:

      I would love to hear about your experiences with the Century Vz. 2008. I know at least one other guy who got a good one with no issues.

      1. avatar Steve in MD says:

        Well, so far I only put 120 rounds of cheap, Russian steel-cased ammo through it. No problems yet. I only made a few minor changes, including replacing the pistol grip, wrapping the folding stock with pipe insulation (only way I found to get a decent cheek weld), and replacing the rear sight with a nifty scope mount from scoutscopes.com

        That backwards safety lever takes some getting used to, and I still can not figure out why Century went that route.

        1. avatar Joe Grine says:

          Steve, I may have overstated the issue in my article. One of the other commenters noted, correctly, that the Century Vz 2008 safety turns clockwise (i.e. to the back of the rifle) from “safe” mode to “semi-auto” mode, which exactly replicates what the military version does. The military version, however, turns counterclockwise (i.e. forward) to get from “safe” to “full-auto” mode, which is what the CSA Sporter does (except that the CSA will obviously only give you semi-auto fire). Moving the selector forward is obviously a more ergonomically simple task than moving it backwards. I hope that clarification helps.

        2. avatar RSR says:

          The CSA VZ58s were something like only 5-19% of the global semi auto VZ58 market. You’ll find much more aftermarket support for stuff like Ambidextrous Safeties with the rear to fire century configuration than forward to fire CSA. Why the GunExpert VZ58 safeties are rear to fire. Think the Bonesteel trigger group might also be rear to fire, but don’t quote me.

        3. avatar RSR says:

          *5-10%. They were 5% a few years ago according to GunExpert. Imagine current production have increased, hence my 10% max guesstimate.

  4. avatar Another Robert says:

    Wow, lookit that shoulder thingy!

    1. avatar Kevin A. says:

      I’ll bet it even goes up!

      1. avatar James R says:

        What are you two talking about? I don’t see any barrel shroud…

      2. avatar Another Robert says:

        Wait, you mean that shoulder thing ISN’T a barrel shroud??

  5. avatar TheSophist says:

    Now THIS is a gun review. Really fine work. Thank you.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Indeed. This was a piece that resets the standards for gun reviews.

  6. avatar darkstar says:

    It’s a great rifle. I have one of the CZ branded ones and absolutely love it. I also had the same problem with the sear breaking. Czechpoint replaced it quickly and sent me 2 free mags, and like the author, mine has been flawless ever since.

  7. avatar Dryw says:

    One of the most thorough reviews on the Vzor I have ever read. Background is comprehensive and more than I have seen compiled outside a book specific to the subject. Especially welcome is the line-by-line “current civilian offerings” matrix.

    I always held off due to lack of parts commonality to already-owned AKs (even though I loved how it shot). I may just have to reconsider…

    Much appreciated.

  8. avatar michael nieto says:

    Can someone answer me what an official process would be for scraping 922r? could an executive order do it? or does congress need to act?

    1. avatar Joe Grine says:

      Its a federal statute, so only Congress can amend or repeal it. But, of course, if you are Obama, you take the position that you simply don’t have to enforce any law you happen to disagree with.

  9. avatar emfourty gasmask says:

    I’d like to throw this out for those interested: The Vz. 58 folding stock unit fits right onto Yugo M85/M92 PAP Pistols near perfectly. I slapped one onto my SBR Project and it’s actually not half bad at all, and doesnt add much weight to the otherall SBR at all.

  10. avatar Martin says:

    I’m a Czech so there’s a few things I might want to comment on but there’s one thing I would like to point out right now, probably because it is a matter of pride. You mention that the Czech small-arms industry has a history dating back to the 17th century.

    Well, I would like to mention the fact that the word “pistol” is most likely derived from the Czech word “píšťala” (which means flute), which was a name given to a class of primitive man-portable firearms sometime around 1420. So our history of small-arms manufacture is even longer than some might think.

    1. The Czechs have been at the forefront of not only firearms development, but the related tactics from the very beginning.

      The concepts behind modern combined arms warfare originated there, at the same time many of the concepts behind the basic liberties we enjoy in America were being forged there.

      1. avatar raoul says:

        and ther most inportant invention PILSENER (lager-beer)

  11. avatar John Phelps says:

    Thanks for the excellent review! I had been considering the AIM surplus Century model, now I think I’ll pass and save money longer for the CSA model.

    1. You won’t regret it.

  12. avatar NotoriousAPP says:

    That’s how reviews are done. Nice work.

  13. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Excellent review/article/history piece.
    Thanks Joe!

  14. avatar Puyallup devil doc says:

    This is probably the best gun review I’ve read in years. Strong work..

  15. avatar VF77 says:

    Ugh, all this talk of VZ58 these days is killing me. This has been on my short list for a while, but just cash strapped right now.

    However, I can’t get one anyway:

    “Unfortunately CzechPoint USA seems to be out of stock quite often, so jump on it when they do get them in”

    “quite often” should be changed to ALWAYS. I’ve never seen them NOT out of stock.

    1. Contact Czechpoint and see if they will let you put one on backorder.

      1. avatar ValleyForge77 says:

        Thanks man. I just got on the ‘notify me when back in stock’ list and going to contact them and see if they have any ETA/do backorders.

