By Georges Z. Fahmy – Senshido International
We all heard the screeching noises from the ever-ending debate between AR and AK aficionados: the former yelling about the AK being uncomfortable to shoot, inaccurate, and “So Un-American” and the AK lovers telling their AR counterparts that Eugene Stoner’s baby is an unreliable piece of Tactical Gucci, that jams frequently, and is more high maintenance than a Call Girl living in a Beverly Hills mansion.
This dispute is similar to the 9mm VS .45: Both are exercises in futility and a waste of precious time that could be better used shooting, training, prepping, enjoying life, etc.
Most people seem to forget one simple truth: FIREARMS ARE TOOLS. They are used to get the job done, mainly by:
- Keeping you and your loved ones safe by dissuading / preventing predators from doing evil things to you and yours
- Allowing you to hunt for food
Shotguns are extremely versatile, especially if you have the option of shifting barrels and using slugs, but for one tiny problem: Above a certain range, they just don’t pack enough punch to incapacitate a 2-legged or an angry 4-legged predator. Their reduced ammo capacity and longer reload time doesn’t help either.
So, the best platform is one that offers you the ability to do both aforementioned tasks, while being:
- Reliable in all environment, especially inhospitable ones
- Ergonomic and Comfortable to shoot
- Reasonably priced platform and ammunition
- Readily available ammunition
- Accurate WITHIN REASON, meaning allowing you to do the work at distances varying from up close and personal to 300 yards
This is where the common intermediate rounds used in modern “assault rifles” shine: Both 5.56×45 and 7.62×39 can theoretically reach and touch someone at close, intermediate, and even at longer ranges.
The 7.62×39 round, while not as accurate or as tumbling as its 5.56 cousin, hits harder, is heavier, goes through more stuff with less deviation, has a longer range (800 meters in theory), and drops the target faster, a fact I heard first-hand from militiamen who fought during the Lebanese Civil War. (I decided to leave out the 5.45×39 caliber as it is similar to the 5.56×39 in many aspects).
Looking at the commonly compared platforms, we notice the following:
- ARs are fully customizable, meaning you can add almost anything to it, making it more tactical, more accurate, more reliable, easier to shoot by mounting optics, lights, lasers, etc.
- AKs, on the other hand, are originally very bare-bones, lacking rails thus making the addition of “furniture” limited. Despite a growing interest in making the AK more modular, it will never be as customizable as the AR.
So, in a perfect world, one would get an AR chambered in 7.62×39. While it would be nice (Albeit expensive), reliability in a SHTF environment, where you could have dust, sub-optimal ammo, and less than ideal lubrication is problematic. Parts availability would also be an issue.
An alternative would be to go out and get an “enhanced” AK47 clone, in the form of a Valmet (7.62×39) or a Galil (5.56×45). The problem is, as always, money. Compound that with the fact that these platforms still suffer from compatibility issues with regular found AK parts and magazines and you’re already feeling quite discouraged to pursue this avenue.
Enter the Vzor Samopval Model 58, commonly called the Vz58 or CZ 858.
This little baby has enough loose tolerances to be as reliable as an AK, while being more accurate than its Soviet rival due to excellent Czech engineering. Some of its other advantages include last-round-bolt-open, customizable furniture, a 14:1 RT threaded barrel, chrome-lined barrel, very smooth trigger and reset mechanism, and an overall light weight despite having a milled receiver.
The bolt stays open on the last round, due to its proprietary magazine. This option allows for reloads using stripper clips à la SKS.
Here is an example of an enhanced VZ58: Folding stock (With duct tape to make it gentler on the cheek), FAB Defense pistol grip and hand guard, a B&T vertical fore grip, and an X300 Surefire light. The handgrip and fore grip are hollow and can contain goodies.
The disadvantages of the VZ58 are twofold:
- It is totally incompatible with any AK part, with the exception of its ammunition. This means that mags, spare parts, bayonet, sights, stocks, and furniture will have to be Vz58 specific (For more info, read the detailed comparison of inner parts here).
- Its parts and mags aren’t as readily available as AK and AR. They may be slightly more expensive due to scarcity, so, stock up! Surplus parts mags are probably available, so get them in triplicate!
This rifle will give you years upon years of service and fun, while requiring minimal maintenance. It is definitely cheaper than an AR or an AK at the moment, both in the US as well as Lebanon. Just remember to stock up on magazines and Google how to modify existing AK mags for the VZ (Just remember the bolt-open option won’t work with those).
For more information, as well as free articles and videos, about Personal Protection and Firearms, please visit www.senshido.net or contact the author by email (email@example.com) or phone (+961 3 499 712).
As always, take care, be safe, and God Bless.
Georges Z. Fahmy is Senshido International’s Director of Operations for the Greater Middle East and a member of Team Senshido since 2006.