Saturday, December 09, 2006

Boomsticks: I'm probably diagnosable...

They keep following me home, and I can't make them stop.

I don't know what it is about me and these derelict old rifles. Anyway, the latest arrival is a vz 52, (vz is simply an abbreviation for "vzor"; Czech for "type" or "model") a Czech rifle designed immediately after the German occupation of Czechoslovakia ended. The Czechs had an arms industry with a long tradition of quality and innovation, and the vz 52 was no exception. Designed using experiences gathered during WWII, it was a rifle that spanned two eras: Its full-length wood stock, intricately machined steel receiver, and semi-automatic operation wouldn't have been out of place in the 1930s, while its intermediate cartridge and detachable box magazine looked towards the future.

The trigger mechanism is nearly identical to that of the American Garand, while the gas system utilizes a short-stroke annular piston derived from that of Germany's Walther self-loading rifles. The bolt is a tipping design, much like the contemporary Belgian and Russian rifles, but utilises lugs at the front of the bolt, rather than at the rear. The proprietary Czech cartridge, 7.62x45mm, is roughly the ballistic equivalent to the Soviet 7.62x39mm M43 round. The whole package makes for a handy little carbine, slightly smaller than the Russian SKS, and a fair bit handier in the bargain.

Interestingly, the rifle was released as part of a whole suite of new infantry weapons in the early '50s by the Czechs, who hoped to get foreign currency in exchange. The weapons included an innovative pistol that used a roller-locking short recoil action to tame the potent 7.62x25mm Tokarev round, a general-purpose machine gun that was simply a belt-fed update of the proven Bren gun (another famous Czech design), and an innovative submachine gun featuring a bolt that telescoped around the breech and a magazine well integral with the pistol grip: both novel features that made for a compact weapon, and both features that would be cheerfully plagiarized by Uziel Gal when he "designed" his famous Uzi.

With this cornucopia of small-arms technical excellence poured at their feet, it is somehow unsurprising that the Soviets ignored it, and instead forced their own designs on the nascent Warsaw Pact. Meanwhile, most of the Czech weapons faded into undeserved obscurity, with sales slumping since both superpowers were essentially giving guns away to third-world nations who promised to be on their team.

The CZ52 pistol is well-known to American shooters, having been imported in droves over the last five years or more. Its companion rifle is a little less recognizable, and most of of them coming in recently have been barely shootable junkers. Ammunition for the vz 52 is scarce; the only source I could find online was Buffalo Arms (who also has most other scarce or obsolete calibers you might be looking for, as well as prompt and courteous customer service.) As soon as the ammunition gets here, I'll write up a range report.


Heartless Libertarian said...

You forget to note that the Czechs produced a slightly modified model, the vz-52/57, after the Soviets forced the M1943 cartridge on them.

The rifles also have the rather unique feature of ejecting to the left and a bit forward. This can be quite a surprise to other folks at the range.

Despite being shorter than the SKS, the weight is almost the same, and I think the vz-52(/57 in my case) might be a skosh heavier (compared to a Yugo 59/66). I also find it a bit thick at the wrist.

If you want to shoot 7.62x45 frequently, I'd suggest handloading.

phlegmfatale said...

You know, I think it's a mark of what a magnanimous person you are that you don't leave these little orphans out in the world to find their way on their own. Charity begins at home, darling.

JPG said...

As always, a nice write-up, Lil' Sis.

One minor point, though: Is there a reason you posted this on this blog instead of your excellent "The Arms Room" / "Cosmoline and Rust" firearms-specific site?

I 'spose it makes no real difference. I check both there and here every day anyway.


Les Jones said...

Awesome writeup and neat gun.

You might consider contributing to Wikipedia. Their vz52 article is a might thin.

Matt G said...

Very nice write-up. I had never really looked at them, assuming (incorrectly, it turns out) that they were just an Eastern European communist bloc version of the Reising. Selective fire, or no?


My Task Force acquired a bunch of these in Iraq, and while most were mis-identified as SKS I did eventually get some personnel to recognize the differences between the two. Not surprisingly, large numbers of "unwanted" Czech arms were dumped in the Middle East in the late 50s and early 60s. In fact, so many vz-24s ended up there that "Brno" is the word for bolt-action rifle in Iraqi Arabic!

Tam said...

"Selective fire, or no?"


" My Task Force acquired a bunch of these in Iraq..."

Mine has no import marks, which makes me wonder about its history. It no doubt a GI bring-back, but from where and when? Who knows?

Kristopher said...
Original 7.62x45 she rifle, rare - $5.50/box (only 750 rounds available)

F.G. said...

This seems like an okay deal.