        1. avatar Joe Grine says:

          Dan Brown of Czechpoint emailed me and said that he will have a shipment in very soon (est. <2 weeks). I'd jump on that. I would love to buy one in 5.56 x 45.

        2. avatar RSR says:

          I think there’s a lot to be said for 18″ 223/5.56 barrels to get that cartridge to ideal velocity for performance at all distances. In which case, a Galil is better rifle but the VZ58 is compelling for a carbine option. But when looking at cartridges, effective ranges, etc, I think a 7.62×39 is a more compelling cartridge for what one would want a bullet to do in vegetation or in urban fighting scenarios where penetration is needed… 7.62×39 is also cheaper these the days. But YMMV.
          I guess I see the VZ58 as a pretty perfect weapon as is. Handguard gets hotter than I’d like and I’d like a better rear sight (something along the lines of the Rifle Dynamics AK sight) and a narrow/match front sight option, but otherwise I’m of the “if it ain’t broken” mindset.

        3. The rail system in this review will keep cool. There are aftermarket polymer handguards that don’t heat badly as well.

  16. avatar Fred says:

    I have had a CZ branded rifle for about 3 years and have had no issues. Love it. By the way for those of you with a keen eye the sniper in Full Metal jacket is using a VZ 58. My understanding is NVA special forces chose to use these during the war rather than standard AK’s.

  17. avatar The Best Chris says:

    This guy needs to teach Nick how to write reviews.

  18. avatar Canadian says:

    And sadly they now want to prohibit these fine rifles up in Canada. We have about 8000 of these in country, non-restricted, and our police force changed their minds last month.

    Sad really. One of my favorites. And I’m going to fight to keep it.

  19. avatar EthanB says:

    EPIC review! Thanks for the details and great facts and opinions!

  20. It always mystifies me when people complain that there is no commonality of parts with the AK. I understand that the two fire the same caliber, but they are totally different weapons.

    It would be like complaining that my XD does not have interchangeable parts with my Glock, or my SIG, or my Caracal.

    I like the vz.58 because it is better in many ways than an AK. If it hand interchangeable parts, it would be an AK. It isn’t an AK, it is better.

    The magazines have advantages over AK mags. I would not complain about the fact that my ARs don’t accept AK mags. I don’t complain that K31s don’t use the same mags as HK G3s, which don’t use the same mags as a .308 AR or an FAL. In fact, I bought a .308 AR lower once that used HK G3 mags. I sold it because of the disadvantages.

    People buy weapons and the proper magazines for them, and no one complains. Except in the case of the vz.58; then they whine about the fact that it does not use the magazines from a totally different weapon and miss out on owning one of the coolest little 7.62×39 carbines ever made.

    1. avatar Dryw says:

      I didn’t sense any whining about interchangeability in the comments, perhaps I missed it somewhere.

      I’ve chosen not to purchase for such a reason, as I already have a number of AK carbines. Personal choice not to dive into a completely different platform for simplification purposes (XD-to-Glock reference).

      I don’t see it as detrimental to the Vz that it doesn’t utilize AK, Mini-14, or SVD magazines. Nor do I have the expectation that it should.

      1. Not in the article; he mentioned that people have that complaint and there was a complaint in one of the comments. Also, this is one of the first things I hear mentioned when the vz.58 is brought up.

  21. avatar CA.Ben says:

    Excellent review. Someday, once I have moved my way out to Texas, I will get me one of these. It’ll have to wait until I have a nice collection of AKs, but it’ll happen eventually.

    1. avatar Joe Grine says:

      I’d get the Vz. 58 first, if for no other reason than they are more rare, whereas Aks are a dime a dozen and more are being made every day. IMHO, the Vz. 58 is a superior design to the AK-47 in many respects.

  22. avatar Jeff says:

    My understanding is that on the original design, the rear most position of the selector was for semi-auto fire, center position for safe, and forward position was for full auto. In this regard, the VZ 2008 is more like the original. I have two of the Century versions – one of which went back for canted front sight. At about $480 apiece, not much more expensive than an SKS and an otherwise pretty cheap way to shoot cheap 7.62 x 39 ammo. Not a lot of choices in this price range other than WASRs and SAIGAs ~before~ you start converting them.

    1. avatar Joe Grine says:

      Jeff, I see your point. You are correct that the semi-automatic mode (Marked “1” on the receiver) is to the rear, which mirrors what the Century Vz. 2008 does. The automatic mode (Marked “30” on the receiver) was to the front. The CSA model only has one trigger feather spring, and the selector is moved forward to achieve semi-auto mode. The Century Vz. 2008 does not allow you to move the selector forward, which is the more ergonomic of the two moments. I will amend the text to clarify.

      1. avatar RSR says:

        Century uses surplus trigger springs with 2 feathers. One of the springs is easily bent down which makes pull weight equal (if not slightly lighter due to steel vs poly) to the CSA. And you also have a spring to bend back up in the even your primary spring breaks!

  23. avatar int19h says:

    Great review, certainly raises up the bar.

  24. avatar janklow says:

    if i am not mistaken, my vz. 58 was one of those ORF receivers that was then finished up by a local smith. so i’ll have to see how she runs one of these days…

  25. avatar Michael says:

    “The Vz. 2008 uses left hand threads consistent with AKM pattern rifles. ”

    This is not true. Although some very few VZ2008s did come with AK type left hand threads, about 99% of all 2008s are right hand threaded which will disqualify all AK muzzle brakes.

