Test and review of the Czechpoint vz-58 rifle
in 5.56mm with AR-15 magazine well adapter
It is always a good day that starts with a cheerful phone call, “Sir? Just wanted to let you know your rifle came in today!” So off with a bounce to see the local gun shop guys to pick up something new and unusual, the new Czechpoint USA SA vz-58 Tactical semi-auto military style rifle in 5.56mm with the AR-15 magazine adapter and M-4 collapsible stock, built by Czech Small Arms of the Czech Republic, formerly known as D-Technik, then finished by CzechpointUSA. Happy day!
When the rifle came home with me I was struck by the appearance, looking very much like several so-called modern rifles. It had the AR -15 magwell already installed, but Czechpoint USA was thoughtful enough to include not only the original mag release and bolt stop, but two original magazines if I or my wife, (the ultimate end user of this rifle), should ever decide to switch back to the Czechpoint/Czech Small Arms proprietary magazines, both polymer, one smoke and one clear. Nice touch!
I took the rifle out and just as when I picked up my own vz-58, I was struck by the balance and feel of the rifle. My wife handled it and was immediately impressed with how well it shouldered for her, an important consideration for a person with back issues. One click of the stock, and she said it was perfect.
I did a close look over of the rifle and the fit and finish of the original rifle was perfect. Stampings were also bright and clear, as well as the two granted US Patent numbers – no poaching, guys! The sights are pure SA vz-58, fully functional. The Tactical model came with some furniture I am very familiar with, the FAB quad rail forearm and the FAB ergonomic pistol grip, same as my personal vz-58, with one important difference – the side rails were installed on this one…I never seemed to get around to doing that with mine… The other aftermarket furniture is the M-4 style collapsible stock, which had positive engagement in all extensions. The adaptor to keep the stock straight was almost seamless in installation, as the original SA vz-58 stock had a slight down angle on the mating end. Czech it out next to its older brother.
This particular rifle also came equipped with the CzechpointUSA Short Rail Adaptor, a nifty optics mount with a left side rail mating to a mount that rides over the top of the rear receiver. The rail mount was tight and lock up very positive, with no detectable play whatsoever. I immediately began thinking about my TRS-25 red dot on my other rifle that might work well on this baby. The other thing that caught both mine and my wife’s attention – the mount is see through to use the original iron sights as well. Even though the mount is quick detachable, the ability to transition to irons in a heart beat is something I can only call a plus.
The AR-15 magwell adapter is polymer, and also a product of CSA, bearing the crest on one side. It exhibited some minor movement side to side and fore and aft, but when utilized with a GI 30 round aluminum magazine it locked up tight with no issues. It is important to remember this is a drop in part installable by the end user, not a machined and gunsmithed in item. I had been cautioned that this magwell was optimized for GI issue magazines, and aftermarket polymer ones may not fit or function well without trimming of the magazine. With this in mind, I placed an order for six thirty round GI style magazines, all the brand new Brownells aluminum ones said to be GI spec by the manufacturer.
Imagine my chagrin in being told those also might not work well. When tried in the mag well at home, they fit tightly and wouldn’t lock the bolt back. Testing at the range revealed that while the Brownells magazines needed to be snuggled into place, they locked the bolt back every single time under fire.
Whoops. I did have one GI magazine that worked flawlessly, but all magazines needed a good smack to get seated fully.
The specifications of the rifle state it has a 16.14 inch barrel, which was comforting when I got to the other end of the rifle and discovered the nifty muzzle break was not welded in place, rotating very slightly against the plunger installed. See, the original SA vz-58 7.62x39mm rifle barrel is 15 inches long, and under the National Firearms Act of 1934 rifles are required to have barrels of 16 inches, which is why it came with a permanently mounted barrel extension. This barrel is 16.14 inches, just OVER that length, so the threaded barrel with interchangeable break isn’t such a bad thing – in fact with the bill going through in the Arizona Legislature to allow lawfully held suppressors for hunting, this could be VERY beneficial if I “borrowed” this one back to do a little coyote hunting. Just need to get a suppressor threaded to fit, and go through all the NFA hoops. Nice!
Here are the specifications as provided by CzechpointUSA on this rifle,
Caliber 223 Rem (5.56 x 45 mm)
Muzzle velocity 1, 083 yds/s
Number of grooves in barrel 4
Twist of the rifling 1 in 7 inches
Overall length of Tactical rifle 36. 50 in
Overall length of Tactical Folder rifle with stock extended 37. 20 in
Overall length of Tactical Folder rifle with stock folded 27. 95 in
Barrel length 16. 14 in
Length of sight line 14. 76 in
Extent of rear sight from 100 to 800 by 100 m
Width of rifle 2. 32 in
Height of rifle with magazine 9. 45 in
Practical rate of fire 40 shots/min.
Maximum range of fire 2, 000 yds
Lethal effect of projectile up to 1, 500 yds
Weight of rifle without magazine 7. 37 lbs
Weight of rifle with loaded magazine 8. 49 lbs
Weight of empty magazine 0. 33 lbs
Weight of full magazine 1. 12 lbs
Trigger pull 5.51 - 5. 95 lbs (24.5 – 26.5 N)
Well, I don’t think I will test this rifle at either 2,000 or 1,500 yards, as my local range has a maximum range of 300 yards! I think 100 yards is about where I would like to try it, maximum, as I am NOT the world’s greatest rifle shot.But wait, we need something to shoot, don’t we? But of course!
