712-1

CZ’s line of shotguns is pretty well fleshed out these days, spanning the spectrum from classy side-by-sides to go with your elbow-patched tweed jacket to tactical pumps for the bedroom closet. The 712 Practical seen here, which I’ve been playing with since November, is intended for use in 3-Gun competitions but can certainly suit other roles as well. At its core, it’s meant to be an affordable — yet quality — entry-level, semi-auto shotty to get into the 3-Gun world. Where “quality” and “budget” collide you might expect to see “compromise” joining the party as well, and the 712 Practical does have its compromises. . .

An MSRP of $699 means the 712 Practical comes in at $376 less than the Beretta 1301 Tactical we reviewed in September (and $576 less than the 1301 Comp, which is a closer comparison) and $77 less than the Mossberg 930 JM Pro. The competitively-priced box is definitely checked here. But does it deliver?

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Well, upon opening the box I got a chuckle from the burgundy velour — or velvet, as I certainly don’t know the damn difference — socks protecting the parts. Then I realized that the parts were parts. It wasn’t exactly a shotgun so much as a shotgun kit. No worries, as the first thing I do with a new gun is take it apart anyway so I suppose CZ saved themselves some cost and saved me some trouble at the same time. It could complicate things for a new shooter, though, as it isn’t the easiest firearm to assemble and the instructions in the manual are just barely sufficient.

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The gas piston system is actually extremely similar to the Beretta 1301’s and, like the 1301, no part of the action actually goes into the stock. The recoil spring is ahead of the receiver, coiled around the magazine tube, which also acts as the “guide rod” for the action bars. The piston itself is made in the USA for 922(r) compliance reasons.

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For the same reason, the stock is U.S.-made. It’s sourced from ATI and features a pistol grip with cushy rubber on the swappable backstrap, plus a standard AR-15 butt stock on a commercial-spec buffer tube.

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Worth noting is that the buffer tube is not actually removable — it’s integrated into the receiver adapter plate — but any AR-15 stock that works on a commercial tube will work on this one. The included stock is basically “parts kit” standard except for a nice, adjustable cheek piece that I didn’t use (my cheek weld was almost too high with the cheek riser uninstalled) and the addition of ATI’s Scorpion recoil pad, which actually does a very good job of absorbing energy.

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I must admit, the whole stock and pistol grip setup isn’t really my cup of tea. There are definitely a lot of folks out there who prefer a pistol grip on a shotgun, I’m just not one of them (except for short length of pull, home defense sorts of guns). Especially for 3-Gun use, where it actually gets in the way of a couple of the most popular speed loading techniques.

The AR buffer tube, though, is pretty awesome as it opens up a nearly unlimited market full of stock options. In the future, the 712 Practical will likely ship with ATI’s T2 TactLite stock, but I’d actually much prefer it with the Akita. Of course, swapping the stock out is only one bolt away:

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Naturally it would be a Torx bolt and no tool is included. It does actually come with a hex head bolt replacement in a baggie, should you prefer that, but you’ll still need the ol’ Torx bit to swap it out in the first place.

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As a final note on the stock setup, there’s some compromise when two companies on separate continents each produce half of the parts for one gun. The finish on the metal parts of the stock doesn’t quite match the finish on the receiver. There’s a bit of a gap between the pistol grip and the trigger guard, which is filled with foam rubber. It can’t be seen from any distance, but it doesn’t look so hot up close. Separately all of the parts are fine. Together, it’s not entirely a secret that they weren’t manufactured under the same roof. Really, once again it’s 922(r) to blame for this and at least we’re talking aesthetic nitpicks, not functional ones.

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The other notable part from ATI that comes with the 712 Practical shotgun assembly kit is their fluted magazine tube extension. I believe the spring and follower are ATI also, but am not sure on that one. At any rate, the extension tube is a nice piece and it fit perfectly on the 712. It brings the capacity up to 9+1 (and there’s a way to “ghost load” an extra round on the lifter for a total of 9+2) and extends past the muzzle to protect it when dumping the shotgun into 3-Gun barrels.

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Even on some expensive shotguns they can need a bit of sculpting, if not welding then sculpting, to facilitate aggressive speed reloading without shaving off your thumbnail. The 712’s is nice and smooth and won’t bite back. The loading port has some bevel to the edges to help you slam shells in there without being rejected.

