The Czechoslovakian Vz. 58
Development of the Vz.58 began in 1956 when the Czech army called for a replacement of its uninspired Vz. 52 semi-automatic infantry rifle. Originally the new rifle was to be chambered in the 7.62×45mm Vz.52 round which had recently been standardised by the Czech army. However, the USSR, much like NATO, called for ammunition standardisation within the greater Communist Block in the late 1950s and as such the new Czech rifle was rechambered for the AK-47’s M48 intermediate cartridge.
Officially designated the ‘7.62 mm Samopal vzor 58' or 7.62mm submachine gun model 1958. The rifle is often understandably mistaken for being a member of the Kalashnikov family however, the two rifles could not be more different. The receiver is milled from a solid block of steel, rather than stamped as in the AK, while this made the weapon slower to produce it does make the weapon substantially lighter than the AK. The AK-47 weighs roughly 7.7lbs unloaded while the Vz.58 weighs 6.8lbs - similar to a later AKM.
The stock furniture rather interestingly was made from a wood-chip impregnated resin which proved extremely durable. The Vz.58’s internal workings differ radically as it fires from a tilting block with separate gas piston and bolt carrier and unlike the hammer fired AK, the Vz. 58 is striker fired. Another interesting difference between the two is that unlike with AK rifles the Vz.58's bolt will lock back once the weapon is empty (see image #4).
The Vz. 58 proved to be a handy, robust rifle, arguably more refined in appearance and operation than the AK. Following the partition of Warsaw Pact member, Czechoslovakia in 1993 the Vz. 58 has remained the standard issue infantry rifle for both Slovakia and the Czech Republic and as such has seen deployments around the world as a part of NATO, although the Czech Army has begun the process of adopting the new CZ 805 the Vz. 58 is set to remain in service for at least another decade.
Image One Source
Image Two Source
Images Three & Four
Military Small Arms, I. Hogg & J. Weeks, (1985)