Of all of the firearms I come across, bolt-action .22LRs always have a special place in my heart. It was the first gun I ever held and fired, in a Pennsylvania summer camp before mixing rifles and children was demonized and you always remember your first. When I first told my father I was in the market for a good – nay, great – bolt action .22, he replied “What are you, Fess Parker emulating Davy as a boy? Why don’t you go buy a musket?” Contrary to his demographically-similar peers, Dad actually likes to keep up with the latest advances in firearm technology…
“Actually, Dad, that cartridge [.22LR] had not even been invented then, you old bastard, and it’s a lot of fun,” I replied. I couldn’t believe I relied on the hackneyed gun enthusiast response of ‘It’s a lot of fun.’ It rates right up there with ‘It’s a dandy shooter’ as a cop-out summation of the combined sum total of the subjective and objective performance. Unfortunately, I am here to banally report that the CZ 455 Lux is a dandy gun that is a hell of a lot of fun to shoot. From my first shot, I knew it had plenty of that je ne sais quoi other bolt actions are missing for some reason.
I originally got into the bolt action .22LR discussion with our own Nick Leghorn who’s opinion I listen to like EF Hutton’s before the first Black Friday. He loves that Charles Daly of his, and when I went researching .22 bolt actions, the name that kept popping up among the interwebz and my local gun stores was CZ.
I really liked the 455 Lux because it came from the factory with nice looking furniture and great iron sights. With an overall length of 38.5 inches, a barrel length of 20.6 inches, and weighing in at 6 pounds, it fits into the Goldilocks ‘just right’ category. Moreover, with a street price of around $470, it sets you apart from the Marlins of the world- not that there is anything wrong with that.
Since this was going to be a rifle that I wanted to enjoy and last a lifetime, I didn’t mind shelling out a few extra shekels. However, I am realistic. I’m just not capable of outschutzing the thousand-dollar plus Anschutz. When it’s my own money, I also would not buy a 30 megapixel camera when the largest picture I’ve blown up in the past decade is an 8” x 10”. That and the fact that the Anschutz has the distinct look of something a Jeff Goldblum character had a hand in designing it (well, almost any movie except Death Wish…we’ll leave the iconic firearms there to Mr. Bronson and our own Ralph…actually I am not sure if he likes the Colt revolvers or only the S&Ws).
Anyway, I was looking for the classic look of my youth and the CZ 455 Lux delivers. The wood is finished very nicely right out of the factory. I personally like a bit more luster but I’ll worry about that ten years down the road when I decided to sand and refinish it. The checkering is nicely executed, and the stock gives you a proper position for a positive cheekweld when using the iron sights.
When I first tried the bolt, it was a little stiff and needed to be lapped in. At first, I was a little disappointed but I broke it in using my AR-15 tactical lubricant (Valvoline 20W-50 synthetic) and after a good 100 openings and closings the mechanism now works as smoothly as collegiate sex. Not too tight and not too loose.
Speaking of sights, those iron sights deliver. In the world of digital, nothing gets you back to analog quicker than a bolt action with iron sights. CZ zeros in the sights at the factory for 50 meters and even provide you with a lovely punched-out sheet. For my typical work at 25 yards (it’s tough to find distance ranges in my neck of the woods), nothing needed to be tweaked. Just look at those groups from the get-go, without optics.
I will probably not use a scope on this rifle; it’s all about back-to-basics with this gun. If I can punch a hole through a Necco wafer at 50 yards, I am a happy camper. My eyesight will not allow for anything better when using iron sights, and my eyesight is relatively good. For a future story, I’ll mount a scope on her to see what she’s capable of, but it might take me some time and I wanted to get this first installment out the door. Moreover, the scope is going to come off in order to go back to those nice factory irons.
The CZ also ate every kind of .22 ammo I fed it while grouping Susan B. Anthony sized groups @ 25 yards. Hey, what did you expect from a well-built bolt-action? We tried Remington, CCI Mini-Mags, and foreign junk in both copper plated and lead. My favorite – and what I think was her favorite – is Federal AutoMatch. Relatively inexpensive and just look at those groups.
Of course, the trigger is great. But in order to not totally suck-up to this rifle, it could be a pound lighter on the pull-weight. Santa is supposed to bring this member of the tribe a Lyman gauge. Look for another future story on gunsmithing the trigger to the best of my abilities. If I can just shave a pound off the pull…. The stock has to come off to access the trigger group. That could be an advantage of a Savage or a Marlin with their ‘Accu-Triggers.’ But I could just never warm up to that secondary trigger in front of the main trigger. Its like ruining the lines of a Ferrari with an oversized hood scoop, even if the engine really can breathe better that way…
The CZ 455 comes with a five round magazine. It’s plastic and doesn’t exude the quality of cold, hard steel. But as long as you aren’t using it as a hammer, its service life should be long enogh. A ten round magazine is also available that extends the length beneath the stock if you want a touch of that tacticool or a longer shooting session. The fiver sits right by me.
So what else can I say…instead of a complex seven-course meal, sometimes fresh mozzarella, ripe tomato, and a little good balsamic is preferred. When I open up my safe, I am immediately drawn to the simple CZ like a sports figure to a Kardashian’s behind. Czechmate!
Caliber – 22 LR
Action – Bolt
Overall Length – 38.5 in.
Barrel Length – 20.6 in.
Height – 8.4 in.
Width – 2.5 in.
Finish – Blued
Stock – Walnut
Trigger – Adjustable
Sights – Iron
Safety – Manual Thumb Safety
MSRP – $427
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Style * * * *
A beautifully finished classic. There could be a sexy, nay trampy, woman in a miniskirt with heavy makeup on one end of the room, but on the other side the girl without makeup with her hair tucked into a baseball cap wearing jeans suddenly takes off her cap and lets her hair flow all around. Too bad she has a Czechoslovakian accent…
Ergonomics * * * *
The bolt is in the right place, trigger feels great, stock feels suberb.
Reliability * * * *
There is not much to go wrong, but what could go wrong CZ got right. Beefy extractor.
Customize This * * *
You could use a scope, but that means you would not get to use those delicious iron sights.
Overall * * * *
There is nothing like a great bolt action in .22LR. It should be a staple of anyone’s collection. It not only helps educate the novice, it brings you back-to-basics. For the money, CZ hit this one out of the park.