Canada Upgrades the Vz.58 Combat Rifle
By J.M. Ramos
Czechoslovakia’s classic battle gun gets a tactical makeover from an AR manufacturer: North Eastern Arms Group (NEAG).
North Eastern Arms Group (NEAG) is a dynamic Canadian company founded in 2008. It is a division of a 50 year old company called North Eastern Aerospace based in the suburbs of Toronto. NEAG first entered the gun industry with the primary goal of designing and manufacturing custom-grade accessories for popular military arms such as the AR-15, Vz.58, H&K, SIG, Tavor, Remington and Mossberg shotguns, and the Ruger 10/22. In a very short period of time, the company has proven itself to be a first rate contender in the tactical gun scene creating high quality upgrades for these foremost in military hardware – particularly the Vz.58 and its variants. The most notable accessory produce by NEAG for this rifle was the aluminum forearm set made of 6061 T-6 aluminum with Type III hard anodize finish. The lower half of the first generation forearm has an integral bottom rail, while the second version incorporated a bolt-on type with the option for 2” and 4” rails that can be assembled directly to the large vent holes on each side and bottom of the part. The matching upper, comes with a built-in rail for optic installation. This forearm set was marketed by Troy Industries in the USA under their own banner for a short period of time and has found their way among numerous European tactical weapon upgraders and even used by CSA in their demo models.
Other useful accessories by NEAG for the Vz.58 include the AR-15 stock adapter. This bolt-on accessory comes in two versions. The railed model allows for straight stock configuration for shooting with optics. This accessory comes complete with separate assembly screw adapter that takes the place of the large factory stock screw. A matching hex screw now locks the assembly of the railed stock adapter to the rear of the receiver. This is a very clever and solid set-up for an M4 style stock assembly. The other model was called in-line adapter. This economically priced accessory is a simplified version of the railed stock adapter requiring no AR-15 receiver end plate. A large screw similar to the factory folding stock assembly screw is supplied and secured this adapter directly to the rear of the receiver. The M4 extension tubing with castle nut is then assembled to the adapter to accept any style AR collapsible stock. This simplified adapter appears to position the stock a tad lower than the railed style adapter but not low enough to allow the use for the iron sight. With the collapsible stock installed, the factory stock is about 1-1/4 inches lower at the heel of the butt in comparison. In order for the factory iron sight to be used, the Ace folding stock mechanism must be utilized and must be set to its lowest setting. For this set up, a low mounted red dot can be assembled directly to the NEAG’s forearm to rail and the sight alignment is perfect. The straight stock adapter features a top rail designed to accept the company’s matching cantilever scope mount. This part allows the operator to mount a small red dot scope over the dust cover as an alternative set-up to a hand guard mounted optic. The straight stock format will no longer allow the use of the factory iron sight due to elevated sight plane. The railed stock adapter has a built-in loop for sling installation. In addition to the forearm set, NEAG also produce an ambidextrous safety and tactical bolt release as well as a new style flash suppressor called Phoenix and a replacement fibre-optic front sight post for this rifle.
Around 2010, the company started producing AR-15 uppers and lowers of their own design and marketing them as individual parts or sets. The unprecedented demand for these components eventually inspired NEAG to produce their own complete line of AR-15 family incorporating their own in-house manufactured components ranging from Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) with 18 inch barrel all the way down to Carbines, CQB and PDW’s with 14.5, 12.5, 10.5 and 7.5 inch barrels respectively. All NEAG AR’s upper and lower receivers are manufactured from T6 Aluminum billets while its barrels are polygon-rifled for long wear and precision. ARC+ treatments are employed in each weapon for maximum functionality and strength regardless of operating conditions. NEAG ARs are exempt from ITAR regulations and can be shipped directly to a country not currently under sanction.
