In 2008, CZ-USA started importation of the semi-automatic SA Vz 58 rifle. While the gun’s appearance gives it a look similar to the AK-47, the gun is not a clone of the famous Kalashnikov rifle.
Let’s take a look at what the VZ 58 is and the CZ-USA variant.
What Is the Vz. 58?
The Vz. 58 is a rifle developed by Czechoslovakia during the 1950s. During that time, the Soviet Union held sway over the Czech people. As such, the USSR demanded that all of its satellite states standardize its rifle ammunition as the 7.62×39 cartridge.
While many of the Warsaw Pact countries adopted an AK variant to meet this requirement, Czechoslovakia designed its own rifle called the Vz. 58.
Czechoslovakia’s reputation for arms manufacturing spanned the globe. So, it was no surprise when they opted to build their own guns.
Originally, Czechoslovakia classified the Vs 58 as a submachine gun. However, the gun did not fire a pistol caliber round. Instead, it shot the intermediate 7.62×39 cartridge. Along with its select-fire capability, this clearly made the gun an assault rifle.
From 1958-1984, Czechoslovakia is estimated to have sold almost 1,000,000 Vz. 58 rifles to clients around the world.
Eventually, the Soviet Union dissolved, and Czechoslovakia split into two countries. In the Czech Republic, the company known to Americans as CZ continued manufacturing firearms for military and civilian markets.
In the United States, CZ set up an American company called CZ-USA. In 2008, CZ-USA began importing civilian legal Vz. 58 rifles.
Chambered for the ubiquitous 7.62×39 cartridge, these guns were semi-automatic only and came in two configurations: the Vz. 58 Tactical Sporter and the Vz. 58 Military Sporter.
Not a CZ AK Variant
First, let’s dismiss the notion that these are just AK variants.
“Everyone thinks it is an AK-variant,” said Agnus Hobdale of CZ-USA. “It is not an AK-variant.”
In fact, there are many significant differences between the AK-47 and the Vz 58.
No AK parts are interchangeable with the Vz. 58 rifles. This includes magazines.
Additional differences include:
- The Vz. 58 uses a short-stroke piston instead of the long-stroke piston used in the AK-style firearms.
- The Vz 58 has a milled receiver, not a stamped receiver typical to the AK-47.
- The Vz 58 bolt locks open after the last cartridge is fired.
- The Vz 58 is striker-fired, not hammer-fired.
- The Vz 58 has a larger ejection port.
CZ-USA also claims the Vz is easier to field strip, has a more natural point of aim and more ergonomic safety.
While these are truly subjective, they do suggest several changes that may not be readily apparent until you handle one. Many people believe that the Vz. 58 is a superior firearm when compared to the typical AK-47.
Some like to say that the Vz has the reliability of the AK with the refinement of an AR. I imagine that this, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
Vz. 58 Military Sporter
CZ positioned the Military Sporter as the “standard” Vz. 58. It used plastic furniture impregnated with wood to give it a traditional look.
Compared to the Tactical Sporter (below), this gun sold for about $15-20 less. However, it had all the same functionality.
Vz. 58 Tactical Sporter
There is little difference between the Tactical Sporter and the Military Sporter. My research indicates the only difference is in the stock that was used. If anyone knows of additional differences, please contact me.
The Vz. 58 Tactical Sporter used a skeletonized stock made of Zytel. For those who lived through the Clinton gun ban in the 90s, the stock looks very similar to many of the non-pistol grip stocks used on guns during that time period.
Vz. 58 Specifications
Here are the specifications on the two civilian legal Vz. 58 rifles:
|Military Sporter||Tactical Sporter|
|standard magazine capacity||30||30|
|weight||7.3 lbs||7.3 lbs|
|stock||wood impregnated plastic||Zytel, skeletonized|
|sights||adjustable rear, hooded front||adjustable rear, hooded front|
CZ is one of the great firearms makers. While the weapons were once wielded by our enemies, the country and its people are definitely allies today.
I’ve found the company’s firearms to be excellent. For example, in my CZ P-07 review, the gun performed admirably. While the gun did not fit my hand as well as some others, I could not fault its accuracy or reliability.
The CZ Vz. 58 rifle is no longer offered by CZ-USA. So, if you have one – hold onto it! Likewise, pay attention when you are in the local gun store or pawn shop. You might just find one of these sitting on a shelf.
Last update: June 2, 2021