SA Vz. 58 Assault Rifle

Although not as universally recognized for their weapons making as say, the Germans, Italians or the French, the Czechs are accomplished gun makers. Take the SA Vz. 58 assault rifle (or any of the modern CZ-USA weapons available today).

At first glance, you might think the Vz. 58 is another copy of the AK-47.

Look a little closer, better yet, take it down and see.

The SA Vz. 58, or Samopal vzor 1958 (submachinegun model 1958), is the 7.62mm assault rifle designed by Czech weapons designer Jiri Cermak and manufactured by Ceska Zbrojovka for the Czechoslovakian armed forces (circa, 1959 to 1983).

The SA Vz. 58 replaced the 7.62mm Vz. 52 self-loading rifle and 7.62mm Sa 24 and 26 submachineguns (SMG). It is chambered for the more powerful 7.62x39mm M43.

Version 1958 comes in three models: the Vz. 58P (infantry), the Vz. 58V (airborne) and the Vz. 58 Pi (infantry with infrared sights). The Vz. 58P comes with a fixed (wood or wood-impregnated plastic) butt stock.

The Vz. 58V has a collapsible, side-folding metal butt stock.

The SA Vz. 58 is a gas-operated, tilted breechblock (i.e., closes the rear of the barrel against the force of the charge, preventing gases from escaping) assault rifle.

Nearly one million of these babies were produced until the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (CSSR) faded away into oblivion in 1983. That said, elements of the Czech and Slovak militaries still carry the SA Vz. 58 and many more have been exported.

Overall length of the SA Vz. 58 is 33.26 inches. With the butt stock folded to the side, it measures a compact 25 inches. With an empty 30-round mag, the Vz. 58 weighs a svelte 6.8 pounds. With the magazine loaded, the weapon tips the scales at 7.9 pounds.

The Vz. 58 fires from the closed bolt, improving its accuracy. With a flip of the (selector) switch, it can be set for safe, single-shot or fully automatic rifle fire.

The Vz. 58 employs a hooded, open front sight and an open notch rear sight adjustable to distances of 328 feet (100 meters) to 2,625 feet (800 meters), although its effective range is more realistically in the neighborhood of 1,312 feet (400 meters).