Czech vz. 52/57: The SKS We Have At Home

We don’t need the SKS, we have gun designers at home! In the early days of the Cold War, the Czechoslovak communist party was on very good terms with Josef Stalin, and were able to design and use their own small arms. A whole new slate of small arms were developed in the early 1950s, with a rifle, pistol, and light machine gun all adopted in 1952 as vz. (model) 52. The rifle used a short-stroke annular type gas piston that was located around the barrel. It was chambered for a proprietary Czech 7.62x45mm cartridge, as was the vz.52 light machine gun.

When Stalin died in 1953, the new leaders of the USSR were much less tolerant of Czech small arms independence. They allowed the country to continue to use non-standard arms, but required them to convert to the 7.62x39mm cartridge. This led to the vz.52/57 rifle, which went into production in 1957 and ceased production in September 1959, replaced by the vz.58. The only substantial change to the 52/57 was the chamber, and a slightly adapted magazine with a spacer in the front to better fit the shorter 39mm cartridge. The 52/57 magazines are recognizable by their flat floor plate, where the vz.52 magazine has an upward bend at the front of the floor plate.

A total of 99,475 vz.52/57 rifles were made, all at the CZ Uhersky Brod factory. Original vz.52 rifles were not converted to the 7.62x39mm pattern; they were all left intact. Both vz.52 and 52/57 rifles were distributed widely as military aid after the adoption of the vz.58. Many of them went to Cuba, and thence to many other places in central and south America.


  1. Now up for auction, a Czech Vz 52/57 with slightly dented top cover… ; )

    As usual, the Czechs did the Soviets one better.

  2. A great many of the non-Warsaw Pact 7.62x45mm vz52 carbines and LMGs, and at least 50,000 9x19mm samopal 23/25 SMGs went to the Cuban Revolutionary regime in September 1959, and were used to consolidate Fidel Castro’s power over rivals, counterrevolutionaries, and the CIA operations, including Brigada de Asalto 2506 at Playa Giron/ Bay of Pigs in April 1961.

    After the FSLN overthrew Somoza in 1979 and was subjected to U.S.-backed counterrevolutionaries and descended into Civil War, the Cuban armed forces transferred a lot of vz.52 carbines to the FSLN militia. There are photos of that. Some of those, in turn, actually were captured by the Contras and used for training in Honduras. Cuba also transferred a good many vz52s and vs52/57s to the Maurice Bishop “New JEWEL” government in Grenada, which was overthrown by a military junta and Bernard Coard, followed a few days later by Hudson Austin, followed by “Operation Urgent Fury” the U.S. invasion of that island nation in Cotober 1983.

  3. 7.62x45mm and 9x19mm ammunition, and much else besides in May 1960, just eleven months before “Operation Zapata” and the landings at Playa Giron and the Bahia de Cochinos on Cuba’s south coast.

  4. Woolworths in Boston used to have a few of these for sale in the sporting goods department. Just sitting in an open rack with a bunch of other surplus rifles. The good old days.

  5. I’ve got a CZ 52 rifle which is covered with black bed liner type material.Haven’t had any luck getting it off.

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