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CZ512 open-sighted .22 rimfire: is this the king of the rimfires?

If you are searching for a dependable semi-automatic for pest control, then look no further than the CZ 512 open-sighted .22 rimfire, says Bruce Potts


CZ 512 Repeater

Manufacturer: Czeska Zbrojovka

Price as reviewed: £658

When it comes to rimfires, CZ (Ceská zbrojovka) has designed, built and supplied the world with pretty much every conceivable bolt-action model available. I tend to forget, however, that it actually produces a rather good semi- automatic in the guise of the 512 model, which combines CZ’s legendary accuracy with its reliable repeating-action design. This makes it a real contender for those wanting a fast second or third shot when lamping rabbits or squirrel drey shooting. A lot of semis are plagued with stoppages or feed problems but CZ seems to have ironed these out, making this semi-auto a very viable pest control tool. (Read why there should be no snobbery about semi automatics .)

CZ has also worked on its looks – older models were not the most attractive guns. While there is a Tactical version, the rifle on test is the Sporter model, which is offered in .22LR and .22WMR.

The CZ512 semi-auto rimfire

The finish is smart yet practical for a gun that may see hard use

CZ512 open-sighted .22 rimfire in depth

The CZ512 rifle is trim and lightweight – always handy on a rimfire as it’s bound to be thrown about in the field, taking shots at odd angles and over tough terrain. Weighing only 5.6lb and measuring 39in long, it balances perfectly, although this particular rifle, due to the open-sight fixture, does not come screw cut; all others are cut for a ½in UNF (Unified National Fine) thread. That aside, its design hinges on the central action, which is split into alloy and polymer sections. The alloy part is uppermost, where the pressure and load-bearing parts are, while the lower polymer section holds the magazine and trigger unit.

You have the standard 6½in-long dovetail rail, cut for scope mounting, with recoil lug cut-out. The open sights are good, with adjustable windage and elevation on the rear sight. The matt anodised action and satin blued barrel are smart while remaining practical for a pest control gun.

Operationally, the 512’s bolt is well made. A large, shallow, cotton reel-style, hollowed-out bolt handle engages the steel bolt itself, which houses the long, single-claw extractor. This in turn contacts the embedded static ejector in the left receiver side wall on retraction. In fact, total bolt throw is just 2in, so superfast and quiet in operation. There is no hold-open on the last round as is commonly found on a lot of semis; instead you can activate the bolt to hold open with a small catch inside the trigger-guard that can be deactivated by pulling the bolt back slightly, if desired.

CZ 512

A catch inside the trigger-guard allows you to activate the bolt to hold open

Trigger, safety and magazine

The trigger is surprisingly good. Semis are notoriously heavy but this CZ512 has a single-stage pull that broke cleanly at 2.6lb with a small amount of creep. I like the cross-bolt safety sited behind the trigger-blade; when activated, it blocks the trigger’s travel – simple but effective.

Feeding the CZ512 is via the now-universal rimfire magazine that other manufacturers use for their rifles. This is a five-shot, polymer, single-stack affair that is cheap and reliable.

A 10-shot option is also available. The action and trigger mechanism are easily cleaned and protected from the weather.

There is a single barrel length of 20½in, typically lightweight Sporter. I would go for the non-open-sight version and hence the ½in UNF-threaded muzzle. Unlike bolt-action models, the barrel is not free-floated as it beds to the friend along its length.

The CZ512 semi-auto rimfire

The CZ512 semi-auto rimfire is a great choice for pest controllers

Stock take

The stock is designed in two sections to fit the front and rear of the action. It is sensibly plain for real-world hunting use and as such uses beech wood with a strong, tight grain structure. This is finished with a matt lacquer; I prefer an oiled finish, which is easily repaired after the inevitable scratches in the field, but the lacquer did seem pretty tough. A lack of chequering made the stock seem a bit mobile in the hand from time to time, however. The fore-end is quite square but comfortable, with the rear stock section having a generous pistol grip, and angled down to the butt comb. This is no doubt designed to optimise open-sight use but with the scope fitted during tests, I had no issues. It is a little short at 13¾in length of pull and the less said about the plastic butt-pad, the better.

Ammo test

I fitted a Leupold 4x compact scope, a lovely optic that is in keeping with the overall size and weight of this semi rimfire. Tests were conducted at 30 yards and then 50 yards for accuracy with subsonic, standard and high-velocity loads. If this was my gun, I would reduce the barrel length to 14.5in or 16in so when a moderator is fitted it becomes a highly portable real carbine for pest control duties.

Taking the subsonics first, the usual suspects all shot 100% reliably through the action; this is new, too, and though some semis need time to bed in, the CZ was off and running from the start. Norma 40gr Subsonics were slow at 955fps velocity and 81ft/lb energy, and at 30 yards we had 0.85in five-shot groups and then 1in at 50 yards. A good start. Switching to Eleys, the group size shrank to 0.45in with a velocity of 1,011fps and 91ft/lb energy. Winchester 42gr Max Subsonics sped along at 1,047fps and 102ft/lb, and you could feel the action working harder with inch groups. The CCI Segmented shot nice 0.75in groups at 30 yards with 1,030fps and 95ft/lb.

The RWS High-Velocity rimfire is always a good performer and in the CZ512 achieved 1,189fps and 126ft/lb. Group sizes were 0.50in at 30 yards and some 0.75-inchers at 50 yards – good for a semi-auto. I did try some lead-free options from RWS and Norma but they were erratic; in my view, these tin substitutes still need further development.


CZ is not called ‘king of rimfires’ for nothing; it knows what works and what doesn’t. We had one hang-up in the magazine from a dodgy bullet but otherwise total reliability, even with the slower subsonics. Accuracy was good for a semi as was the trigger, although a little heavy, and magazines are cheap. This gun is really worth a look.

Tech specs

  • Manufacturer CZ (Ceská zbrojovka)
  • Model CZ512 Repeater
  • Calibre .22LR (.22WMR option)
  • Overall length 39in
  • Barrel length 20.5in
  • Sights Open sights
  • Stock Beech Sporter
  • Magazine Five or 10 shot
  • Weight 5.6lb
  • Trigger Single stage
  • Safety Cross bolt action