Gun test: CZ 457 Synthetic .22 rimfire
- Credit: Archant
Broadsword reviews the CZ 457 synthetic .22 rimfire, and finds it is as accurate and reliable as ever at the range and in the field!
The first sporting .22 rimfire I shot all those years ago was a BRNO Mod 1 which belonged to a farm hand and wore a dodgy 4x40mm scope with a post reticle. It certainly shot well though and when he upgraded, as you do, to a newer CZ model it was set in my mind that, that’s all you need for rabbiting. CZ have always and continue to offer just that – really well-made and more importantly to me, accurate rimfire rifles. Buy a CZ and you can’t go wrong; if you miss it’s down to you.
Its classic mini Mauser-esque design has served it well over the decades and even now, as so many companies are changing things around for economic or production ease, CZ remain firm.
The new range of 457 rimfires are a case in point. They still incorporate the 455’s barrel change system, whereby you can switch between calibres, but the overall design is more modern and simple. It allows a conversion between barrel profiles, lengths, and cartridge chamberings in an instant.
The best-selling model has to be the CZ 457 Synthetic that retails at just £430.99 and is now distributed through Sportsman Gun Centre (SGC).
It includes options of a 20 or 16” barrel length. I opted to test the far more hunter-friendly 16” version. Both are threaded 1/2x20 UNF. The 16” is only available in .22LR whilst the 20” can be order in .17HMR, .22WMR or .22 LR.
Its best feature is the synthetic stock. It not only provides a real-world hunter-usable design for weather resistant fit, handling and comfort, but it also saves a lot of weight over a tradition wood or laminate stock. The 457 .22LR black polymer synthetic stock weighs only 2.4kg and the nitride finish to the metalwork ensures a very durable and hard-wearing rifle for all climates. All in all, a well designed rimfire at a fantastic price. Let’s see how she is constructed and fares out on the range and in the field.
Action, barrel, trigger/safety
The action on the 457 series is longer than the 455 model measuring some 6.25” and its appearance is altered. There seems to be a trend towards a more squared-off look for rimfires these days.
You still have the 11mm dovetail rail to the rounded top of the action, spaced with 1.5” front and 2.75” rear mounting grooves. So, any scope body can be mounted and a universal Weaver or Picatinny rail can be fitted for NV use. There are also four recoil stop recesses, if you so need them.
The redesigned bolt now has a repositioned bolt handle nearly half way along its body and the bolt handle is slightly dog-legged with a nicely rounded small bolt knob, all of which are of one-piece construction. Behind the handle you have a larger bolt shroud of 2” that incorporates the red cocking indicator that protrudes when the action is cocked for a visual and tactile indicator.
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The whole bolt is 5.25” long with a low bolt lift of less than 60 degrees and has a short operating length of only 1.75”, which enables a fast cycling action. But the bolt does come close to the dovetail mounting so any mounts with large securing screws need to be mounted the other way around to avoid a collision.
The front of the bolt is polished stainless steel and has a half moon profile to allow transition over the magazine and enable a smooth pick-up of a new round and also allows the action-sited ejector spur to run through the front of the bolt face and knock the rear of the empty cartridge to eject.
The rectangular profiled firing pin itself is top-mounted and runs clear in a recess to deliver a precise and forceful procussive punch to the cartridge’s rim. Equally forceful are the twin extractor claws that grip like a vice to the case’s rim on extraction from the chamber.
Bedding of the action is directly onto the polymer stock with a steel recoil lug situated behind the rear stock screw for correct union and alignment. Being a CZ, one expects a decent trigger and the 457 does not disappoint. You have adjustment for weight and pull via a screw in the trigger blade and screws fitted to the front face of the trigger group.
With this model possessing a lighter striker the benefit is a fast lock time, i.e. sear release to firing pin hitting the case. This really does help improve accuracy and consistency to the firing cycle. The trigger blade is blackened, slim and nicely curved and this model broke very cleanly indeed at 3.15 lbs. Predictable and fast, yet safe – perfect for a rimfire hunting rifle. The safety position due to the new bolt design has change from a wing type to an action sited one. It’s much easier to operate to be honest, with forward showing red to fire and a white dot to the rear showing safe.
Magazines sit in a recessed magazine well with a blanking plate for the smaller 22LR mag to fit. A five-shot capacity mag comes with the 457 but ten shots are available.
This barrel is 16” long, although a longer 20” is available if you so wish, but with a mod fitted, a 16-incher or shorter is far better suited and does not affect ballistics in any way. Both are 1 in 16” twist so will handle all normal .22LR ammo.
