Mr Bond, Kindly Drop the Vz.58 at Enfield…

OK, maybe they didn’t get it from Bond, even if the Czech Vz. 58P and Vz. 58V  (which we believe stand for Pechotni [Infantry] and Vysadkovy [Paratroop] fixed- and folding-stock versions) did show up in a lot of Bond movies (Roger Moore slides down a banister blasting away with one in Octopussy).

Octopussy_(090)_Vz._58 But somehow British Intelligence got hold of a couple of Vz.58s and delivered them unto the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock by mid-1966. The Small Arms Branch Testing Section received, first, a folding-stock rifle (they didn’t know its proper nomenclature) and began to prepare a report for it; for reasons they don’t share with us, it “was withdrawn and replaced with one with a fixed butt, before the Weapon Description Form had been completed…” but they continued and produced a descriptive report about the weapon by January of 1967.

Small Arms Trial Report Vz 58 RSAF Enfield Lock 1966Our best guess is that the Vzs were loaners from some third-world country that maintained good relations with the Czech export agency, and with Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But there could be some tale of derring-do to be declassified in 2066 or so.

It is almost as big a mystery, where the report went after that, although bureaucratic headers indicate that it was initiated by the Principal Inspector of Small Arms on behalf of the Director General of Artillery.

In those days, before Xerox was ubiquitous, an original was typed and a very few copies were made using mimeographs of a carbon copy of the original, and photographic prints of the photos. It was an expensive way to put a document together and naturally limited its distribution (the document was not ever classified). Per copy, Xerox was cheaper even in 1966, but RSAF Enfield probably didn’t have the capital budget (much less the foreign currency) for one, even in those days of 95% marginal taxation.

How it got in our hands is a little less mysterious: thinking we were buying a fairly rare period Xerox or offset-printed document, we bought it off eBay. To our surprise, we received this absolutely remarkable original, hand-prepared vintage document in the mail.

Unfortunately, our letter carrier rolled the stiff cardboard document into a tight tube to deliver it to Hog Manor, which did it little good. The lignin in the cheap government paper has turned the pages yellow, and somewhere over the decades the pages might have gotten wet, as they have a wavy appearance. The scanner software strives mightily to correct for that.

Vz 58 photographed from overhead

We debated what we would do with this, and ultimately decided that the very best thing to do, while we’re waiting to finish Volume I of Czech and Czechoslovak Firearms so we can start Volume II where this fits, is to share it with you. We will do a proper scan later, but an initial, nondestructive (and non-optimized) scan and OCR, accomplished with our Fujitsu SV600, is attached: RSAF SATB Small Arms Trial Report Vz58 1966.pdf

The report was, as we’ve already said, a descriptive analysis of the rifle and its associated equipment, like bayonet, cleaning equipment, and magazine.

VZ 58 left side with magazine detached

This is a crude, preliminary scan, and will have considerable distortion, as you can see in the attached images. The OCR is likely to be dodgy as well. Later, we will carefully remove the brass staples and rescan under a nonreflective glass platen, and make a new version, but for now, here’s a document we bet you haven’t seen before.

31 thoughts on “Mr Bond, Kindly Drop the Vz.58 at Enfield…

  1. PBAR

    How do you like the SV600? I was thinking of buying one so as to scan in and then throw away the tons of old aviation and firearms periodicals I have. Looks like the photo quality is adequate.

    1. Hognose Post author

      You have to work to get a good scan, but it’s less work than it used to be. However, the software, while it works, is poorly documented and the interface is the polar opposite of intuitive. It’s really, really dreadful, I mean, 1980s-VCR-interface dreadful. I do work on a Mac, and I can’t say whether that makes it easier or harder. Right now, the SV’s on the gunsmithing benches connected to the iMac that lives there and drives (in Windows mode) the Ghost Gunner.

      I haven’t timed doing a mag, but I’ve done a few mags and I’d guess I can do three or four an hour, including the correction of the scans.

      Indeed, I have mountains of old magazines like 1970s Soldier of Fortune and the whole run of Gung Ho and Eagle that I just want to scan and then will probably dump on eBay. I have lots of aviation mags too, Sport Aviation back to when this kid Burt Rutan was bringing something weird to Oshkosh. Right now those are prodigious users of shelf space and storage.

