CZ 455 Varmint review

Discussion in 'Rimfire and Airguns' started by top predator, May 20, 2012.

  1. top predator

    top predator Well-Known Member

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    I finally got my CZ 455 Varmint today, so I thought I'd do a bit of a first impressions review, with a range report follow up in a few weeks after I get a base and optic in, plus a little seasoning of the barrel is established. Within the first hour, had it torn apart and snapped a few pictures.

    Fresh out of the box, it has that classic CZ heavy barreled look, with a few pleasant surprises. A Walnut stock with a palm swell, a quality rubber butt pad, nice checkering around the grip, sling studs, a nice even sort of matte blued finish. The stock's barrel channel provided more than enough room to ensure a free float.
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    The photo does the palm swell no justice, it is only on the bolt side of the stock, Leftie shooters do without one.
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    Some specs on the CZ 455 Varmint:

    Barrel: 20” .22LR as shown, switch barrel optional barrels (.17HMR and .22WMR) 1:16 twist Cold hammered, free floated. .866” diameter, non tapered.
    Stock: Walnut, palm swell, large barrel channel, checkered grip
    Weight: 7.1 lbs
    Trigger: Adjustable for poundage (according to the manual, 3.3 lb to 4 lb range)
    Sights: none, 11mm dovetail for optics
    Magazine: 5 round polymer, 10 round available. Steel also available.



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  2. top predator

    top predator Well-Known Member

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    The action, much like the other CZ rimfire line, has that "big rifle feel and look". There is a small lever in front of the magazine well that is the magazine release.
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    The bottom metal is classic CZ, and the action mounting bolts are T-30 torx, which is a nice touch. Note the square section in the rear of the mag well - it is pinned, but easily removeable to allow .17HMR or .22WMR magazines to fit for the switch barrel option.
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    The top of the action reveals the 11 mm dovetail, the rear mounting bolt hole, the magazine well caliber change spacer, and the guide rail section for the bolt. This is also part of the switch barrel process and will be talked about later. The ejection port is rather large, and allows plenty of room to clean, clear FTEs, and to single feed rounds (single shot adapter available).
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    The heavy .866" non tapered bull barrel has a simple concaved even crown to it, edge to center.
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    The overall fit of the bolt, action, barrel, and stock are quite good. There are a few tooling marks here and there, but nothing like the CZ rifles of old.

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  3. top predator

    top predator Well-Known Member

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    The major parts to whole platform. Switch calibers / barrels, you will have to go this far. Note the "extra" piece of formed metal that goes between the stock and the trigger guard. It is not only a dust cover or guide for the trigger, but actually a trigger adjustment tool that fits in that area. Pretty slick actually...
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    As most CZ's, the action is very beefy, the bottom view shows the rear action mounting bolt hole, trigger assembly and sear, magazine well (plastic, but metal aftermarket ones are available) with caliber change spacer. The second action screw mounting bolt hole is just in front of the mag well. The Two 3mm hex screws to either side of the hole is how to remove the barrel. Simply unscrew and pull (while gently wiggling) the barrel out.
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    The barrel removal hex bolts didn't have lock tite on them, i suggest applying for the reassembly, or to do it anyway even if not intending on removing the barrel at all so the bolts don't become loose.
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    The hex bolts set against the cuts you see in the chanber area and keeps the barrel from being removed. The right angle cut in you see on the bottom of the barrel rests on the silverish bolt guide mentioned earlier. This helps bring the whole thing toghether, and prevent twisting.

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  4. top predator

    top predator Well-Known Member

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    Another view of the barrel notches for the srews and for interlocking with the bolt guide.
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    The action can be further broken down by removing the two 3mm mounting bolts that hold on the magazine well. Be careful, the spacer for caliber change is pinned, and pinned VERY lightly. Make sure not to lose it. The mag well bolts also hold the silverish bolt guide in place.
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    As I was taking it apart, i figured i might as well take out the magazine release lever. There are extended length aftermarket ones available, just push out the pin. Watch not to lose the pin or the spring.
    The trigger assembly. It is adjustable (barely) for poundage. I found it full of creep, and will be replacing it with a spring kit or an adjustable sear, or both. IMO the trigger is the biggest drawback to the rifle. The set trigger available on the 453 line should have been incorporated into the 455. The assembly is pinned, there is much on the internet about removal and adjustments. The main adjustment is the nut that is at the bottom of the large spring.
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    The bolt is just as beefy as the receiver is, and is as centerfire reminacent.
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  5. top predator

