By: Michael Sabbeth
I prefer bolt action rifles. The slower rate of fire forces me to focus on each shot more intensely. I don’t disparage other platforms—I own several—but the bolt action has a unique appeal. This preference is most applicable to .22 rimfire rifles.
With great enthusiasm I received from Jason Morton, Vice President of Marketing, CZ-USA, a 457 MTR (Match Target Rifle) and, months later, due to low inventory, a 457 Premium. I was enthused because I had visited the factory, Česká Zbrojovka Uherský Brod (CZUB), in the fall of 2018.
I had seen the stocks of these rifles shaped, watched the quality control machines cycle the bolts, and learned of the significant improvements of the 457 series from Eva Strakosova, senior product manager. I knew rifles were superior.
The 457 series, introduced in 2019, improves upon its predecessors, the 452, introduced in 1954, and the 455, introduced in 2010. According to my research and correspondence with Jaroslav Malina, lead designer of the 457 series at CZUB, numerous improvements were made. The stamped bottom metal of the 455 is replaced with a two-piece metal interlocking system. The same magazine as the 455 is used because, according to Eva, it is the most reliable rimfire rifle magazine.
Although many of the barrels of the 455 were used, an enhanced treatment of their surface was applied. A new bedding system was designed. The more challenging design changes were moving the safety from the bolt to the rear of the action and designing a lighter firing pin. The lighter firing pin will hold true for tens of thousands rounds. Test rifles endure fifty-thousand- round accuracy tests. In addition to the location of the safety, most noticeable is the new 60-degree bolt lift, which enlarges the space between the up raised bolt and the ocular extension on a scope. The trigger guard and bolt handle are now made of steel. As with the 455, the trigger is adjustable and stocks and barrels of different rimfire calibers can be interchanged.
The 457 MTR
The MTR has a match chamber. The MTR design uses the minimum allowable dimensions inside the chamber, a design condition referred to as “CIP,” which is the European Authority that controls the standards and specifications for the firearms and ammunition industries, much the same as SAAMI in the U.S. The shorter headspace pushes the bullet to touch the rifling when the action is closed. Thus, the bullet consistently retains its shape and direction as it enters the barrel’s bore. At least one author of a review of the MTR stated he fired five-shot groups as small as 0.26 inches at fifty yards. Using a Leupold VX-6HD 3-18 with Talley rings, my best group on my test shooting day was just under 0.50 inches. I acknowledge marksmen better than I exist. CZ guarantees 1 MOA.
At least one author of a review of the MTR stated he fired five-shot groups as small as 0.26 inches at fifty yards. Using a Leupold VX-6HD 3-18 with Talley rings, my best group on my test shooting day was just under 0.50 inches. I acknowledge marksmen better than I exist. CZ guarantees 1 MOA.
The lovely Turkish walnut stock has a massive palm swell, perfectly laser stippled, and a large flat forend with dual studs for attaching a sling or bipod. The Rate Of Twist is 1:16 inch; the detachable magazine holds five cartridges. The MSRP is $785.00. More detailed data for the MTR and the Premium is available at WWW.CZ-USA.COM
The 457 Premium
Other than one custom .22 rifle built by Peter Hofer in Ferlach, Austria, which cost as much as a Bentley, stated forthrightly, the Premium is the most elegant rimfire rifle I have held and/or shot.
Its Turkish walnut stock has an aesthetically shaped Schnabel forend tip and features a “hog-back” stock with a mild Monte Carlo stock and cheekpiece. The Premium’s stunning beauty captivated nearby shooters. In a word, the Premium is gorgeous! The 24.8-inch barrel wears an adjustable tangent rear sight and a fiber optic front sight. Notably, the muzzle is threaded to a European standard. The rifle weighs 6.39 pounds. The MSRP is $799.00.
I first shot the MTR on a Youth Hunt in Linden, Texas. To their great joy and astonishment, youngsters who had never fired a rifle were easily capable of hitting targets at 100 yards. Most of my testing of these rifles was during one day at the Colorado Clays Shooting Park, east of Denver, Colorado. My access to an array of .22 Long Rifle ammunition was limited. Both rifles operated flawlessly. With iron sights, the Premium grouped consistently within one inch at fifty yards. The scope-topped MTR consistently produced 0.5-inch groups.
When fired, both rifles were solid and without vibration. The triggers were crisp and consistent. I did not adjust them, because their weight and travel were perfect. The rifles fed smoothly and effortlessly. Consistent with CZ’s pursuit of excellence, on each rifle the wood-to-metal fit is outstanding. The stock finish is smooth with no unfilled pores. The walnut is high grade.
These rifles have an allure that will cause the shooter to want to fire a million rounds! When Eva wrote that these are the finest .22 rifles yet produced by CZ, my experience and intuition compel me to agree.
For more information, please visit WWW.CZ-USA.COM.
Michael Sabbeth is the author of the new book, The Honorable Hunter: How To Honorably & Persuasively Defend & Promote Hunting. Please see: https://thehonorablehunter.com/index.php/books