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Red Oktober VZ-52

I don’t think anyone should be surprised if they have been around for a little bit, but the VZ-52 is one of my favorites. I don’t yet own one yet, but someday one will follow me home. The rifle hits all the check marks for me: semi-rare, handy, historically interesting, mechanically interesting, and attractive. Sure there are some flaws with the rifle, but I’m not idealizing it as something the military should go adopt tomorrow.

Czech VZ-52 cold war era semi auto rifle in 7.62x45mmMini-30 loaded with 5 round VZ-52 stripper clips

I even went so far as to modify my Mini-30 to be as functionally equivalent as possible. So, it’s probably no shock that I have been enamored by the InRange videos from the Red Oktober competition with Karl shooting his VZ-52. You can see the link to a playlist of the videos below. I will be updating them with the remaining videos as they are uploaded.

I will say that I’m a bit sad he’s not trying to use clips at all, but it does reinforce what we’re saying. Using stripper clips to reload is probably not something to do under a time limit (or getting shot at). The obvious caveat is when the loaded magazines run out, use what you need to.

 

Anyway, we hope you enjoy the videos as much as we did.

 

11/5/18 Update: The firing pin issues are an interesting discovery. I think their assessment of the design was quite right. The designers should not have cut so much meat out of the firing pin. I have the notion that modern materials and proper heat treatment would allow somebody to get away with that design. In the end, if you think that makes me want the rifle less, you are dead wrong!

11/6/18 Update: Ian’s attempts to load his VZ-58 with stripper clips demonstrates a little of why we don’t claim you should ditch all your magazines in favor of stripper clip loading. If you are under duress, change to a new loaded magazine. For the off chance you run out of magazines, practice loading with your clips.

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Defense Distributed and Fear Mongering

The infamous crime boss Carmine Falcone once said, “you always fear what you don’t understand.”

Most of the recent news stories seem to not understand either 3D printing or firearms. The news has been telling me Defense Distributed will release 3D files to the internet. This data will give you information for producing a firearm on your home 3D printer that will be undetected by metal detectors, will give you access to build assault rifles in the comfort of your own home, and will allow you to bypass background checks AND metal detectors. Criminals anywhere can just hit print and have an assault rifle in their hands.

Okay, let’s do some myth busting. If we all better understand the topics at hand, maybe we can all calm down a bit.

Myth 1: 3D printing has made it possible to manufacture firearms at home, or at least removed the cost barriers.

It hasn’t really changed anything legally speaking. It has always been legal to manufacture a firearm at home. Nothing can really practically prevent a felon from tinkering away in their garage and putting together a firearm. Zip guns are a very real thing and have been around for decades. Zip guns have a cost barrier of about $25.

3D printing is in fact a higher barrier than buying an 80% complete firearm and using jigs and hand tools to finish. 80% receivers for weapons like AR-15’s, AKM’s, Glock’s, and CETME’s can all be produced at home from readily available 80% receivers (and have been available for some time now). Nearly all of them cost less than a high quality 3D printer and use skills commonly taught in highschool shop classes. 3D printers are easy to use, but they are not quite the plug and play tools that the media portrays. Like any manufacturing process, some skill is involved.

Myth 2: Ghost Guns are as horrible as they sound.

The media flips between two definitions of “ghost guns” within the same conversation about 3D printed guns. The common (and real) definition of a ghost gun is a firearm without a serial number. Federal laws currently allow citizens to produce firearms without serial numbers, but prohibit the sale or distribution of them. Many people claim ghost guns are dangerous because the police can’t trace the origin of the firearm if used in a crime. In these claims, there is an implicit expectation that secret groups manufacturing firearms for sale without a license would be kind enough to serialize their illegal products. Can we really hold such silly expectations?

The second type of ghost gun is incorrectly called that by reporters that don’t know what a ghost gun is. There are a lot of movies that tell us about this type of ghost gun. This false definition is a plastic handgun could be printed entirely on a 3D printer and pass through a metal detector without setting it off. The news points out the liberator as that weapon. Except, there hasn’t been many people that actually try to put the thing through a metal detector, so the jury is really still out on this one. Maybe some reporters should go investigate this before they throw out claims. The single shot .380 still included a nail firing pin an ammunition to be useful, all of which are metal and may help set off a metal detector. Let’s be honest though, with the TSA failing to find 95% of weapons when they are put to the test, It might not matter if the guns are made of steel or not.

The Liberator pistol from Defense Distributed

Myth 3: Defense Distributed just gave a bunch of criminals technical data about firearms.

I even hear the following comments from well intending gun owners; “well, at least criminals didn’t have the technical data to produce firearms until Defense Distributed gave it all away.” This argument lacks knowledge of the subject. The data was available for download years ago, and has remained on the interned in several different CAD file repositories like Fosscad and Grabcad. If you wanted to dig deeper you could find the data at The Pirate Bay or Github. As long as we have a relatively free internet, the idea that ITAR can restrict the distribution of .3D files is ludicrous.

The other item failed to mention is that just having a blueprint or a .stl file does not ensure a successful or repeatable build. While they will likely have some instructions for things like the Liberator, the majority of their information is going to lack things like manufacturing tolerances necessary. 3D printers know that either repeated prints with tweaked model dimensions or extensive hand fitting are need to make functional parts. It’s rare that a print comes out perfectly the first time that model is tried. People will need advanced hand fitting or modeling skills to take advantage of what Defence Distributed provides.

I hope this helps the readers with tools they need to discuss this issue well and factually.

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Anachronisms

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?