      If you do it, maybe we should do a dope deal to avoid both of us scanning something that both of us have.

    1. Sommerbiwak

      +1

      Awesome find! And more luck than anyone is supposed to.have. I am envious!

      Looking at this I think the Queen’s subjects could have spared themselves a big headache and left the SA80 FUBAR behind and just adopted a vz.58 variant in 5,56 in the eighties. In the good tradition of the BESA and BREN. And leave the bullpuo to those who knew what they were doing like France and Austria.

      1. Hognose Post author

        Prediction: In a few months or years, l’Armee Française is toting an AR of some type. And it’s been a year since l’affaire G36 hit German headlines; my guess is that they wind up with 416s or something they can fig-leaf as “not just a 416, but…” a 416.
        ETA: both nations could do worse than adopt the Bren 805/6. And they probably will!

  2. Tierlieb

    Great find and an even better surprise getting the original. Congratulations! I am looking forward to hear more about what the Brits thought about it.

    The modern “paratrooper” (*) version with the 314mm barrel is currently my favourite 7.62×39 rifle (**) – a lightweight system it itself and the shorter barrel improves both weight and handling and seems to fit the caliber really well.

    Anyone else use one and like it?

    *) a marketing term, Czech paras seem to use the standard 415mm barrel
    **) and it will probably stay that, because it looks like I will never get another with how the law is currently changing

    1. Hognose Post author

      Unfortunately, the report itself is rather devoid of opinion — no inferential analysis here, just descriptive analysis. “It’s so many inches long, weighs so many pounds, and works like this.” They don’t even do the obvious and compare it to the AK, which was very well known to the West by 1966.

      How is the law currently changing? Please tell me they’re not going along with the lunacy coming out of Brussels on guns.

      The guys shooting up Europe right now are not walking into gun shops in the main streets with a purchase permit in their pocket. They’re the guys lunatic policy admits as “refugees.”

      1. Tierlieb

        In Germany, we more or less beat the attempt by Brussels to restrict the ownership of semi-automatic rifles. And we are currently legalizing suppressors.

        So everything is looking good.

        Except someone at the BVerG decided that all these law-making processes were something of a hindrance to a proper dictator.

        So they just re-defined an existing law to prohibit the ownership of semi-automatics with magazines on a hunting permit. A hunting permit accounts for 99% of the SBRs and 7.62×39 guns in Germany. The most evil interpretation goes that since this is just a clarification of an existing law, ownership of these guns is illegal and they could be confiscated without compensation (*). And confiscating is easy, because they would be confiscating registered guns from people vetted to be upstanding citizens.

        The good thing is: Now everyone should understand that registration is a bad idea. That considering gun ownership a privilege instead of a right is the first step in the wrong direction. I wonder if those people will also understand that our weak border system makes trips to Ukraine or the Kosovo quite manageable.

        *) Not that compensation would be fair – what is the current market value of a gun that no one is allowed to buy? I assume to problem is similar to Imminent Domain in the US.

        1. Hognose Post author

          Re:

          And confiscating is easy, because they would be confiscating registered guns from people vetted to be upstanding citizens.

          Hey, it’s not like any German government ever did that, say, selectively against a disfavored group, before!

          I think that the human rights argument for self-defense is a hard sell in the enervated democracies of western Europe, including in the Federal Republic. Nobody wants to be exterminated, but they’re willing to put prevention of that in the “let George do it” bin.

          I think we’ll see self-defense gain currency first in the eastern nations whose experience with non-benevolent government is more recent. But Americans often forget that it was a very constrained legal doctrine here just 30 years ago, and important, populous states like Texas and Florida did not permit citizens to arm themselves for self-defense, except at home.

          We Americans have higher crime than many European nation-states in part because our multi-ethnic, multicultural society has more fragile social bonds, I think.

          1. Tierlieb

            >We Americans have higher crime than many European nation-states in part because our multi-ethnic, multicultural society has more fragile social bonds, I think.
            >
            I believe that to be the reason, too. There are few faster ways to get shouted down as a racist, though. Kinda strange to explain why, as the left has this weird collection of contradicting opinions – in this case how can the US have multi-ethnic problems if they are also a unified nation of racist bigots? Well, don’t try to solve that one with logic.

