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Do you ever daydream your Mini-30 is that unicorn VZ-52/57? Do you ever wonder what it would be like to use a Rasheed? Do you wonder what it would be like if NATO had adopted .280 British in the 1950’s? What if someone scaled up the M1 carbine to take 7.9×33 Kurz? Here at Cogburn Arsenal, we wonder those things a lot.

Czech cold war era VZ-52 ins 7.62x45mm

The Mini-14/Mini-30 rifles hold my interest as a rifle that should have been thought of 70 years ago. There were a few people thinking of it, but never had it’s day. In my mind, the Mini-14 in 6.8 SPC is a functional equivalent to hypothetical U.S. Army’s successor to the M1 Garand and M1 Carbine if .280 British were the standardized NATO cartridge. The FAL was already being developed in this caliber, but the U.S. might have still opted for a home grown design for their service rifle. Logic would dictate that the Army would come up with a hybrid of design features from the Garand and M1 carbine. The resulting rifle would be a near copy of the 6.8 SPC Mini-14. I would love to see a AC556 converted to 6.8 SPC. It would show the hypothetical BAR replacement like the M15/M14E2 was intended to be. Of course, it would need a custom wooden pistol grip stock. Those M14E2 stocks handily score ten out of ten in the Cold War aesthetic category. 

M14E2 or M15 drawing

A similar story rings true in post WWII Czechoslovakia. The famous Czech weapons designers took what they learned from some of their fantastic interwar auto-loading 7.92x57mm rifles and meshed it with a German lesson in intermediate cartridges. The child of this was the VZ-52 in 7.62×45. At the demand of standardization, the Soviets killed the development of what could have been a great cartridge. The Czech rifle limped on as a VZ-52/57 in 7.62×39, but it was ultimately doomed. My Czech weapon loving self is left longing for that ten round magazine, stripper clip fed, intermediate cartridge carbine. So I took my Mini-30 and I made some modifications. In all fairness, the VZ-58 carbines that would go on to replace the VZ52/57 were probably the best rifles in the communist side of the Iron Curtain until the AK-74’s entered the scene. Then again, a 5.45×39 VZ-58 would be even better. 


Ruger Mini-30 loaded with VZ-52 stripper clips and 7.62x39 ammo
Wood stocked Mini-30 getting loaded with a 5 round VZ-52 clip

The same story is retold a few times over. Winchester wanted to create a small bore light weight alternative to the M14 and developed the Winchester Light Rifle in .224 caliber. The Soviets took some SVT design elements and shrunk them into the SKS. The Egyptians shrunk the Hakim into the Rasheed. Oddly, the Spanish went the other way and increased the M1 carbine to accept the 7.9×33 Kurz. The resulting Spanish rifle has some striking similarities to a Mini-30 or Mini-14 in .300 Blk. Some of these designs are more obscure than the others, but they all have a distinct cold war intermediate caliber carbine that was based in a more traditional rifle layout. Very few of these rifles saw widespread adoption or use. Instead, large western militaries adopted more modern designed rifles using large calibers on par with previous wars. When the West realized the 7.62 Nato was a mistake, they opted for new rifle designs with pistol grips, plastic furniture, and Aluminum. Those decisions led to the skipping over of the rifles that really hold my interest. Light weight, carbine variants of the large caliber, WWII era, auto-loading rifles. 

Winchester Light Rifle in .224 caliber

I’m tired of seeing SKS’s in bullpup stocks with duck-bill magazines. I’m tired of the ACR-esk stocks for Mini-14’s. I just don’t care for taking old designs and forcing them into modern disguise. It’s not just that they are ugly and they never really live up to the new designs. I often find that they don’t live up to the standard configuration. What if we took more modern designs and run them back a little? What if we add a little WWII/cold war aesthetic to our firearms? I think there are a few lessons to be learned from the historical rifles. I think this idea is catching on. Recently we’ve seen retro AR’s, STG-44’s, and Fightlight SCR’s come to the marketplace with some amazing reception. I’m pretty excited about it.

Brownells retro AR-10

I have nothing against your AR-15 decked out in lightweight aluminum M-lok rails, 800 Lumen flashlights, 1-6x variable scopes, and 2-point slings. There probably isn’t a better self-defense weapon on the market. My problem is that everyone has one, and it’s a little boring. Here at Cogburn Arsenal, we’re trying to cut through the monotony.

-Cole F.

Post Script: When is Kel-tec going to start selling the M43?

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