Chinese Contract VZ 24

Czech Mauser Markings

VZ 24 Data

7.92mm Czech M24 (VZ-24) Mauser Rifle

by Liviu & Dora Plavcan

ZB-24 rifles in the National Military Museum in Bucharest

(picture from Victor Nitu's collection)

In 1918 the year when World War I ended, the new state of Czechoslovakia was created in the center of Europe. The Habsburg Empire had collapsed. In Moravia in central Czechoslovakia, the city of Brno was an important industrial center. Founded in the same very year 1918, Zbrojovka Brno company became soon one of the largest and modern small arms manufacturer in the world. An important center of weapon production, "Ceskoslovenska Zbrojovka" manufactured a large variety of quality weapons and the Model 1924 (VZ-24) short rifle was one of them.

Typical markings in two lines stamped on the left receiver rail of a Czech VZ-24 short rifle.

(photo taken by the authors)

A bolt-action rifle, the Czech VZ-24 is based on the Mauser 1898 action. The abbreviation "VZ" means "vzor", Czech for "model". For many years a world leader in weapons manufacture, Mauser achieved world-wide reputation by making great, strong bolt-action battle-rifles. Simplicity, strength, reliability and ease of manufacture are the keys of a good mechanism and the best example is the legendary Mauser 1898 action.

Top view of the VZ-24 action. The bolt is closed with the bolt handle down to the right into the locked position. Note the manual safety "on safe", all the way to the right (the rifle cannot be fired).

(photo taken by the authors)

A shortened Mauser rifle, the Czech VZ-24 was a result of experiences learned in the trenches of World War I. With an overall length of 43.3 inch (1,100 mm) and double sling swivels mounted on the middle barrel band and buttstock (underneath and left side), the VZ-24 short rifle was a venerable design, a world-class firearm well-suited for mounted and infantry troops, to military use in general. The weapon used a standard one-piece receiver with a straight bolt handle and proved to be an excellent rifle in combat. Easy to use and well balanced, the VZ-24 short rifle gave the best results when it was fired from the prone position.

A Czech vz/24 bayonet is mounted on the VZ-24 short rifle (right side). The front sight has a sight protector. Only the underbarrel bayonet bar is used to attach this bayonet, the muzzle ring was removed by the Germans during World War II.

(photo taken by the authors)

The front sight which is pyramidal (inverted V blade) may have a sight protector. The open V rear sight is graduated and adjustable from 300 to 2,000 meters (330-2,200 yds) in 100 meter increments. In spite of a lowest sight setting of 300 meters (330 yds) the weapon can be fired with very good results even at 100-200 meter range. The normal effective range in action was about 800 meters (880 yds). When a telescopic sight was fitted to the rifle, the sniper could hit targets located much farther.

The adjustable open V rear sight is calibrated from 300 to 2,000 meters (330 - 2,200 yds) in 100 meter increments. In action the normal effective range was about 800 meters (880 yds).

(photo taken by the authors)

The production of the VZ-24 short rifle started in 1924 or 1925 and lasted until 1942. During that period of time hundreds of thousands of rifles were made. Before World War II many VZ-24 short rifles were exported from Czechoslovakia to Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Estonia, Guatemala, Iran, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Salvador, Siam / Thailand, Turkey, Venezuela and Yugoslavia. Not all the Czech rifles made for export were chambered for the 7.92 x 57mm cartridge, some weapons had been manufactured to fire the 7 x 57mm or 7.65 x 53mm round (both known very well as Mauser cartridges). In Romania the 7.92mm VZ-24 short rifle has been known as the "ZB rifle". At Radom arsenal in Poland the Model "Wzor 29" was made, a copy of the VZ-24 short rifle. The Iranians also made at Mosalsalsasi weapons factory their own Mausers based on the same Czech design. At Kragujevac in Yugoslavia more rifles 7.92mm Model 24 were manufactured in addition to the VZ-24 short rifles imported from Czechoslovakia.

Czech bayonets for the VZ-24 short rifle.

