8 April 2019

What is new in CZ for 2019

Střelecká revue 4/2019, Czech Republic

The imaginary sky above the gun industry is certainly not azure blue, there are dark clouds gathering on the horizon, though the storm might not be as bad as it at one point seemed. One company that has kept its cool when facing the anti-gun legislation efforts is the most prominent local firearms manufacturer, Česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod. Their economic results last year broke another record (see SR 11/2018) and where the manufacture and turnover are concerned, it intends to grow further in 2019. The following new products are to substantially support this claim.

Undoubtedly, the biggest step forward Česká zbrojovka has taken this year is in the rimfire rifle sector. This was to be expected. Long bolt-action firearms for rimfire cartridges have been a staple in the Uherský Brod factory for quite a few years. Likewise, where design is concerned, the company relied on tradition going as far back as the 1950s, when the classic ZKM 452 model was born. In 2009/2010, the CZ 455 series entered the market. It was partly based on the ZKM but introduced the modular concept. And because basically all the other parts of the CZ portfolio have been upgraded over the last few years, it was only a matter of time until it was the turn of the rimfire rifle sector.

CZ 457

The new rimfire rifle series from Uherský Brod has been named CZ 457. The logical step would have been to follow with 456 but there were concerns that the new models could be mixed up with the old ZKM models. Besides, the new series has embarked on a significantly different course to what we had been used to where these CZ products were concerned.

In addition to the different design of the receiver as well as the bolt itself, there have been many other changes. One distinct feature of the new CZ rimfire rifle family is the notably shortened turning angle of the bolt handle (30° less than previous CZ models). Thanks to this, the gun enables comfortable handling even with a riflescope mounted. Then there is the so-called positive safety on the right-hand side of the receiver, the striker status indicator – a small red bar protruding from the rear of the bolt, and a separate bolt extractor control on the left side of the receiver. The new trigger mechanism has an adjustable trigger pull weight, between 8 and 15 N; the trigger travel can be set between 0.5 and 7 mm. In comparison with the CZ 452 and CZ 455 models, the weight of the striker has been significantly reduced, resulting in a faster strike and at the same time lessened shock when fired. Another feature that is worth mentioning is the new type of bedding which allows constant tightening of the screws in the barrelled action in the stock. In addition, the company has considerably improved the ergonomics and the anti-corrosion treatment of steel parts. According to available data, it is one of the most durable treatments currently on the market.

The CZ 457 series has retained the important advantages of the previous CZ rimfire rifle generation: the modular system allowing easy replacement of barrels and change of calibres, as well as the barrels and magazines being compatible with the CZ 455 series.

Since 2019, the CZ 457 rimfire rifles in the company’s portfolio have started gradually replacing the CZ 455 model series. Besides replacing the individual variants, such as the LUX, VARMINT, AMERICAN and JAGUAR, the advantages of the new design have also been applied to completely new models.

For example, the design of the CZ 457 Royal in .22 LR, .22 WMR and .17 HMR calibres closely resembles traditional hunting rifles. Its thin-walled barrel without iron sights is either 412.5 or 525 mm long. The premium walnut stock whose beautiful grain is emphasised by oiling features a decorative tip and Safari style swivels. Its design is based on classic stocks popular in the Commonwealth countries: the typical features are a straight comb, round cheekpiece and a slim forend.

Another new model whose design matches centrefire rifles, though this time we are talking about the CZ 557 and CZ 527, is called CZ 457 Premium. The premium walnut stock is equipped with a European style cheekpiece and it also features a decorative tip. The thin-walled hunting barrel is 630 mm long and is equipped with iron sights, a front sight with fibre optics and a tangent rear sight adjustable from 25 to 200 m. There is also a muzzle thread for the attachment of a silencer.

The great accuracy potential of the new series is fully reflected in the CZ 457 MTR. The version in the .22 LR calibre features a match chamber with dimensions on the bottom limit of allowable parameters. For this variant, the manufacturer guarantees just a 15 mm sighting at a distance of 50 m. For hunting purposes, there is a hunting variant in 17 HMR calibre.

The fact that Česká zbrojovka is taking the new CZ 457 series very seriously indeed can be seen in the promotional involvement of Matthew and Kateřina Emmons. Indeed, we can take this move as a kind of confirmation that the new models really are top quality, as this famous shooting husband and wife duo is known to be extremely cautious about which products they are associated with. What is more, both Kateřina and Matthew have been lately involved in the coaching of the biathlon team, which means that there might just be an opening for a further expansion of the portfolio in the future…

New CZ 455

Yet the arrival of the new rimfire rifle family does not necessarily mean the demise of the existing CZ 455 series. The company’s portfolio offers a vast range of models in this series and moreover, this year has brought some new variants as well.

