Czechpoint vz58 Carbine
Oleg Volk 06.23.14
Having used vz58 carbines for three years now alongside of AR, AK, and M1 carbines, I have an opinion of their place in the line-up. Just to sum up the design, vz58 is a gas-operated 7.62×39 carbine with machined receiver, tilting block lock-up, using lightweight proprietary magazines.
Like the AK, it uses range-adjustable v-notch rear sight. The length of pull is even shorter than on the M1 carbine, making it very suitable for use with body armor or by shorter shooters.
Despite the light weight (a pound less than the AK), vz58 has minimal felt recoil. Controls like safety selector and bolt hold-open require reasonable effort to operate. Magazines are available in 5, 10, and 30 round capacities, and the built-in stripper clip guide allows the use of SKS clips to top off the magazine.
Like the AK, vz58 is available in tactical configuration and also accepts the standard Comblock side scope mount. My impression of that configuration has been less favorable, and I intend to re-configure it as “classic” at first opportunity. My classic vz58 has been upgraded with a fiber optic front sight, which makes precision shooting slightly more difficult, though it really speeds up the sight acquisition. With this front sight, I found my groups on paper approaching 5MOA.
That means I can ring the 16″ gong at 100 yards every time. Other people may be better shooters than me or use better (optical) sights, and they report anything from just over 1MOA with handloads to the 5MOA with factory ammo I got. What’s important to me is that vz58 has worked 100% ever since I got it, with all kinds of ball, hollow point and soft point ammunition.
Compared to the AK47 clones, vz58 is lighter, handier, and as reliable. It uses proprietary magazines, but they are lighter, easier to attach, and cost the same. Accuracy is similar. Because of the lighter weight, vz58 is less capable of sustained fire, about 60 rounds fired back to back make warm it up considerably. AK can go a hundred or more. For military use, that’s important. In civilian defensive use, I suspect that’s a non-issue. AK has greater aftermarket support, but both have quite a few accessories available.
Compared to the M1 carbine, vz58 is just a fraction heavier, and its magazine is longer than the M1C 30-rounder. Recoil is similar, and reliability is greater thanks to heavier bolt carrier, bottlenecked cartridge, and more robust magazines. 7.62×39 bullet is a little heavier (123gr vs. 110gr) and a little faster (2400fps vs. 1950fps), which adds up to about 50% energy difference.
That extra energy is useful to ensure expansion when shooting soft point ammunition. The ammo is also a little less expensive at this time. On the down side, the rifle looks a little more martial, which can be a PR disadvantage in some areas. Aftermarket support for the two is pretty similar.
So my verdict on the vz58: it’s a purely defensive rifle. It’s accurate enough out to 200 yards and up to about 60 rounds of rapid fire. Given that over 99% of defensive shootings with rifles happen under 25 yards and seldom go beyond 2-3 shots fired, I think its light weight, handy controls, and reliability, combined with a reasonably potent chambering, add up to a very good package. For those who like their quiet, it runs well with sound suppressors.
vz58’s final advantage is the ease of maintenance. It is easy to disassemble, but it runs so cleanly that I have yet to clean mine after three years of use. It’s been shot by a variety of friends, including 10 year old kids, and all found it comfortable. The cost is similar to a good M1 carbine or a quality US-made AK47 clone.