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The only improvement I’d consider (not shown very well in either of the two photos above, mind you) would be a larger bevel around the entrance to the magazine tube. It’s beveled, but it’s fairly small and I was able to jam a couple of my reloads onto that edge, which stopped them dead in their tracks. I don’t think it happened to me with factory loads, and I admit it has a lot to do with the slightly bulbous crimps on some of my reloaded shells. But I’m also not pushing the gun as hard as a 3-Gunner would and a larger margin for error here would be noticed.

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For a shotgun intended for fast action, the controls are too small. A large bolt knob, oversized bolt release button, and oversized cross bolt safety button(s) would be appreciated. Yes, again the idea of the 712 Practical is to get you 3-gunning at an affordable price and these controls can be upgraded later. But these three items are dang important to running the shotgun, especially rapidly, and if they were oversized it would make the Practical look even better when compared against its more expensive competition — and there’s still some room to bump the MSRP up just a tad yet remain a “budget” option.

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One huge plus is that the 712 Practical is actually threaded for choke tubes and it comes with five of them plus a choke tube wrench. This really is practical, as it opens up all sorts of different uses for this shotgun, from sporting clays to home defense to hunting, and it allows the user to optimize shot spread for varying target distances that can be encountered on different stages of a competition.

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That brass bead you see on the muzzle is threaded M3x.5, so it can be unscrewed and replaced with various aftermarket options should you prefer a tritium dot, a fiber optic, etc. That and the ability to mount aftermarket sights to the rib are the extent of one’s choices, as the receiver is not drilled and tapped for aftermarket accessories such as a rail for mounting optics or a ghost ring sight. While that doesn’t make the 712 an outlier in the market, the option to pop a “scope base” onto the receiver would be sweet and would up the value proposition here.

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Installed on the gun from the factory is a flush receiver plate, but it ships with a sling mount plate included in the box and seen installed above. It doesn’t accept a QD swivel, so it’s designed for a clip.

On The Range

The 712 Practical is a nice shooter. Although I didn’t like the pistol grip in this application, the gun shot accurately for me and pointed well. It definitely isn’t light, weighing in on my scale at over 9 lbs empty, but the weight combined with the Scorpion recoil pad and the well-tuned action made it a soft shooter, even with extremely stout loads.

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While the Beretta 1301 felt over-gassed to me, the 712 felt just right. Of course, this meant the 1301 ran my really light reloads — made for my O/U and loaded with either 7/8 or 1 oz of birdshot and not much of a charge behind it — with authority, whereas the 712 would not reliably cycle them. By the end of my testing it was running about 2/3 of those reloads and stovepiping the other third. That said, I have zero expectation of a semi-auto shotgun running these reloads whatsoever. That the Beretta did it was cool, but it meant it beat you up a bit on full-power stuff. The 712 shot factory birdshot without a hiccup and I could shoot it all day long without my shoulder ever knowing. The muzzle also stayed flatter, but it would have been better for me in this regard with a more traditional stock. Magnum slugs, buckshot, and high speed steel loads ran great as well.

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The trigger could use some work. At 7 lbs it’s too heavy for the gun’s intended use, and it’s also gritty. I’d at least polish up the FCG parts if it were mine. Additionally, the shape of the trigger shoe wasn’t ideal for me. I found the curve a little too tight and the trigger itself a little too short. My finger just wanted to be a bit lower on it but then the tip of the trigger would dig into my finger. If this were my competition shotgun I’d probably heat up the trigger shoe and hammer out some of the curve — there’s room in the trigger guard to make it straighter.

While the bolt handle and bolt release button didn’t slow me down much, the really small, cross-bolt safety pads were more of a hindrance. That 1301 Tactical certainly hit all three of these controls out of the park, and assuming use of the safety is mandatory for competition or personal reasons, my first order of business on the 712 would be bolting larger pads onto the safety.

Conclusions

I’d outfit it a little differently, but as an entry-level, lower-priced-yet-reliable shotgun for testing the waters of 3-Gun competition, the 712 Practical has its niche and suits the purpose. Should the purchaser become more and more serious in the sport, the 712 can either grow through some modification or it can be replaced with a more expensive shotgun down the road.

3-Gun or not, the swappable choke tubes, adaptability of this stock and option to replace it with others, removable magazine tube extension (the 712 Practical ships w/ cap & plug for limiting capacity for hunting or trap/clays/skeet purposes), and replaceable front bead do make it a practical shotgun in that it can be readily adapted to just about any use. The CZ 712 line is solid and reliable enough to be a good choice for just about any use, too.

