CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis MTR (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)
CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis MTR (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)
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When TTAG’s Jeremy S. asked me if I wanted to review a new CZ 457 rimfire rifle, I told him yes, and to just go ahead and have them send me the invoice. I didn’t ask what the features were. I didn’t care what it looked like. I was going to be happy with it, whatever it was, because it was a CZ rimfire rifle.

The CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis MTR did not disappoint.

I love how CZ pretty much put all of the basic features right there in the name, “CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis MTR”. That MTR stands for “Match Target Rifle”.  For this series of rimfires, it means a very tight chamber, with minimal tolerances and a short headspace.

If you’re shooting a 35 to 40 grain projectile, your bullet is probably engaging the lands. The upside to the MTR chamber and headspace is that the cartridge and bullet don’t have any space to cant one way or another prior to heading down the bore, improving consistency. The downside is that if the chamber is too tight, you’ll have problems with extraction.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

If extraction problems are going to occur, it’s going to happen on hot, humid days with a dirty bore. The first 500-round box of Herter’s rimfire ammunition was shot out of this gun in the blazing Texas August heat. I cleaned and lubed the rifle before I started firing, and then not again until I was ready to shoot for groups, which was after that box of Herter’s.

I never had a case fail to load or extract. I had two rounds fail to fire, but they also failed to fire on the first shot when loaded into a Ruger Single Six revolver. They both fired on the third go around, so the the ammunition is to blame there, not the guns.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

Like several of the better rimfire receivers on the market, there is no feed ramp into the 457’s chamber. That’s because the soft lead tips of many .22LR target rounds can be damaged by the feed ramp, making for an inconsistent bullet shape.

Unlike say, the Vudoo Gun Works action, the CZ 457 doesn’t pick up the cartridge in line with the bore straight from the magazine. Instead, there is some upward angle as the round leaves the magazine and the bolt presses the round in line with the chamber.

I inspected the rounds as best as I could, including using a magnifying glass on soft lead bullets. If there was any deformation of the round as it goes into the chamber, I couldn’t find it.

The CZ 455 is legendary, and still to this day a great rimfire rifle. But CZ listened to the American market for the updates they’ve made to the 457.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

The most obvious change to the 455 models is the safety. The 455 models had a kind of paddle safety mounted to the rear of the bolt. It worked just fine, but was unfamiliar to most American shooters, and some shooters needed to bring their face off the gun to manipulate it. Instead, the 457 includes a familiar right side receiver-mounted push-to-fire safety.

Also welcome is the 60 degree bolt throw. If you’re running iron sights or a smaller magnification scope, this won’t mean much to you. But if you’re trying to reach tiny targets far away, an optic with higher magnification and a larger objective is likely on the menu. The 60 degree throw helps clear those larger bells and still provides plenty of room for your fingers to keep a hold of the bolt handle as you cycle it.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

Another difference is the trigger. The 457’s trigger is adjustable for not just pull weight, but also for overtravel and take-up. According to my Lyman Digital Trigger scale, the rifle came from the factory with the trigger set at 3 lbs, 8 oz. With a little bit of experimentation, it was pretty easy to get the trigger all the way down to a consistent 2 lbs.

At that weight, the pull was light and crisp, and wouldn’t trip when I smacked the rifle hard or bounced it on a table. The take-up adjustment is particularly nice. Again, a little experimentation was all it took and the results were immediate engagement while still remaining safe.

You’d have to be a pretty astute observer to notice, but along with flattened the sides of the receiver, CZ also removed an inch from its length as well. That reduces the overall weight of the receiver, as well as the rifle’s overall footprint.

What’s stayed the same from the 455 to the 457 is the barrel set system and the magazine. Those are good things to leave alone.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

From the factory, the Varmint Precision Chassis MTR features a 16″ heavy profile cold hammer forged barrel with six-groove rifling and a black nitride finish. It’s got a 1:16 twist, like pretty much every .22LR out there, and ends with 1/2×28 threads and a thread protector. I hope you’ll be quickly replacing that with the quality suppressor of your choice. I shoot a suppressed .22LR almost every day and I wish that joy for you all.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

If there’s something you don’t like about all that, you’re in luck. With the same barrel system as the 455, a barrel length or even caliber swap is completely user friendly and doesn’t require a gunsmith to accomplish. You can find barrel options from CZ, as well as spectacular precision barrels from Lilja, and others.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

The magazine that ships with the 457 Varmint Precision Chassis MTR is the same 5-rounder as the previous versions. I have absolutely no issues with this magazine. It feeds perfectly every time, any round I put through it. It never fails to lock flush or fails to release.

