With the 457 Varmint Synthetic model, CZ offers a rimfire rifle available in both .17 HMR (with 16” barrel) and .22 LR (with 16” & 20” barrel).
We tested the .17 HMR version, and the cold hammer forged barrel with a 1 in 9” twist rate is 22-mm in diameter and parallel in profile for assured performance that has so far proven excellent with Hornady ammunition. Muzzle accessories are easily fitted with a ½”x20 thread and with a sound moderator in use, the rifle loses most of it’s muzzle report, retaining just the supersonic crack of the bullets in flight. All steelwork is matt finished in black with good corrosion resistance and contrasts nicely with the similar soft touch finish of the black polymer stock. This has a rigid, flat based forend that’s stiff enough to allow the barrel to remain fully free floating in all scenarios with twin underside studs fitted at the front for a bipod and sling.
Both forend and grip feature raised rectangular panels to aid tactile adhesion regardless of weather conditions and the grip itself features a gentle ambidextrous palm swell to help fill your hand without any need to apply much physical force. The comb is tall and almost parallel to the bore line with just slight drop toward the heel indicating CZ have recognised and adopted an ideal platform for scope use, either daylight or night vision. The soft touch finish of the stock is itself grippy and there is very little hollow resonance on firing or when handled.
The recoil pad is a firm polymer plate with similar rectangular gripping panels and remains solidly planted in your shoulder without any sponginess at 356 mm (14”) length of pull.
CZ 457 Varmint Synthetic with interchangeable barrel
CZ barrels are held into the action at the front with twin Allen screws and interchangeable between any of the rimfire chamberings. The 457 action is thoroughly modern with integral 11-mm dovetail rails for scope mounting, with lots of longitudinal space for the scope rings and no interference from the bolt handle or safety catch like the older 452’s. The safety catch is two-position, forward for fire and rear for safe without the bolt locking on safe anymore either.
Triggers are single stage and adjustable with a perfectly crisp break and I especially like the fact these can be maintained to last the life of the rifle. The black blade is 8-mm wide and a smooth, medium curve with 80-mm+ reach from the grip allowing ideal index finger placement upon it. CZ actions feature two T25 Torx screws to fasten the receiver into the stock under the barrel tenon and at the tang to increase stability.
The radiused bottom receiver is planted into the injection moulded inlet without stress and there is a steel recoil lug to maintain position. A bolt release catch sits to the rear of the action’s left side enabling easy removal for cleaning or maintenance.
The bolt itself within is a bright steel finish with controlled round feed, two extractor claws and a manual mechanical ejector to ensure ejection enthusiasm in correlation to the speed at which the bolt is cycled. Bolt lift is 45-degrees, and the handle is 45 mm long, with a 19-mm steel ball at its tip for grip.
A red tip to the striker emerges from the bolt shroud to indicate the action’s status. Finally, CZ have remained with familiar single stack magazine system, here in polymer with 5 round capacity, but compatible with other CZ magazines depending on which barrel kit is in use. There is a single release catch at the front of the magazine well which clicks securely when the mags slot in and easily found with a fingertip for removal.
Testfiring the CZ 457 Varmint Synthetic with Hornady V-Max and XTP ammunition in .17 HMR caliber
|Ammunition||Bullet weight/grains||Velocity/fps||Energy/ft-lbs||Extreme Spread/fps||100m group/mm|
Shooting the rifle was a delight. I must have range and field tested twenty or more .17 HMR rifles over the years and this was a definite highlight. I have great respect for the quality of CZ’s barrels and although I realise the rimfire ammunition is usually the limiting factor in precision, I thought the short, stiff barrel was surely to thank for results clearly displayed. The harmonics clearly suited the bullets, with continual small groups shot until the 50 round cleaning interval I adopt.
The 20 gr XTP provides a little more energy and seems a little more consistent with a notably lower extreme velocity spread spread from shot to shot but either bullet was capable to plink or hunt with. Cleaning regime every 50 rounds shows the barrel easy to clear with mainly powder fouling and very little copper build up. The smooth feed of the bullets from mag to chamber was also noted with almost no shaved copper filaments detectable in the chamber or magazine area.
Ergonomically speaking, the rifle is enjoyable to use, lightweight and compact but still very stable and pointable with the short stout barrel maintaining a slight forward weight balance. I used a SAK sound moderator and a selection of optics from Element and PARD for some rabbit control at night.
The action is smooth to reload, quiet in operation and importantly, the bullet meplats are not damaged by aggressive feed into the barrel’s chamber, regardless of bolt speed and aggression which is a sure factor in maintaining ammunition consistency. The stock is grippy and the surface treatments CZ use have shed any corrosion from light rain which obviously gets wiped off It also resists the lasting corrosive fingerprints we all place on our guns, yet never seem to consciously notice and remember to wipe away.
After the first hundred rounds, I adjusted the trigger slightly to take up a small amount of creep that had developed while the gun was bedding in and since that time, it has remained faultless. I have left pull weight at the factor delivered 1500 g/53 oz which seems to suit me well regardless of temperature or whether I’m wearing gloves. I found the forend big enough to fill my hand and also totally stiff and reliable when shot from any support position, it’s also solid if clamped in a tripod with no detrimental effect on zero position.
CZ 457 Varmint Synthetic: conclusion
I have used so many rimfire rifles yet given the cost, capability, durability, and specification of this rifle, I find it hard to see what could possibly disappoint any buyer. I’m incredibly critical but can’t seem to part with it and I don’t say that easily. The non-varmint version is fractionally lighter and already a fine rifle, but the added mass here seems to aid pointability and stability when aiming, as well as fundamentally superb .17 HMR ballistics and precision.
I suppose some shooters might prefer a single stage trigger or different stock designs (which CZ already provide a wide variety of), perhaps walnut etc. but as a tool to complete a task, CZ have done a superb job.
CZ 457 Varmint Synthetic specs and price
|Model:||CZ 457 Varmint Synthetic|
.17 HMR (.22 LR also available and compatible with CZ barrel sets)
|Magazine Capacity:||5 round, single column|
16”/410 mm, hammer forged steel, ½x20 UNF muzzle thread
|Stock:||Synthetic, soft touch finish|
|Scope Mounting:||11 mm dovetail rail|
|Overall Length: ||34.75”/868 mm|
|Overall Weight:||5 lb 10 oz/2,560 g|
|Length of Pull:||13.1-14.2” (335-360 mm)|
Single stage adjustable, delivered at 53 oz/1500 g
|Accessories:||5-round magazine, Instruction manual, Allen keys|
|Price (MSRP in the U.K.): ||£663.99|
For more information on CZ 457 rifle series please visit the CZ website.
Thanks to www.sportsmanguncentre.co.uk for the loan.