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Testfire: CZ’s new 457 MTR and Royal

By Simon Gillice

CZ’s 455 rimfire has been a popular choice for years now and as good a rifle as it is, there have always been a few improvements recommended for them. Well, CZ has listened and the result is the new 457.

 

I’d been watching the launch of the CZ 457 in the USA and its use in the NRL22 competition. When I heard that Kilwell Sports had a couple in NZ I took the opportunity to “borrow” one for a review.

 

Kilwell were awesome and sent me a CZ 457 Match Target Rifle (MTR) in .22LR and also a CZ 457 Royal in .17HMR! They also provided a couple of Meopta MeoPro scopes along with some excellent CZ rings.

 

CZ 457 GENERAL FEATURES

The CZ 457 has a slick little action with a bunch of cool features. The rifle keeps the switch barrel/calibre ability of the previous CZ 455 model and is currently offered in three calibres; .22LR, .22WMR, and 17HMR.

 

This means the action, trigger, and stocks are the same for all calibres. The barrel configuration has been retained from the previous model which means barrels from the 455 will also fit the 457.

 

The action is a typical rimfire in that it uses the bolt as a single locking lug. The 60° bolt lift ensures the bolt handle clears a scope easily, similar to most of CZ’s centrefire rifles. The handle is one of the very few things I would look to upgrade however - I personally like a larger bolt handle to grab than the one the rifle comes with.

 

The action itself is solid and is bedded into the stock using metal pillars, ensuring a consistent fit. The bottom of the action is rounded and provides a large bedding area. To ensure that recoil is transferred to the stock consistently, the bedding is also aided by a recoil lug towards the rear of the action.

 

“I’d been watching the launch of the CZ 457 in the USA and its use in the NRL22 competition. When I heard that Kilwell Sports had a couple in NZ I took the opportunity to “borrow” one for a review.”

 

The “push to fire” safety is a definite advantage over the the previous CZ 455. It also allows the bolt to be opened and pulled back with the safety still on. The CZ 457 also has a bolt release button on the side of the receiver like many centrefire rifles - this is a vast improvement over many rimfires which require the trigger to be pulled all the way back to remove the bolt.

 

The CZ 457 also has an improved trigger that is user-adjustable for both weight and travel. I found the triggers on both the MTR and the Royal to be surprisingly good for a rimfire rifle. With a small adjustment the MTR’s trigger was superb, easily rivaling the best I’ve found on any rifle.

 

The magazines feed beautifully and the action provides super positive extraction with its fixed extractor. Both rifles reliably fed all the ammunition I put through them. I put both rifles through some speed shooting and I never had a jam or miss-feed from either the .22LR or the .17HMR.

 

The magazine setup for the CZ 457 is exactly the same system CZ (and Brno before them) has been using for a long time - this means that magazines from the old CZs will fit and feed fine from the new CZ 457. Both five and ten shot magazines are available. You can chose the cheaper plastic magazines or the more expensive steel magazines.

 

CZ 457 MTR IN .22LR

A few features of the MTR really stand out over the standard 457 – the stock, the barrel, and the chamber. The MTR is supplied with a 16” hammer forged, heavy barrel factory threaded for a suppressor.

 

The MTR also has a match chamber set to the minimum chamber dimensions - this does mean that some standard and/or hunting ammunition may not feed or extract as well.

 

The internals of the MTR revealed... both five and ten shot mags are available.

 

However, the MTR is guaranteed to produce 15mm groups at 50 metres - with good quality target .22LR ammunition and good shooting conditions I had no trouble achieving and exceeding these accuracy claims.

 

Although I mostly used Lapua Polar Biathlon ammo in the MTR I did try some RWS R50 ammunition - it shot awesome with groups coming in under 0.5” at 50m.

 

The stock on the MTR ensures this rifle stands out in a crowd! Some very smart thinking has gone into the design. The vertical grip with its palm swell allows for the firing hand to be comfortable while positioning the trigger finger perpendicular to the trigger - this helps to ensure a consistent pull.

 

Stock inletting is of a high standard and contributes to the rifles’ accuracy.

