A rimfire rifle from Ceská Zbrojovka that can change calibres from .22 LR to .22 WMR and the ever-popular .17 HMR as well
Manufacturer: Czeska Zbrojovka
Pros: Accuracy is excellent
Cons: The lacquered finish is a bit shiny - some chequering would help.
You can now shoot the tried and tested CZ action with hammer-forged barrel, but with the extra advantage that a silenced .22 LR rabbit gun can be changed into a flat-shooting .17 HMR rifle for fox control.
I had the thumbhole-laminated CZ455 sporter in .17 HMR for testing. The barrel can be removed and the trigger is a single stage unit with a lighter overall trigger pull. The barrel length on this model is 20in, although a 16in-version is also available, making it a very handy short vermin gun, even with a sound moderator fitted.
Barrel, action and finish
On the outside, the action is well-engineered and proportioned for rimfire cartridge use and has a reputation for accuracy and reliability.
Unde the skin of the steel action lies a totally different barrel attachment arrangement that allows the barrel to be exchanged for a differing calibre while still retaining the accuracy.
CZ customers have been asking for a barrel- change facility and the CZ 455 .17 HMR should rival the Sako Quad in this respect.
The barrel is a trim 20in, although a 16in would be a better choice, even for the .17 HMR calibre.
This is a varmint rifle, so the barrel is profiled with a muzzle diameter of 0.865in and an almost straight taper. This does not however unbalance the gun. The muzzle end of the barrel is choked inside to ensure the best possible accuracy; even the 16in is choked and not just a shortened 20-in barrel.
CZ has made sure of a secure fixture that uses twin grub screws that lock into the bottom of the action at an angle.
With the barrel removed there are corresponding twin-milled faces that those two grub screws tighten against when the barrel is inserted. The headspace is maintained by a recessed milled slot to the barrel facing off the front of the action.
Trigger, safety and magazine
The trigger has undergone a makeover. The set trigger from the 453 has gone and the single-stage unit has been tuned to give a better and lighter trigger pull.
Listed at 2lb pull, I measured 2.5lb. This is quite acceptable and there is almost no creep, only a precise let-off with a positive lock time to maximise accuracy.
The bent metal trigger-guard is secured to the action via only two screws that balance the wood to metal fixture more evenly, and these screws have Torx heads.
The safety is the wing-type lever on the rear bolt shroud which, when it is at right angles to the bolt, is in the fire mode, pushing it forward makes the rifle safe.
The CZ 455 comes with a plastic five-shot magazine as standard and an optional 10-shot version. The .17 HMR magazine fits the .22 WMR. A separate mag is needed for a .22 LR option if you fit that barrel, and this also comes with an adapter to fit in the magazine neatly to ensure perfect feeding.
The simple lever catch located in front of the magazine well allows the magazine to pop out far enough for it to be grasped and removed without fuss.
I am a big fan of the thumbhole stock, and not just for its looks. I also like the added strength to the top of the stock around the pistol grip.
On a sporting arm such as this, the laminated wood option is very practical. Layers of wood are glued together, with the glued layers forming an impervious barrier to moisture. Moisture can warp a good stock and this in turn can ruin your accuracy and the consistency of group sizes.
The pistol grip and thumbhole are very generous and give a good hold; the same goes for the fore-end. I did find the lacquered finish to be a bit shiny so some form of chequering or stippling would be of help.
The raised cheekpiece is almost straight, raising the comb well for scope use and the solid black rubber recoil pad is very grippy.
Accuracy and targets
With all loads tested the accuracy was excellent. This however is something that has come be expected from CZ rifles. I also fitted the LEI .17 HMR sound moderator, which is an astonishingly quiet moderator for its size and adds very little length to your rifle.
The Hornady, Winchester, Federal and Remington all shoot the Hornady 17g V-Max bullet and all shot very similar velocities of around 2,550fps. Accuracy on all was similar.
At 50 yards the best came from the Federals, with 0.65in groups and at 100 yards just under an inch.
If you’re after foxes, the 20g GamePoint from CCI is a good bet, and velocities of 2,426fps gave a healthy energy figure of 261ft/lb which was the highest tested. Group sizes were remarkable at 50 yards, almost a single enlarged hole of 0.45in. That was repeated consistently and at 100 yards no more than 0.75in.
Every rifles has its own ammunition preference
Every rifle is different when it comes to ammunition and when you get the right choice, both rifle and ammunition will sing beautifully together.
The more ‘eco-friendly’ bullet loading from Hornady is the sintered copper-jacketed bullet called NTX. These weigh 15.5g. However they still shoot velocities similar to the heavier 17g V-Maxes, giving 2,550fps and 224ft/lb.
Accuracy was very good at 50 yards. Five shots were grouped into 0.55in and at 100 yards 0.95in were consistently printed.
Reproducing the accuracy and point of impact is vital when exchanging and replacing the barrels. I shot five NTX bullets at 100 yards, then removed the .17 HMR barrel and refitted and shot five more.
The result was one nice 10-shot group of 1.2in, so less than 0.3in deviation from the initial results.
A very handy short vermin gun