The two selected, Prvi Partisan 62 grain FMJ BT and Brown Bear 55 grain HP, represented common ammo found inexpensively, with two exceptions, no Wolf or Tulammo, as I have had negative experiences with both in the past. Burn me once… Ah, but I almost forgot – I am a reloader! So another quick request brought in some nice stuff, including an order to Berry’s Manufacturing for a special on 500 Lake City unfired brass with 500 55 grain FMJBT bullets. The rifling twist of 1-7 means some heavier bullets should be tried as well. A very small selection was made, within my diminishing budget, so I had loads from the Hornady 60 grain soft point, and the Sierra 65 grain Spitzer boat tail.
The worst news in all of this was – THE RANGE WAS CLOSED!!! That’s right, the excellent Casa Grande Elzy Pearson Memorial range was closed Thursday, Friday, Saturday AND Sunday for the Cowboy Action Shooting match, Gathering of the Posses. So, I spent a few days cleaning and taking pictures. Always fun! The rifle showed signs of test firing, and was reasonably clean. A quick pass down the bore with a BoreSnake and some old sock with Weapons Shield removed the little grime that was inside the action. Considering this was originally designed as a military rifle, I have zero doubt that little dirt would have had any effect, and honestly – it came cleaner than many firearms I have purchase over the years.
Also I posed the rifle in my ersatz studio to pose with a Czech Military issue Winter Hat and a can coozie with the SA vz-58 on the front. That’s a diet soda hiding in there, for those who really want to know. Note that this pic also shows an aftermarket MagPul Angled Foregrip, but the loving wife said she prefers the setup the earlier way, without a foregrip. Considering how much those lower rails might chew on hands, I’ll be looking for another vertical set up similar to mine, or a rail cover.
Then, finally, the day dawned…RANGE TIME! Not being able to hop out there for a weekend was telling…and I wasn’t the only one, dagnabbit. It seemed half the city showed up to go shooting. Well, I left the 300 yard line as it was packing them in 3 deep, and went to the 80 yard line with a couple of friends who had showed up. It was very windy and surprisingly cold for an Arizona March, windy enough my Target Meister stand blew over many times, and I finally had to go rock hunting for some BIG rocks to keep it firmly on the ground.
It was time. One Brownells magazine loaded with Brown Bear HP, and let’s rock! OK, so I started rocking at 25 yards, almost subminiature range for this rifle, but I wanted to make sure it was on target close enough to adjust. Oh, yeah.
All groups pictured were fired off a Caldwell Rock Jr front rest, a new item for me.
See what a cluttered bench it was?
The Prvi Partizan and Brown Bear both showed potential to give 2-3 inch groups at 100 yards off the rest, and since I was told the vz-58 5.56 might be a 4-5 MOA rifle, so those results with generic ammo were pleasing. At 50 yards, the battle sight was too low and the 100 meter too high, so I stayed at battle sight and “adjusted”. Good ol’ Kentucky windage, since I didn’t want to play with the front sight right now, not until I could get to 100 yards.
I was told the lighter bullets in the 1-7 twist could be less accurate, and a few loads did show that.
4 MOA right there. Well, that’s alright by me. I tried the 60 grain Hornady Soft Points,
I forgot to adjust my hold, whoops. Not bad, 1.5 inch group, not going to win any medals, but this isn’t a target rifle. This load was pretty consistent, when I remembered the hold I was using – gee I wish that 100 yard line had been clear enough to use.
The 65 grain Sierra Game Kings were not the wonder bullet I had been told. Shot low at 50 yards, for one thing, surprisingly low compared to the others.
I shot far less than I wanted to this first day, and was unable to use the chronograph due to the incredible crowding, but that will change.
Observations on malfunctions; there was one failure to go into battery from bolt release with Brown Bear, and a tap to the operating handle fixed that. Everything else worked perfectly…UNTIL…until I offered the rifle to a friend to try.
He managed to do the one thing that just cannot be done with vz-58s – he stovepiped it. I have never ever seen that happen with such a large “ejection port” on this rifle, but there it was, big as day. Other than those two instances, functioning was excellent, and the rifle was a joy to shoot. There was a little more recoil than I expected, figuring with the muzzle break and lighter caliber this would recoil like a 22lr. Me be wrong again. No problem, it was easily managed. Controls were easy to use and fully functional. Nothing broke and nothing fell off, two factors I am fond of - you have no idea how many high dollar guns have done that around me. All in all I was well pleased with this little carbine. It was mentioned to me that just because it took AR magazines, don’t expect it to shoot like an AR, but I feel it will put a high speed pill where I want it to go. Some quick off the shoulder work was done on far end range junk, left over broken clay pigeons, and the 55 grain reloads seemed to just seek them out.
I’m happy, time to tweak the loads and see how well we can really do at 100…if I can get everyone to go home…