NEAG’s Vz.58 forearm set exhibit a high degree of quality and workmanship. The lower half of the forearm features the slim-line, slab sided format similar to that of the factory polymer design but has the added rows of large vent holes on all sides that doubles as a mounting index for the optional rail segments. The matching upper is also of a slab-sided pattern to match the lower perfectly. Its built-in top rail is lower than the height of the iron sight and features a close-ended pattern that will only accept a clamp-on type rail riser such as the Brownell’s AR-15 flat top riser. The height of the rail is perfectly tailored for direct optic mounting when using the in-line stock adapter that also permits the use of the iron sight. However, if a straight stock is installed, a rail riser will be required to elevate the position of the optic to a correct level depending on how high the optic mount is. The overall design of the NEAG Vz.58 forearm set will not win in a beauty contest. It does not have the sophistication nor intricacies of machine work found on say the BC Tactical version. What the NEAG accessory offers is a no-nonsense forearm that will do the job it is being designed to do minus the built-in bells and whistles for those who just wanted simple but solid tactical attire for their Vz.58 rifles. Its Type III hard anodized finish is definitely a plus in this forearm set which I consider a workhorse all-around.
Putting It Together
The upper half of the forearm is a drop-in type and comes complete with its retaining pin, a bonus feature so you don’t have to remove the retaining pin from the factory part in case you want to alternate it. The lower does need some minor fitting just as the bottom edge of the receiver hits the radius section of the forearm. This tight section must be filed off until there is only slight resistance left when pushing the part down during assembly. Care must be observed not to disturb the exterior outline of the radius to prevent creating an unsightly gap once the part is seated fully. When filing the area that needed fitting, it is best to file inward for a bevel cut only where the actual spot of scraping is taking place on the forearm to avoid overcutting. It is advisable to leave some tightness when you are fitting the part for best result. Another area that may need fitting is the location of the assembly groove for the retainer pin clearance. Once you have completely fitted the lower half and fully seated it to the receiver and the retainer pin will not go in, tap the pin in slightly to make a mark to the part being fitted. Disassemble the lower forearm and check the spot where the pin made the mark and gradually trim that section until you are able to force the pin in by a medium tap. DO NOT OVERCUT. The assembly must have some tightness for a good fit. NEAG’s small parts such as the ambidextrous safety and extended bolt hold-open are of drop-in type and will not require fitting for installation.
There is an old saying, it takes two to tango. In this case, I truly concur. What will you get when you combine beauty and brawn? My answer is best of both worlds. Having both the BC Tactical and NEAG’s forearms sets to play with, I got curious what will happen when I mix and match these two parts. Before trying the combination, I wondered if they would fit and how they would look. Needless to say my anticipation was answered with a pleasant surprise and great delight to find out that these two different style forearms and brands fit perfectly to each other and stunningly attractive with black anodize and flat dark Earth color combinations. Obviously, this new set up will require matching two-tone furniture to complement the colorful package. My first choice for this requirement is definitely the MFT Battle-link Utility Low Profile Stock (BULS) in scorched dark Earth with optional black adjustable cheek piece for two-tone furniture accent. The standard Battle-Link Utility Stock (BUS) in black with optional scorched dark Earth adjustable cheek piece is a great alternate set up for the MFT BULS as the forearms set are swapped for different combinations. I found MFT stocks to have the best fit in their class all without any fancy tightening gadget that does not always work. Complementing this two-tone set up was Fab Defence ergonomic pistol grip in black. Command Arms Accessories (CAA) has a photo of the Vz.58 with their AK-47 grip but will not fit either a Vz.58 or CSA models with a side skirt for the grip mount being an integral part of the trigger guard. The CAA grip would have been my ideal choice here since it incorporated front and back inserts for a matching two-tone shade. Obviously, most custom tailored tactical firearms today are normally found with a forward grip in one form or another. This will all depend on the operator’s personal taste or preference. Again, the market is flooded with this type of accessory so everyone is sure to find one that suits them. My preference for this requirement is the MFT REACT folding grip (RFG) in scorched dark Earth. This beautiful grip folds to the front or rear when not in use and rock solid when deployed in vertical position. Other similar grips I have tested do not lock as solid and appears flimsy. The REACT folding grip and Torch and vertical grip (RTG) in black perfectly suited the black gun set up also presented here for comparison. The RTG is a combination of grip and illumination mount and can accommodate from 3/4, .825 and 1 inch diameter light or laser. One very special accessory recently introduced by MFT that I found very usable for tactical firearms including this newly upgraded Vz.58 is the Torch Back up Light. This special device is available in either white or red light. The Torch is a low profile Picatinny mounted recessed pressure pad activated light is a perfect combination for home protection guns or as a back up to a primary illumination source. The device features a two-stage illumination setting by a simple pressure on the pad. A single pressure on the pad will activate a low illumination for signature reduction during patrol just to provide enough light to see where you are going and avoid hazards, stealth structure search, approach to target and breaching operation. When the pad is pressed twice, it doubles the intensity of the beam for subject identification and other functions that may require brighter illumination. This miniature device has a 10-year life storage span with 24 hour burn time. It emits 10 lumen output and weighs just 22 grams. For decades, I have been using many high end furniture and accessories made by other big names in the industry and was able to make an in depth comparison between brands. After trying on MFT products, I was but extremely impressed for their design styling, fit to gun, ergonomics, overall quality and real world practicality. This dynamic company has set many new standards in the design and manufacturing excellence of tactical firearms accessories for a very short period of time.