My only issue is that it ships with just one of them. They aren’t particularly difficult to find or expensive, but still, a single fiver for a premium competition-focused line seems a little cheap.

The big difference between this rifle and the other rimfire rifles in the MTR line is that aluminum chassis. A chassis make a lot of sense as you can swap actions and keep the user interface on the rifle mostly the same.

At first, putting a chassis under a proprietary footprint didn’t make sense. And then I remembered how easy it is to swap the barrel and chambering of the gun. And now it’s a great idea.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

The chassis’ emerald green is accentuated with a “CZ Orange” trigger guard. The geometry of it works well, sitting wide and flat for its entire length, to right in front of the trigger guard. That shape gives the shooter tons of real estate for bag placement. It also has QD attachments for a sling.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

Instead of a full-length chassis with an integral stock, CZ went with an AR buffer tube at the back end. That allows the shooter to use a wide variety of aftermarket stock options on the 457 Varmint Precision Chassis MTR. Out of the box, CZ chose the very popular LuthAR MBA-4 Carbine with Cheek Rest buttstock.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

This stock adjusts for length of pull and comb height, and includes a railed section on the bottom for the inclusion of a monopod or other stabilizing device. The LuthAR buttstock line is popular for a reason, and some kind of adjustable stock makes sense here.

For those of you who do most of your prone shooting with a rear bag, this might not be the stock for you. The front end is very narrow and the tall nature of the stock itself allows for it to act as a lever on the bag, reducing horizontal stability. Of course, since it’s mounted on a buffer tube, any user can quickly and easily replace it with the stock of their choice.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

The pistol grip is also AR platform-based and can just as easily be changed with any of the dozens of AR-15 compatible grips on the market. I’d prefer a more vertical grip, but the out-of-the-box Hogue model works great, too.

The rifle feels good, it looks good, it’s got lots of options. It shoots great.

After more than 500 rounds of plinking, I cleaned the bore and the action and got to shooting groups. Because of the sharp forward portion of the bottom of the LuthAR stock, my usual Caldwell Stinger Shooting Rest didn’t work well. Instead, I jammed the stock into the rear of an old MTM Predator Rest.

Once I bagged up that rest to add some weight, it worked extremely well, and I’m convinced there’s no way you could wring more accuracy out of this gun.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

Mounting a Nightforce SHV 20X optic in CZ rings onto the integral 11mm receiver mounts, I shot four 5-round strings at 100 yards and averaged them.

Of course, like all rimfire rifles, ammunition is more than half the battle. If all I had was Herter’s 36gr plated hollow point ammunition, I’d be disappointed in how this rifle shot.  That ammunition printed 2.6″ groups, on average.

I shot several different brands of ammunition, but none of them were what most competitive shooters would consider “match” ammunition. Still, and unsurprisingly, the best shooting was the CCI Standard Velocity 40 grain lead target round. This ammunition printed average 1-inch groups, with the best five-round group at .8″. Again, those are 100-yard groupings. This gun deserves some good Eley or Lapua ammunition, but I just couldn’t find any.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

The CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis MTR certainly deserves some serious consideration for those wanting to compete in the long range rimfire game. Considering its price, you’ll be competing in the Open division, and probably against rifles that cost two times or more than what you paid. Even so, you’ll be in the game and competitive with an easy ability to upgrade your barrel in the future should you choose.

Specifications: CZ 457 VARMINT PRECISION CHASSIS MTR

Chambering: 22 LR
Rate Of Twist: 1:16 in
Magazine Capacity: 5
Magazine Type: Detachable
Stock: Aluminum chassis
Sights: No sights, integral 11mm dovetail
Barrel: Heavy cold hammer forged
Barrel Length: 16 in
Weight: 7 lbs
MSRP $1115 (about $915 retail)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance * * * *
The trigger guard’s nod to CZ’s performance “Orange” line is a nice touch.  The nitride finish is smooth and even throughout, and the green really looks great.

Customization * * * * *
Swap the barrel. Swap the caliber.  Modify the trigger is myriad ways.  Put whatever AR stock and grip you want.  Suppress it.  This gun is the chameleon of bolt action rimfires.

Reliability * * * * *
Perfect.

Accuracy * * * *
Very, very good. There are more accurate rimfires on the market, but not at this price.

Overall * * * * ½
Nobody should be surprised CZ put out another great rimfire.  I’m taking something off for only one magazine being included and what I really feel like is the wrong stock. But wow, this rifle is fantastic, and especially at this price.  The out-of-the-box performance, and the adjustability and relatively low cost customization potential of this rifle really set it apart.

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26 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Jon,
    Another great review and like your previous articles, you make me want to go out and buy one. Being primarily a pistolero, that’s saying something.