            Side note: Last year, I was in Austria with Tom and Lynn Givens. It was their last visit before ITAR made it impossible for them to come over. Austria is interesting as “self defense” is a legally accepted reason for gun ownership there. Maybe, with their historic links to Hungary, they are closer to the East.

            Can you imagine how weird it was? There we very, a bunch of highly trained tactical timmys from Germany with several hundred hours of professional instruction each and we meet plain shopkeepers that simply bought a gun for self-defense and went to the next instructor available!

            Europe. One strange place.

    2. RSR

      In the US, due to our laws, we have the rifle either with the OE 15″ barrel w/ permanent extension or muzzle device to bring to 16″ required length, or the new Walther barrels CSA/Czechpoint are selling are legal 16″.

      Or we can buy pistol versions.
      Carbine has a 12″ barrel.
      And the compact has a 7.5″ barrel.

      Personally, I don’t see a use for the compact — always relate the Jim fuller story when he was troubleshooting a misfire on a standard length 7.62×39 sbr krink w/ a sub 10″ barrel shooting through his truck bed but only denting the steel on his cabin compartment — and why he only sells 7.62×39 guns w/ greater than 10″ (5.45×39 doesn’t have similar penetration issues at reduce length per fuller).
      The carbine is great, and I’m probably going to get one and SBR eventually. From an ergos/manual of arms perspective alone, a VZ58 sure beats an AK in deployment speed. And being a piston weapon, it’s less finicky in SBR than a DI weapon like an AR. Out of short barrels, 7.62×39 performs similar to 300 blk, but is about 1/2 the price per factory round (though factory rounds remain optimized for a 16″ rather than 12″ barrel…).
      Great on short barrel 7.62x39s: http://demigodllc.com/articles/7.62×39-improving-the-military-standard/?p=1

  3. DSM

    These old reports are fascinating to read. I suppose the old GRU had done the same with our M16s and so on. It would be interesting to see their assessment.

    The original Xerox machines were as big as a car and required photo etching and setting of the original plate of the page to be copied. It weren’t no simple feat!

  4. Cattus Borealis

    I’m willing to bet the Vz 58’s came from Iraq…the Brits pulled out in ’59 and Qasim was out in ’63….

    1. archy

      I’m willing to bet the Vz 58’s came from Iraq…the Brits pulled out in ’59 and Qasim was out in ’63….

      Or, possibly Cuba, [via Mr. Bond’s favoured working spot in Jamaica] following the 1959 Castro overthrow of previous dictator Batista, after which the Fraternal Comrades received a shipload of Czech small arms, largely Vz25-series SMGs and 7,62mm *SHE* rifles, but it’s a fair bet that a lot of the really interesting stuff like Vz58s and Tarasnice recoilless guns came along too. Too nice for the *mere* militia cannonfodder, who did indeed put the goodies from the Omnipol toybox to good use at the Bay of Pigs a few years later in April 1961.

      Vz58 would make a REALLY interesting .300 Blackout or 7,62×40 Wilson Tactical suppressor-carrier, a good pound-and-a-half lighter than the Kalishnikovs of the period. Prone to overheating somewhat, but not much of a problem with a semi.

      1. RSR

        Ventilated forends really serve to make heat a non-issue.

        Personally, I prefer the NEA handguards w/ a gaspedal thumb rest and magpul AFG on it as well.
        Like here: https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8639/15997596664_bce5384eea_z.jpg

        Main issue for me is relatively short handguard is same as carbine-length AR or AK, but the gaspedal and afg combo really serves to make it comfortable and controllable for my long arms (midlength on ARs is minimum for me to not have a somewhat uncomfortable bend in my elbow — dont care for vertical foregrips).
        Obviously, a longer/lengthened stock over OE helps too, or running with body armor — and extra 1-2″ of length of pull that adds also helps with support arm comfort/ergos.

        I posted this previously regarding the VZ58 and still maintain the most prudent course for the Czechs would have been an upgrade/redesign of the VZ58; however, the Bren 806 (revision of the Bren 805 from soldier feedback) significantly closes the distance between the VZ58 and Bren vs these earlier comments:
        “My take on this is that the VZ58 is pretty tough to beat, and the Bren seems to fall short.

        To modernize, there’s obviously the accessory angle and needing rails to support it.

