Believe it or not, I’ve only owned a single, manual-action .22 LR rifle in my life. It’s a pre-1968 (unsure exactly when it was made, but it has no serial number so it’s pre-Gun Control Act) WesternField 830, which I’ve had since I was a kid. Although it’s still a solid shooter, after my AAC Element 2 suppressor was released from NFA purgatory I decided it was time to find a new rifle that was a bit more modern and visually interesting, had a threaded muzzle, and was an absolute tack driver. I had hoped this would be PWS’ T3 Summit Rifle, as it’s sexy as hell and the toggle action is a blast to run, but its accuracy left me underwhelmed. Cue the CZ 455 Varmint Tacticool Suppressor-Ready rifle . . .
A friend in California showed me his CZ 452 about five years ago. Although by that point I had already been a CZ pistol fan for quite some time, I had never handled one of CZ’s rifles. My impression was that it looked and felt like a quality, centerfire rifle in every way, and I think that would still be my one-sentence review of the gun today.
Plastic and aluminum are eschewed for parts milled and hammered from blocks of steel, then blued. Walnut stocks are of a higher grade wood than found on most rimfires. Actions are tight, triggers are adjustable and break cleanly, and barrels are cold hammer forged. In a sea of cheap, mass-produced rimfire rifles, CZUB is keeping things old school and manufacturing a product that will last.
Of course I just had to rebel against the old school at least a little bit, and was drawn to one of the five 455 variants (of 13) that don’t have traditional, wood stocks like the 455 Varmint that Nick reviewed or the 455 Lux that Brett reviewed. As much as I do love the classy look of the full Mannlicher stock and the futuristic racecar looks of Joe Grine’s 455 Varmint Evolution, I really dug the police sniper-esque, tactical look and feel of this rifle’s Boyd’s stock.
It’s actually a laminate wood stock coated with a pebble-texture paint finish. It feels stiffer and more solid than your typical synthetic stock, and didn’t carry the massive price tag of the carbon fiber and fiberglass Manners T4 stock available on the 455 Precision Trainer.
I like the dual sling studs on the forend. This makes simultaneously running a bipod and a sling easier. While most bipods do have a sling attachment point on the bottom, more clearance is provided with the two stud method. It also provides two bipod mounting location options, which is twice as many as usual and infinitely more than on the studless T3 Summit rifle.
The bolt is stiff for a rimfire, locking up quite snugly but also fairly smoothly. I know it’s common for owners to polish their 455 bolts, but for once I’m going to let that happen on its own. As you can see in the video above, firing this rifle rapidly is easy. Even if the bolt is fairly tight, its throw is short and I have zero worries about bending or otherwise harming it. It can be manhandled like a centerfire.
A departure from what I’m used to, the safety lever is on the bolt itself and physically blocks the striker — much like an old Mauser. It’s easily pushed forwards with your strong hand thumb to engage, and pulled rearwards with thumb or trigger finger to disengage.
Striker status is easy to verify by look or feel, as it protrudes from the rear of the bolt when cocked, and is recessed in the bolt channel when at rest.
The bolt face has light support for the cartridge rim, and employs dual extractors to ensure empty (or full) brass comes out of the match chamber.
The polished, blued bolt handle has a curve to it to clear various optics, including large scopes like the 5-25×52 SIG SAUER WHISKEY5 that’s seen in most of these photos.
An 11mm dovetail is machined into the top of the receiver, which does limit scope ring options a bit. Joe Grine had some great suggestions in his review, but the CZ rings have been working great for me in both 1″ and 30mm flavors. CZ sells a Weaver adapter rail as well if that’s your thing.
The heavy profile bull barrel — another aspect lending to this rifle’s centerfire-like look and feel — is threaded 1/2×28 at the muzzle. The thick barrel leaves plenty of shoulder for solidly mounting a suppressor.
One of the things I absolutely adored about the T3 Summit Rifle is its incredible trigger. Easily the shortest-traveling, most ridiculous trigger I can remember shooting. On CZ’s 455, there’s only one aspect to the trigger that I actually prefer; it’s made of steel.