(photo taken by the authors)

The Czech VZ-24 short rifle has a straight integral bolt handle but some rifles may have the bolt handles turned down (especially when the weapon is equipped with a scope and used as a sniper rifle). The bolt handle ends in a round grasping ball. The solid steel bolt has two opposed strong locking lugs at the front end and a third locking lug by the bolt handle, close to the rear end of the bolt. This third locking lug acts as an extra safety to protect the shooter in case the front locking lugs or receiver ring fail. The bolt head is completely enclosed inside of a collar machined into the receiver ring. The long extractor is attached to the bolt body by a collar. Made of spring-steel, the one-piece nonrotating extractor can prevent double feeds. There are two large oblong vent holes located in the front part of the bolt. In a case of pierced primer or broken cartridge case head, powder gases will escape through the vent holes. As a safety feature, at the front of the bolt sleeve there is an enlarged gas shield which can protect the shooter's face from hot gases. The bolt accepts inside from the rear the firing pin with the mainspring. If the firing pin breaks during bolt cycling there is a special safety which prevents the cartridge from the chamber to be fired.

VZ-24 action open (right side). The bolt is withdrawn all the way to the rear and the manual safety is in the vertical / intermediate position. Note a five-round clip above the receiver.

(photo taken by the authors)

The Czech VZ-24 short rifle has a simple three position wing- -type safety which can be rotated 180 degrees from left to right and vice versa. This manual safety is located on the rear of the bolt and it is built into bolt sleeve. When the safety is moved all the way to the right, the weapon is "on safe", the bolt and the striker (firing pin and cocking piece) are locked and the rifle cannot be fired. If the trigger is pulled the weapon will not fire. When the safety is moved all the way to the left, the weapon is "ready to fire" because the safety is disengaged. If the trigger is squeezed the rifle will fire. In the vertical / intermediate position of the manual safety, only the striker is locked back. The rifle cannot be fired but the bolt still works and it can be withdrawn. This is very useful and safe, the bolt can be operated when is necessary to unload the magazine by running the live cartridges through the chamber. The manual safety can be rotated in all these three positions only after the bolt was closed, not when the bolt is drawn back and the action is open.

Czech bayonets (right side) and their steel scabbards (from top to bottom): Two vz/24 models with the blade length of 299mm (11 3/4 inch), only the bayonet from top has the muzzle ring removed; a shorter vz/23 model with the blade length of 250mm (9.84 inch). Both models have fullered blades.

(photo taken by the authors)

To load and fire the VZ-24 short rifle is an operation which must be executed with care and only by adult, responsible trained people. Let's start with an empty magazine and no cartridge in the chamber. The manual safety must be all the way to the left or in the center position, to allow the bolt to be withdrawn. With the bolt retracted and the action open, a five-round clip has to be inserted into the charger guideway of the receiver bridge. Using the thumb to press down the rimless 7.92mm cartridges, all the five rounds will go easy into the magazine. Cartridges also can be loaded one by one into an empty (or partially empty) magazine. Closing the bolt and turning the bolt handle down to the right into the locked position, a cartridge is chambered. With the manual safety all the way to the left, the rifle is ready to fire. The weapon can be fired just by pulling the trigger which is a double-stage type pull. To reload, the bolt handle has to be rotated up and pulled all the way to the rear (the bolt travel is 114mm / 4.5 inch). This operation extracts the fired cartridge case from the chamber and ejects it. To fire a new cartridge the bolt has to be closed again. For each round the cycle must be repeated. A loaded rifle can be made "safe" simply by moving the manual safety all the way to the right. The action of the VZ-24 short rifle is opened and closed by cycling the bolt handle using only the right hand.

Close-up of a five-round clip inserted into the charger guideway of the receiver bridge. Note the 7.92mm cartridges with steel bottle-neck cases and pointed bullets.

(photo taken by the authors)

The Czech VZ-24 short rifle fires the potent military 7.92mm (7.92 x 57) round (also known as 8mm Mauser) which was the standard service cartridge of the German Army in both World War I and World War II. The rimless, bottle-neck cartridge case was made of brass or steel with the length of 57mm and the loaded cartridge measured overall 80 or 81mm. A pointed bullet was used and a large variety of high velocity 7.92mm cartridges were manufactured. The cartridge case markings (headstamp) usually include the year of manufacture, lot number and different symbols and alphabetic codes which may help to identify the manufacturer and the country of origin.