    Keep up the good work

  2. I have the 20″ MTR in the wooden stock (modded to have adjustable cheek height and an ARCA rail out front). I sold my Gen 2 Vudoo and “downgraded” to the CZ. With Lapua Center-X, the CZ shoots equivalent groups to my old Vudoo and my friends’ Vudoo and Rim-X rifles. And, because the rifle is in NRL22’s Base class, I’m limited to a cheap $400 scope, while they all use $2000-$4000 scopes. I was testing Eley Match yesterday, and at 100 yards my worst five shot group was 0.52″. I had five under 0.5″, and my best was 0.33″.

    The MTRs are fantastic rifles. Putting that plated ammo in one is tantamount to abuse.

    • I didn’t know you could make those modifications and still stay in the base class. That’s awesome.
      Could not agree more with you on the ammo. But it’s what I have a lot of and reviews take a lot of rounds.

        • That’s great. For some reason I also thought the total MSRP limit was $1,000, but maybe I’m thinking of older information. Or just wrong. I see now it’s $1,200.

    • “Putting that plated ammo in one is tantamount to abuse.”

      It can damage a rimfire rifle like that?

      Isn’t it pure(ish) copper?

      • Mostly I was teasing him about using crappy ammo in a fancy rifle. Copper is a harder metal than lead, so it does wear down the rifling faster than match ammo. But since 22s don’t put much wear on a barrel, that barrel will still probably shoot precision groups for his grandchildren.

  3. My CZ 455 is my current favorite, but this is making me think hard about upgrading. Being able to tap the AR aftermarket for parts is very, very appealing.

    The only change I would make is replacing the dovetail with a pic rail. Yes, you can get an adapter, but it’s better to not need one.

  4. CCI STD velocity is probably one of the most accurate non-match ammo you can get. It is subsonic so you do not have the instability that get when have higher velocity gets in transition from supersonic to subsonic at 100 yards.

    • Even brands like ‘Eley’ have cheaper training rounds, but you’re still gonna *pay*…

  5. “My only issue is that it ships with just one of them. They aren’t particularly difficult to find or expensive, but still, a single fiver for a premium competition-focused line seems a little cheap.”

    Yeah, a bit odd. I suppose someone could make a nice tooled-leather ‘wallet’ for 2-3 mags in the pocket. Emboss the ‘CZ’ emblem on it, even.

    I’m jealous of JWT’s kids. They are gonna have a gold mine of primo boom-sticks to fight over when he’s gone.

    EDIT – Hey, Jon? I’m available for adoption, and don’t mind the smell of goat shit while shoveling it… 🙂

  6. I know a number of people with various model CZs. All tell me extra magazines have to be fitted to rifle as they don’t work reliably out of the box.

    One reason why I bought the Ruger Precision rimfire. 10 round BX1 magazines work out of the box. I’m getting half inch groups with CCI 40g standard velocity at 50m. Off the bench using a bipod and back bag. Eley and Lapua are just too expensive in this part of the world.

    • I have a CZ 455, I’ve bought two extra magazines.

      They worked out-of-the-box with absolutely no modifications of any sort required.

      • It is what about a dozen owners of various CZ rifles told me. From Brno Model 1 to CZ455. That the QA rejects end up down under would not surprise me. They certainly did with Big Green.

        • I’ve had a 455 for years and have probably 10 magazines for it, which I’ve picked up at different times, including the 5, 10, and 25 round flavors, and they’ve all fit and functioned flawlessly. There is effectively zero chance CZ is hand-fitting rimfire magazines to each gun.

  7. A cursory web search for this rifle plus “left handed” gave me no joy. Does anyone know if it is available in a lefty friendly model?

    • Probably not, but it is not a gun you are going to rapid fire. Shouldn’t make a difference off the bench. Even may be an advantage.

      A friend of mine is left handed and shoots with with a right-handed CZ455. He says he is used to that bolt because of years of shooting service rifles.

      • I’ve been shooting for more than a half century. I asked a simple question and your reply (and I’m glad to give benefit of doubt and assume you’re intent is to be helpful) ascribes to me motivation I didn’t state, knowledge lacking your own insights, and a level of inexperience you have no basis to assume. All that without answering my question. Thanks just the same.

  8. Hey JWT.
    Thanx for going to Africa and fighting the elephant poachers.
    If theres was a critters of the world medal of gratitude I would award it to you.

  9. Is there any realistic difference between one chassis and any other chassis for the .22s out there? I mean, aside from the rifle itself. It seems to me that all of the recent crop of chassis .22s are generally equivalent in features, and all appear to shoot 1 MOA or better, in the $1000 (or less) price range. Any comments?

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