    top predator Well-Known Member

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    Large, beefy extractors, using the familiar C clip for retention.
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    It has a clean look, and the saftey is large and has a positive engagement feel / function. The round back end of the striker / firing pin assembly shows to some extent a loaded or cocked indication. The bolt can be disassembled further to gain access to the spring.
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  6. top predator

    top predator Well-Known Member

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    Overall the CZ 455 Varmint is an attractive package that allows the switching of calibers to add versatility. Surely there will be custom barrels available from other manufacturers as it is very easy to swap out and no gunsmithing involved, just a 3mm hex wrench. Either a CZ .22WMR, .17HMR, .17Mach2 barrel can be installed (sporter or bull according to CZ), and a quick removal of the magazine spacer and a change of magazines is all that is needed.

    The factory trigger has much to be desired, but there are several aftermarket options available. As mentioned previously, the set trigger group should have been used. The action mounting bolts are spaced nicely at either side of the receiver, and the Torx (#T-30) adds a solid grip for torqueing.
    The barrel channel is opened very wide, which is hard to find. Perhaps it's to help with the removal / installation of the barrel. But it does offer a true free float.

    So far if wanting to make up a dedicated "tool kit" for a CZ 455:
    3mm hex (Allen) wrench
    T-30 Torx bit
    3/32nd punch for the trigger pins (i'll give my brass sight drifts a try first, or use an extra Allen wrench of the same size), and to politely push out the magazine release lever and spacer.

    To nit pick a little, the maunual that came with the rifle is less than optimal, with text referring you to figures / pictures that are not in it. So those that are not mechanically inclined may have a little difficulty understanding what to do. However there is a lot of information on the internet on how to adjust or replace the trigger, and an actual video of how to change barrels is available on the CZ site.

    Perhaps another suggestion would be the addition of the receiver being drilled and tapped for "regular" scope bases, and maybe a better looking trigger guard should have been considered. A three position saftey would have also been a good addition.

    It appears CZ has answered the question of "Which caliber?" by allowing you change as you go, both with sporter and bull barrels. Although this is a not a new concept, it is done really well, wrapped with a Walnut stock, and in a package which is unmistakably CZ.

    As a range report is not available at this time one will be added in the future to confirm that the 455 holds true to the same accuracy they are known for.

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  7. top predator

    top predator Well-Known Member

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    Future plans for this particular rifle:

    DIP 25 MOA extended base

    UTG quick detachable rings

    DIP trigger spring kit or adjustable sear & trigger shoe ***UPDATE-DIP 452 and 453 sear will not fit per DIP, but they will have one for the 455 in a few months (maybe a Rifle basix trigger instead $85.00, most likely a Yo Dave trigger kit $18.00. Was looking at Eric Brooks' trigger kit $14.00), awaiting a reply email)

    DIP aluminum mag well
    DIP extended mag release

    Considering a Centerpoint or Leapers 8-32 56mm side focus mildot scope

    Anti cant rail mounted bubble

    Harris bipod

    Oversized bolt knob (haven't decided on round or teardrop)

    AICS airsoft stock conversion (Well G96 folder) project.

    I was thinking a camo paint job to add some attitude, but we'll see how slick it looks when together. After all it's going to be a bench queen.

    Will shoot it with the regular stock to get a baseline, then after the Airsoft stock goes on to compare the difference. May take a while before it's all together.
     
  8. top predator

    top predator Well-Known Member

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    UPDATE 5/24/2012: I must add that the plastic Magazine well should be replaced with an aftermarket metal one. As I was installing a few of the DIP items mentioned earlier, a slight bit of torque while holding the rifle caused the magazine well to crack! I suggest that if getting a new CZ with the plastic magazine well, you should budget for a metal replacement.

    A quick email to CZ will be sent tonight, suggesting that they take a look at incorporating a metal magazine well into this, or any other model, that employs the plastic magazine well. I'll include the price of the replacement one I'll be purchasing, perhaps (I doubt) they'll spring for it. I don't really see the need to replace it with another plastic one, even if they send one. I didn't even make it to the range as of yet.

    Other than the creep on the trigger, this is the biggest drawback (IMO a pretty big one) I've found, especially if you plan on switching calibers often.
     
  9. top predator

    top predator Well-Known Member

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    05/27/2012 RANGE REPORT

    The range gods were smiling today, our local range is noted for wind especially as the ground starts to warm, however barely a breeze & warm so off to the range.

