Reviewed By: Ryan S on 06/17/2014
Rating: [3 of 5 Stars!]
Went to pick up at FFL and when he lifted the box cover, I was greatly surprised to have the complete cleaning kit, 1 mag with gun, 4 extra mags in pigskin pouch (pouch was moldy but I like that authenticity touch and the pigskin still has that OLD leather smell), a virtually perfect bayonet with the smooth surface leather scabbard circa 1969 (the numbers on the bayonet were EARLY production and it's a 9.5 out of 10 bayonet; the scabbard showed signs of a bored soldier with bayonet pokes on the tip, "Civil Zima 2004 69" " was inked on the inside belt hoop (believe it's 04/20/69"). There was even oil in the canister tool too. The magazines were ALL in excellent condition. 2 of them had wear from the pigskin pouch cover, (as evident on the skin), but the other 3 had no such wear. But even with the small wearing on the bottom corners of the 2 mags, they still look new elsewhere. All 5 look great, and 3 of 5 have really stiff springs, whereas the other 2 seem a little more broken in. Also received a near perfect rifle sling, with minimal wear and very light leather with green strap. As far as the extras go, I hit pay dirt. So right off the bat there was easily $120 worth of historical extras I didn't think I was going to be getting.
The Good, Bad, and Ugly
The gun itself looked OK for the most part. No real scratches or visible defects with exception being the front sight hoop. It has a noticeable "bump", as if it were struck on something. But this appears to be pre-paint damage as there is no scuffing of the surface, so minus 1 star from Century for ignoring a visible defect.
The rear sight is sorta cheap. After oiling the button, I was able to adjust elevation easily, BUT the side to side tolerances aren't great, meaning it's possible it might be a little askew if hastily adjusted, leading to accuracy inconsistencies.
The bolt cycles, but hangs slightly midway if cycled slowly (no ammo being cycled). Dunno if that's normal or not, but it's there. It might need oiled on the rails or inspected further for surface roughness.
None of the "buttons" were oiled. So, I had to oil the folding stock, upper hand guard, rear cover, and bayonet "buttons" to make everything either work or move as they were near frozen, but NO rust thankfully.
After the top hand guard was removed and the block and rear cover were out, I pulled the gas piston and removed it's spring. Then reinserted the piston without the spring and manually worked it while rotating the piston. I discovered that it was "catching" in one position rather badly. So, if it were a clock, it'd always catch in the 10 o'clock spot. Took a gunsmith stone to it and worked the outer surface coating off (not chrome, so I doubt it's surplus) by putting the spring end into a hand drill and uniformly spinning the outer surface off the piston ends as I was thinking the rod was bent. It still "hung" in the same spot, but after working back and forth, it scuffed the polished surface from the stone and I could clearly see high spots (both piston landings) and a TINY imperfection indent in the second, thinner landing. The final ring guide surface that's seated near the spring, was also rubbing and causing friction. I was able to essentially "lathe" a few thousandths off everything to correct this, but this serious defect shouldn't be in a production gun. I'll eventually get a chrome plated "real" VZ58 counterpart for $30, but for now it at least works and I shouldn't have to worry about failed casing ejections or worse broken piston rod. So that's definitely a star removal. I also leveled the mating surface of the piston top to make sure it seated correctly. I suggest a gunsmith inspection and fix as opposed to DIY. Or just save the hassle and get a chechpoint part (assuming they'll fit).
All 5 of the magazines wobble a bit, but with NO wear on the mags I'm not suspecting mag faults. Seems the receiver was machined a bit on the "loose" side for some reason. Either live with it or shim.
If manually working the bolt slowly, gotta watch you don't scrape fingers against rear sight as the nub is rather short. Looks like a competent welder could move the nub to the opposite side or lengthen slightly.
Overall though, I like the gun, and figure I paid in the high $300 range for a very light, 30 round 7.62x39 rifle (with folding stock no less and non-welded muzzle break) with a $120 worth of extras that'll make a good plinking rifle for a fraction of the "real" thing, that I can customize and still have less in it than outright price of an import. It's set up for a lefty, which makes dropping the mag or selecting safety lever left-handed easy. It's also a cheap platform that readily accepts aftermarket rails, grips, lights, sights, ACOG, etc. Aftermarket sights are probably a good idea for best accuracy.
** I strongly suggest inspecting this gun thoroughly BEFORE going to the range with it. Any peculiarities (like the badly cast piston in mine) need to be squared away before shooting. There was virtually NO oil on anything, so find out what needs oiled too. Another oddity was there was NO literature with the gun. No warnings, no advice, no handling instructions, NOTHING. Other than what's stamped on the receiver, that's the only thing "written" anywhere. So please, buy with some caution and don't be the "I opened the box and went straight to the range with it without oiling or inspecting guy".
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