The CZ 455 Stainless Thumbhole reveals all important information about itself in its name. This version’s distinguishing feature is stainless steel, used for the receiver and the thick-walled, 436 mm long barrel. The bolt and minor metal parts have been treated with an anti-corrosion surface finish, the Thumbhole style stock is made from laminated lacquered wood and a compensator is fitted on the muzzle as standard. Naturally, there are no iron sights, as this sporting and hunting model (the available calibres are 22 LR and 17 HMR) is intended for precision shooting at longer distances with a riflescope.

Stainless steel can also be seen in the receiver and the 630 mm long barrel of the CZ 455 Stainless Long. This model is available in 22 LR calibre only and is supplied with iron sights, including a tangent rear sight as standard. The stock, made from lacquered beech, is of classic design and does not have a cheekpiece. There is a compensator on the muzzle, the same as in the CZ 455 Stainless Thumbhole, whose black colour is not the only thing that draws attention to the thin-walled barrel.

The CZ 455 Mini Sniper certainly looks very interesting too. Česká zbrojovka has had several “mini sniper” rimfire rifles, but this model has made the concept just about perfect. The tactical beech stock is ideally shaped for shooting in a supported prone position, its surface is protected by a black soft-touch layer and the gripping surfaces are checkered. On the bottom of the enlarged forend, there is a pin for the attachment of a bipod, the bolt handle is fitted with a robust rubber ball, and on the top of the receiver, there is a Weaver rail for the quick attachment of a riflescope. Regarding the trigger mechanism, Česká zbrojovka has opted for the Flyweight Trigger here, with the trigger pull weight adjustable between 1-5 N and the choice of either a double set configuration or minimum reset configuration. The 525 mm long thick-walled, cold hammer forged barrel has a compensator fitted on the muzzle and basic accessories include a 10-round magazine as well as a case.

Economical CZ 557

Taking into account the radical changes in the rimfire rifle sector, the fact that there are no significant newcomers in the long gun sector does not come as a surprise. We have certainly had a good share of innovations in this respect over the past years anyway. Although several “new” stickers can be found in the general catalogue next to a few CZ 527 and CZ 557 rifles, they are mostly versions that were introduced last year and we have more or less already covered them.

But there is at least one model definitely worth mentioning, the CZ 557 Eclipse. With this variant of the current backbone of the medium category rifles, Česká zbrojovka has joined the trend of the so-called economisation. Although the common 557 models are certainly not overpriced, some prospective customers perceive even prices starting at CZK 19 000 as far too high, or they might have other priorities and are not willing to invest in that kind of a weapon. More and more renowned brands are now trying to appeal to this target group which is apparently quite numerous. So, what has the answer of Česká zbrojovka been?

The company aimed to get the European retail price of EUR 599, about CZK 15 500 according to the current exchange rate, without any compromises on the most important parameters, especially reliability and accuracy. This model is based on the tried and tested CZ 557 barrelled action with a box magazine in two popular calibres, the .30-06 Sprg. and the .308 Win. The long receiver has been modified to simplify manufacture as much as possible, savings have been made by using a black polymer stock without soft-touch finish but with integrated pins for the attachment of a sling or a bipod. Another economical solution is the plastic trigger guard. By contrast, the adjustable trigger mechanism and the cold hammer forged, highly accurate barrel haven’t been touched. There is also an M14x1 thread on the muzzle.

This way, the quality-price ratio of this model has become rather attractive, provided the owner buys a riflescope and a mount, since this model has no iron sights. However, if someone really has to dig deep, nowadays even this sector offers good pickings for a reasonable price.

To tell the truth, not only at first but also at a second glance, the CZ 557 Eclipse does not look any worse than its older sisters which have polymer stocks with a soft-touch finish. Yes, it is a very user-friendly and pleasant feature, but we made do without it for many years without any problems. To put it simply, this economical 557 has seen savings on parts that are definitely not the most important where shooting and hunting are concerned. It will therefore be interesting to see how the CZ 557 Eclipse will fare on the market and what will follow should it succeed.