    To start off, I did a quick boresight and shot 2 rounds (lower left bull) and then made some adjustments to the scope to "bring it in". After 25 rounds, the rifle was shooting 1" groups at 50 yards, by the 6th group (upper right) and shooting lines (upper left) I was confident enough to get a "virgin rifle" range report. It was also interesting to see the groups shrink as more rounds were shot. After 150 rounds the groups were a jagged hole at 50 yards.

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    First a few things about the rifle. Shooting from the bench, the comb of the stock was very comfortable, as being a lefty I could not take full advantage of the palm swell, but the cheek weld and grip was comfortable none the less. Closing the bolt shot after shot had a solid feeling to it. The bolt felt smoother and smoother as it was getting broken in.

    I did notice one thing and don't know if it is a common element or just individual to my rifle, but the last round in the magazine just didn't want to feed properly. 22 fired 5 round mags out of 25 and 3 different types of ammo had this happen, so I become tolerant of it. The bullet also deformed slightly and the shot actually printed badly on paper. A couple of the groups below have that 5th and 10th round printing away from the rest of the group. No big deal though, the magazine spring pressure can be tweeked, hopefully that is the only issue on that topic.

    If there was one thing that really problematic was the trigger. Way too much creep (which will be fixed with a trigger kit in the future) that was inconsistant - one time it was somewhat smooth taking up the slack (yes, that is where that saying comes from), and sometimes it was gritty and in "stages" - BUT when the slack was taken up, the trigger broke clean, on the lowest poundage setting advertised as being anywhere between 2.5 to 3 lbs. There is no doubt in my mind that the groups below can even be smaller (especially at 100 yards) with a "proper" trigger.

    10 round groups shot from the bench, Harris bipod & rear bag. Optic set on 10X, 1" bull at 50 yards, 1.5" bull at 100 yards. 3 ammos used: Federal Bulk Pack HV, CCI Standard Velocity, Wolf MT. All ammos were weight and rim thickness sorted, then randomly loaded into the magazine to create a random "straight out of the box" condition. 10 rounds were fired off target between ammo manufacture change.

    Groups were measured center to center (CTC) and outer edge to outer edge (ETE). The ETE measurements were less formal, if it was just under and inch, I reported -1". Groups that were going the 32nds route were just reported -9/16" for example.

    74 deg F, 67% Humidity, <3 MPH 3:00 wind, sunny, 50 Yards.

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    79 deg F, 65% Humidity, <5 MPH 3:00 wind, sunny, 100 Yards.

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    When moving to 200 yards, the wind picked up and was 5-12 MPH changing from left to right. I didn't feel it was a fair condition to do a 200 yard report, but hopefully a near in the future range trip will produce better conditions and report.

    Overall (except for that 5th and 10th round slightly deformed failure to feed) the 455 produces some decent groups, no doubt a lessened creep will improve the 100 yard groups. I was expecting to do a little better at 100 yards with the CCI and Wolf ammo, but the fact that the shooter not being familiar with the trigger could be the reason for the rifle not meeting my immediate goal of 1" or less. Another session will be shot and compared after the trigger kit installation. But as far as producing groups with different types of ammo, the rifle is pretty consistant. Except for one hit with Federal bulk pack, 9 of the lower grade rounds were under 1.5" at 100 yards! Most likely after the trigger kit and more seasoning of the barrel is achieved, the mid and higher graded ammos will produce those MOA groups at 100 yards. Another thing to point out is that the 455 appears to be less finicky to ammo changes than other rimfires I've used.

    Off hand shooting is a little tough as the rifle is a bit nose heavy, but addition of weight can be added in certain areas for a better balance if one chooses to do so.

    All in all the rifle is solid, consistant, and a good looker too. As a "virgin" rifle with no historical proven performance enhancements (trigger, mounting bolt torques, etc.) it did well. A few of those minor adjustments and I'm very confident that it will be scary accurate at 50 yards, and a 1" or under shooter at 100 yards.
     
  10. top predator

    top predator Well-Known Member

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    Also to note that the spent shells ejected quite consistantly to the 2:30ish of the shooter - out and way ejecting much like an AR15 - so consistant that no doubt a well placed coffee cup could have caught most of the 300+ spent casings.

    05-29-2012 ADDITIONAL RANGE REPORT

    200 Yards, mighty impressed on how cheap HV bulk ammo is handles through this rifle. Target bull was 3.5", 82-84 deg F, 85% hum, <5MPH 10:00 wind, scope on 10X, Harris bipod & rear bag, shot from the bench.