    Also, I didn’t read the whole review simply because I own the weapon and don’t need a review. However I see some comments that mention negative comments about the VZ2008. This is common among VZ elitist that feel the CAI weapons are inferior. That is simply untrue! The 2008 is certainly a quality weapon marketed and sold by a shity company. In fact, the 2008 is probably among the best weapons Century has ever released. That may be due to the fact that there is info to show that Century doesn’t actually build the weapons at all. Its is speculated that Century has the weapons built by others and they just simply market and sell the weapons. Regardless the reputation that Century has for releasing sub standard weapons does not apply to the VZ2008. Many feel that the Czech versions of the VZ are far superior but there is no evidence to support that. And at more then half the price for the Century weapon I don’t feel that any quality difference in the Czech versions justifies the twice increase in price. Though some have had issues with the Century weapons, some have also had issues with the CSA/Czechpiont weapons as well.

    1. The Century VZ-2008 is better built on average than many of their other weapons. However, they are not built as well as the CSA rifles. On top of that, you have Century’s stupid one-year warranty that starts the day the rifle was manufactured.

      Century’s rifles have he bolt hole for the stock drill too high. You have to modify most stocks to get them to fit, and then they sit noticeably high. This has been the case on every Century rife I have seen.

      The front of the receiver on Century rifles extends noticeably forward of where it should – it is too long. This means aftermarket handguards or rail systems often have to be altered to fit.

      There is a misfire issue in converting these rifles to semi-auto. CSA spent several years finding the best fix and implementing it before they sold the first rifle. The fix is patented, along with a number of others they found. Century built many rifles without such a fix, and in others just copied the CSA fix, which CSA had put several years worth of R&D into developing. When Century introduced their rifle, they just copied Czechpoint’s user manual exactly, stole images from Czechpoint for their own marketing, and used Czechpoints other marketing materials. All of this shows an attitude that I don’t want to support.

      The CSA/Czechpoint trigger is much better than the Century trigger.

      The CSA/Czechpoint safety can be used correctly for modern CQB-style shooting. The Century selector goes backwards and requires the shooting hand to shift. This really is a big deal.

      The CSA barrel is the correct length – a nicer length than the Century rifles

      The CSA barrel is chrome-lined. This is handy with surplus ammo. How many Yugo SKS rifles have pristine bores?

      The Czechpoint rifles have a nicer finish. I charge $200 to put a similar finish on a rifle.

      I hear about issues with Century rifles quite often, though not at the same rate as their AKs. I rarely hear of an issue with the Czechpoint rifles.

      I am not an elitist, just a realist. I have been tempted to get a Century VZ-2008 on occasion, just as a cheap plinker – I have worked on them many times for customers. But the CSA vz.58 rifles imported by Czechpoint are much nicer rifles, and well worth the money. If a US company had brought out this design for the first time today, it would be hailed as one of the greatest innovations in firearm design, and would likely sell for $1500 or more. I really want to try one of the 5.56 versions.

      1. avatar RSR says:

        Ha. Czechpoint nearly charges $1500 these days (if you choose to have them install a muzzle device and a new front sight block w/ bayonet lug) from $700 just a few years ago… $ goes up, up, up. In Canada prices have risen about $100 in the same time, certainly haven’t doubled. So it’s not due to what CSA is charging Czechpoint…

        Czechpoint did not develop the tab on the bolt carrier. They purchased the rights to the patent in the US. They have a monopoly on the tab and then sued Century for using it (probably to keep their moat as wide as possible and competition to a minimum). Bear in mind that Century was building rifles with the tab before the patent was ever filed on behalf of Czechpoint… And the tab solution was developed by garage tinkerers on Canadian and Czech gun boards before any patents were ever filed — at least according to my research.
        The only way you can get the tab (a half inch piece of steel) from Czechpoint is to buy both the piece of steel and beater bolt carrier for $60 (they won’t sell separately) and then pay a welder to weld it or diy. Basically, I love the VZ58, but due to America’s restrictive gun laws, Czechpoint has a monopoly and IMO is taking advantage of consumers for that monopoly. Not quite on the same level as Cheaper than Dirt from my perspective, but not too far from them either…

        The Century receiver is not exactly to VZ58 design specs. The receiver is at most, 1/8″ longer and stuff can easily be filed to fit with just a touch of dremeling. A 15″ barrel is only an advantage to folks who want to pay a $200 SBR tax stamp or take the rifle to their gunsmith every time they want to change their muzzle device.