        The VZ58 trigger is also never going to be match grade with its original firing mechanism — they probably could have reconfigured w/ a hammer type system as part of an overall modification program, but the striker system is serviceable. Swapping types would probably allow for a burst setting too in addition to full auto and semi as is current.

        But otherwise,
        -changing the barrel install to allow for easier swaps/replacement (screw in rather than press fit)
        -A bolt carrier with either swappable or ambi charging handles
        are the only major components.
        -A monolithic rail system would support full length scopes.
        -And deleting the front sight block w/ a monolithic system would allow for a slightly heavier barrel than stock for more accuracy…

        The other stuff we can do relatively easily — ambi mag release, ambi safety, tactical bolt release, etc.

        For 5.56, a metal mag well conversion supporting either stanag and/or good 5.56 AK/Galil mags would be good as well. But otherwise, no need for serious revisions. AND since the the VZ 58 was originally designed around the 7.62×45 Czech cartridge (with specs similar to 6.8spc), an intermediate level cartridge is definitely an optional upgrade as well.
        Perhaps a polymer magwell in sort of the like Galil ACE here might make production cheaper/easier. ”
        http://www.czfirearms.us/index.php?topic=68237.0

  5. John Distai

    It appears there are 2 triggers in the photo. What’s the rationale behind 2 triggers?

    1. Matt

      I think the one on the right is a shadow from the lighting when they took the original photograph. Barring that it’s an artifact that was somehow introduced along the way.

      1. Hognose Post author

        Yes, it’s a little clearer if you bring the image to full size, and much clearer in the original photograph. I should probably do those in hi-rez on the flatbed scanner to do them justice. The originals were almost certainly big (4×5″?) negatives from a view camera like a Speed Graphic, because that’s what everybody used for this kind of stuff in 1966. They were still teaching it to Army photographers when I was in, but the photography course I did (a module of the SF O&I course) was all 35mm film photography, including developing in the field by touch and time, with your jacket and duct tape for a darkroom.

        1. archy

          ***but the photography course I did (a module of the SF O&I course) was all 35mm film photography, including developing in the field by touch and time, with your jacket and duct tape for a darkroom. ***

          We used a field jacket and a body bag.

  6. SPEMack

    In fifth grade I fought a never ending battle with my lunch group over how the Vz.58 was not the old variant of the AK-47 and that’s why it was in every movie.

    Neat find Hognose! Thanks for your awesome blog fodder every day.

  7. Pingback: That Was the Week that Was: 2016 Week 13 | WeaponsMan

  8. RSR

    Great find — and an original copy! Shared it over at the CZ firearm forums.

    Best I can tell there were two primary generations/variances of the VZ58.
    The first has the sight block w/ no lightening cuts and open trigger guard and rounded mag release. The 2nd has front sight blocks with lightening cuts, protected mag release trigger guard and scalloped mag release. More info w/ an article at top if scrolling up and some pics here: http://www.czfirearms.us/index.php?topic=63116.msg420450#msg420450
    Link to original pic source there as well.

    The second generation, all seem to have the protected mag releases (and different mag releases, first gen is more like a cow tongue shape while second is more dog eared, cutaway to keep it within protection of trigger guard cutout), with the folding stock versions seeming to mostly have the protected, full circle front sights, while the fixed stock versions seem to have primarily the open eared sights… Between first and second generation folding stocks, easiest place to see difference is rivets connecting first gen stock buttplate vs second connecting w/ welds.
    Import guns and parts kits actually seem to vary quite a bit with mismatched parts. And a lot of the recent CSA Czechpoint guns seem to know have the non-protected trigger guard too — though they are now manufacturing many parts new for the rifles they’re assembling…

    Ultimately changes between gen 1 and 2 look to be 2 fold in aims — 1) would be improvements and lightening/remvoing weight where possible and 2) is faster/more automated manufacturing (fewer cuts/precision machining, etc). Can’t speculate on the full extent of changes/revisions on CSA’s new production parts, but it’s undoubtedly now classified as a separate 3rd gen; moreover, the only gen not made by CZ-UB.

    1. RSR

      *On the first gen rifles, the fixed stock version was the beech/wood version of stock and forend.

      The rifle pictured is definitely the 2nd generation of the VZ58.

