Gun Review: CZ-750 Sniper

Some never find the need to reach out and hit something beyond 100 yards away. For them, the world is their oyster and just about any old gun will do. But for those brave souls who dare venture beyond 500 yards, into the realm of spin drift calculations and the coriolis effect, it takes specialized equipment that is normally many thousands of dollars and well outside the budget of the average shooter. CZ disagreed with that sad state of affairs, and decided to try to produce McMillan-level precision on a Noveske level budget. The result: the CZ-750 Sniper . . .

As someone who took to action-shooting events like Camille Row took to tight tops, I thought the relatively slow-paced world of precision shooting would be like watching paint dry. On a distant sailboat. Through the haze of a mirage. That was before I got my hands on a precision rifle at a range with distances challenging enough to make it worth my while. A long gun like the CZ-750 Sniper Rifle. Well, that one, actually.

The CZ-750 is based on the combat and veld-tested Mauser bolt-action rifle. Since the latter part of the 19th century, Peter Paul (but not Mary) Mauser’s design has maintained its popularity amongst hunters and precision shooters. And why not? It’s reliable, durable and easy to maintain.

But not necessarily licht. The CZ-750 tips the scales at a hefty 11.9 pounds. The CZ’s ozs may not make it EZ for transport, but it’s the right weight for a sniper platform. You don’t get this kind of stability and uber-manageable recoil in a seven-pound gun.

In fact, given the rifle’s gravity suck, the CZ-750′s muzzle break is something of an affectation. Felt recoil is similar to that of a .223 hunting rifle. More useful: the rifle’s thread protector (which Foghorn will no doubt appreciate for his favorite toy), mirage shield (keeps heat waves out of your scope) and two 10-round detachable magazines. All that and a 26″ barrel with 4-groove rifling in 1 in 12″ twist.

Before my range date at the 800-yard facility in Charleston I worked the CZ-750′s action for a while at home, and it was as smooth as INSERT EDITOR’S LINK TO FRENCH MODEL’S THIGH HERE. A smooth action is the bare minimum that someone would expect for a nearasdamnit $2,000 rifle, but checking the box never felt so good. The CZ’s scope arrived about 16 hours before my range date; I barely had time to bore-sight it. When I got to the range, the Hensoldt rep was waiting for me.

[Cue dramatic music and Morgan Freeman-like narration]

Having found his natural point of aim, the shooter inhales slowly, deliberately, pausing at the apex of his breath. His crosshairs waltz upon his target. Despite the gunfire around him, he hears only his heartbeat. He eases the trigger back ever-so-slowly. The ear-piercing blast of a .308 screaming past the muzzle of his CZ-750 shatters the silence with all the subtlety of a grenade in a hall of mirrors. “Hit!” his spotter cries as the round ventilates the NRA bullseye target five football fields away. “Finally,” the shooter thinks to himself as he releases the breath he’d been holding captive for a dozen heartbeats.

*ahem*

Once zeroed in (with aid of a well-done dope sheet and a teeny bit of Kentucky windage) I was hitting steel gongs at 800-yards with very little effort. Absent a trigger pull scale I’d guess the 750′s trigger breaks at around two pounds. More important, CZ has swapped-out their single-set trigger for a single-stage job, eliminating the over-travel that used to bedevil the CZ-750 Sniper’s go-pedal.

Anyway, 800 yards and that’s all she wrote: the full extent of the CZ-750′s “effective range.” Then again, the definition of the word “effective”depends on what you’re trying to do “effectively,” so while it may not bring down a man at 1,000 yards it sure as heck could still ping a steel plate. Believe it or not, my success made me nervous. I wondered if the CZ would meet the international standard for accuracy.

I returned to my local range and zeroed the CZ at 100 yards. I dialed-in the comeuppance of the .308 round for 300 yards. The four-shot grouping at 100 was an impressive 0.69 inches, well under that magic one MOA (minute of angle). But before I shot at 300 I wanted to try a few bragging rights shots to see what the CZ (and I) could do. A grouping on a piece of paper conveys necessary information but it doesn’t have the wow factor of some more, well, reactive targets.

I thought hitting the 12 gauge shell was impressive. The two 20 gaugers, doubly so. But plugging the .30-06 shell casing . . . that’s as incredible as the guy who [almost] jumped over a Lotus Esprit driving straight at him at 50 m.p.h. in the old TV show That’s Incredible. Especially when you consider the fact that I accomplished my ballistic handiwork with a cold barrel and commercial ammunition (Hornady TAP 168gr). Without a single miss (or other observer).

[FYI: As the base diameter of a .30-06 shell casing is 12mm and the bullet diameter of a .308 is 7.8mm that leaves a 4.2mm + half the bullet’s diameter margin of error.]

With my faith and confidence in the CZ-750 at an all-time high, I headed to a farm owned by a friend in North Carolina. We set up some more challenging shots in one of his fields. While we were limited to a plot about 250 yards long, the four-round grouping was a jaw-dropping 1.31 inches.

Not everything is rosy in CZ-750-land. First and foremost, the magazine design is not my friend. Lockup is positive, but the mag’s as awkward to insert as sexist link in an otherwise genteel gun review. It [the magazine] rocks into place at a slight angle, not dissimilar to an AK or a Mini-14. It’s a minor point given the weapon’s role—quick reloads are not likely the sniper’s number one concern—but noticeable nonetheless.

The second issue: the CZ-750′s controlled round feeding (vs. push feed systems like the Remington 700). What our man Potterfield doesn’t tell you: while controlled round feeding systems are robust and virtually eliminate double feeds and extraction issues, push feed actions offer a faster cycle time for the bolt. In other words, it’s easier to shoot follow-up shots more accurately more quickly.

Or so the theory goes. The CZ-750 Sniper is a plenty damn accurate gun in our favorite man or deer-stopping caliber (although schlepping the Sniper seems silly). It’s an F-class shooting enthusiast’s BFF. And the CZ-750′s only a couple of grand—where an Accuracy International or similar high-end equivalent would run you around $5k. It’s a competitive rifle for a competitor—which could be you.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Caliber:                  7.62 NATO / .308
Barrel :                   Four groove hammer-forged steel, 25.980 inches
Rate of Twist:       1:12
Weight:                   11.90 lbs.
Operation:             Bolt-Action, modified Mauser 98
Finish:                    Blued
Capacity:                10-round removable magazine
Trigger:                   2 pound (adjustable) single-stage
MSRP:                    $1,999.00

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Accuracy * * * * *
Shooting nearly half MOA groups with factory ammo is a real challenge even for some other high-dollar guns. The CZ-750 does not disappoint.

Ergonomics * * * * *
Although heavy, everything on the rifle feels robust, positive and is located right where it ought to be. From the action to the magazine release to the cheek adjustment knob, everything exudes durability.

Reliability * * * * *
Zero failures. Bolt guns are awesome that way.

Customize This * * * * *
The CZ-750 can accept a wide variety of bipods and optical devices. CZ-USA even makes a quad rail for this thing in case you want a to mount some night vision or thermal optics forward of your primary scope. What more could you ask?

Overall * * * * *
At its price point, you don’t expect to find many faults. And the 750′s are few and minor. It represents CZ’s long history of quietly making superior products for far less than its competitors.

Special thanks to Gary Wilson at Palmetto Gun Club in Charleston, SC for the use of his facilities and to Archie Woodberry over at Blue Line Shooting Center in Florence, SC