        CSA/Czechpoint advantages:
        1. Czech Made
        2. Enamel finish
        3. Czech barrel, chrome lined and hammer forged
        4. Tabbed bolt carrier
        5. New production springs on their builds

        Century
        1. 16.1″ Green Mountain barrel, that can be nitrided (superior to chrome) for less than $100 if you so choose and the 16″ barrel is threaded so muzzle devices can be easily changed
        2. Phosphate finish
        3. Bayonet lug (for both bayonet and bipod — Czechpoint you have to install a new front sight block)
        4. American made receiver and trigger group and piston and muzzle device, so can run surplus mags without buying follower and floor plate for each of your mags from Czechpoint to stay 922r compliant
        5. Comes with a steel trigger group
        6. Receiver was designed as a doublestack, not modified from single stack upon import
        7. Rear to fire safety allows for aftermarket ambi safety install with slight receiver fitting (due to Century receivers not being to exact military spec)
        8. Century made from overwhelmingly surplus parts, whereas the Czechpoint has a lot of new production
        9. Ultimately for $100 to $200 one can correct nearly all “deficiencies” that folks cite on the VZ2008s and still leave a considerable chunk of change in your pocket.

        Ultimately folks need to decide if the CSA/Czechpoint is worth the $850+ new or $500+ used over the a new VZ2008. Do you want 2 Century (or 1 Century with a lot of ammo and training) or 1 CSA. You decide.

        Lastly, in regards to Century, they screwed up Golanis and other milled receiver rifles quite handily in the past. But all the reviews I’ve seen of their modern production milled receiver rifles, including the milled receiver all US made Centurion 39, have been stellar. Century may screw stuff up on occassion, but they do fix their issues though it might take some time. I personally applaud them for making products available at affordable pricepoints.

        1. avatar RSR says:

          Should add that Czechpoint/CSA doublestack rifles — if you don’t want to use their 922r compliant mag products, you can install a US trigger group and piston for an add’l ~$100 to be compliant.

        2. avatar RSR says:

          Correction, Czechpoint’s military model is w/ muzzle brake and bayonet lug is $1,225 not $1,500.

        3. avatar RSR says:

          I forgot that VZ2008’s barrels are .308 diameter while VZ58s are .311 AK spec.

          Barrel diameter really doesn’t matter here. What does matter is the chamber throat, which is to proper specs on the VZ2008.

          Conceptually, the .308 diameter barrel will result in greater accuracy, and it will definitely result in better accuracy when shooting most premium American 7.62×39 ammo — which are actually .308 diameter bullets. Also an advantage to reloaders who want bullet commonality.

          Recent thread over at CZfirearms that discussed, but the only 7.62 ammo that has measured in at .311 are more expensive foreign 7.62s like S&B, Prvi Partizan, and Lapua. The 154 grain soft points are .310, Golden tiger is .309, and Tula Wolf and Barnaul are all in the .308 range for FMJs with their HPs being slightly wider. So again, no reason why the .308 isn’t good to go.

          This should conclude most of the comparisons/complaints between the two.

        4. avatar Joe Grine says:

          RSR. I disagree with you when you say “Century may screw stuff up on occassion, but they do fix their issues though it might take some time.” Century is notorious for not owning up to their mistakes. For example, at first they were replacing the Tantals that they screwed up by installing incorrect barrels (wrong twist rate? wrong diameter? who knows), but then they stopped honoring the warranty and started taking the position that 5.45x 39 is supposed to keyhole. WTF?! While they sent me a replacement, even the replacement only works with 53 grain 7N6 (which is now banned, apparently). You correctly mention that they screwed up the Golani Sporters as well – they are notorious for jamming on the last round in the mag. Even their Sterling Sporters have a firing pin modification that is suspect, relegating that weapon to the status of “range toy only”). My motto is “Friends don’t let friends buy a Century.”

        5. I can’t personally applaud Century for anything. I cannot understand their mindset. It would not cost them much more to make things right, or no more on certain issues. Why not make the VZ-2008 receivers the correct length? Why not drill the stock bolt hole in the right location? How many years now have they been putting the bolt hole in the wrong place? Why not put the right style muzzle attachment on the rifle?

          They are well known for canted front sights on AKs, wrong bore dimensions on rifles, grinding bolts to make CETMEs appear to headspace correctly when they did not, and many other issues. I have seen so many Century firearms with serious problems that rendered them unshootable. Almost all of this stuff is easily avoidable. Any number of manufacturers can assemble these same firearms correctly, why can’t Century?

          On top of that, they have a stupid one year from the date of manufacture warranty that leaves customers walking out of gun shops with new rifles that were out of warranty when they bought them.

          I’m all for inexpensive firearms – I don’t care for people who think all firearms should be expensive. Some people live in the real world and have to balance family, food, medical bills, housing and vehicle expenses, etc. with what they spend on firearms. There should be quality firearms available at every reasonable pricing level, and Century is in a position to make them available for low prices, but they lost the plot when it came to quality.

        6. On the tab, it was developed by CSA, not Czechpoint, and was patented prior to the start of full production of their semi-auto rifles. This was prior to when Century started using it.

        7. avatar RSR says:

          While I agree that Century should spend another hundred to make the rifle perfect, but the few issues that exist don’t ruin the rifle and they’ve obviously tested the markets pricepoint and decided that 90% of the way there for 75% of the cost is more sellable than 100% at 100% of the cost.
          Your nipping at the edges while neglecting the fact that you can have 3 Centuries for one CSA at today’s prices. If we were back in 2008 and the $500 Century vs $700 CSA, then we could have a legitimate argument on the merits, but Czechpoint’s prices are outrageous. And best I can tell entirely due to their import monopoly (thanks ATF) as like I mentioned in Canada just recently with multiple sellers and US before the Czechpoint monopoly, the rifles were $700 on sale with $800 standard pricing (+50% just b/c you’re the only seller is price gouging IMO).