I dig the flat front of the trigger shoe, and generally it feels pretty good although my finger does prefer slightly less profile curvature. It’s almost completely creep-free from the factory and metered in at a hair under 4 lbs, but for some reason it felt heavier than that. Of course, it’s also adjustable for pull weight.
Well, it’s adjustable once you return from the hardware store with a T30 Torx bit, at which point you’ll be able to very easily remove the stock. Trigger pull weight is adjusted by adding or removing pre-tension on the trigger spring by rotating that square nut. I let mine out most of the way and it’s now dead consistent at just a hair over 3 lbs.
Thanks to the Dvorak TriggerScan I can show what the trigger pull actually looks like:
A 0.054″ travel distance from at rest to trigger break is pretty dang impressive. That’s really too little creep to feel by hand unless you’re trying extremely hard. Graphed against the Century Arms C308, which has 3.7 times more trigger travel before the break:
I’m not well-versed enough to know all of the differences between the CZ 452 and the 455 that appears to have replaced it, but one of them is definitely the interchangeable barrel system. CZ sells a bunch of 455 barrels in .22 LR, .22 WMR, and .17 HMR in various styles and ranging in price from about $123 to $189. The best part of this is that your same CZ 455 receiver can accept any of these barrels in any of these calibers (keep in mind some stocks won’t clear the bull barrels), and barrels can be swapped out in just a few minutes.
A couple of set screws clamp the barrel into the receiver, and that explains 95% of what’s required for the barrel swap process. 10/22-like simplicity here. I believe some CZ 455 models are even sold as kits with a spare barrel in a different caliber.
The factory-included magazine is a polymer, 5-round affair that fits flush against the bottom metal. For .22 LR use, CZ also sells a polymer 0-round (a single shot sled), 10-round, and 25-round magazine.
Hint: If you replace the large, polymer follower in the 25-round mag with one of the shorter, metal followers from the other magazines, you’ll go from a 25-round capacity to about a 32-round capacity. And it’s still reliable. That’s almost $219 in .22 LR in one magazine!
Yep. Tack driver.
Before I had even shot this rifle for groups, I was playing around to get familiar with it while sighting in the Primary Arms 6X ACSS .22 LR scope. Center punching clay pigeons at 150 yards with utterly boring regularity made it clear very quickly that this thing was a shooter. As seen in the video review of that PA scope, even at that distance I was consistently able to intentionally hit clays in the rim after a .22 hole in the center didn’t shatter them completely. This left me pretty excited to see what kinds of groups it would lay down, and it didn’t disappoint.
Three shots at 50 yards:
Five shots with Federal Gold Medal UltraMatch at 50 yards:
Five shots with American Eagle Suppressor at 50 yards:
Federal in light rain at 50 yards:
The most amazing thing about this rifle is that it put up solid groups with every type of ammo I tried. Most five-shot groups came in around a half inch at 50 yards, a few brands consistently did better than that, and the worst, least consistent brands still always grouped inside of 3/4 inches. The best were Federal Gold Medal UltraMatch (this has been the best for me in a few guns now) and American Eagle Suppressor, followed closely by Eley Match, Gemtech Silencer Subsonic, Norma Match, and Lapua (SK). I also shot Winchester 555 bulk, Federal Target Grade Performance bulk, CCI Blazer bulk, Remington Subsonic, Eley Club, American Eagle bulk, Aguila SuperExtra, CCI Mini Mag (both HP and round nose), and CCI Stinger.
Flummoxed that I had gone through my entire .22 LR collection without finding anything the rifle didn’t seem to enjoy shooting — and we’re talking loads from 950 fps up to 1,640 fps — I broke out the weird stuff. A handful of 15-year-old, CCI .22 Shorts and some primer-only, 20 grain Aguila Super Colibris later, and I still haven’t found that round. These I only shot at 25 yards, but they’ll both do one-shot groups all day long.
This is the accuracy I was looking for.
