CZ 457 Bolt Action .22 Rimfire

A tactical time machine
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The CZ 457 is a top-tier bolt-action .22-caliber target/utility rifle,
delightfully rugged and incredibly accurate.

I saved my pennies and bought my first BB gun, a no-frills lever-action Daisy, from our local Otasco at age seven. The first handgun was an 1851 Colt Navy .44 bought in kit form. The AR-15 cost me a year’s indentured servitude in a local print shop in 10th grade. I bought my first two machineguns on my 21st birthday. (I’m old. They were cheap then.) Then I tried on a military uniform and the metaphorical gloves came off.

Tanks, howitzers, belt-fed machineguns both on the ground and in the air, grenade launchers of a couple of flavors and a helicopter gunship or two added spice to the mix. Nowadays I own my own gun manufacturing business and make a decent living writing about the stuff I love. Suffice it to say my right to keep and bear arms is well exercised.

Why all this jabber about exotic places and sexy toys? Because no matter how rarefied this addiction gets, there yet remains something gratifying about settling in behind a quality bolt-action .22 rifle and transforming rimfire cartridges into noise. With some warm spring weather, an infinite supply of Winchester subsonic ammo and a CZ 457 suppressed .22 rifle I think I could ventilate stuff until I just starved to death.

Rimfire Refinement

le can be done haphazardly or it can be done well. The CZ 457 is definitely the latter sort. A c-note would land you an antique beater from the local pawn shop capable of grouping inside a coffee can lid at a quarter football field. By contrast, this new CZ rifle will centerpunch pennies at the same range until you grew weary of doing it.

CZ sells a version of this remarkable rifle with a beautiful walnut stock and an unadorned barrel but it’s just a bit too “1972” for me. This CZ 457 is upgraded for the Information Age — a threaded barrel, polymer furniture and refined particulars.

The barrel is free-floated and precision-crafted. The bolt throw runs through 60 degrees to leave room for a scope and the bolt has dual extractors that help produce a prodigious rate of fire for a bolt-action rifle. The thumb safety rides on the right rear of the receiver for easy access while you’re locked into the gun. The integral 11mm scope mount seamlessly accepted the fixed-power Bushnell scope I found in my gun room.

The buttstock is indestructible polymer with a twist. Unlike the furniture on many rimfire guns, this rig is scaled for grownups. The stock comb accommodates me perfectly and the wrist fits my big monkey mitts like it was born there. Settling in behind this stock makes the rifle feel like a serious high-power target gun. There are three standard sling studs to accept sling swivels and a bipod.

The detachable polymer magazine holds five rounds and is painless to load. The magazine release is a modest thumb tab at the front of the mag. The baseplate protrudes just the tiniest smidgeon below the stock. There is a bolt release button on the left rear of the action facilitating disassembly.

The adjustable trigger should hang in the Louvre alongside the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. There is no discernible take-up or overtravel and the break will just melt your heart. Lay the rifle on target, mind your breathing, place your finger on the trigger and then just think hard to set it off. The resulting synergy of precision action, manly stock and beautiful trigger drops them right where you want them.

Dual extractors ensure reliable function, even in a hurry.

The Can

Silent Legion makes the sound suppressor. Their Rimfire Direct Thread can is 5" long and weighs a paltry 2.7 oz. The suppressor is made from aluminum and hardcoat anodized black. The front cap is readily removable with the included cool tool, so maintenance and cleaning are easy-peazy.

This Silent Legion snuffer produces a whopping 40 dB sound reduction. These numbers can be confusing as the decibel scale is logarithmic rather than linear. Suffice it to say this can is just freaking amazing. Stoke the gun with subsonic Winchester M22 ammo and you could zap a tree rat without alerting his buddy happily munching acorns alongside him.

The standard 1/2-28 threads will fit any standard .22 rimfire weapon. I use mine on a Walther P22, a threaded Ruger 10/22, a PPK/S .22 and this superlative CZ bolt gun. The suppressor is all but weightless and you could just about lose it in the pocket of your hunting jacket.

The Setting

I mounted the scope, took my trusty beanbag shooting rest (made from old blue jeans by the most awesome daughter in the universe) and grabbed a brick of Winchester subsonic .22s. I headed out to my backyard shooting range and left the ear muffs inside. I settled into an Adirondack chair and invested five minutes establishing a proper zero.

At 25 meters I could legit cover my groups with a dime. The rifle fits me well and the trigger breaks like a prom queen’s heart. Once I had the rifle and the scope in tune I started exploring my environment.

I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but it’s undeniable fun just shooting stuff. Stumps, tree trunks and the occasional errant plastic water bottle felt my unfettered wrath. Then I directed my attention to my epic improvised metal target array.

One plate came from AR500 Armor and cost me money. The others are a derelict steel CO2 tank and a pair of my wife’s old worn-out cooking pots, all of which were free. Each item dangles from my target stand 68 meters from my firing point and has its own distinctive timbre. Once I got rolling I could ring all four in quick succession and produce a discordant, oddly pleasant cacophony. Then came the inexplicably weird part.

The Tactical Time Machine

The day was quite literally perfect — a typical 72-degree Mississippi springtime with a scant westerly breeze and an expansive cloudless cerulean sky. The temperature was such I could have reposed comfortably outside in nothing more than a loincloth had decorum allowed. I got cranked up mid-afternoon.

After what seemed perhaps 10 minutes, my feet floated amidst a veritable sea of empty rimfire cases and I was late for dinner. No kidding, I burned through about 250 rounds. It seems I loaded the five-round magazine some 50 times and never even noticed. My ears didn’t ring and recoil was literally undetectable. I actually shot one of the pots until it tore loose from my target stand. Apparently I shot this rifle more than two hours and never even noticed the passage of time. The barrel and can were unpleasantly hot to the touch. It was surreal.

The 60-degree bolt throw offers a rapid rate of fire and clearance for a scope.

Denouement

You may have plenty of guns. You may own Otto Skorzeny’s FG42, George Washington’s personal flintlock service pistol, a transferable minigun and an operational helicopter upon which to mount it. However, no matter how many triggers you have squeezed, this simple yet elegant bolt-action rimfire will still get your blood pumping. I frankly got lost in the thing.]

This Czech-made CZ 457 is not necessarily cheap as .22 rifles go but it still costs less than your typical plastic pistol. Rugged, laser-beam accurate and beautifully executed, this is the .22 plinking and utility gun for grownups. It will remind you what drew you into this odd little hobby in the first place.

www.cz-usa.com
www.silentlegion.com
www.winchester.com

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