feature By: John Haviland | January, 17
The 557 is an up-to-date rifle design containing fewer and simpler parts compared to CZ’s older and more traditional Model 550 bolt-action rifles, although it is still “old school.” Most notable is the receiver that requires an extensive amount of machining. It is relatively large with a receiver ring and bridge 1.37 inches in diameter. The metal of these two rings remains thick leading up to the scope mount bases and in the side rails that extend a short way down the sides of the magazine well. The 557 has an integral recoil lug machined from the bottom of the receiver ring, instead of a plate simply sandwiched between the barrel and front of the receiver, as with most new actions. At the rear of the cut in the stock for the recoil lug set is an aluminum “barrel insert” that absorbs recoil shock. The bottom of the receiver ring is further machined to include a flat-faced bedding lug threaded to take the front receiver screw. The sides of the receiver ring are angled leading up to the flat. Tightening the receiver screw wedges the receiver ring tightly into the stock.
The owner’s manual further states the “CZ 557 is a bolt action rifle provided with the Remington bolt.” The 557 and Remington Model 700 bolts are similar, as both have two locking lugs, a plunger ejector in a recessed bolt face, and the firing pin cocks when the bolt is closed – but that’s about it. When the 557’s firing pin is set, a cocking indicator pin extends from the rear of the bolt’s nicely shaped steel sleeve. The 557’s extractor is an M16-style, spring-loaded leaf located on the left side of the right locking lug that hooks over about a fifth of a cartridge rim. A plunger on the left side of the bolt face throws out fired cases and cartridges when they clear the ejection port. The bolt is removed from the rifle by depressing a bolt-stop at the left rear of the receiver. The release is thin, barely sticks above the tang and requires a long fingernail to push it
The 557 Short Action comes with a detachable magazine made with a steel frame and plastic follower and bottom plate that holds four .308 Winchester cartridges. The magazine’s release lever is positioned on the front inside of the guard bow. Pushing the lever unfastens the latch on the magazine, but it must still be pulled out, as it fits tightly in the aluminum magazine frame. The magazine can be loaded with it in or out of the rifle. The bottom plate does protrude below the bottom of the stock and is in the way of the forward hand positioned well back when shooting offhand.
CZ states the Sporter’s barrel is cold hammer-forged and the bore factory-lapped. A peek into the bore with a Lyman digital bore-scope showed the lands and grooves were quite smooth. Copper fouling did collect on the entire length of the lands after the rifle had been shot some 40 times, but an overnight soak with Gunslick Foaming Bore Cleaner dissolved all the fouling.
I fired 40 cast bullets, one right after another, while practicing with the rifle. The borescope showed an ever-so-slight smear of lead on one land at the start of the rifling. Ten strokes with a solvent-soaked brush, followed by a
The Sporter’s Turkish walnut stock contains a medium amount of figure in the butt that turns to a straight grain through the grip and forearm. Bordered panels of checkering on the sides of the forearm and grip are parted by three ribbons. Checkering diamonds are indistinct.
The grip, with palm swells on both sides, is sizable with a circumference of 5.25 inches. A thinner grip would fit the average hand better. The nearly 11.5-inch forearm is long for the rifle’s 20.5-inch barrel. Even if I extend my hand forward on the forearm to help start the rifle swinging to make a running shot, at least 4 inches of forearm stick out past my hand.
The Sporter weighs 8 pounds, 9 ounces with a Burris Fullfield II 2-7x 35mm scope in accessory CZ one-piece ring and base dovetail mounts, which weigh 6 ounces. That weight is heavy for a sporter rifle. The rifle cannot be made much lighter due to its heavy action, but it could be made handier, and set apart from other rifles of its kind, by cutting 4 inches off the forearm and slimming the stock along the receiver and the grip.
Three factory loads and five handloads were shot at targets with the Sporter. Nearly all the groups with jacketed bullets at 100
Various handloads also shot groups somewhat over an inch at 100 yards. There was no meticulous measuring to set bullets an exact amount from the rifling or picking the best powder after trying several. I just picked the loads out of reloading manuals and let fly.
A year ago I experimented with another .308 Winchester rifle shooting Accurate LT-32 powder and bullets cast from an RCBS 308-165-SIL mould. Shooting 25.0 grains of LT-32, extreme velocity spread was 118 fps, and bullets spread over 3 inches. An additional grain of powder somewhat reduced velocity spread and shrank groups to a touch under 2 inches. Everything meshed with 27.0 grains of LT-32 with an average velocity of 1,714 fps, velocity spreads of about 30 fps and groups either side of 1.5 inches.
Those groups are nearly as good as the rifle shoots from a rest on a bench. That shows the CZ Sporter Short Action lends itself to shooting from hunting positions, with a comb high enough to
My wife also shot the rifle. Gail thought it was a bit heavy for a .308 Winchester. Part of her reasoning is because her main hunting rifle is a light Remington Model 600 with a tailor-made, slender stock. Gail sat on the ground with the rifle supported on a BOG-POD Tripod shooting rest. The bolt would not move when she tried to push it forward. After several attempts, the bolt finally closed. Every time she went to chamber a cartridge, though, she struggled to close the bolt. I finally took the rifle from her, and the bolt slid forward without a hitch. “Maybe you’re doing something wrong,” I politely suggested.
“I’ve shot a rifle before,” she replied.
The 557 Sporter Short Action’s retail price is $792, which is about $300 less than CZ’s long-standing 550 bolt-action rifles. Nevertheless, that lower price still buys a polished and blue-steel barreled action set in a walnut stock. CZ will let American companies fight it out in the arena of bottom-priced rifles of matted metal set in a plastic stock. CZ knows there is still a big market of old-school hunters who want a traditional hunting rifle.