When we really need to be hunched over the chomputer [sic] grinding out words for the two books due this summer, or at least need to be wading deep into Czech pistol research, we’re easily distracted by shiny things on the internet. OK, experts, ID this:
Got it? It’s so off-the-wall, you don’t. Here’s a better side view. The project is not completely finished yet, but it includes parts of at least four different service rifles — and is chambered for a round that has never been a service round.
OK ,here’s the barreled action before parkerizing:
Hmmm…. detachable magazine, looks like it’s 10-20 rounds. What are those squatty little rounds? The sharp shoulder and loooong bullet make it look like it might be a good long (well, intermediate long) range round. Mauser type sight. Machined receiver. Both stamped and machined components in the trigger group, and a safety like a Garand. Feeds from Mauser/Springfield type strippers, and the bolt carrier locks back to enable that. Could be a couple things, but look at those serrations in the receiver cover. It’s a Czechoslovak vz. 52 semi-auto rifle, but that round sure isn’t 7.62 x 45mm… nor is it the 7.62 x 39 or the vz. 52/57 variant.
As the guy explains in the build thread at Gunboards, it’s a conversion to 6.5 Grendel. That requires him to change the barrel, and if he was doing that…
[T]his will be a 6.5 Grendel VZ-52 conversion. But will look nothing like an original VZ. A new Green Mountain 1:9″ blank has already been contoured, fitted, and chambered. The next step will be the stock. Just from cycling the action, I can tell the 6.5 Hornady ammo feeds flawlessly.
He’s doing something really, really smart here: if you’re experimenting with the gun, don’t experiment with the ammo. Mess with one or the other at a time. An experienced troubleshooter never changes two or more things before retesting… one experiment at a time is the way to rifle nirvana. Hornady ammo is expensive, but shoots straight (and accuracy is why he chose 6.5 instead of his other option, 7.62 x 39. Sure, the Czechs picked it, but that was because the Soviets told them they had to, not because any of the Czech engineers thought it was a good idea).
The Denver-based owner, who’s unknown to us, had to try a lot of gunsmiths before he found one willing to take on the barrel-fitting project: Pete Hubbard of Homeland Gunsmithing, La Junta CO.
Pete was interested in the project and we discussed the details throughout the whole process. Nothing but good things to say about him. As for caliber, the only other feasible choice would be 7.62×39, and it’s not at all an accurate cartridge. I’d rather chamber for a known accurate cartridge than settle for something mediocre.
Remember that we said he was using parts from four guns? It’s actually more like six guns, plus some extras. Those are (clockwise-ish in the picture):
- The vz. 52 barreled action, custom-barreled from a Green Mountain blank by Hubbard;
- An uninletted Wenig M14 stock, which he inletted himself (he intends to glass-bed the action, and add a customized M14 wood handguard, minus op-rod cut, that he got from the maker of his stock blank;
- Not from a gun, but an aftermarket Tech Sights TS-200, an SKS aftermarket aperture sight adjustable for both windage and elevation, with the dual flip apertures and the windage knob copied from the decent M16A1 sight;
- A front sight and base from a CETME (with the bottom bow destined to be ground/filed off);
- Not in the picture, but an M1 butt plate;
- Not in the picture, but a sling bar from a French MAS 49/56 semi-auto rifle;
- Not in the picture, but a front band from an HK SL6 or SL7 sporting semi-auto rifle.
It’s quite the mixmaster.
An update to what I’m calling the VZ52/15. Just received my M14 contoured un-inletted blank from Wenig today. A much more ergonomic stock (better aesthetics too) than the Czech one. The stock will get an M1 Garand buttplate, a MAS 49/56 butt sling bar (rear) and an H&K SL6/7 front band that has a sling mount loop welded on. The handguard will be tackled later.
I’ll be removing the rear sight leaf and permanently attaching a steel TS-200 Techsight to the receiver. A CETME triple frame will be altered (lower ring ground off) and pinned on for the front sight. The triple frame will need a bushing welded in to give a snug fit over the barrel. The sight radius will be increased by about eleven inches with the new 23″ barrel.
Inletting has begun, and the stock will be contoured tighter for the more slender vz. 52 (compared to the robust-and-a-half M14).
Inletting complete, the barrel is free-floated:
And finally, inletting and contouring complete, butt plate fitted, metal parts parkerized, and stock treated with Chestnut Ridge Dark Stain and Tom’s (a work in progress).
Still remaining is to adjust the front sight to final position (depends on shooting results; it’s currently fastened with set screws so it can me moved to tune barrel harmonics, if needed), route out the buttstock pocket, glass bed the receiver, add the handguard and a more hand-friendly windage knob.
It is a very different looking gun from the original vz. 52 with its gaudy laminated or light-colored hardwood stock, hooded sight and permanently-attached folding bayonet.
VZ 52 (top) and 52/57. Black paint on the handguard and receiver cover is a 52/57 telltale, by the way, as is the magazine. But the receiver markings tell the tale. With the delta between the prices of the two variants being over 100%, exercise caution when buying a 7.62 x 39 52/57, and don’t modify one of those rarities!
At some time in the future, will this well-crafted custom be worth less than if he had left the surplus rifle unmolested? The answer’s a probable yes. But does he care? He’s taken a mass-produced rifle chambered for an obsolete cartridge, built something that was neat and attractive, and he’s having fun with it. This case is an illustration of the fact than an individual can plan and execute a worthwhile custom job, using professional help where necessary, and putting sweat equity into the gun. This is not Bubba!
We can’t wait to see how the “vz. 52/15” performs on the range.
On a sad note, enjoy Gunboards while you can. You know how Canadians have a reputation for being square-dealing and decent folks? You’re about to meet the exception that proves the rule. The site and its content and revenue streams have been bought by the media moguls of the anti-American and anti-gun Toronto Star, through its notorious forum-exploitation subsidiary, VerticalScope. Forum sponsors, brace for a 300% boost in ad charges and a 75% loss of eyeballs.
This is a really good time to review your ad placements with Gunboards. You’re about to get pressed for a deal that will lock you in to a long term of automatic billing, and fewer and fewer readers will be seeing your ads.
If VerticalScope runs true to form, the site will shed its moderators within weeks, and it will be thick with pop-up spam and new Nigerian “vendors” in days. Also, they go through musical admins, whom they pay below market rates and work to exhaustion… so it’s a pretty safe bet your login information, and personally identifiable data if they have it, is not safe. If you have an account there, this might be a good time to zero it out.
Apparently the site owner has been setting this sale up for some time, but didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag until a bolus of memberships and sponsorships renewed. (Indeed, he’s emailing people about the sale, but if there’s an announcement on the site, I can’t find it). That’s kind of a dirtbag thing to do, so one has to wonder if he’s kind of a dirtbag. If he isn’t, it doesn’t really matter, because the forums’ new Canadian overlords are.