CZ 457 Rimfire Rifle Series

Improving on good
5

The CZ 457 is the current model of the highly regarded line of CZ bolt-action rimfire rifles.
The Synthetic version is both relatively inexpensive but tough.

Firearms made in the Czech Republic enjoy a reputation for excellent design and high quality construction. The history of the famous manufacturers Brno and CZ (eská Zbrojovka, which translates as “Czech Armory”) is rather convoluted, as is the history of the nation itself, affected by wars both hot and cold. From the late 1940s to the early 1990s importation of firearms with rifled barrels from Soviet bloc nations to the U.S. was difficult, if it could be done at all. For decades, CZ rifles were tremendously popular around the world but virtually unavailable in the U.S.

As the Soviet empire collapsed and nations regained their independence, trade in sporting arms resumed. The big change came when CZ-USA, headquartered in Kansas City, was established in 1998 and began aggressively promoting and marketing CZ firearms.

CZ-USA is run by some very smart people. My impression is many of them are American firearms enthusiasts — or at least they listen to firearms enthusiasts. At any rate, new versions were introduced with features popular with American shooters without changing the basic design, high quality of materials and workmanship.

With its short bolt lift for scope clearance, forward-to-fire safety and one
of the best adjustable triggers to ever grace a rimfire rifle, the 457 has
earned the approval of devoted CZ fans.

Backstory

All this rather superficial history is intended to provide background for the recently introduced 457 rimfire series. CZ rimfires have a long and storied history, dating to the Brno Model 1 introduced in 1945, followed by the models 2 through 5. Though seldom seen in the U.S. due to trade sanctions, these Brno .22s were very popular worldwide. They still sell quickly on used gun racks in Australia and New Zealand, even after three generations of steady use.

The Brno Model 2 (1954) was also known as the ZKM 452. When importation of Czech-made firearms resumed the 452 was the basis for the rimfire rifle, first offered on the American market in 1995. After CZ-USA assumed distribution many model variations were introduced, including the very popular American Classic. New cartridges such as .17 HMR and .17 Mach 2 were added. The model 453 was virtually identical to the 452 but with a better trigger including a single-set trigger variation.

Barrels of the 452/453 rifles were threaded (or pinned) to fit the receiver. The model 455 (2010) used two large setscrews in the receiver to retain the barrel, making barrel changes by the shooter fast and simple. The setscrews are coned to fit matching recesses in the barrel so when the screws are torqued to factory specifications barrel fit is tight and consistent.

From the Model 1 of 1945 to the 455 of 2010 the rifles earned high praise for workmanship, materials, accuracy, reliability and durability. They also came in for a few criticisms. One was the high bolt lift, irrelevant when iron sights were the norm but leaving little hand clearance when a scope is fitted. Triggers were generally good but even in its best iterations the 452 triggers didn’t quite measure up to the best target models — Anschutz, for example. And yes, that is a very high bar. The most common complaint among American shooters was the manual safety. The CZ safety was pushed forward for safe, backward to fire — the opposite of most popular models sold in America.

The CZ 457 features a short-lift bolt leaving plenty of clearance between hand and scope,
a more intuitive safety and a superb, fully adjustable trigger design.

Five- and 10-shot magazines are offered for the 457 rifle. The design has a
spacer to accommodate longer magazines when the 457 rifle is fitted with a
.17 HMR or .22 Magnum barrel.

When the 457 is cocked, a red cocking indicator extends from the rear of
the bolt housing. The bolt remains unlocked so the chamber can be loaded
or unloaded with the safety engaged.

A New Beginning

CZ introduced the model 457 in 2019 to address these and other issues. The action was made an inch shorter and slab-sided to improve appearance, the manual safety was redesigned to operate in the back-for-safe/forward-to-fire sequence so familiar to American shooters. The bolt lift was altered from 90 to 60 degrees, leaving plenty of hand clearance while a newly designed — and absolutely superb — adjustable trigger became standard. CZ has an excellent online video showing how to safely adjust the trigger for weight of pull, take up and over-travel. The 457 retains the excellent polymer magazines and the interchangeable barrel system of the 455 series.

The Synthetic shown here is one of the lowest-priced versions, well-suited to hard use. Barrel and action have a hard, smooth, corrosion-resistant nitride finish. With its synthetic stock the rifle is virtually impervious to even the worst weather conditions. The receiver is drilled and tapped for scope bases including a Picatinny-style rail available from CZ. It also has the 11mm integral grooves commonly found on rimfire rifles. I used the grooves and Tasco rings to attach a Redfield rimfire scope I had on hand.

Five-shot, 50-yard groups were consistently in the range of .5-.7″ using several brands of high-speed hollow point .22LR cartridges. Since the rifle is intended for small game hunting and pest control, I didn’t see any point in shooting match ammunition. Other 457 versions are made for competitive shooting and have minimum-dimension chambers to enhance accuracy.

The CZ 457 is a terrific rifle and the Synthetic version an amazing bargain. Its most impressive feature is the outstanding adjustable trigger. It’s hard to believe a trigger of this quality can be found on a hard-use, utility rifle with a suggested retail price of $475. Kudos to CZ for improving on a legend.

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