      Appendix B pic above, left to right:
      1) Front sight block, behind front sight ears, top edge — you’ll notice the angled rather than square edge to that component. That’s the FSB scallop cut.
      2) Circle sling loop is relatively meaningless IMO — circle is usually earlier, while stamped T sling swivel is later production but not gen specific (worth noting, the circle sling loop is mighty similar to the ones that originally came on, but no longer do w/ later imports, of the CZ Scorpion Evo 2)
      3) Beaver barf forend (polymer forend w/ wood flakes), not wood (beaver barf was switched to, at least in part, due to thin wood over metal on upper handguard cracking and falling out of place when in use — lower HG had no major performance issue that I’m aware of)
      4) Trigger guard, you can see the cutout/split section that protects the mag release from accidental release (early were just a single loop w/ no protection, and most current CSA/Czechpoint production guns now seem to have just the loop too)
      5. Beaver barf grip
      6. Welded stock buttplate w/ no rivets

      Also worth noting is that the sling appears to be the mustard yellow to puke green color, natural fiber (likely cotton), sling that represents earlier manufacture; though it too is not generation specific.
      Later manufacture were an olive to dark green nylon (closely matches the m95 camo), with some of the most recent (presumably for Czech police use) being black in color.

      Internally, both the bolt and bolt locking piece appear to be the stepped, rather than straight angle cut versions, which suggests early manufacture.

      Bayonet is the earlier half tang beaver barf version (full tang came later). In brief, Czechs had both bayonets and fighting knives. Bayonets were meant to be attached to the rifle only, so no need for full tang. Also, composed of soft steel with dull edges.

      Cleaning kit is earlier version too — later kits, that pick device included a front sight elevation adjustment tool into the handle (basically just a wider handle w/ a slot in it).

      Of text, worth noting that full auto trip lever is also the in battery safety lever referenced — and is eliminated on all civilian semi-auto guns of which I’m aware.
      Firing mechanism, I prefer linear hammer (vs striker) but piston is good too.
      Weight of weapon: Thefirearmblog or someone else just released a study of weapon weights w/ and w/o mags — and the VZ58 is still one of the lightest assault type weapons available, despite being designed in the 1950s, though the M1 carbine was lighter, designed earlier, and is on that list too — though VZ58 (IMO) is more reliable and (fact) fires a much more capable round. If I recall, worth looking at the study, but SBR type ARs and/or light profile barrels are required to compete w/ same weight. Obviously however, 30 rounds of 7.62×39 weighs considerably more than 30 rounds of 5.56 — nevertheless worth noting for a 1950s designed weapon.
      Mag weight — just a note: Mako just released polymer VZ58 mags w/ no metal but spring and comes in at 5.9 oz vs 6.6oz per CP over at the CZ forums. The VZ58 aluminum alloy mags are much more durable than than aluminum US milspec mags, weigh 1/2 of the 11-13 oz AK 47 mags, and I’d even say they’re less likely/harder to dent than my Galil steel mags (have no experience w/ USGI steel mags). Looking at weight, performance (continuous curve), aluminum and not steel so no rust, etc, I’d say these remain one of the best designed mags I’ve come across — and they were designed in the 1950s.
      Bayonet has a side button that lowers the steel locking lug. By depressing that button, the bayonet can be removed by pulling to the rear from the bayonet lug. To install, you push forward while depressing the button. Not clear from cutoff text.
      Cleaning kit — I personally really like that it included the bore guide — not something I’ve seen too often, but not nearly the same level of expertise as WM or many readers here…

      Otherwise, all I see that’s noteworthy when reviewing closely.

  9. Jonathan Ferguson

    Is the evaluation weapon’s serial given? I ask as we might still have the gun in the collection…

    1. Jonathan Ferguson

      Doh, sorry, missed the scan link. No serial then. I may be able to match the gun from the photos though…

    2. Hognose Post author

      Good luck, I’d love to hear what you find, Jonathan. The information in the document is rather sparse.

      If the Armories would like the document back for their collection, I’d be glad to donate it. It obviously went walkabout from HMG at some point between the Summer of Love and today.

      1. Jonathan Ferguson

        Wow, that’s a very kind offer, thank you. Let me check our holdings first and get back to you Monday, because there’s a chance that the Pattern Room copy is still with us.

        I checked today, and sadly the only V model gun we have (we have several Ps) is not the one photographed. We may still have the P they tested, but no way to tell. Chances are that they were loaners as you say. It was worth a try!

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