  

The fore-end is swelled out to allow the rifle to be stable off a sand bag, but also comfortable to hold and use supported with a sling. The fore-end is also long - this additional length means the rifle balances very well, allows a bipod to be mounted further forward, and suits people with longer arms much better.

 

The MTR is heavy for a .22LR though - it comes in at 3.9kg or well over 8.5lbs! This weight is great in a target rifle as it aids stability in both positional shooting and supported shooting. Overall I found the stock very comfortable and the extra weight made it stable to hold.

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Meopta MeoPro 6-18x50mm scope: Kilwell Sports supplied a Meopta MeoPro 6-18x50mm to go with the MTR. This scope has 0.25 MOA adjustments and has a standard plex reticle. Longer range practical .22LR competition can be a hard test on scopes because the random distance of targets out to 200m requires a lot of dialing.

 

The MeoPro’s click adjustments are positive, accurate and completely repeatable, and the optics were awesome. the parallax adjustment worked flawlessly, and the scope held zero for all the time I trialled the rifle.

 

Sighted in at 50 metres the MeoPro 6-18x50mm had more than enough internal adjustment to get the rifle shooting all the way out to 200m (roughly 30MOA minimum required).

 

The MTR came fitted with a Meopta MeoPro 6-18x50mm scope. In terms of accuracy and repeatability it did an excellent job and the optics were great. The parallax adjustment also worked flawlessly.

 

I do note though that the MeoPro only has 40MOA of internal adjustment in total. When Malcolm from Gillice Gunsmithing mounted the MeoPro on the MTR he shimmed the rear scope mount to ensure the 50m zero was less than one turret revolution from the bottom of the internal travel.

 

Adjusting the rear scope mount to do this has a couple of advantages - it means to get back to the 50m zero you can dial the scope all the way to the bottom of its adjustment and them simply come up to the zero, it also means you get the absolute most out of the scope’s internal adjustment range above your zero.

 

50m groups with the Lapua and RWS ammunition.

 

Suppressor: For the trial a GBC R-MAX suppressor was fitted to the MTR. This is a reasonably new, light weight, modular rimfire suppressor and overall it worked exactly as you would expect. The fit and finish were excellent and it quietened the subsonic .22LR very well.

 

All the accuracy testing on the MTR was done with the suppressor attached. Incidentally, these are manufactured through Gun Supplies Ltd in Rotorua and distributed by the NZ Ammunition Company.

 

MTR PRACTICAL USE

I’ve been competing and running practical .22LR matches for a few years now and the CZ 457 MTR looked like it would be ideal for this style of competition. What better chance to test it out!

 

In the days before I picked it up Malcolm had fitted the MeoPro 6-18x50, slightly lightened the factory adjustable trigger, and sighted the rifle in for 50m using Lapua Polar Biathlon ammunition. The first time I shot the rifle was when I ran it through the Open Class course for the Tokoroa Practical .22LR match the day before the event.

 

The MTR regularly achieved accuracy like this at 50 metres.

 

To say I was impressed is a considerable understatement - it was awesome! The Open Class course of fire has a mix of positional, precision, speed, and long range shooting, and had I shot the same score during the actual competition I would have won the Open Class.

 

The speed shooting requires a comfortable stock that fits the competitor well and an action that feeds reliably. The positional shooting requires a stock that fits the competitor and a good trigger - a fast lock time is also an advantage.

 

The precision shooting requires excellent rifle accuracy. The long range shooting requires a reliable scope, quality ammunition, and a consistent shooter who knows how to read the wind. The CZ 457 MTR ticks all the boxes except being able to help me pick the wind better!

 

Targets that shrink in size progressively pose a real challenge for the .22LR competition shooter.

 

One stage in particular showed the quality of this set up. The competitor had to alternate hits on a close (35m) set of progressively smaller targets (50mm down to 10mm) and a longer set (160m) of also progressively smaller targets (250mm down to 30mm).

 

This stage required reasonably quick, accurate, and precise shooting and also the need to repeatedly dial between -2MOA and +18MOA on the scope. The CZ 457 combination (Lapua ammunition and Meopta scope) handled all the reticle adjustments accurately and precisely.

