By Wayne van Zwoll, Gun Digest
Besides its stout, Mauser-style 550 mechanism, barreled from .243 to the .505 Gibbs, CZ markets the daintier 527 action for the likes of the .223. Mine is in .221 Fireball. You can get a 527 in .22 Hornet or .204 Ruger, too. Now CZ has added the .17 Hornet, recently loaded by Hornady with a 20-grain V-Max bullet to 3,650 fps. Available in American and Varmint versions, the .17 Hornet traces the arc of 55-grain bullets in the .223. The 527 comes in full- and synthetic-stocked, including European variations. There’s even a Carbine in .223 and 7.62×39.
Two years ago, CZ announced it would “consolidate all the receivers currently used in the 452 line into a common platform that would allow for easy barrel changes.” The adjustable trigger, CZ assured us, would remain. So, too, hammer-forged barrels and receivers machined from steel billets.
The first 455 was the American. Chambered to the .22 Long Rifle and .17 HMR, it wore a conservative black walnut stock checkered fore and aft. It weighed six pounds with its 22½-inch barrel, felt good and shot well.
The .17 Hornet is now available in CZ’s svelte 527 bolt rifle, developed for the .222 and .223.
Soon thereafter, I took in a new 455, the Varmint model. At a glance, you can’t tell it from its 452/453 predecessor and, from the receiver back, it seems the same as the 455 American. But the fore-end is longer and uncheckered. It is not, praise be, a fore-end common to other varmint rifles; it does not feel like a toaster. It fills your hand, but does not overwhelm it. The barrel is short (20½ inches) and stiff; the muzzle mikes .864. (The .22 LR gets no ballistic advantage from barrels longer than 16 inches.) While the .17 HMR can use a little more length, it doesn’t need 24, or even 22, inches.
Twin extractors and a mechanical ejector cycle cartridges from the five-shot, detachable polymer box. Because the 455V is a switch-barrel rifle, the magazine well must accommodate the long box for .22 WMR and .17 HMR rounds. A filler block pairs with .22 LR magazines. Fire control: a clean 3½-pound trigger and two-position thumb safety.
My first five-shot 50-yard group with accurate Eley Match ammo stayed under half an inch. I followed with Remington/Eley Match EPS, then Remington Mohawk high-speed solids and Winchester Power Point high-speed hollowpoints, all 40 grains in weight. I also fired Federal Game-Shok 31-grain hollowpoint ammo. My biggest group measured an even inch; averages ran from .6 (Eley) to .9 for three five-shot groups! Feeding was a tad rough at first, but smoothed out during the session. No failures to fire or eject.
Then, with a couple of supplied L-wrenches, I pulled the .22 rimfire barrel and replaced it with one in .17 HMR. Easy. With two types of ammunition, CZ’s 455V printed even tighter groups than it had with the .22 barrel. Hornady and CCI .17 HMR loads with 17-grain jacketed hollowpoints at 2,550 fps nipped half-inch groups. Hornadys drilled a .3-inch knot. The action cycled more eagerly than with .22 rounds—predictably, given differences in profile between the two cartridges. Retail Price: $456 (.22 LR); extra .17 HMR barrel $149. (www.cz-usa.com)