In summing it all up, these remarkable Canadian made accessories for the Vz.58 really epitomized the vintage Czech battle gun to its zenith of sophistication and good looks with the combination of American made furniture. Obviously, no one company can solely claim the credit of doing it all by itself when there are other components made by others are involve. This has been the standard practice among major U.S. and Canadian weapons manufacturers these days with favorable results to save on tooling and manufacturing costs. Call it a partnership or a free trade among business friends. Whatever it is, Canada and the U.S. definitely accomplished something very special here that will benefit Vz.58 aficionados on both sides of the border. Amazing indeed.
The Canadian R.C.M.P. Reclassifies the CZ 858 Rifles
As of March 1, 2014 the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) set their sight on re-classifying specific variants of the CZ 858 from non-restricted and restricted to prohibited status. Certain models have been deemed as “converted automatics” by the RCMP, which indicate that the original receiver of certain guns is a fully automatic rifle component. RCMP claims that this model can be easily converted to fire full automatic paving their way towards the prohibited status. Several models with particular designations to include the CZ 858 Tactical 2-P, 2V and 4-P with the large machined slot in the left side of the sight block and a proof date of 2007 or later is derived from the selective fire Vz.58 which has been factory modified to fire semiautomatic only, hence the term “converted automatic.” The original military markings have been obliterated and re-stamped with commercial proof marks. This would have earned a very high collectability status among rare military arms aficionados. Some Sa Vz.58 Tactical in cal. .223 may also contain a full auto receiver and modified trigger mechanism. Full auto receivers have a distinctive notch cut for the automatic lever on the right side of the ejector. If the full auto trigger group are used in the converted guns, the full auto sear and auto trip lever is normally cut off. The full auto selector may have been also used as a short cut in manufacturing cost but a stop pin was added to prevent the part from usual three position setting. The bolt carrier tripping shoulder for the auto trip lever may also been ground off to void the usual function of the automatic assembly group. With all these modification to transform a full auto gun to semi-auto only, it is a good compromise since it will require fabricating all the chop down factory parts assuming the culprit has an idea of the exact size and shapes, re-welding the bolt carrier back to its usual specs since they are not readily available in this part of the world except in Europe where they are being sold as spare parts or surplus. To re-convert a full auto from semi-auto and back to its original form and functions safely and reliably will take time and a bit of guesswork. However, this is not impossible for someone with some experience in firearms mechanics and machine shop access and is willing to go to jail if get caught.
As it stands for now, CSA produced Vz.58s appear to have passed the RCMP scrutiny with the incorporation of a new trigger mechanism and different receiver internal/external cut outs as well as pin locations so full auto parts will not fit in. However, since it looks virtually the same as the Czech battle rifle, it is very likely that it will also be all re-classified as restricted no matter what model designation or barrel length it has, just like what they did with the AR-15s.
|SUBSCRIBER COMMENT AREA|
Comments have not been generated for this article.