 

CZ 457 MTR IN .22LR SUMMARY

The MTR will not be for everyone - the stock and the match chamber are really suited to a competition or sport shooter and this is the market the MTR is aimed at. But in that market the MTR is great - I struggled to give it back to Kilwell Sports it was that good.

 

CZ has created a very good target .22LR that is priced competitively. There is also a budding market for aftermarket accessories for the CZ 457 including stocks, scope rails, etc.

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CZ 457 ROYAL IN .17HMR

The CZ 457 Royal is a reasonably standard CZ 457 that comes with a very nice stock and a standard weight barrel either 16” or 20” long. The barrels come factory threaded for suppressors. As indicated the action, trigger and magazine system are standard. The weight is a little over 6lb - not a really light weight rimfire rifle but again the weight is an advantage for offhand shooting.

 

The stock was the stand-out feature for me. It has a high, straight comb and is European styled with its higher grade walnut and decorative rosewood fore-end. I found the stock particularly comfortable and the walnut with the oil finish was silky smooth.

 

Simon enjoyed his hunt with the Royal. He particularly admired its excellent walnut stock.

 

The slim fore-end is longer than normal and I found this an advantage either for shooting standing or for positional shooting (sitting, kneeling etc). The longer fore-end looks a little odd with the 16” barrel version but a suppressor would easily solve this. This is a seriously premium stock and overall a very nice rifle.

 

Accuracy on the Royal was definitely better with the 17gr .17HMR ammo compared to the 20gr ammo. The Royal particularly liked the Hornady 17gr V-Max with groups hovering around the 1” mark at 100m.

 

The .17HMR Royal produced 100 metre groups like these with Hornady’s 17 grain V-Max ammo.

 

Meopta MeoPro 3.5-10x44 RD scope: Malcolm mounted the Meopta MeoPro 3.5-10x44 RD on the .17HMR Royal. This scope also has 0.25MOA adjustments and had Meopta’s BDC-2 reticle. The BDC-2 is set up for centrefire cartridges of course but still allowed good holdover points for the .17HMR - it just took a little while to work out what ranges the reticle worked at.

 

Once sorted the Meopro was a good scope for the .17HMR - the optics were bright and clear, light transmission was excellent in the spotlight, it adjusted precisely and held zero, it is reasonable compact and not too heavy.

 

The metal to wood fit on CZ rifles is always of the highest quality.

 

ASE Ultra suppressor: The NZ Ammunition Company kindly lent me an ASE DUAL Rimfire Suppressor to try – to do that I put it on the CZ 457 Royal. The DUAL is a solid suppressor, ruggedly built with steel components - not surprisingly it is not the lightest rimfire suppressor out there but it is super strong and worked great on the .17HMR. It would particularly suit the shorter barrel version of the Royal to balance it up.

 

ROYAL PRACTICAL USE

The CZ 457 Royal is really comfortable to shoot and the weight is nicely balanced. The accuracy, combined with the excellent trigger and a clear scope like the Meopta, made rabbit hunting with the Royal easy.

 

Thanks to CZ and Meopta the team enjoyed a successful pest control operation.

 

Malcolm took it out to a farm at Reporoa that had more than a couple of rabbits hanging around. On a fine, calm afternoon he and the farm manager’s daughter managed to clean up about 20 rabbits at ranges out 120 metres.

 

Personally, I found the Royal a joy to carry and hunt small game with. The sleek stock and smooth handling made the shooting enjoyable, including a couple of running shots I made in the spotlight.

 

CZ 457 ROYAL .17HMR SUMMARY

If you are after a top quality rimfire rifle with a beautiful, sleek, and comfortable stock then I highly recommend the Royal. Overall the rifle benefits from an excellent action, a great trigger and an accurate barrel, making it a joy to shoot.

 

Yet another rifle I struggled to give back to Kilwell Sports!

 

Simon

 

Kilwell stock a large selection of CZ firearms, check them out at the link below:

 

www.kilwell.co.nz

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