The Samopal vzor 1958 (submachine gun, model of 1958) was the standard assault rifle of the Czechoslovak army from the late 1950s and until the dissolution of the ČSSR in the 1993. Later on it was used by the Czech and Slovak armies, as well as sold for export in significant quantities. It was extensively used during various local conflicts in Africa and Middle East, and still maybe encountered in many parts of the world. This rifle had been designed by the Czecharms designer Jiří Čermák, under the project codename “KOŠTĚ” (“Broom” in English). Development began in Januaryof 1956, and the rifle was adopted for service only 2 years later, in 1958. The rifle was manufactured by the state-owned arms factory “Česká zbrojovka”, located in the town of Uherský Brod (CZ-UB).
Manufacture of original, full automatic SA Vz.58 assault rifles has ceased many years ago. Originally, quite a lot of older, surplus rifles were converted to semi-automatic only configuration and sold for export. Due to laws in US, semi-automatic versions of the SA Vz.58 rifles, which were imported under variety of names, such as “Century Arms 20008 Sporter”, were built on newly produced, semi-automatic only receivers. At the present time, company Czech Small Arms (C.S.A.), located in Jablunka, Czech Republic, makes new, semi-automatic only “sporterized” versions of the SA Vz.58 assault rifle in its original caliber 7.62x39mm, as well as in .223 Rem caliber, in a broad variety of configurations and sizes.
The Czech army planned to replace the SAVz.58 with the newest CZ-2000 rifle system, chambered for 5.56mm NATO ammunition, but the financial difficulties severely slowed down this process. At the present time, old SA Vz.58 rifles in Czech military service are being replaced by CZ Bren II assault rifles.
The SA Vz.58 assault rifle strongly resembles externally the famous Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, but internally it is entirely different and of original and well-thought out design.
The SA Vz.58 is a gas operated, magazine fed, selective fire weapon. It uses more or less conventional short stroke gas piston, located above the barrel. The gas piston has its own return spring. The locking system features a linearly moving bolt (breechblock) with a separate tilting locking piece. The breechblock (bolt) is located under the bolt carrier, and the locking piece is hinged to the bolt and located under it. Gun fires from the closed bolt all times. When gun is fired, the gas piston gives a short tap to the bolt carrier. After a free movement of about 22 mm (.9 inch) the bolt carrier swings the locking piece up from the locking recesses in the receiver, and thus unlocks the bolt. From this moment on the bolt group moves back at once, extracting and ejecting the spent case and chambering the fresh cartridge. At the end of the return stroke bolt stops in the forwardmost position against the breech face, while the bolt carrier continues to move forward, swinging the locking piece down and into the locking recesses, thus locking the bolt to the receiver. The overall system can be roughly described as a mix between the Walther P-38 pistol and the Czech ZB-26 (or British Bren) machine gun locking. The charging handle is attached to the right side of the bolt carrier, and is canted slightly upward.
The trigger / hammer unit also differs from the most common designs in that it is a striker fired system. The massive cylindrical striker is located at the rear, hollowed part of the bolt, and has its own spring located under the bolt group return spring. The striker has a lug that interacts with the sear and is used to hold the striker in the cocked position. The overall design of the trigger unit is relatively simple and has few moving parts. The safety / fire mode selector switch is located at the right side of the receiver, and has 3 positions for safe, single shots and full automatic fire. Gun is provided with bolt hold-open device; manual bolt catch release is located at the front of the trigger guard, to the right of the magazine release lever. Magazines, while outwardly similar in appearance to standard AK / AKM magazines, are not compatible with Russian weapon. Use of the bolt hold-open device permits loading (topping up) the magazine without detaching it from the gun, by using standard stripper clips.
The basic variant, SA Vz.58P, has a fixed buttstock, and furniture made either from wood (early models) or from wood-impregnated plastic (late production models). The SA Vz.58V has a side-folding metallic buttstock,and the SA Vz.58Pi is similar to the SA Vz.58P except that it has a large mounting bracket on the left side of the receiver, that allows for the IR /Night sights to be mounted.
The sights are of open type, with hooded front post and open notch adjustable rear.
Special thanks to Miroslav Novák (Czech republic) for additional information on the SA Vz.58 rifle
Caliber: 7.62×39 mm
Action: Gas operated, tilting breech block
Overall length: 845 mm (635 mm with folded stock)
Barrel length: 390 mm
Weight: with empty magazine 3.10 kg, with loaded magazine 3.60 kg
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds
Rate of fire: 800 rounds per minute
Effective range: about 400 meters