All decked out with a specialized Leupold scope, the CZ Match Target Rifle (MTR) is certainly the rifle for those who love precision shooting with rimfire ammunition, they now have the tool to do it all with at the range or on the field.
The slimmed down action on this rifle is an upgraded and redesigned model of the previous Model 455 rimfire series. New adjustable trigger, modified stock, five-round magazine and other features are included in the total package.
When it comes to 22 rimfires, I’m a junkie! From shorts to longs, to the long rifle cartridges, I’ve use them all over the years with nothing but fun as the end result. School vacations found this young hunter on the farm with a single-shot Winchester culling sparrows in the barn for my uncle. Later in the day, I might be with my friend down the road stalking woodchucks. To me, that was some of the best years of my life, walking down the road with nothing more than a rifle over my shoulder, a pocket full of 22s and 300 acres to wander around looking for small game or varmints. I was a happy boy!
One of the new upgrades is the side-mounted safety as shown here. Two positions, this newer, push-to-fire design, allows the shooter to operate the bolt with the sear locked. The receiver is steel, polished and blued that has been shortened by an inch over previous models.
Those yearly trips to the farm in New York have lasted me a lifetime with my love affair with 22 rimfire rifles and the wide assortment of ammunition available today. From those early years, I’ve graduated to production and custom rifles of all types, and even today, I’m always interested in something new and or different. So, when I was rifling through the CZ catalog and came across the section on rimfire rifles, the Model 427 Varmint Match Target Rifle or MTR jumped out at me. It certainly was on the custom side, something new and different and if that doesn’t get a shooter going, CZ has 14 more rimfire choices to look at that all replaced the previous Model 455 series.
If one decides to use the gun for hunting, the bolt lift has been also shortened from 90 to 60 degrees for quicker follow-up shots. Additionally, other advantages appear, like the use of a scope with a larger eyepiece or the installation of lower rings to mount the scope closer to the receiver.
I think what made me look a second time was the stock. Right off the bat, the gun reminded me of those serious target shooters of the past who stood up firing shots downrange with hand-carved stocks using simple optical scopes of the time. Today however, everything is more modern, including the stocks and this CZ Match Target Rifle surely ranks up there when it comes to a distinctive varmint rifle, but on the other hand, could it be a rifle for the serious benchrest enthusiast? I would say both.
The forend has five areas of stippling to assure a non-slip grip on the rifle. The Leupold scope is made for rimfire rifles and comes equipped with an adjustable objective lens for sharp images downrange.
For the varmint hunter who is into rimfire shooting from a more static position, I like the feel and comfort of the stock, especially around the pistol grip area. When I go chuck hunting for example, I find a spot, perhaps known to me or scouted before, to be productive by either the amount of traffic in the field or the burrows spotted in a specific area of the pasture. Settling in with the rifle on a bipod, glassing and then getting ready for the shot, this gun is perfect. Unless and until you get proficient with the stock, I don’t believe (my opinion) this gun is made for the snapshooter, as I find the stock can be difficult to fall into for immediate action. However, for the benchrest or target shooter using premium ammunition, that’s a different story as shooting from a rest, I had the feeling the gun was made just for me.
There is no grip cap on the pistol grip and in looking at the photo, it can be seen why it would be very difficult to make or install. Behind the grip, the stock flattens out to aid as a better resting place for benchrest shooting.
That said, I have to give credit to CZ for even coming up with a specialized gun like this. The design, craftsmanship, inletting and finish is all first-class. The stock is profiled for very select Turkish walnut picked for its straight grain, free from knots, complete with a smooth satin oil finish that adds class to this rifle. From the forward tip of the stock, it is cut on an angle, sans any or exotic colored tips or spacers. Moving back, there are twin sling swivel studs, one for the shoulder strap, one for a bipod – stretching out to a width of 2⅛ inches. This forend is rounded for easy holding and contains five stippled (not checkered) panels around its periphery cut with such precision its almost scary! Intermixed with all this, the words, “CZ MATCH TARGET RIFLE,” are delicately laser cut to show all your shooting friends you have good taste when it comes to rifles.
Moving to where the receiver sits, the inletting is crisp, without burrs with the action pillar bedded and the inclusion of a recoil lug insert that mates with the underside of the end of the receiver. So what is it there for you may ask? According to Dylan Rice of CZ, and I quote, “The stock inserts on 457 rifles act like a normal recoil lug. However, 457s have very little recoil and are mainly there to help prevent the barreled action from shifting forward or rearward inside the stock if dropped or handled roughly.” Just be careful when you have the action out of the stock as tipping over the stock makes this part drop out and being dark, makes it hard to find – been there done that!
The stock takes its lines from the classic school with no cheekpiece or high comb. Finished off with hand-rubbed oil, the artisans at CZ included a small and racy stippling pattern, the stock has a cast off for right-hand shooters and a rubber recoil pad and a sling swivel stud complete this part of the stock.
Every varmint hunter’s dream is a gun equipped with a wide forearm with checkering and sling swivel studs for both a bipod and shoulder strap.