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Specifications: CZ-USA CZ 712 Practical

Caliber: 12 Gauge
Chamber: 3″
Capacity: 9+1
Action: semi-automatic, gas piston
Overall Length: 39.5″
Weight: 8.1 lbs unloaded (manufacturer stat)
Stock: adjustable 6-position AR-15 style
Receiver: Aluminum
Sights: brass bead on the front of the 8mm flat vent rib
Barrel Length: 22″
Chokes: Includes F, IM, M, IC, C flush chokes and a choke wrench
MSRP: $699

Ratings (Out of Five Stars): 

Ergonomics: * * * 
I may not personally like a pistol grip on a gun like this, but plenty of folks do. The ATI one is quite comfortable. I do certainly like the adjustable length of pull and adjustable cheek rest (even if I didn’t use that part). The recoil pad is effective, and the forend was just the right length and diameter for me. One star off for the trigger shape and the small safety, plus I actually needed a little more drop at comb/heel to lower my cheek weld a touch. And it’s a big, heavy gun.

Reliability: * * * * *
No ding on this whatsoever for not liking my reloads. They’re totally out of range of what any semi-auto should run, and the 712 was flawless on everything made by a factory. It felt like it was tuned just right. The action appears robust, reliable, and well-made.

Trigger: * * 
Not so hot. Too heavy, a bit gritty, and even the shape of it was less than ideal.

Customize This: * * * 
Average, as most semi-popular shotguns are going to have options for stocks, bead sights, magazine tubes, etc. More stars would require the ability to mount an optic on the receiver or at least more readily-available aftermarket (drop-in) upgrades for the controls.

Overall: * * * 1/2
I’d probably pin it as average, but the 712 deserves at least half of an extra star for coming in at a fairly low price compared to most of the 3-Gun competition competition. As a good choice for entering the competition world and seeing if it’s for you before plunking down the big bucks, the 712 Practical makes a lot of sense. Even if it lacks some of the race-ready controls, it’s rock solid in reliability and doesn’t need lifter modification. It’s also extremely practical and adaptable for other uses, should 3-Gun not be on the docket and a sweet looking, 10-shot, semi-auto scattergun with adjustable stock and pistol grip is on your wishlist.

94 Responses to Gun Review: CZ 712 Practical Shotgun

    • Lol the math shows it’s over. Winner yet to be announced. good luck to everybody and THIS shotty. Kind of in love with it

  1. My Mossberg 930 JM Pro has been picky lately…I’ve been considering selling/trading it for another SG for multi-gun…this might just be the ticket.

        • I think they’re all manufactured by Huglu. I most cases it’s my understanding that it’s CZ’s own design, to CZ’s specs, manufactured by Huglu. I’ve shot this one and I’ve shot a CZ Woodcock Deluxe over/under, which was very nice in every functional and aesthetic aspect. The O/U was smooth, well-fit, and locked up tight. The 712 Practical also seems well-made, but more utilitarian than that higher-end O/U.

    • I believe the original 712 platform is still produced by Huglu in Turkey along with the other CZ badged shotguns, so my bet is yes.

      I have a 912 I bought online a couple years ago on a whim and I was not impressed. It is very finicky with ammunition, the anodized finish looked cheap and was not evenly applied, leaving bare metal spots visible in the grooves on top of the rib, and it had a “racing pinstripe” on either side of the receiver that just looked absolutely tacky.

      The quality and workmanship sadly does not live up to what one expects from CZ.

      • Yeesh. That doesn’t sound anything like how this one looked (and light years away from the CZ O/U I’ve shot a few times [a friend owns it]).

      • There is a CZ 612 pump at my LGS, and it is labeled “made by AKKAR” on the barrel. It seemed to be high quality, but I never shot it and I feel it is overpriced… maybe why it’s been there for a few years.

