The legendary Vz.58 rifle, CZ’s answer to the AK-47

In the 1950s, the Czech military, going their own way as usual, took a look at the Soviet AK-47 and decided, while the AK was nice, they could do better. The result was the Vz-58, which, produced by CZ, became one of the best modern rifles of the 20th Century.

After World War Two, the military of Czechoslovakia was, for better or worse, integrated into the Soviet-backed Warsaw Pact organization largely by fault of 1945 battle-lines and a deal made among the Western Allies in Yalta before the final defeat of Hitler. The Czechs had a robust military industrial complex prior to the war, making their own Mauser rifles, ZB light machine guns, and CZ-series pistols by the thousand.

Well membership in the Soviet super-friends club brought certain standards that all junior members were expected to follow. This included
using Soviet-designed weapons systems to ease commonality in the (eventual) war to ‘liberate’ the rest of Europe.

The Czechs looked at the two 1950s Russian designs, the SKS-45 and the AK-47/AKM and decided that, while they were nice, they just were not for them. This led first to the Brothers Kratochvl-designed Vz.52/57 rifle (which is very similar to the SKS), and then to something a little more…zippy.

Czechoslovakian Vz. 58
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