This is the "Czech State manufacture" mark ( CSZ ) stamped on the left ricasso blade of a Czech vz/24 bayonet. The meaning of the letter S (see under the CSZ mark) is unknown.

(photo taken by the authors)

Fieldstripping of the VZ-24 short rifle can be done very easy. Always make sure that the magazine, feedway and chamber are free of any cartridges before to start the field stripping operation. In order to remove the bolt from the receiver, first the manual safety must be turn into the center/vertical position. There is a second operation to be done before removing the bolt from the receiver. The bolt stop which is located on the left side of the receiver must be moved and kept toward the outside, to clear the groove in the receiver while the bolt is withdrawn and removed straight to the rear from the receiver. No special tool has to be used to dismount and assemble back the VZ-24 bolt. A dished recoil crossbolt head from the left side of the wooden stock may help in bolt disassembly. The following pieces will result after the bolt is disassembled: bolt body, cocking piece, safety catch, bolt sleeve, firing pin with spring (mainspring), extractor and bolt sleeve stop with spring. Using a 7.92mm bullet tip the magazine floorplate can be depressed and removed toward the rear (trigger guard). The follower and its spring with the magazine floorplate will come out very easy. Machined from solid steel, the magazine follower has a rib on its upper left side in order to arrange the rimless 7.92mm cartridges into a staggered column in the magazine. The trigger guard and magazine box are made from a single piece of steel. Also made of steel, a cleaning rod which measures 378mm (14.875 inch) is attached below the barrel under the bayonet bar and it can be easily removed.

This is the Military acceptance mark for the Czechoslovakian Army stamped on the right ricasso blade of a Czech vz/24 bayonet. The mark is represented by the inspector's office stamp (E), the lion of Bohemia and the year of acceptance (1926) into Czech military service.

(photo taken by the authors)

Standard knife service bayonets were issued for the VZ-24 short rifles. The short bayonet (vz/23) had a 250mm (9.84 inch) blade length and the better known longer bayonet (vz/24) had a 299mm (11.75 inch) blade length. Both models had blued steel scabbards and had the cutting edge on the reverse side of the fullered blade, not along the bottom. When installed on the rifle the cutting edge of these bayonets was on top. These two Czech bayonets ( vz/23 and vz/24 ) had the steel pommel brazed to the tang which had been made with a cleaning rod channel. The wooden grips with cleaning hole were secured to the tang by two screw bolts and nuts. These bayonets had no flashguards. The strong pommel which was shaped as a bird's head and contained the locking mechanism and the muzzle ring, attached the knife bayonet to the rifle. Some bayonets had no muzzle ring and could be stamped with German markings if they had been made under the German occupation. In 1939 the Brno factory was seized by the Germans. During World War II the Germans used the Czech VZ-24 short rifles under the title "Gew. 24 (t)". Most of the Czech bayonets for the VZ-24 short rifles which were taken and issued to the Wehrmacht during World War II had the muzzle ring removed by the Germans who believed the underbarrel bayonet bar could give sufficient support to the bayonet when it was mounted on a rifle. The VZ-24 bayonets made and used by Czechoslovakia had the ricasso blade stamped with the initials CSZ for "Czech State manufacture". The military acceptance mark for the Czechoslovakian Army could also be seen on the ricasso blade. This mark is represented by an inspector's office stamp together with the Bohemian lion (which was the national symbol of Czechoslovakia) and the year of acceptance into Czech military service. Other marks and serial numbers could be stamped on the crosspiece, tang or pommel. Many times the serial number of the rifle the bayonet was issued or even the military unit mark could be stamped on the pommel. It is interesting to know that the Czech VZ-24 short rifles could also accept the standard German service bayonets S.84/98 and other models, even the dress 10 inch blade bayonets.

Characteristic data:

DISCLAIMER: The authors accept no responsibility for any damages or injuries that may occur as a result of using any information from this article.

Bibliography: "Bolt Action Rifles" by Frank de Haas (expanded 3rd edition)

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@ Victor NITU 2001-2002