CZ 550 7x57 Mauser special production run
Seems everybody has been dropping the 7x57 Mauser 98 pattern rifles in their lines lately. Ruger M77 no longer available, same goes for Sako, and I was in the European CZ website and noticed the 7x57 has been recently dropped in their lineup, but 7x64 Brenneke was still available, and in the Sako 85 line as well.
Anyway, I was at my FFL a couple months ago and was looking for a new rifle as I had just sold my AR-15. One of his distributors had a special limited production run of the CZ 550 in 7x57 at a special price. It saved me close to $100 from what a CZ 550 in .270 Win or 6.5x55 Swede would have cost.
I pulled the trigger, and for just under $700 including shipping and markup I had a new CZ 550 7x57 American with really gorgeous walnut wood with lots of figure, almost a custom looking stock. I bought up all the old Norma 150 grain SPBT ammo my FFL had in stock, mounted a Burris Signature Select 4-16x44 scope in the supplied CZ rings, and consistently printed sub-MOA groups right out of the box, time and again and again, for my lengthy 60-round break-in spree (hard to stop shooting that 7x57....really pleasant rifle and cartridge).
At the rifle range, guy at the adjacent bench next to me says, "Hey, is that a Sako?" "No", says I, "It may look as good as some Sako rifles, but it probably shoots better than most."
Tried several handloads using Nosler Partition 150 grain, but got nothing that would match the old 1984 Norma factory loadings in velocity. A 7mm-08 max load of 46.5 grains of W760 matched the Norma in accuracy, shooting around 3/4" at 100 yards. It still grouped low at 100 yards compared to the Norma load. When my SuperFormance powder comes in, maybe I can get a load that shoots as flat as the factory load. All the modern factory loads I could find all listed lower velocity and muzzle energy than the old Norma load, except RWS and the new Norma loads, which are horrendously expensive.
I expect smaller group sizes from 162 grain A-Max bullets after the SuperFormance powder gets here. Partitions are more about terminal performance than match grade accuracy. I have plenty of room in the magazine to seat the A-Max bullets as far out as they need to be. Knowing the CZ 550 is a .30-06 action length, I knew I would have no issues with magazine clearance when using the A-Max. That's one of the reasons I wanted 7x57 chambering, besides the fact all the oldtimers who had used the round had basically glowing comments on its performance.
Anyway....anybody looking for a new 7x57 in the highly regarded CZ 550 action at a good price might want to check out Jerry's Sports Center catalog at one of their dealers. They list the European Lux (hogback stock with iron sights) model in the catalog, but an American stock was available with rings and no iron sights, just like I wanted, and for the same price....just under $600 dealer cost.
A CZ 550 action will feel a bit rough at first, but they soon smooth right out with use and work a lot better with a round in the mag. The best way to polish and lap the action on a CZ is to use it a lot. Spend a couple nights working the action while you watch TV or whatever.
The 7x57 is a good cartridge for long range hunting if you are not afflicted with magnumitis, and this special limited production run CZ 550 in 7x57 is a standout bargain. 3 more months until I get to use it on mule deer. I guess a few prairie dogs will be meeting some A-Max bullets before then, however.
I would never consider a 7x57 if I couldn't get handloads, because the Norma and RWS ammo is priced beyond my reach and doesn't come with my preferred bullets anyway. American 7x57 factory loads are all lackluster rounds for old weak military actions from what I found.
My CZ rifles tend to like fairly hot to max loads, and this new one is no exception. This one should be a handloader's dream.