          Yes, Century had a really bad go with the Tantals, Golanis, CETMEs, etc. All of those were around 2008… The tantals were a 223 barrel, not 5.45. The bolt grinding and all of those issues were largely 2008 as well. As I understand it, that was when they were trying to do building in house as cheaply as possible and screwed things up. Trying to save pennies cost them dollars, and I think they learned their lesson. But from all I’ve heard and seen they’ve largely learned their lessons. Look at the VZ2008 reviews and Centurion 39 reviews. To get any other milled 7.62×39, you’re looking Arsenal’s $1500 models that they recently introduced as being a complete gamechanger for the AK platform…

          I’ll agree that canted front sights are still a common issue on Century branded weapons. BUT most of the AKs they stamp actually have their front sights installed in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, etc. It’s not a Century screw up and slightly canting front sights is remarkedly easy to do. And there are also some folks over in the CZ forums that have CSA rifles that have had sight cant issues and also issues with getting Czechpoint to fulfill their obligations under warranty — monopoly affecting customer service too?. So yes, front sights are easy to screw up. Century doesn’t have as good of quality control as some others.

          On the receivers, current production ones don’t appear to have the same issues as the early ones on both length and stock hole. However, I can’t speak to the stock as it’s still on my to do list, but the nature of the issues are such that a very minor amount of fitting will correct.

          Your argument is that what’s arguably perfection is worth 3x times the dollars. My argument is one of optimum value. And from that perspective if wanting OEM reliability, etc, I’d probably lean more towards a CNC build w/ an excellent condition military surplus kit and top notch builder and still come in cheaper than what Czechpoint is charging these days.

          But it’s just my opinion. We all have our biases.

        8. avatar Bill Tell says:

          @RSR, your info is outdated regarding the so called “advantages” of a century build Vz2008
          1) Current Czechpoint barrels ar Walther made 16.1″ chrome lined w/ removable muzzle devices. same benefits as a Green Mountain barrel, and the chrome line is already there as opposed to sending out your rifle for nitriding. Factory barrel can be ordered with the superior Slovak muzzle brake as opposed to the crappy AK slant brake that magnify cheek slap.
          2) The baked enamel finish on a Czechpoint is far superior than the easily scratched phosphate finish on the Century.
          3) The $1200 Czechpoint has a standard bayonet lug, as well as the muzzle brake and a receiver side plate for adding a scope mount, so if you feel the need for mounting a bayo it’s a non-issue.
          4) Concede the mag advantage to the Century, just hope you get one that’s not equipped with a out of spec receiver with the akward safety, or a bent piston, and your untabbed carrier works decently. ( common complaints at the CZ forum, as you well know. )
          5) So you spend $60 to make the Czechpoint “perfect” as opposed to a few hunderd $$ on a Century and get a steel trigger group that you need to modify ( thus voiding all warranty from Century ) to get a decent trigger pull. My VZ 58 has over 8K rounds down the pipe with no issue, very, very few complaints about the Czechpoint composite trigger as opposed to Century builds complaints.
          6) As stated before, Century receivers are crap shoots, while it may be a “true” double stack, the receivers are often out of spec, the safety is reversed to where you break your grip to manipulate it, some magazines in a Century receiver have horrible wobble. I know of no cases where a Czechpoint conversion has been an issue, and for compliant states the single stack 10 round magazine is a nice option with cheaper single stack 10 round plastic mags readily available.
          7)Backward safety, ambi or not, is still akward to manipulate, and is evidence or poor “reverse engineering” by Century.
          8) The overwhemingly amount of surplus parts is rated anywhere from “very good” to “barely serviceable” with a skecthy 1 year warranty backing it up. Yeah, I’ll take new high quality parts with a stated 5 year warranty from a company wiht a reputation for providing excellent customer service over the drunken monkies.
          9) I know very few Century owners who got away with spending $100 – $200 dollars fixing up their Century unless it was to get it up to snuff before dumping it on an unsuspecting buyer. Most guys I KNOW spend closer to $500 making the Century right, unless they just want a $400 safe queen.
          10) Modern american made 7.62 x 39 ammo is made to .311 bullet diameter, not .308 as done earlier when the mini-30 was the only non-commie rifle besides Century using .308 barrel blanks, but now even Ruger is making their mini-30 barrels with .311 bores, they didn’t like having to replace the smaller bore barrels worn out by people shooting the more common and much less expensive Combloc ammo.

          Bottom line, you get what you pay for, while a $400 VZ2008 may work, and sometime work surprisingly well, anybody who’s honest and does an honest comparison between the two companies will see the reason why Czechpoints cost 3x as much ( at the current sale price Century is selling their VZ3008 for, I’ve also seen them for sale at their normal price of $600 )

          And yeah, I own both, I lke both, but it did cost me $500 to fix every issue I had with the Century before I trusted it as being reliable, Century did have horrible customer service when I tried to get them to fix the rifle under warranty, To date my Czechpoint has been utterly 100% reliable, to me, that’s priceless, so the $750 I paid for in back in 2010 makes it a true bargain although I’d buy it at today’s prices without qualms.

