Firearm & Gear Reviews

Firearm Review: Century Arms VZ2008 Sporter

It’s been a while since I have done a firearm review so without further ado, let me introduce you to the VZ2008 Sporter.

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game

Sympathy For The Devil, The Rolling Stones 1968

Apt lines for a rifle that many mistake for an AK-47 or a Kalashnikov style firearm. Truth is though, the VZ2008 and the VZ. 58 that it is modeled after, are very different than the AK-47 in function and design with no internal interchangeable parts. Their common denominator is the 7.62 x 39mm cartridge. That’s it. Even the magazines don’t fit. Which to me is probably the biggest weakness of the platform.

To understand the VZ2008 you need to know a little about the VZ. 58. For all intents and purposes the VZ2008 is a clone of the Czechoslovakian VZ. 58 battle rifle that went into service in, you guessed it, 1958! Having an already capable arms manufacturing industry, Czechoslovakia decided that instead of adopting the AK-47 they would instead produce their own rifle. They did however insure that the rifle used the same cartridge as the other Warsaw Pact countries. Over the course of around twenty five years Czechoslovakia produced nearly a million of these rifles. The VZ. 58 has been until just recently the primary battle weapon of the armed forced of Slovakia. And although it now has a successor, it is a testament to the firearms reliability and effectiveness that it hasn’t been replaced sooner. The VZ. 58 is still imported into the USA through a company called Czechpoint. The VZ2008 is manufactured and distributed by Century Arms using Czech parts kits and American made receivers and barrels. I have had my eye on the VZ2008 for some time now. vz-packageFor a long while there was a great deal going around for the rifle, 5 magazines and a surplus pouch to hold them, a cleaning kit and a bayonet. All for about $600. An unbeatable deal. Why didn’t I pick one up? I just couldn’t stand the look of the grip and hand guard, what is commonly referred to as beaver barf in color. Had I any idea how enjoyable it was to shoot this rifle then I would have grabbed one up in this configuration especially at this price in a heart beat. It’s an outstanding value. Instead I waited for the release of a model that I found more aesthetically palatable. Enter the Sporter configuration. Below are the rifle’s specs taken directly from the owner’s manual:

vz2008

VZ2008 Sporter in stock configuration.

Century VZ2008 Sporter Rifle Specifications:
Caliber: 7.62x39MM;
Type of Firearm: Semi-Automatic Rifle;
Effective Range: 2,624 feet;
Approximate Muzzle Velocity: 2,312 fps;
Practical Rate-of-Fire: 40 shots per minute;
Length with Stock Extended: 35 1/2 inches;
Height without Magazine: 6 1/4 inches;
Length with Stock Folded: 27 inches;
Barrel Length: 16 1/4 inches;
Weight with Empty Magazine: 7 lbs;
Trigger Pull: 5.7 lbs;
Magazine Capacity: 30 Rounds (may be lower in some areas due to local laws);
Rear Sight: Adjustable;
Front Sight: Post.

Another aspect of the rifle that always made my wary was the folding wire stock. And the moment I decided to finally buy one I went about figuring our how to replace the stock with something more “comfortable”. Even before I actually bought and had an opportunity to shoot the VZ2008 I had plans to buy an adapter for the receiver, a new hinge mechanism and a more robust stock. My concern was entirely unfounded. The wire stock is remarkably comfortable to shoot. So much so that I have considered buying another to keep specifically in stock configuration. I really like this rifle. Let me break down the pros & cons:

Pros:

  • The 7.62x39MM cartridge: a powerful, plentiful and cheap round. You could hunt deer with this rifle/round in a pinch.
  • Fun to shoot: aren’t they all though. The VZ2008 is one of those firearms that begs to have the trigger pulled quickly. You just can’t help it. It is easily the most fun and comfortable battle rifle I own.
  • It’s light: lighter than your average AR-15 for sure. Likely due to it’s very simple design and folding stock. It doesn’t feel imbalanced in anyway and certainly doesn’t exhibit any extra recoil as a result. In general I feel like it has less overall recoil than my AR’s.
  • Price: for less than $700 dollars it’s hard to beat. I can’t think of anything comparable in price with the same capabilities. The AR-15 comes closest of course but is fundamentally a very different kind of rifle. I can’t speak to the reliability of this weapon but others have reported outstanding reliability. I would feel more confident in this rifle than many (most) off the shelf AR-15’s at the same price point.

Cons:

  • Little room for accessories: the Sporter version I own allows for a “scout scope” configuration but the traditional wood stock version doesn’t even allow that. This rifle was designed to be used with iron sights. This rifle simply wasn’t designed for a ton of aftermarket accessories such as scopes, lights, lasers, or even multiple sling attachments.
  • Limited aftermarket accessories: as much as it might look like an AK, it’s not. As such the aftermarket support is quite limited.
  • It can get warm: this is primarily a problem with the wood furniture version I believe. The Sporter version seems to deal with the heat better. The foregrip I have installed on mine likely helps as well.
  • The magazines are not compatible with the AK-47: and vice-versa unfortunately. Not a lot of manufacturers make them and they are relatively expensive when compared to magazines for other battle rifles. I had to go out of state to get mine, for both logistical and legal reasons. This in my mind is the biggest weakness of the platform and largely the only one worth mentioning frankly.
  • Not lefty friendly: that reciprocating charging handle can’t be moved to the other side. The good news is that the shells do eject very consistently and not in the direction of the shooter’s face so it can be done.

I highly recommend the VZ2008. It’s one of those firearms that I think should be a part of any gun enthusiasts collection. It has history, is fun and inexpensive to shoot, and is a quality firearm for far less money than a more modern battle rifle. I checked GunBroker at the time of completing this article and only found a handful of them available. All with the wood furniture and at varying prices largely above $700.00. I was a little surprised to be honest. I have looked on several previous occasions, although not recently, and have seen dozens of offerings. I’m not sure what the future holds for this quasi-surplus rifle but I would pick one up sooner than later if it interest you.

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