    Some of this (again) can be a bit of the shooter still not comfortable with the creepy trigger, and probably adding to the vertical stringing during follow through. None of these felt as if they were actually pulled. But I think it does give an impression of what the "virgin out-of-the-box" rifle will do before any enhancements.

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  11. cornstalker

    cornstalker Well-Known Member

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    Now that's a review!! Thanks for taking the time!

    Glad I found this. I am contemplating ordering the 455 American in the kit with 22LR and 17HMR barrels.
     
  12. cj2025

    cj2025 New Member

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    Yes, an awesome review, thanks TPred. I'm very interested in a cz 455 varmint and have been looking for one in .22LR for a few weeks now, no luck. Therefore I have decided to go with .17HMR for the time being as I gave CZ a call and they said the bull barrel assemblies are currently on the production lines (so hopefully will have a swap out barrel soon). I own a 9mm CZ but want to get into some basic/cheap rifle target practice which is why I was interested in the 455 in .22LR. I just wanted to ask you for the detailed part list that you ended up going with. I read all of your threads and your wishlist and wanted your opinion on a few things as well. Here is what I plan to go with, most are your suggestions:

    CZ 455 Varmint in .17HMR
    DIP 25 MOA base - extended
    DIP 455 Al mag well
    DIP extended mag release
    455 Steel Mag - replacement from CZ
    Nikon Prostaff 4-12x40 bdc - Read these were great at 100yd for the money
    Rings ? You mentioned UTG quick detachables would that be your ultimate pick?
    Bipod? You mentioned a Harris (model #)?

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.
    -cj
     
  13. top predator

    top predator Well-Known Member

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    i definately like the DIP base, extended mag release and the metal magwell.

    so far i know i have over 800 rounds through the rifle, no issues other that the 5 rnd mag not feeding the last round properly. i did go with 2 10 round mags (as i'm retrofitting the barreled action into a AICS airsoft stock and need the extra length), no issues with them. the AICS stock is another reason for the extended mag release, but it would be beneficial to have in any configuration.

    definately the harris bipod, Harris Bipods - HBR Bipod HBR model from the bench. rock solid. there are imitations out there, but the original is still the best. this is the 6-9" notchless leg model, which i prefer for bench as you can adjust to find that "sweet spot" of height and levelness. for hunting or prone i like the 9-13" swivel model (cants back and forth for unevenground) + a pod loc. DIP also makde sone of them for $15.00 and are a quick way of locking in on uneven ground. for hunting one of the imitations (caldwell, rock ridge, etc.) will do, and are less expensive. but if you have the budget, get a harris.

    the utg rings seem to be ok. i zeroed the scope, removed the scope, and then put it back on, no change in zero. i did that a few times, no issues, but i only have around 300 rounds and 2 days of experience with those rings, so far so good. they definately have "the tacticool look" and so far are actually functional. they have 6 mounting screw per ring, there is a 4 screw model too both in 30mm and 1". preliminarily, i would say they are more than fine for a rimfire application.

    i can only guess they will be OK in the future. if i do go with a caliber change / extra barrel, i'm probably going to get the same rings with a different optic so it's zeroed right from the get go. change a caliber, change a scope to match.

    ultimate pick for rings would be weaver tactical or nightforce, but they are a bit overkill for what i got going on here. the utg's seemed economical enough to at least try, and so far i'm happy with the purchase.

    if your not planning on changing the scope out with a caliber change, or removing the scope at all, i've never had an issue with the weaver quad loc rings at walmart for around 10.00. for weaver style bases, the rimfire dovetail ones always seem to strip out or slip on me.

    the next big thing is a trigger kit, ast the creep in the stock trigger is less than acceptable for me (still don't know why they didn't use the set trigger from the 453, they should fire the guy that made that decision). i ordered and have a Yo dave spring kit sitting on the nightstand to be installed, but wanted to see objectively if the AICS airsoft conversion project improved or ruined the 455's accuracy before messing with the trigger. i like the idea of full adjustability like the rifle basix, timney, and others, but the Yo dave is only around or under 20.00, again worth a try for the price and most rave about the kit.

    sneek peak at the the AICS airsoft stock conversion (i'll be posting the project soon):

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  14. cj2025

    cj2025 New Member

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    That assembly looks sweeeeet! Thanks for the info. My rifle will be very basic, I just want it to be accurate and repeatable. I'll be ordering the rifle in .17 today and probably the rest of the peripherals later on in the week when I have a chance to organize everything. I'll look forward to your future posts and thanks again TP :D.