      • I own a CZ 712 G2 Green as my all around bird gun The quality, fit and finish is very good. The mallard green anodized receiver is exceptionally well done. I do know that after lots of criticism of what had been going out in terms of semi-autos from Huglu for them, CZUB laid the smack down on Huglu and hence the vast improvement over the past few years and with the 712 G2. In fact it is my understanding that CZUB has their own employee from the Czech Republic down there overseeing all of the QA/QC for their guns now, and that CZUB invested heavily in Huglu’s production facilities recently in order to improve quality. Lots of people like to rag on CZ SA shotguns and the older models likely deserved that, however the newer guns are EXCELLENT! The world record for most clays broken in a n hour was recently broken by a shooter using the CZ 712 G2, and he did it with off the shelf guns modded only with extended mag tubes. You aren’t doing that with a piece of crap! In fact my 712 G2 Green is OFTEN mistaken at the range for a Beretta A400! I even had an A400 owner ask to look at my “A400” because he liked the coloration and wood on it. After shooting a round with my CZ he asked how much I paid and where I got it because he was ordering one! Thats a pretty big endorsement in my opinion!

  2. Adjustable stock is tacticool not practical. $699 is not practical compared to $400 Mossy 590. Big fail.

    • I don’t know. I much prefer a pump (esp. the 590) but this is a semi, more on par with the 930 and should be compared as such.

      That being said. Meh…nothing special about this.

    • I don’t like the looks of the adjustable stock either, but saying it’s not practical is like saying an adjustable seat in a car is not practical. People aren’t shaped the same. Also, since this is a *semi-auto* comparing the price point to a *pump* 590 isn’t accurate. Sticking with the car metaphors that’s like comparing a charger to a taurus. Sure they do the same thing, just one has a little more get up and go to it. Hence why Jeremy compared it to the 930.

    • Not certain, but doesn’t the “practical” in the name refer to the kind of contest it was designed for?

  3. Very interesting gun, would look nice in the safe. …too bad the safe went down with the houseboat.

    • In a safe, with the door closed, is the only place it would look good. That thing is ugly as sin. Not entirely CZ’s fault, though – most of these pistol-grip + stock “tacticool” shotguns look like they fell through an ugly tree and hit every branch.

      • There’s a big segment of the market that LOVES the look, though. I admit that I think a pistol grip shotgun with a “tactical” stock looks really badass to me. Including this one. I just don’t like shooting them as much as I do a more standard stock. From behind the gun, all that matters visually is the sights anyway…

        • I know they’re popular, but I just can’t appreciate them from an aesthetic standpoint. I’m a wood-and-steel guy. Black plastic has its uses, but to my eyes, looking good ain’t one of them.

          I kinda wish someone would make a new high-quality lever-action shotgun (preferably without the somewhat awkward lines of the Winchester 1887). That seems like something that would be a whole hell of a lot of fun to shoot.

        • When it is done properly, I agree that a pistol grip and stock shotgun does look sweet. Unfortunately, most of the time it is done using an AR-15 style buffer tube and stock, which to me looks hacked together. Yes it means more/cheaper options for stocks, but it almost never looks like it belongs.

  4. 12 years later…

    “So there I was son. Commenting as fast as my youthful hands could type. And then…I received an email..”

    “What did it say papa?!”

    “It said ‘You won!’ And I had one. And I got a free Remington R51!!”

    • lmao my coffee damn near made an emergency stop near my keyboard because of this one, thanks.

  5. Nice photos – but what is that big brown lump in the last one? Looks like a photoshoped log fished outta the drink. Or perhaps it is a cleverly camouflaged and slightly slippery covert case.

      • LOL. It is a log fished out of the drink! I’ve been using it for photos for a couple years now haha. It’s also the log seen in like 3/4 of the other photos in this review, including the lead one! If it looks photoshopped, it’s because that’s an HDR photo — basically it’s three photos at different exposures blended into one, with the saturation bumped.

        • Do you do much photography Jeremy? Just wondering cuz its not often I see a gun review with HDR images. As a photography enthusiast I approve!

        • I have no idea what I’m doing. There have been a few reviews of mine where I lucked out and the photos were pretty darn great, and a few where they sucked (Joe Grine crushes all of us on the good photos front). Taking photos of a long gun is awkward for me because of the shape, and lots of guns are black-on-black-on-black so without spending a bunch of time on getting the lighting just right, going HDR is sort of a crutch to prevent ending up with a big blob of black space where a firearm with details and texture should exist 😉 …but in this case, really, it was the only way for me to get the proper exposure on the gun without totally blowing out the background (I don’t have a sufficient flash to fill light outdoors like this and decided I wanted the background because of the ice on the water, etc)… And HDR just looks cool. And it makes amateurs with point-and-shoots look like they can take good photos haha

        • A good light will go a long way. Photoing my guns has become a fun pastime for me and a striplight will do wonders. You can buy them for 100$ or so, but a good DIY hack is to make your own with some cheap LED flashlights stuck inside some cardboard tubes. Cut out an inch wide strip down the length of it and wrap in plain white copy paper. Make them long enough to stretch the whole length of the gun and it gives for some great definition without being overly blinding, especially on stainless parts. Just a little FYI.