The pistol grip on this gun is what got my attention immediately. Cut into the stock in such a way that it cradles your hand in an almost vertical attitude while positioning your index finger for a direct line to the trigger. There is a swell for comfort with additional wood at the base to keep your hand from slipping down or off the grip. There is no pistol grip cap, but I don’t know how they would make one for this large oval part of the stock as it blends in with the flat bottomed buttstock, obviously for the benchrest crowd. CZ must have found an expert on programing, because the majoring of the grip from one side to the other and a part of the tang is fully stippled without a glitch or misstep with the cutting machine.
Rifle manufacturing has sure come a long way over the years as evident by the clean lines, close tolerances and final finish. The trigger is adjustable while the magazine holds five rounds with options for 10, 25 or the use of a CZ single-shot adapter.
If someone wanted to pigeonhole the stock, it would fit perfectly into the classic line of design. The comb is straight with no line disturbing Monte Carlo humps and no cheekpiece. One thing I have to give credit to CZ for is the inclusion of a distinctive cast off on the stock for right-hand shooters with a length of pull of 13¾ inches. I see no mention of a gun for the southpaws in the crowd, but to finish off this stock is another band of stippling on the left side with – “VARMINT MTR,” again cut with tapered lettering (tall to short), a black recoil pad with a spacer and a sling swivel stud.
The barrel length on this gun is 20.5 inches, a good length for any gun chambered for the 22 Long Rifle. The diameter of the cold hammer-forged barrel at the muzzle end is .865 inch, making it a bull barrel with a target crown. Since rimfire receivers have the tendency to be smaller and more streamlined, this one, like all Model 457s, fits right in for a more compact and easier handling rifle. Design-wise, this new generation of CZ rimfires feature the machining of flats on the receiver sides for weight reduction, shortening the action and a 60-degree bolt throw to allow a larger selection of the new scopes or the use of lower rings. This is all enhanced by the use of an 11mm dovetail-machined rings on the top of the receiver for mounting of a scope in a timely manner to which I mounted a Leupold Vari-X 3-9x33 ER scope that is made for rimfire applications. Now, add an improved and adjustable trigger factory (you have to remove the stock to adjust it), set at crisp 3 pounds and we have a rimfire rifle certainly worthy of consideration.
Since there is no recoil lug on the receiver, CZ engineered one that was installed at the rear of the stock at the tang. Take note of the crisp inletting, pillar bedding, and again, some tasteful stippling at the wrist of the stock.
A finely-tuned and finished bolt assures smooth operation in the gun. Dual extractors are standard as shown here with a mechanical ejector installed deep into the rear of the receiver.
The bolt is smooth in motion back and forth with the front half left in a natural state. On the bolt face, there is the customary dual-action extractors with a mechanical ejector under the rear receiver bridge with a simple removal via a bolt release on the left side of the gun. The rear part of the bolt is blued with the bolt handle rounded off in a downward attitude for easy cocking. The bolt knob has no checkering and is finished as an accent in bright blue at the rear of the shroud. A cocking indictor extends outward showing red when the gun is ready to fire.
I understand the barrels are interchangeable and taking note of the twin screws at the forward end of the receiver, illustrates this seems uncomplicated to do if the need arises. The safety has been redesigned to a newer, push-to-fire affair, that allows the shooter to operate the bolt with the sear locked. The bottom metal has been gone over from stamped metal to a more modern two-piece unit that incorporates a single-column, five-round magazine with a front mounted release and the option of using the gun as a single shot with an adapter with 10- or 25-round magazines as an option. Finally, to squeeze all the accuracy possible out of this rifle, the chamber has been cut to minimum standards set by the European Commission Internationale Permanente (their equivalent of our Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) when it comes to the rifle’s chamber and we will see in the testing how it effects any of the ammunition used, if any.
After all the smoke cleared, the SK brand had the best group of the day with this five-shot .225-inch picture-perfect entry. All this was done at 50 yards from a benchrest position.
The day was right, so off to the range I went with our new CZ rifle to have some fun. Using samples from Armscor, Federal and SK, the results were stunning to say the least. All groups were five shots, with three groups fired with each ammunition sighted-in at 25 yards with the serious work done at 50 yards. The gun was benchrested over a front rifle rest with a sandbag at the butt for stability.
Back at home, the results were checked with a micrometer and averages were added up. With the Armscor, the mean for this ammunition was .739 inch, with the best group coming in at .610 inch. The Federal Target came up with a .635-inch average, again with best group at .582 inch. The SK brand proved to be the best for this gun with a .225-inch group (five shots in the same hole!) as the best finishing with a .447-inch group. Velocities all were very close to the factory specifications as stated on the box. When it came to the chamber cut at minimums, the only ammunition I found with a little resistance when closing the bolt was the Federal Target.
At no time was the function of the gun ever questioned. All of the ammunition fed smoothly, without hesitation and ejected cleanly to my right. The trigger broke as it should on a target gun, which helped the tight groups downrange. On the bench, the stock felt like I could crawl into it, as the pistol grip just molded around my hand and spent the better part of the morning zeroing-in on clay targets downrange.
Finishing up, this CZ MTR rifle could be just thing for the multi-tasking target and varmint shooter. It’s fun to shoot, very accurate and with a more than reasonable price point, is affordable for most of us. In short, I was impressed.