Ceska Zbrojovka vz. 24 Bolt-Action Service Rifle
The Czech vz. 24 bolt-action rifle proved an excellent service rifle, as showcased by its heavy participation in the wars of the 20th Century.
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The Czech city of Brno has long served as a hub for quality small arms design, development and production. In concert with other world powers of the day, the Czechs developed their next service rifle on the excellent qualities of the German Mauser series, in particular, the Gewehr 98 of 1898. The Gewehr 98 gave good service throughout World War 1 and formed the basis of many other excellent copies and derivatives such as the American M1903 Springfield. Beginning in the early 1920s, Czech engineers undertook a program to produce a new Mauser-based rifle - though of complete Czech origin. The system would be chambered for the 7.92x57mm cartridge and fire conventionally from a 5-round integral magazine through a manually-actuated bolt-action system. Production naturally emanated from Brno to continue the long-standing tradition.
A key consideration of post-World War 1
service rifles was shortening the overall length of "long guns". Original turn-of-the-century rifles retained long barrels and accompanying forends for increased accuracy at range and many armies still fought on the battlefield with a certain dependency on the bayonet, this being attached to the already-lengthy guns for an even greater extended reach. However, a shift in thinking soon produced the same viable accuracy results through a slightly shorter overall length - designs such as the British SMLE was one such excellent example of this movement and the American Springfield M1903 also followed suit. The end-result allowed for the same expected penetrative power at range though within a more compact service weapon.
As such, Czech engineers went about generating their new design based on this approach. The resulting product therefore became the "vz. 24" of 1924 - overall a highly conventional service rifle with excellent construction practices making for a reliable and robust weapon. The rifle utilized a long, single-piece walnut stock that integrated both the pistol grip and buttstock. The forend was grooved along its sides for a firm grip from the supporting hand. The forend was banded for reinforcement while the barrel protruded a short distance ahead, capped by a forward iron sight. The rear sight was situated ahead of the primary receiver area and flipped up when required. A bayonet fitting was retained under the barrel in the traditional way. The metal internal working components were housed in the rear section of the receiver and were of good, strong quality. The trigger was set under the body of the gun and protected by a thin oblong ring. Sling loops were affixed under the shoulder stock and under the barrel band. The bolt handle was situated to the right side of the gun body, favoring right-handed shooters to a good degree - the handle designed with the expected knob at its end for a firm grip. The action cleared any casings in the chamber while introducing a live cartridge as fed through the 5-round integral magazine buried within the body of the weapon. A trained shooter could provide himself with a steady rate-of-fire so long as his ammunition supply was capable.
Production of vz. 24 series rifles stemmed from Brno and then, later, through Povazska Bystrica of modern-day Slovakia. For the latter, production spanned from 1938 into 1942 and even then these later examples were solely for use by the occupying German forces of World War 2 (1939-1945). The Germans found it efficient practice to reconstitute foreign production lines and weapon stocks for their own uses - primarily in support of local security forces, helping to free up standardized primary arms for other the major war fronts always seemingly always in short supply of quality arms. Additionally, the great similarity between the Czech vz. 24 and the German standard-issue Kar 98K only worked in the German's favor concerning training, general operation, maintenance and production of the Czech rifle for their own uses. German vz. 24 rifles were designated as G24(t) to indicate their foreign origination in German nomenclature. The weapon also ended up in the hands of Axis-aligned Romanian troops during their turn in the war.
As completed vz. 24 weighed in handily at just over 9lbs and sported a running length of 43 inches. The barrel assembly measured in at 23 inches long. Alongside the primary 7.92x57mm Mauser cartridge, the vz. 24 was ultimately produced in other chamberings to suit customer requirements. Beyond Czech, German and Romanian forces, the vz. 24 was adopted by militaries and guerilla groups around the world, proving quite popular in several bloody affairs across South America. It found homes in national armies covering Asia and Europe. Consequently, the weapon was featured in a long list of conflicts that included the Chaco War, the Ecuadorian-Peruvian War, the Spanish Civil War, the 2nd Sino-Japanese War and, of course, World War 2 - not to mention the various localized post-World War 2 engagements springing up with consistency in the decades following.
The vz. 24 (now in its slightly-altered German
form as the G24(t)), was still in production after the removal of the German presence by the conquering Soviets in the years following World War 2. These post-war versions were designated as "vz. 98N" and borrowed more elements of the German Kar 98K than the original vz. 24 design of the 1920s. Operational Czech service of such rifles ended in 1952 while many went on to see service in other Soviet-aligned nations and satellite states.
Owing to their excellent pedigree and construction, it is not unheard of for the vz. 24 family of weapons to still rear its head in modern-day conflicts in far-off places of the world.