        • Google Ice Light and you can get an idea of it. A pair of those has done me wonders on making some good photos.

  6. I claim there was a hanging chad on all the comments before or after me which would shuffle me to the 1 million position

    • CZ seems to be coming out with some pretty good options here lately. I do like the look of the scorpion with a short berrel and folding stock. It might be worth the tax stamp.

  7. AND…..a win for my favorite gun site. Whether I won or not. I hope it wasn’t some new troll… but you could run this EVERY month. Get an advertiser to pay. And don’t announce thousands of comments before it’s over.

  8. Gun looks fugly! Barrel is too short or the tube is too long. Just for that I wouldn’t buy it.

    • ATI makes like four different length extensions for the 712, and CZ makes longer barrels for it as well if it happened to be the singular thing that was a no-go. But, aside from giving you as much capacity as possible for a given barrel length, it’s done on purpose for 3-Gun. It extends past the muzzle specifically to protect the muzzle when the gun is tossed muzzle-down into the dump bucket in a 3-Gun stage…

    • It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but to be competitive in tactical shotgun competition, you need to be able to hold at least 8+1, if not 12 or 13. And have a way to reload quickly (top guys can do 12 rounds in 4ish seconds). It doesn’t make for “pretty” guns, but function over form in this case.

  9. My wallets becomes thinner with every review I read on here just about. Great review, has me really wanting a nice competition style semi shotgun more and more.

  10. I think it looks GREAT, price tag might be a little compared to the competition. Never shot a shotgun with an adjustable stock on there, curious as to how it would feel I am.

  11. I am still waiting for the Stoeger M3k to be available. That is my choice for budget 3 gun shotgun. Only necessary upgrade will be the mag extension.

  12. Wish you’d hurry and announce I’m the winner so I can get some coffee and start looking fo a nise addition to my meager gun supply.

  13. I jumped on here a few minutes ago to see if the review had gone live and was like, “50 comments!?!? Wow I didn’t think a shotgun would be that popular!” …then I realized we still haven’t hit the millionth comment, apparently haha

    Oh and I hereby temporarily resign as a TTAG staff writer. I’ll be back on the clock after the 1 millionth comment is announced hahaha 😉

  14. Great review. This is a tempting option to next gun for me, to add to ol’ reliable 870.
    I’d prefer combat shotgun classes, to 3-gun, as a start.

    I wonder if anyone can do an article on that, and review of providers.

  15. Is there a version of this that does not have the pistol grip?

    This looks perfect other than that pistol grip

    • CZ has 712s in all sorts of stock configurations, both synthetic and wood, and in varying barrel lengths. I’d probably choose this one ($579 msrp) were I to buy one myself for 3-Gun competition or hunting or sporting clays use, and I’d just slap on a 10-shot ATI magazine tube extension later. There are two less expensive models (one w/ 28″ bbl and one w/ 20″ bbl, both $499 msrp), but I like the adjustable ATI Akita stock better than the fixed, synthetic one on the less expensive variants.

  16. The pistol and shoulder stock just does not blend with the rest of the gun. The CZ 712 G2 utility with a normal stock goes for $ 499. You can get a wood stock version of this gun with a 26″ barrel as well for $ 499.

  17. 3.5″ chamber would be nice, just so that it covers the full range of shells. I know that there’s the Mossberg 935, but the overbored, uh, bore means that slugs are off limits.

  18. I actually like how it comes in pieces with crappy directions, ikea style. Provides the user with an educational experience before having fun with the thing. If it were a pump, I’d get one for my kid if I had one.

  19. Its got a pistol grip.

    A pistol grip sucks for 3 gun because its difficult to turn the gun to load it.

    Don

    • I am sure competition is quite a bit different, but I have always loaded the shotgun straight up from the bottom. No turning required.

    • Well, “need” is certainly a strong word, and CZ sells the 712 in many other configurations including a handful of different ‘traditional’ (non-pistol grip) stocks. If I were adding a 712 to the stable, I’d likely get a standard version with a stock I like and then just add the mag tube extension to it.

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