New pistols

For the 2019, the pistol sector of Česká zbrojovka has brought an impressive selection of innovations. The CZ Shadow 2 Orange sport special with barrel bushing has already exclusively featured in our January issue. Then, there are no less than three additions to the polymer frame pistol series with partially pre-cocked linear strikers: The CZ P-10 F in standard size, the CZ P-10 SC semi-compact and the CZ P-10 S sub-compact. When we also add the two-year-old CZ P-10 C (in three variants), we see that as of this year, Česká zbrojovka offers a truly comprehensive series of modern defence and service hammerless pistols, falling into step with their competitors.

The CZ P-10 F model can be briefly described as a bigger and heavier C model: its overall length is 203 mm, height 150 mm, barrel length 114 mm, weight when empty is around 0.8 kg. However, the last parameter does increase with the magazine loaded – the capacity is 19 rounds of 9×19 cartridges. This model has been optimized for situations when the user needs to shoot a lot of rounds as accurately as possible. Its bigger grip is truly reliable and the longer barrel and slide mean a longer sight line as well as slightly higher muzzle velocity. We were able to try out this model in September last year during an event organized by Česká zbrojovka at Bzenec shooting range, where the F model proved its worth in sandy environment. In the hands of quite experienced shooters, even very small poppers didn’t stand a chance at 15 metres.

The concept of the CZ P-10 SC version has brought something completely new to the CZ portfolio. A semi-compact was originally a designation for pistols whose standard-size frame was combined with a slide (and barrel) of a compact version. Yet this time, a compact frame has been combined with a full-size slide (and barrel). This seems to be a far more favourable and useful combination, as the length of the barrel is undoubtedly a more important parameter for covert carry than the length of the slide.

Therefore, this version is intended primarily for users who carry their gun covertly but want their model to guarantee high accuracy and fully exploit the firing potential of the 9×19 cartridge. Incidentally, the CZ P-10 SC version is remarkable in that it could be built by an owner of C and F models – it has been tried and tested and works beautifully.

At the moment, we do not have a lot of information about the CZ P-10 S sub-compact yet. This product is hot off the press, it doesn’t even feature in this year’s CZ catalogue (to be more precise, one can find it in a “group” photo without any additional information). It saw its special premiere at the IWA 2019 trade fair. We did see some prototypes, but at the time, there was still a long way to go to serial production. Hence, we too are looking forward to getting to know this version more intimately soon. In any case, a small P-10 with a 12-round magazine (and an option to add one more into the chamber) certainly sounds very promising.

Semi-automatic Bren 2

Let us not forget the CZ BREN 2Ms (the final designation – originally it was CZ BREN 2 MS), the exclusively semi-automatic version of the CZ BREN 2 assault rifle. Although this model came onto the market in the autumn of 2018, it hasn’t featured in our magazine yet. We have therefore decided to include it here.

The letters Ms stand for Modular System and refer to the detachable forend. This concept should open up a vast range of possibilities for customisation to the owners of these models. To the manufacturer, it offers the opportunity to develop other variants with barrels of various lengths. By opting for this forend, Česká zbrojovka a.s. has responded to the decline of MIL-STD-1913 mounting rails. The semi-automatic Bren 2 models offer users one long rail on the top of the gun (fitted with folding iron sights including a fully adjustable dioptre rear sight as standard) and further configuration is left up to their own needs and preferences.

If you are familiar with the BREN 2 assault rifle, you will basically find the same features on the CZ BREN 2Ms semi-automatic rifle, apart from the absence of short burst fire mode which is just about the only significant difference in addition to the already mentioned forend. And vice versa – if you are not that familiar with the assault rifle, the Ms will give you a very good idea what it is about. Both models boast simple design, great reliability in adverse conditions, high accuracy, excellent balance, superior ergonomics and easy to reach ambidextrous or adjustable controls. The semi-automatic version is even equipped with the assault rifles shoulder stock and a three prong self-tightening flash hider.

The CZ BREN 2Ms is available in 223 Rem and 7.62×39 calibres. They are easy to tell apart due to the shape of the 30-round black polymer magazine – in the latter it is significantly curvier. Gradually, several versions should become available, with barrels of various lengths. Currently, there is only a version with a 280 mm barrel available in both calibres. With the stock unfolded, the maximum length is 807 mm. The overall weight of the gun without magazine is favourable, around 2.9 kg; the 223 Rem version is about 50 g heavier than the 7.62×39 version, due to the smaller diameter of the barrel bore.

On the Czech market, the CZ BREN 2Ms semi-automatic rifles in the configuration described above are available for CZK 54 900.