You have a ½” UNF thread and sporter weight hammer-forged profile (varmint profile is also available on other models), thus achieving a good blend of looks and balance. That twin angled securing screw arrangement to the action end allows a quick change of barrel calibres along with the respect magazine change.
I really like the Nitrided matt black finish to the 457 as it is both subdued with a non-reflective quality as well as hard wearing to resist scratches, knocks and of course our lovely British weather... not to mention bloody hands after gutting!
The 457 Synthetic’s stock shape is borrowed from the 557 centrefire rifle which makes it ambidextrous in design, great for left or right hookers or when you have to use the other shoulder in a tight spot.
This stock looks much like any other synthetic stock on a .22 rimfire and is indeed made from two halves moulded together with a hollow cavity between. But the black synthetic polymer used is both tough, weather resistant and also well designed for all manner of shooting positions.
It is a classic sporter but has the same essence as its big brother 557 series, where the fore-end is wide along its parallel length with four (graduated in size raised) shelves that act like chequering for grip – modern looking, yet practical in use.
The fore-end also has the now customary two Q/D sling swivel studs for attachment of sling, bipod etc. I also really like the large and deeply recessed barrel channel on this model as its sporter weight barrel is very free floated, which meant in the test even off a bipod the barrel harmonics were not disturbed.
The pistol grip too is well appointed, with a nice upward stance that feels relaxed to grip and encourages good eye alignment when the rifle is shouldered and has that typical 457/557 large profile.
You have a slight palm swell or swollen grip that again feels good, and grip is further aided by four longer raised sections that radiate up and back into the stock area. There is no cheek piece, but the high, straight comb eliminates the need for one, and the slim polymer butt plate finishes off the stock design nicely.
Overall finish of the stock is stain-black, slightly textured, with a very good soft touch feel that is not too overly done, which grips but still allows adjustment to your hold without leaving skin cells on it!
I fitted one of the new Element scopes that SGC sell which are actually not bad at all. This model being a Helix 6-24 x 50mm non-illuminated version with clear optics and a good BDC drop reticule and eternal adjustment turrets. Just check the bolt does not foul the mounting screws as mentioned before.
I also fitted an over-the-barrel Wildcat Panther rimfire moderator that only increased the overall length to 38” and was super quiet, even when handling HV fodder. I tested a variety of 22 rimfire rounds, both reduced, subsonic and HV loadings to really get a flavour for how the 457 performed.
In the field
I have been using the new Norma subsonic loads quite a lot recently. Being rebadged RWS subs round, they are incredibly accurate and very quiet due to their true subsonic levels.
In this CZ457 we were achieving tiny 0.45” groups at 50 yards, so really good and thus zeroed rabbits were in real trouble! Out in the field actually hunting is where the design and handling qualities shine. The 457 Synthetic is really light, even with scope and mod fitted, it is very easy to tote about all evening and to shoot from an off-hand position or off sticks.
The bolt operation is fast, slick and the new forward position of the bolt seems natural enough. I definitely prefer the safety position. The Q/D studs for the sling are soft-coated too, so nice and silent which is handy.
On a local farm between the hedgerows and undulating hillsides, rabbits were feeding from as close to 25 yards out to as far as you felt comfortable. We bagged a few close ones of good size for the farmer’s wife and then as many as possible to make some inroads into the population.
Almost inaudible except for the bullet strike, the 457 Synthetic accounted for 11 rabbits the first evening with some really memorable shots over 100 yards; so accurate and predictable, with the aid of the BDC reticule from the Element scope.
Possibly the sleek, elegant lines of the older models have been transformed into a more angular look, but the fit, performance and accuracy remain the same. Sensibly priced, the CZ rimfire range is the go-to .22LR in this country and these 457 models, in all its variants, will continue to control vermin all over Britain.
Manufacturer: CZ, Ceska zbrojovka
Mode: 457 Synthetic
Type Bolt: Action Sporter
Overall Length: 34 inches
Barrel length: 16 inches, ½ UNF threaded
Weight: 5.25 lbs
Finish: Semi Matt Black Nitride
Stock: Black Polymer Sporter
Length of Pull: 14 inches
Magazine: 5 shot standard, 10 shot option
Sights: None furnished, scope dovetails
Trigger: Single stage, adjustable
Calibre: .22LR on test, .17 HMR, .22WMR available
Importer: Sportsman Gun Centre