With sleek good looks and a superb synthetic stock, this is the best no-nonsense, get-it-done rifle that CZ has ever designed, says Bruce Potts
CZ has been part of the British shooting scene for decades, with its rimfire range almost a rite of passage for vermin shooters. Its full-bore rifles, too, have been well received, but the older styled designs around the Mauser-type bolt action, though very strong, never really matched the rimfire sales.
Now CZ has been updating its designs, and the new 557 rifle is part of that ethos of modern looks and performance but with old-world quality. The CZ 557 synthetic is a traditional bolt-action hinged floorplate design but has an improved bolt system and far superior stock design, especially on this synthetic model; wood stocks are available.
Action/bolt and barrel assembly
The action is well machined and finished in a satin blued finish from a solid billet of steel. The action top has CZ’s 19mm integral dovetails cut into it for low scope mounting, though this model featured a one-piece weaver-type rail assembly for universal use, but it puts the scope a bit higher than the stock height.
Bolt release is tucked away at the rear of the action by the bolt shroud and needs to be depressed to release the bolt for cleaning. This bolt is 7¾in long and well polished with two large locking lugs up front with a part cartridge shroud head fitted with a typical plunger type ejector and single claw extractor. The matt blued bolt shroud has a red plunger cocking indicator to illustrate that the CZ is cocked.
The barrel is forged and has the same finish as the action. It has a slim Sporter profile that is screw cut for a sound moderator with ½in UNF thread. Open sights are fitted — a red fibre optic foresight that has to be removed if a moderator is used, and an adjustable ramped rearsight.
It is fully free floated for better accuracy and, at 20in (actually 201⁄2in), is not overly long with a moderator fitted. It is a good efficient length for the .308 Winchester cartridge.
Trigger and magazine
Safety-wise, there is a two-position lever to the right side of the rear tang. It goes forward to fire and rear to lock the trigger while still allowing the bolt to lift and remove a cartridge from the chamber if necessary. The trigger is not the usual set trigger that CZ uses; instead, it is a single- stage unit with a curved thin polished trigger-blade. It is adjustable for travel, pull weight and over-travel. It broke cleanly at 3¼lb, perfect for field use. No detachable magazine here, which is a shame, but the hinged floorplate design holds four .308 cartridges.
A synthetic stock has to fulfil several criteria to perform as described. It’s not just a case of screwing on a plastic alternative to the wood version. It must be impervious to the weather to ensure that the action and barrel assembly does not move in its bedding and thus affect accuracy and zero. It must be strong enough not to flex in use and have a practical finish to suit a hunting environment — that is, have grip and be non-reflective. The CZ 557 Synthetic fulfils all these points and is its best stock.
In this case, the stock is so much better than most synthetic models out there on other sporting rifles. It is a solid design that is ambidextrous in use, because there is no cheekpiece but a palm-swell to both sides of the pistol grip.
Overall, the finish is black crinkle- textured and accented with raised oblong panels instead of chequering.
CZ 557 Synthetic on test
The CZ 557 Synthetic on test came with a Macc Tecc sound moderator. Once I had fitted it, it gave good noise reduction without adding too much extra weight, so handling was not compromised. The CZ 557 Synthetic felt very steady in the aim, and the more solid stock was a big improvement, soaking up felt recoil.
Factory ammunition-wise, with the 1-in-10 rifling twist barrel, the CZ would stabilise all .308 Winchester bullet weights and 150-gr bullets shot well. The Hornady Superformance SST loads always shoot well and they did not disappoint — 2,844fps for 2,695 ft/lb and 1in to 1¼in groups. The heavier Geco 165-gr also shot well, with consistent 1¼in groups at 100 yards.
Reload-wise the 110-gr V-Max bullet travelling at 2,984 fps for 2,175 ft/lb turns your deer rifle into a hard-hitting fox gun. Accuracy was hovering around at an inch, so more than good enough. However, the best reload for an all-round deer load was the Sierra 150-gr GameKing on top of 46 grains of Varget powder for 2,694fps and 2,418 ft/lb, which is quite mild but very accurate at 3⁄4in three-shot groups at 100 yards.
This is definitely the best deer type rifle CZ has made, especially in its synthetic format and carbine short barrel