On The Range
A laminate stock and steel everything else, including what’s a bull barrel even by centerfire standards, doesn’t add up to a featherweight rifle. According to CZ it’s 6.6 lbs dry and unadorned. Add a bipod, an optic capable of taking advantage of the 455’s accuracy potential, and a suppressor and you’re lugging around a real piece of shootin’ iron. With the Primary Arms 6X scope plus the other, aforementioned accouterments affixed, it clocks in at 9 lbs on the money.
That’s a lot of rimfire, but the balance when shooting offhand is pretty good since the barrel is only 16″ long and the optic and fairly large buttstock round things out. The stock’s pistol grip is excellent, as is its cheek rest and forend. In total, it’s highly controllable and can be locked down well in a variety of positions. When shooting off the bipod I like to put my thumb on top of the flat space above the pistol grip.
Although nothing in the action changes to run the longer .22 WMR or .17 HMR cartridges, it still feels short and sweet running .22 LR. It would be even faster if the bolt didn’t lock up so snugly or fit in the receiver so precisely, but this definitely contributes to the excellent accuracy and overall solid, quality feel. I wouldn’t mess with that.
As Nick mentioned in his review, the magazines line up the next round almost perfectly with the chamber. Rounds enter smoothly and without damaging the bullet’s nose (which also contributes to accuracy, I’m sure, as many .22 LRs will put dents and dings on bullets as they chamber). Empty cases eject with authority, even if you’re taking it easy on the bolt. I’ve had this rifle since the beginning of August and I’ve been shooting it a lot, and have yet to suffer a single failure to feed or eject, or a single light strike or other mechanical issue.
It’s a great shooter. Oh, and it’s quiet as a church mouse with subsonic ammo.
Centerfire quality in a rimfire rifle that’s made to last. The manufacturing and materials may be a bit old school, but the stock and the heavy, threaded barrel definitely jazz it up a bit. It’s so accurate that I had to avoid my morning coffee — 0.05 MOA caffeine shakes actually show up on paper!
I’d leave it at that, but the TTAG brass knows that no gun or gear is perfect and encourages us to seek out the truth and seek out the flaws. Or, at least, the nit picks, which is all I can come up with in this case. I’d like a trigger shoe with a larger radius, I’d like a threaded-on bolt knob so I could slap some absurd tactical thing on it, the gun could go on a bit of a diet (but then, of course, it just wouldn’t be the same gun, in which case CZ makes an app for that), and its appetite for .22 LR is much larger than I anticipated.
Specifications (CZ 455 Varmint Tacticool Suppressor-Ready):
|Rate Of Twist:||1:16 in|
|Magazine Capacity:||5, 10, or 25|
|Stock:||Black Painted Laminate|
|Length Of Pull:||13.75 in|
|Sights:||No Sights, Integral 11mm Dovetail|
|Barrel:||Cold Hammer Forged|
|Barrel Length:||16.5 in|
|Overall Length:||34.75 in|
Ratings (out of five stars):
Fit, Finish, Build Quality * * * *
It’s a strong four stars. CZ tends to look at finish polishing as something that will happen on its own over the course of a few hundred to few thousand rounds. Which is generally true. But five stars would require polishing the sear surfaces and some of the bolt mating surfaces, etc., at the factory to make the moving parts feel glass smooth instead of just better than average. Again, the quality of this gun is way above that of most rimfires, but it also costs more so I’m holding it to a higher standard.
Customization * * * * *
From the factory you get swappable barrels in three calibers, various magazine capacity offerings, and lots of stock options. The OEM trigger is adjustable for pull weight. Thanks to Boyd’s offerings alone, there are dozens of aftermarket stock styles to choose from. There are aftermarket triggers from Timney and others. Fewer scope ring options than with some rifles, but still enough to fit the bill. Plus CZ sells a Weaver mount. You’re pretty well covered for customization here.
Accuracy * * * * *
It’s probably capable of better accuracy than I’m capable of wringing out of it.
Overall * * * * *
This rifle was loaned to me by CZ-USA, but the only thing going back to them is a check. This is the new, manual-action .22 LR I’ve been looking for.