    2. avatar Joe Grine says:

      “In fact, the 2008 is probably among the best weapons Century has ever released.” That may in fact be true, but its not saying much. Having owned both rifles, I don’t even see it as being a close call: the CSA is a quality rifle, and the Century is, well, a Century. You gonna admit, its pretty piss poor of them not to fix a barrel that lost headspace because it wasn’t pressed in correctly, eh?

      I will do some follow up research on the Century thread pattern. Mine is in a shop 50 miles away so I cant check it right anytime soon.

      1. The ones I have seen had 14×1 LH threads and accepted AK muzzle devices. As far as I remember, the Czechpoint rifles have 14x1RH, and there are plenty of muzzle devices available for that threading as well. Is this correct?

        1. avatar RSR says:

          Only the first batch of Century VZ2008s back in 2008 or 2009 had the AK threads. Anything relatively recently is VZ58 threading. 13x1RH.

  26. avatar Max says:

    I have 2 VZ2008’s with 1500 rounds through 1st and 500 through the second. Triggers are easily made better by lightening the spring pressure/bending it. The original surplus spring is used as is with 2 sides, the military version uses 1 spring for Full and 1 for semi fire. With the 2008 both are pushing on the trigger release making it too hard. Easy fix. Fantastic deal thru AIM. Thanks for the great article and would like to hear follow up when your 08 is repaired.

    1. avatar RSR says:

      I have 2 as well. They’ve been flawless. IMO VZ2008s are GTG and one of the best values on the market.

  27. Sa vz 58 is my favorite gun 🙂 For any spare and custom parts visit http://www.vz58rifle.com/

  28. avatar mrpiggy fingers says:

    Canadian gun owners are currently pissed off at the RCMP’s arbitrary and possibly illegal decision to place VZ 58’s on their prohibited list.(Too tactical looking?)Thousands of these rifles were sold in Canada as a non restricted sporting rifle which meant you could transport and shoot them pretty much anywhere normal long arms are used here. Owners now have an $800 safe queen that no one knows what to do with.We have truly become a police state,…so protect and be thankful for the rights you have.

    1. avatar Joe Grine says:

      Are the ones in Canada currently restricted in terms of mag capacity?

      1. avatar RSR says:

        Not an expert on Canadian gun laws, but they have doublestack receivers and use standard VZ58 mags pinned to 5 rounds.

        Beyond mag restrictions, they’re also required to have an 18″ barrel. The CZ 858 is the Canada model.

        1. avatar Gary says:

          My CZ 858s (Canadian version of the VZ 58) both have 15.5″ barrels and have to be registered as “restricted” firearms. That means that I can only shoot them at approved gun ranges and require a transport permit to travel to the range and back. That was the case until about a month ago when our national police force (the RCMP) decided to change its classification to “prohibited”. That means that we will have to surrender them to police or sell them to a museum or a properly licensed business.
          Our Conservative Government has granted a 2 year amnesty protecting owners from prosecution for simply possessing these firearms until this mess gets sorted out. We can keep them locked up as safe queens for now but forget about enjoying them at the range.
          I’m so pissed off right now about this that I may have to go to my bunker and write another letter to my Member of Parliament, with exclamation points!!!
          That’s right, I am one badass Canuck. And I’m not alone, since AKs and variants are prohibited up here,
          the Vz 58 is (was) very popular.

  29. avatar mrpiggy fingers says:

    RSR is correct on the pinned mag and 18″ barrel model being the 858. They came with a nice real hardwood stock stamped with a maple leaf for around $700-$800.As of about 1 month ago they were reclassified from non-restricted to prohibited.The Canadian government has offered a 5 year amnesty on ownership which basically means you can keep it locked in your safe but if you take it out you could go to jail.

  30. avatar mrpiggy fingers says:

    The Canadian government has offered a {2}year amnesty on ownership which basically means you can keep it locked in your safe but if you take it out you could go to jail. (Edited for updated information,Sorry about that)

  31. avatar Floyd says:

    Great review, Mr. Grine. Thorough and well-written. I especially appreciate the history and background explanations: I had no idea of the quality differences between the VZ.58 and the VZ 2008. I’m in the market for one of these rifles and I think you just saved me from a truckload of trouble. I owe you a steak.

  32. avatar David says:

    Where are the VZ-58′ RIFLES 7.62X39, I Have a SAM 7 but need to have a truck gun, smaller lighter faster….:)

    1. avatar Joe Grine says:

      5.56 x 45mm and .222 Remington variants also exist

  33. avatar Buddy Lee says:

    Just picked up a 2008 from palmetto state armory for $399 shipped. Couldn’t pass that up. Uvidím či je až taká dobrá jak tá originálna Česká.

  34. I have ARs and had two AKs. The AKs were heavy, bulky and not to my liking. However, I wanted something different than an AR, so I read a lot on the VZ 58.
    I now have t

  35. I have ARs and had two AKs. The AKs were heavy, bulky and not to my liking. However, I wanted something different than an AR, so I read a lot on the VZ 58.
    I now have two: one with fixed stock and a side folder. If I did not have my ARs, I would likely buy 5 more VZ58 models as they’re lightweight, accurate out of the box, easy to operate, easy to carry and just a cool gun.
    I truly love the VZ 58.

