The CZ512 .22LR semi-auto rifle is not as accurate as the CZ455 but it feels right as a no-nonsense hunting firearm
When people look for a rimfire rifle for pest control, the first thing they generally want is a bolt-action design, usually with a detachable magazine. But there is no reason why they should not look at a repeating rimfire, which certainly has it merits if used correctly.
When lamping or squirrel shooting, a fast second shot is welcome and humane, but often semi-automatics are thought not to be as accurate or reliable as a bolt action.
Yet today’s semi-automatics can be very accurate — look at the Ruger 10/22 and Remington 597, for example, or how about the CZ semi-automatic?
The earlier CZ511 had looks that only a mother would love, but these belied its reliability and accuracy.
Today, the newer version — the CZ512 .22LR semi-auto rifle — is lighter and prettier, as well as being reliable and accurate, too.
BARREL AND ACTION
The old 511 was hump-backed and quite heavy, primarily due to the all-steel action used in manufacture.
The CZ512 .22LR semi-auto rifle uses alloys and plastics to lighten the load and to improve both function and, to some degree, the way it looks.
The action is a two-piece affair with an aluminium upper section and polymer lower set. The action is much more rounded-looking and far more aesthetically pleasing than its predecessor, and the scope mounts are twin dovetail rails of 6.5in long cut into the top of the receiver.
It is finished in matt anodised black.
A bolt-operating latch protrudes as a hollow cylinder from the right side.
It retracts 2in and reveals a bolt that has a long single-claw extractor and an embedded static ejector in the left receiver sidewall.
There is no hold open on the last round, which is 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.
The barrel is a nice slimmer sporter taper, and the muzzle is threaded at the factory for a sound moderator with a 1/2UNF pitch and thread protector.
The finish of the barrel is a subdued traditional blue, which complements the rest of the rifle well.
It is not free-floating — it touches the fore-end at its tip due to a retaining screw that attaches the fore-end from underneath.
TRIGGER, SAFETY AND MAGAZINE
Semi-auto triggers are often — how can I say this tactfully? — awful!
It is just in the design, unless you spend a lot on a custom drop-in unit.
But the CZ512 .22LR semi-auto rifle is better than most.
It’s all relative — compared with a bolt action they are still pretty heavy.
This 512 trigger has a slender blade and is single-action in operation, so there is no take up of slack.
There is just a small amount of creep as the pressure is taken up and then what is a clean pull as the sear breaks.
I found it nice and predictable to use, so accuracy was not affected in the tests. The safety is simplicity itself.
It is a cross-bolt unit operated from either side. When pushed to the left, it blocks the travel of the trigger.
A flush-fitting five-shot magazine is supplied, though a 10-shot is available.
I would get a couple as spares. It is a single-stack unit made of plastic (like its bigger brother, the CZ455) and pops out of its fitment by operating the small latch sited in front of the magazine when pushed backwards.
ACCURACY AND TARGETS
Surprisingly, the CZ512 is good for a semi-auto. That’s probably because it has the same barrels as the excellent CZ455.
It is 20.5in long, but I would cut it to 16in and add a sound moderator to make it more carbine-like.
All the subsonic ammunition functioned well and shot some nice 30-yard and 50- yard groups.
The Eley subsonic bullets always shoot good groups in bolt-action rifles, and I had 0.5in and 1in groups at 30 yards and 50 yards respectively.
Both the CCI Segmenting and Winchester subsonic ammunition shot just little larger groups.
I could feel the action become quicker in operation when the .22LR High Velocity (HV) ammunition was used.
The RWS HV ammunition is very good, as it uses a 40-gr bullet at 1,221fps and hits hard and expands well. It was the most accurate tested — 0.45in at 30 yards and 0.75in at 50 yards.
The lighter Federal 31-gr bullets also shot some nice groups, while the rest averaged 1in at 30 yards and 1.5in at 50 yards.
I like the stock. It may be made of beech, not walnut, but the design is comfortable in the aim.
It is made in two halves, with the fore-end being a rather square-looking piece of beech finished in matt lacquer.
The top section is slightly tapered and in the hand feels good.
The rear butt section, which is similarly finished, is quite chunky with no cheekpiece, but comes good for scope use, though the plastic butt-plate is slippery.
There is no checkering at all and the matt lacquer is also a bit slippy in the hand, but there are quick detachable sling swivel studs fitted as standard.
I was not expecting much, but the the CZ512 .22LR semi-auto rifle grew on me. Sure, it’s not as accurate as the CZ455 and its trigger and stock are not as good, but it just feels right as a no-nonsense hunting firearm.
In the tests, it was incredibly reliable with only a few misfires caused by cartridges sticking in the magazine.
With RWS HV ammunition it was accurate.
It’s also nice to have a traditional-looking semi-automatic in wood and steel instead of the usual military-looking repeaters that are currently in fashion.