CZ 452: Pick whichever variant you want, they’re all good
Charles Smith Jones looks at the many variants of the CZ 452 rifle, all of which come with a proven pedigree, so take your pick
Manufacturer: Czeska Zbrojovka
Price as reviewed: £200
Birth of the CZ 452
Some time ago, Blast from the Past looked at the venerable Brno Model 2, a real workhorse of a small-bore rifle that started production in the 1950s. Rugged, unpretentious and dependable, the Model 2 changed its name and was updated when Brno rebranded to CZ. The CZ 452 is much the same rifle, but has evolved into a number of variants.
Production finally ceased in 2011 when CZ replaced the 452 with its newer 455, continuing to manufacture only one 452 model – the American – in a left-hand version for a few more years.
All of the 452 variants have common features, such as a carbon steel barrel threaded into the receiver frame. Later production models feature hammer-forged barrels, a manufacturing process using the directed blows of a hammer or anvil to shape the metal.
Receivers are machined with a dovetailed rail of either 11mm or 3/8 in (depending on the variant and the cartridge) to accommodate mounts for a telescopic sight, and triggers are adjustable for the weight of pull. All use an interchangeable, detachable box magazine made of either metal or plastic with a five-round or 10-round capacity. An optional 25-round magazine, as well as a single shot adapter, was sometimes available for .22 LR and .17 HMR calibres.
Mainstream 452s came in a variety of names such as Standard, Lux and Trainer, but they were essentially similar. They commonly featured a European-style stock with Schnabel fore-end, an arched ‘hogback’ comb and a hard-plastic butt plate.
In addition to the dovetail provision for a telescopic sight, open tangent sights came fitted, graduated in 25m increments out to 200m. The Lux, with its walnut stock and chequered grip, was at the high end of these and was chambered for .22 LR and .17 WMR, with a left-hand version in .22 LR only. The Trainer was produced as a cadet rifle and was identical except for having a beech stock. The Standard only differs in that the grip was not chequered. The latter two models were chambered for .22 LR and .17 HMR.
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The example featured here represents one of the more popular 452 variants, the Varmint, although its original stock has been replaced with a post-production laminated one with a thumbhole. It would have left the factory with a varmint-style, straight-comb stock made from walnut featuring a chequered grip, flat-bottomed fore-end and rubber butt pad. The remainder of the rifle is original, though, and this variant never came with open sights, being specifically intended for use with a telescopic sight. The 20½in barrel is heavy, as you might expect of a varmint or target rifle. It is straight-tapered with a polished and blued finish, which contrasts with the matt finish of the receiver.
There was also an American variant, so named for its straight-comb stock styling. It came with either a 16in or 22½in barrel, some leaving the factory screw cut. It was offered in the widest variety of chamberings and a left-handed version was available.
The Scout was a scaled-down rifle intended for younger shooters, while the Silhouette and Style, with their synthetic stocks, were pitched more towards use in shooting competitions. There was even a carbine-length FS (Full Stock) version, with full-length Mannlicher-style Turkish walnut stock. A limited production run of only 1,000 rifles occurred in 2017 to commemorate the 452. The Grand Finale is recognisable by its oil-finished walnut stock, hand engraving, gold-plated trigger and custom metal magazine floor plate.
Whichever CZ 452 you come across, and the chances are that it will probably be one of the Standard or American models, or the heavy-barrelled Varmint pictured, it will certainly be worth considering. All of the 452 range are well-made, reliable and highly accurate rifles that come with a proven pedigree. Barrel wear is unlikely to be an issue, especially in rifles chambered for .22 LR, and left-handed shooters should also find themselves catered for. A CZ 452 may cost a little more than an older Brno Model 2, but it will justify every penny spent.
- Country of origin Czech Republic
- In production 1956 to 2011
- Action Bolt
- Stock options Beech, walnut or synthetic, depending on version
- Barrel length 16in to 28½in, depending on version
- Magazine Detachable, five rounds as standard, with optional 10-round magazine (25-round magazine and single-shot adapter available only in .22 and .17 HM2)
- Left-hand version Yes (some versions only)
- Weight (bare) 6lb 12oz (heavy-barrelled Varmint version with walnut stock)
- Available in calibres .22 LR, .22 WMR, .17 HM2 and .17 HMR
- Cost new N/A
- Cost used Around £200 to £450, depending on age, condition and version