The vz. 52 rifle (often incorrectly called the "CZ 52") is a self-loading rifle developed shortly after the Second World War in Czechoslovakia. Its full name is 7,62mm Samonabíjecí puška vzor 52. Vz. 52 is an abbreviation for vzor 52, meaning "model 52". It fires the unique 7.62x45mm vz. 52 cartridge. . It is considered both reliable and accurate, although it is longer and heavier than later assault rifles such as the vz. 58. The first 5000 vz. 52 rifles were made by Povážské strojárne Povážská Bystrica, but due to production difficulties, its manufacture was taken over by Česká Zbrojovka Uherský Brod.
The vz. 52 is a shoulder-fired semi-automatic rifle with a tilting-bolt locking mechanism powered by an annular short-stroke gas piston system. The bolt is locked by two lugs that recess into slots machined into the receiver. However, unlike most vertically-locking breech mechanism, the rifle's bolt has the unusual feature of tipping the bolt frontally to lock the mechanism, whereas other tipping bolt designs tip the bolt to the rear. The piston is actuated by residual gases from the bore, vented into a sleeve surrounding the barrel to overcome the inertia of the bolt carrier, bolt and the resistance of the return spring in order to unlock the chamber, eject the empty cartridge casing and then introduce a new round into the chamber upon return to battery.
The barrel is press-fit and pinned into the receiver. The manual safety switch is placed inside of the trigger guard and is manipulated by the shooter's index finger. The trigger mechanism closely resembles that used in the American M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle. The cocking handle is integrated into the bolt carrier and is located on the right side of the rifle; this arrangement enables the shooter to reload the rifle without disturbing his aim.
The rifle is equipped with open-type iron sights with a hooded front post and V-notch rear sight placed on a sliding tangent, adjustable for elevation between 100–950 m. The rifle can also accept day and night-time optics that interface with an optional, receiver-mounted side rail. The one-piece pistol grip stock is carved from either walnut or beech and stained a yellowish-brown color; the stock has a hollowed butt which is used as a storage compartment for a cleaning rod, oil bottle and accessories. The rifle has an integral blade bayonet which folds into a recess carved into the stock on the right side.
The vz. 52 feeds from a detachable box magazine with a 10-round cartridge capacity but could also be rapidly recharged from stripper clips with the bolt retracted. For this purpose, a stripper clip guide is milled into the receiver top behind the ejection port. This is the primary method of reloading the rifle as infantrymen were only issued 2 magazines per rifle. It ejects cartridge cases upward and to the front.
After pressure from the Soviet Union to adopt its 7.62x39mm M43 cartridge, existing Czech rifles were rechambered to the Soviet caliber, and all further production of the rifle was chambered in this caliber and re-designated the vz. 52/57. The vz. 52/57 is identical except for its barrel and its magazines. It is considered less reliable and accurate than the original vz. 52 rifle, on the other hand the vz. 52/57 has chromium-plated bore and chamber. The vz. 52 magazines can be used with the vz. 52/57, but they do not feed reliably