Field test: CZ 600 Trail rifle – Compact bolt-action rifle with telescopic stock in .223 Remington caliber

You have to look twice at the CZ 600 Trail to realize that this is not a semi-automatic, but a bolt-action rifle in the guise of an assault rifle. There are similar products from other manufacturers, especially from the United States. However, the focus is more on fully-fledged AR-10 style rifles. Česká zbrojovka (CZ) takes a smaller-sized approach with the Trail.

The chassis design of the CZ 600 Trail in .223 Rem.

The Czech gunmaker offers the small .223 Remington caliber in all the stock options known from the "big" 600s. However, the Trail version is the only 600-stock model designed exclusively for the small assault rifle cartridge. What's more, unlike the 600's Ergo, Lux, Alpha and Range models, the manufacturer only refers to the Trail as a chassis rather than a stocked rifle: it's made of fiberglass-reinforced polymer. CZ manufactures the 600 Trail exclusively in .223 Remington and 7.62x39 mm calibers. In 7.62 it is fed from CZ's proprietary 7.62 box magazines of the Bren 2 semi-automatic rifle. The test gun in .223 Remington is different: here the magazine is an AR-15 standard one from the renowned US manufacturer Magpul, coming from the factory with a ten-round capacity. Three lugs in the bolt head keep the throw angle low. The right bolt lug is significantly narrower than its two colleagues, leaving enough space next to it in the bolt head for a confidence-inspiring wide extractor claw. The action is made of steel, and the bolt locks into the barrel extension. The barrel is connected to the receiver using side screws. Changing the barrel would not be difficult, but for safety reasons the screws are protected from accidental loosening by locking varnish and changing the barrel on the CZ 600 must be done by a professional, not by the user.

The telescopic stock offers four positions. Fully retracted, the CZ 600 Trail's length of pull is shortened from a maximum of 347 to 143 mm. Optic: Kahles K318i.
The push button behind the red cocking indicator is responsible for unlocking the stock. On the right below, the fire selector of the CZ 600 Trail.

The light alloy handguard allows the barrel to float freely and, conceptually, could have come from a modern AR-15. But not in its diameter: since it only has to provide enough room inside for the cold hammer forged barrel with BobOx coating and medium contour (18.5 mm diameter), without regard to the gas operating systems of a semi-auto, it measures only 33 mm in width and 42 mm in height. Otherwise, it doesn't differ much from a typical AR handguard: with an octagonal cross-section, it offers a full-length Picatinny mounting rail on its top (12 o'clock) to match the Pica rail on the receiver. Apart from that, it offers mounting slots all around according to the M-Lok standard developed by Magpul. In the instructions CZ points out that possibly not all M-Lok attachments will fit right away: the handguard is very narrow, and the space inside to the barrel correspondingly tight; if in doubt, shortening the mounting screws should help. The polymer buttstock has a rubber butt plate and a screwed-on cheek rest, also made of polymer. The stock is guided on both sides of the receiver inside polymer tubes – these are integral with the polymer chassis lower. The stock is unlocked by a pushbutton behind the bolt. Four positions are available, in addition to fully extended or fully retracted, there are also two intermediate steps. A QD mount on the bottom is used to attach a sling. A matching counterpart on the handguard is missing, so you'll have to look around in the accessories sector for sling swivels with M-Lok interface – there's plenty of choice there. In principle, the stock system is somewhat reminiscent of the modern PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) telescopic stocks for extra-short AR-15s. If the ergonomics of the pistol grip are not quite to your liking, no problem: the grip backstraps can be replaced, because they come from the CZ P09 pistol. Or you can replace the entire grip: the interface to the chassis corresponds to that of the AR-15, and more grip selection is not possible.

Operation: the CZ 600 Trail with telescopic stock

Magazines in .223 Remington come from the AR-15, also the pistol grip of the CZ 600 Trail can be replaced with AR grips.

The adjustable stock has a special feature that sets it apart from, say, the familiar M4 carbine-style telescopic stocks. Once you unlock the retracted stock by pressing the push button, you can extend it completely to the rearmost position without holding the button down. This is because in both directions, forward and backward, the stock only locks fully extended or fully retracted. In the two middle positions, on the other hand, the stock only locks when pushed from behind, but not when pulled. This means that you can easily shoulder the 600 Trail in the middle positions 2 and 3 without having to fully retract the telescopic stock. But instead, if you simply adjust the stock in the two middle positions, it will extend completely back to the farthest position four without operating the lock button at all. Aside from the unconventional stock operation, you very quickly get used to handling the magazine release and fire selector. Both function as they do on nearly every modern assault rifle, and both the selector and magazine release are found on both sides of the chassis stock.