  36. avatar DAVID JOSEPH says:

    This rifle is superb, its very fast, incredibly lightweight, very durable, and it fires 762x39mm ammo, what is their not to like? Honestly, I have found no flaws, and yes; I have looked hard, well just one to be honest it does heat up a bit, and attribute easily remedied. The accuracy is stellar, I use it as a truck gun, in Texas, however; I have added a few various items to the rig, to accommodate my environment.
    For instance and Ace Folder, Brugger and Thomet rail system, and a new grip, from Fab Industries, plus a Trijicon reflex sight, these will aid me during my travels in case of bandits or roaming wild dogs, and yes; we have both…

  37. avatar Igor says:

    I used vz.58 as student during our military training from 5th semester to 8th semester of University.
    It was mandatory service/mandatory training in former Communist Czechoslovakia.
    Assault rifle Vz.58 was excellent and extremely accurate every time we went to shooting range and I am talking about all of those Vz.58 what we had at that time available for us students…
    Later after I finished University I was forced to serve in Czechoslovakian Army one year mandatory as Infantry commander.
    Anytime I went to shooting range with my soldiers this sub-machine gun/Assault rifle Vz.58 performed perfect in any conditions. I am not talking about one of them, not, I am talking about all 30 of them what we had available for all my soldiers there…Any one of them was shooting excellent-perfect and very accurate even to long distances at any conditions…
    American made parts?
    Give me a break!
    Czechoslovak original parts only – all parts just Made in Czechoslovakia!
    Not Czech Republic…
    Old Czechoslovakian parts were better made!

  38. avatar Igor says:

    One more thing… Cleaning…
    To disassemble Vz.58 was easy, just to pull one big pin…
    Average time to disassemble Vz.58 with eyes covered was 3 seconds to 3.5 seconds!
    And to assemble it back after cleaning?
    With eyes covered it was average soldier time between 6.5 seconds to 7 seconds! With eyes covered!
    That is all, I hope this info can help you my friends…

  39. avatar Senna Marpat says:

    My fiance bought a D-Techniks edition about a year ago. It looked like it had never been fired, despite coming with a ton of magazines and other items. I love this thing. The ergonomics and light weight blow everything else away for me, except for the AR pattern. As much as I like AKs, I’d take a well done vz.58 any day. Wrap some paracord over the folding stock and you can get an adequate cheek weld. It’s got the only folding stock I’ve ever liked on any long gun. I like the safety and, for whatever reason, the pistol grip is perfect for me. Reliability has been flawless so far over around 3,000 rounds. Accuracy is reasonable and the sights were on from the factory. The trigger is exactly as described in this article in our example and I dig it.

  40. avatar Jon says:

    Great review, czechpoint is a fine company making very good rifles. I’d buy another one of their products in a heartbeat.

    As current military, i have an Issue with your review : “The list of countries that purchased the Vz. 58 for their militaries reads like a nightmare: Cuba, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Uganda, Libya, Somalia, India, Lebanon, Angola, Mozambique, Iraq, Tanzania, and Grenada.”

    Dont include the worlds largest democracy, India, one of our best allies and a counter to the state of Pakistan in that list of failed states.

    Other than that, great job.

  41. avatar Sheldon Roy says:

    Great article Joe. I live in Salem. Picked up a CSA VZ-58 some years ago. Have added black pistol grip and hand guard, North Eastern Arms rail, Primary Arms RDS and folding stock. Have not shot it much. Couple hundred rounds (maybe), but would like to shoot it more. I go up to TCGC the 2nd Saturday and shoot the Practical Rifle Match. Great match ! great fun ! Will shoot the 58 there soon. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  42. avatar Scott R says:

    I just bought a Century made VZ2008 and so far have run about 200 rounds of steel case FMJ and hollow points thru it with no problems. That loose pressed in barrel thing bothers me but I didn’t know. The furniture is so ugly it’s almost hard to look at. I was wondering if any one, instead of replacing it with polymer, had tried using a sandable primer to build it up to a smooth surface and then just rattle canning it with something like dark earth and desert tan.

  43. avatar Brett B says:

    Hey Joe, I’m one of those DIY kind of people and have machined my own receiver and since used a parts kit to complete the rifle. The barrel is first press fit into the receiver then has a cross pin pressed through locking it in place. So what exactly was done incorrectly to allow for the barrels head spacing to fail?

    1. avatar Joe Grine says:

      Brett – Honestly, I’m not 100% sure. All I know is that the rifle fired for 200 rounds or so, then I started getting light primer strikes, and then nothing. Something moved. Bolt seems fine. I tested the rifle with Go / No go gauges and the headspace is clearly off. My gunsmith said it is not repairable and is now making me a new barrel from a blank.

      1. avatar Brett B says:

        Hey Joe, thanks for the answer I didn’t know if you would seeing this was an older thread. Apex sells US made 16″ barrels if that is what your rifle requires and of course if the price is right. Also if you could have your gunsmith give you an explanation as to why I’d be very interested. Two possibilities come to mind off the top of my head: First that the receiver was bored oversize. .824″ is the average size of the barrel to be press fit to the receiver. Second that the new cross pin hole required to stake the barrel in place was drilled overlapping the old hole. However this is assuming they used an original vz58 barrel. I’ve read once somewhere (who knows where now, and seeing my googlefu couldn’t refresh my memory) that CAI has used milsurp barrels in the past but that may have just been for a special SBR. Either way those are my thoughts I’d be very interested for an explanation.

