The Wonderful Czech Vz. 52 Rifle

Previously here at TFB we discussed a well-designed and well-manufactured Czech rifle that made a big difference in the early history of selfloading rifles, the ZH-29. Tim of the Military Arms Channel discusses another Czech rifle that was a particular example of good engineering and sound implementation, the Czech Vz. 52:

During the period of rifle development from about 1940 to the 1950s, rifle designs are characterized in retrospect by a confusing degree of conservatism and reticence to fully embrace the assault rifle concept. There were many reasons for this, but a major one is the fact that generally speaking infantry rifle designs will no be adopted if they do not meet military requirements, regardless of whether those requirements were written with advancements in technology and tactics in mind. Indeed, requirements often are colored heavily by conservatism, and are slow to change. This effect is highly evident in the design of the Vz. 52 rifle, which combines the conservative features of low sight height, conventional stocking, small magazine capacity, a fixed single-purpose bayonet, and stripper clip loading, and advanced design concepts like short overall length, an intermediate rifle round, and detachable magazines, synthesized via clever operating mechanics and sound construction.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Riot

    Nice – I’d like one.
    Wonder if anyone makes 7.62×45 anymore.

    • pbla4024

      Not in Czech republic, I checked carefully 🙂

      • Robert Wetterauw Jr

        I see what you did there.

    • MPWS

      There was limited time surplus ammo for original Vz.52 in the U.S. but probably has run out long time ago. Afaik there is no known maker of it at this time.

  • Kevin Harron

    Interesting design.

  • MPWS

    The one in original version 7.62×45 mm, yes I remember them; they were ok.
    With M43 round, this gun is bit shot-legged. I own one; it looks well, shoots reasonably well, but it’s too heavy. Of course, part of the weight is due to built-in bayonet. The flipside is that it sits in shoulder without kick to talk about.
    What I do not like so much is that locking recesses are blind; any piece of rock even sand trapped in would prevent lock-up.
    The original 7.62×45 mm is (to this day) arguably best practical military round. Actually at time of introduction, there was also MG Vz.52 in that caliber to accompany the rifle.

    • The 7.62×45 is certainly interesting, but I don’t know of anyone who would seriously argue it is the best practical military round.

      • I just looked it up and the specs are quite interesting – a 130gr projectile @ 2500fps. The 6.8 SPC launches a 120gr @ 2460fps, while 7.62×40 wilson shoots a 124gr @ 2400fps, and the 300 blackout 125 @ 2215fps. Not too shabby for an obscure cartridge from 1952. The cartridge is listed at 60mm long, while the 5.56 is listed at 57, so not sure if it would be AR compatible.

        I’d imagine it could push a 110gr bullet around 2700fps, which would be pretty dandy as a general purpose round.

        • The ogive is extremely short on the 7.62×45, so your ballistic coefficient would be poor (with a 110gr bullet, probably about the same as M193). Because of this, it would lose velocity very quickly, and would not make for a very good general issue military round.

    • UCSPanther

      I think they are a solid platform to launch 7.62×39 from, and well ahead of both the SKS and AK series.

      Heavily built, nice trigger pull, garand-style safety, built-in bayonet (Albeit fragile). Lots to love.

      I own a 52/57, and it is one of my “Never, ever sell” guns.

  • MrEllis

    You keep showing all things CZ I want!

  • Leigh Rich

    I have one however the ammo is almost impossible to get. Thus they are not that expensive. Some imported by CIA years ago has a black truck bed like coating on the stock. They are unique.

  • jcitizen

    I fell in love with this design long ago, mainly because at the time when they first hit the US market, the older longer Czech ammo was available. However corrosive surplus wasn’t a known thing to some of us then, and I didn’t like corrosive ammo, so like a dummy I didn’t buy it at the unbelievably cheap prices back then. Ironically I shoot corrosive all the time now, and regret my indecision of the past. I’m afraid I’ll never own one now.

  • petru sova

    I own one of the 7.62×39 guns and before everyone starts slobbering over this design lets take a logical look at it from the mechanical viewpoint. In my own personal testing its gas system is totally inferior to the ubiquitous SKS rifle. I shot low power cast bullet loads out of both guns and the SKS functioned positively even with very low power cast bullet loads while the CZ 52/57 was totally inferior in the reliability department. I find no outstanding or even mediocre mechanical advantages of this design over the SKS. The VZ52 is also unnecessarily heavy for a gun of its type and size.
    The CZ must be kept clean to be reliable as its gas system fouls out way before the SKS or AK 47 does.
    The gun is a well made and accurate gun and is highly collectable but to even begin to compare it to the SKS or AK47 is a complete joke.
    Except as a wall hanger I have no desire for the original 7.62×45 caliber because of ammo availability in surplus ammo or in boxer primed brass re-loadable brass. And reforming brass for it from another caliber would be a real headache as well. If you like this rifle look around for the 7.62×39 variant. In years past this gun was rather common as surplus in other countries, and
    even in Canada but it was never common in the U.S. in the more desirable 7.62×39.

  • Note that this only allows him to stuff more powder in the case (which won’t help the awful ballistics of the 6.8mm much), since he is using the same bullets, the BC is not going to be any better.

    • mig1nc

      I totally agree. I’m just saying you could build a better mag and chamber the weapon in something with a higher BC – taking advantage of the Six8’s non-standard receiver.