In detail: workmanship and handling of the CZ 600 Trail

The bolt of the CZ 600 Trail offers a pleasantly small throw with its three locking lugs.

First of all the criticism – the praise will have to wait a little. The telescopic stock has significant play in its guide tubes. You can hear this when you shake the rifle with the stock extended,  and you also notice it when pulling it from gently to firmly into the shoulder.. Basically, there are only two ways to properly manipulate the Trail and escape the stock play: either very gently as with a precision repeater in a low-recoil caliber. In principle, however, this only works from the benchrest with buttstock support. Alternatively, you can pull the telescopic stock extra hard into the shoulder and then don't let it go until the shot is fired. Then there's the bolt. Functionally, it runs smoothly, and the large metal knob also makes it very convenient and quick to repetition. However, it doesn't run like it's on rails, and the bolt action was unfortunately a bit stiff, at least on the test gun. Point three: the polymer bolt shroud. This is often found on rifles in this price range, but a metal shroud would be much more visually appealing, especially since it is a (small) part of the gun that is often in view when shooting. But that's was it for the grumbling.

Apart from the above-mentioned problem areas, the CZ 600 Trail appears as an all-around rugged and solidly built firearm. In terms of detail workmanship and the fits for a bolt action, it corresponds to the qualitative middle class. The crisp trigger, which was factory-set to 1,200 grams of pull weight on the test rifle, is very pleasing. The take-up is around six millimeters and is only relatively lightly loaded, then the trigger blade lands at the cleanly defined wall. And the Trail trigger is also great from an ergonomic standpoint: with many other rifles (and some shotguns), you can tell by the contortions of the trigger finger that this or that gun (and its trigger, too) was originally developed for a conventionally shaped rifle stock and not for a pistol grip stock. This was not a problem with the CZ Trail. The grip and trigger match. The safety and magazine release are up to modern military standards in operation and appearance – they work flawlessly and are also within easy reach. The audible click of the safety catches can be reduced to almost zero with careful operation.

Our test at the shooting range: how does the compact CZ 600 with the Kahles K318i perform in practice?

The CZ 600 Trail's cold-hammer forged barrel with a medium contour ends with a neatly recessed muzzle crown and an M15x1 muzzle thread.

For the test, the CZ 600 Trail was fitted with a K318i scope from Kahles, and for the matching 34mm one-piece mount, the choice fell on a Black Line from EAW. The Kahles K318i 3.5-18x50i is an ultra-short model for sport shooters and long range use that has already been on the market since 2018 and still sets standards today. The RRP is around € 3,600.

Then we took our combo to the 50-meter stand for fun and to the 100-meter line for serious shooting. The slim, handy handguard, the crisp two-stage trigger and the large bolt handle stood out very positively. The operation of the CZ Trail is more like a modern Bren2 assault rifle than a conventionally designed bolt-action rifle. But there is no getting around manual operation when cycling with the CZ 600, of course. Properly shouldered and quickly fired, the Trail was a joy to shoot at both distances. The pure accuracy test at 100 meters with the gun clamped front and rear was not quite as fun. There isn't much in the narrow rubber recoil pad to clamp consistently and firmly. And due to the play in the stock attachment to the chassis frame, it's not that easy to build up the right amount of pressure on the stock to shrink the groupings as much as possible. The best five-shot group of the day was delivered by Lapua's 55-gr full metal jacket cartridges with 25 mm. As expected, there were no malfunctions; the test gun handled all types of ammunition without any problems and did not suffer any jam of any kind during feed, ignition or case ejection. What additional options would be desirable? An alternative cheek rest for left-handers and butt plate spacers for tall shooters.

CZ 600 Trail specs and price

Česká Zbrojovka CZ 600 Trail
.223 Remington
Magazine Capacity: 
10 rounds
Overall Length: 
690-890 mm
Barrel Length: 
412 mm
Twist Rate: 
Trigger Pull Weight:
1,200 g (adjustable)
2,800 g

Left/Right Version: 

Operable from both sides
1,496 euro
Features: three-lug bolt, polymer chassis, aluminum handguard with M-Lok interfaces, telescopic stock, two-stege trigger, AR magazine compatible.

Our test conclusion on the CZ 600 Trail in .223 Rem.

The concept of the 600 Trail is very interesting, the telescopic stock makes the rifle very short when needed and yet light, despite the medium contour barrel. Shooting performance, reliability and operation are right. CZ should improve the action – It would be nice if the bolt were a bit smoother. The unique selling point of the Trail remains the adjustable stock. Whether you feel this is a curse or a blessing, the only way to find out is to try it out for yourself. But you don't necessarily have to take the CZ 600 Trail to the shooting range: two minutes of handling the rifle at your local dealer will help you decide the pros and cons.

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