        Here’s the address for the barrel I mentioned.
        https://apexgunparts.com/product_info.php/cPath/63/products_id/1812

        1. avatar Joe Grine says:

          My original plan was to get one of Apex’s mil-sup barrel. However, I did some google-fu and my recollection of that research was that a mil-sup Czech barrel would not fit Century’s U.S. made receiver. At this point, I don’t remember who told me that (or if and where I read that info), but I do remember that it was on that basis that I made the decision to start over with a new barrel blank. My ‘smith ordered a Green Mountain barrel blank, and was going to cut it to fit. At least that was the plan. He said it would cost $300, so not a cheap repair by any means. After I saw your post, I called him and we decided to order an Apex U.S. Made Barrel instead. So Thanks for the link!

  44. avatar Victor L. Lopez says:

    I started training with the vz 58 when I was 13 years old, I chose it over what we called AK and AKM’s for combat, and never regretted till this day, will take it every day of the week and twice on Sundays, by the way, check zahal.org, they have that cover receiver with the picatinny rail

  45. avatar Lee says:

    Loved the article. Interesting history to the firearm for sure. I recently picked up a csa vz 58 sporter and had a quick question regarding the handguard. My upper handguard portion has some movement to it just wondering if anyone else has this or if its is normal? its only held in place by a push pin but I feel like it should be more snug.

    1. avatar Joe Grine says:

      I have seen quite a few samples where the top “wood” handguard exhibited some lateral rotational twist of the top handguard. I think that is normal. The push-pill itself should be snug, however, and it should not “rattle.”

      1. avatar Lee says:

        Ya it pretty much moves when I just go to grip it so I’ll probably have to contact warranty repair and figure it out. Checked out the related article on fab defense products, that aluminum quad rail looks solid just trying to find one now!
        Thanks Joe.

  46. avatar sinbad says:

    SA means semi auto and this is NOT an assault rifle. Assault rifle is select fire

    1. avatar Joe Grine says:

      You don’t know what you are talking about. SA stands for “Samopal.”

  47. avatar Jennifer says:

    Is it possible to have a early addition of Century and it be a milled receiver bc mine is milled and I’ve had no issue’s with it at all.

  48. avatar Frank Griffin says:

    I hope someone might give me some advice. I just took a used Century VZ2008 sporter out to shoot for the first time. It did not cock the firing mechanism on about 20% of the rounds fired. Also, if you try to slowly let the bolt go forward it wants to hang up. A little wiggling of the bolt will sent it forward, but that doesn’t seem right. I am wondering if the bolt is loose or if the receiver is cut incorrectly to allow the bolt to get slightly canted when it is going forward. I took it all apart and cleaned everything and lubed it, but none of that effected the problem.

    Any ideas or suggestions? The serial number is slightly above 2000.

  49. avatar Derek Hannan says:

    Controlling the bolt forward isn’t a good idea with any self loader so doesn’t prove much. The problem could be ammo related. The only cycling problem I’ve seen with VZs is when the recoil spring hasn’t been slid freely back into the block. The block will hitch if its not done cleanly.

  50. avatar Derek Hannan says:

    As a general comment on the VZ2008, I’ve had mine for around a year, used (but not used to look at it). I’ve put 500 Wolf HP and 300 Wolf FM through it without any problems. I did swap out the slat cut brake for a simple basket fitting. The slant threw rounds all over the place. Now its good for 2MOA at 100 with cheap ammo.

    That said, before firing I had several things to correct. Century made simple jobs harder when they applied the finish over all the pins and screws. The front sight post was canted 11 degrees. I applied heat to drift out the pins, belted it with a rubber mallet until straight then repined. No, it wasn’t as easy as that sounds. The Front sight windage adjust wouldn’t move…more hammering. Now I can adjust with a screw tool.
    Last, my work caused bare metal to visible so I used my not This is

  51. avatar Derek Hannan says:

    Oops. Too much. Bare metal was covered using my secret sauce. That’s black nail varnish (thankyou Goth daughter!). Then apply nail matting agent over it. Its a $500 gun that shoots reliably and reasonably accurately even with iron sights and cheap ammo. Yes they made some clunkers but get a late serial number and you’re good to go.

  52. avatar Jim_R says:

    Thanks for the article Joe! Now to I just have to find a SA vz 58!

  53. avatar daniel says:

    Thanks for the review. One thing to add: if you want to scope he gun, the way is to get a long eye relief scope (i.e. pistol scope) and put it on the upper foregrip rail. Like Jeff Coppers scout configuration. Works good for me. I admit I have only a cheap 2nd hand scope, since I never expected high accuracy, but I had very promising groups at both 100 and 200 m even with surplus ammo so Im seriously considering some better scope. Note that a precision upper foregrip and a good steel mount is vital for this configuration.
    The scope feels more like a rd sight and does not block peripheral view, while providing enough magnification for better groups than a rd.

  54. avatar J.P. says:

    Best damn gun review I’ve ever read. Thanks so much!

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