When TTAG’s Jeremy S. asked me if I wanted to review a new CZ 457 rimfire rifle, I told him yes, and to just go ahead and have them send me the invoice. I didn’t ask what the features were. I didn’t care what it looked like. I was going to be happy with it, whatever it was, because it was a CZ rimfire rifle.
The CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis MTR did not disappoint.
I love how CZ pretty much put all of the basic features right there in the name, “CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis MTR”. That MTR stands for “Match Target Rifle”. For this series of rimfires, it means a very tight chamber, with minimal tolerances and a short headspace.
If you’re shooting a 35 to 40 grain projectile, your bullet is probably engaging the lands. The upside to the MTR chamber and headspace is that the cartridge and bullet don’t have any space to cant one way or another prior to heading down the bore, improving consistency. The downside is that if the chamber is too tight, you’ll have problems with extraction.
If extraction problems are going to occur, it’s going to happen on hot, humid days on a dirty bore. The first 500 round box of Herter’s rimfire ammunition was shot out of this gun in the blazing Texas August heat. I cleaned and lubed the rifle before I started firing, and then not again until I was ready to shoot for groups, which was after that box of Herter’s.
I never had a case fail to load or to extract. I did have two rounds fail to fire, but they also failed to fire on the first shot when loaded into a Ruger Single Six revolver. They both fired on the 3rd go round, so the ammunition is to blame there, not the guns.
Like several of the better rimfire receivers on the market, there is no feed ramp into the 457’s chamber. That’s because the soft lead tips of many .22LR target rounds can be damaged by the feed ramp, making for an inconsistent bullet shape.
Unlike say, the Vudoo Gun Works action, the CZ 457 does not pick up the cartridge in-line with the bore straight from the magazine. Instead, there is some upward angle as the round leaves the magazine and the bolt presses the round in line with the chamber. I inspected the rounds as best as I could, including using a magnifying glass on soft lead bullets. If there is any deformation of the round as it goes into the chamber, I can’t find it.
The CZ 455 is legendary, and still to this day a great rimfire rifle, but CZ listened to the American market for the updated 457.
The most obvious change to the 455 models is the safety. The 455 models had a kind of paddle safety mounted to the rear of the bolt. It worked just fine, but was unfamiliar to most American shooters, and some shooters needed to bring their face off the gun to manipulate the safety. Instead, the 457 includes a familiar right sight receiver mounted push-to-fire safety.
Also welcome is the 60 degree bolt throw. If you are running iron sights, or a smaller magnification scope, this won’t mean much to you. But if you’re trying to reach tiny targets far away, an optic with higher magnification and a larger objective is likely on the menu. The 60 degree throw helps clear those larger bells and still provides plenty of room for your fingers to keep a hold of the bolt handle.
Another difference is the trigger. The 457’s trigger is adjustable for not just weight, but also overtravel and take-up. According to my Lyman Digital Trigger scale, the rifle came from the factory with the trigger set at 3lbs 8oz. With a little bit of experimentation, it was pretty easy to get the trigger all the way down to a consistent 2lbs.
At this weight, the pull was light and crisp, and wouldn’t go off when I smacked the rifle hard or bounced it on a table. The take-up adjustment is particularly nice. Again, a little experimentation was all it took, and the results were immediate engagement while still remaining safe.
You’d have to be a pretty astute observer to notice, but along with flattening the sides of the receiver, CZ also removed an inch from it’s length as well. That reduces the overall weight of the receiver, as well as the overall footprint.
What’s stayed the same between the 455 and the 457 is the barrel set system and the magazine. And those are good things to leave alone.
From the factory, the Varmint Precision Chassis MTR features a 16″ heavy profile cold hammer forged barrel with 6 groove rifling and a black nitride finish. It’s got a 1:16 twist, like pretty much every 22LR out there, and ends with 1/2×28 threads and a thread protector I hope you’ll be quickly replacing with the quality suppressor of your choice. I shoot a suppressed 22LR almost every day, and I wish that joy for you all.
If there’s something you don’t like about that, you’re in luck. With the same barrel system as the 455, a barrel length or even caliber swap is completely user friendly, and doesn’t require a gunsmith to accomplish. You can find barrel options from CZ, as well as spectacular precision barrels from Lija, and others.
The magazine that ships with the 457 Varmint Precision Chassis MTR is the same 5 rounder as the previous versions. I have absolutely no issues with this magazine. It feeds perfectly every time, any round I put through it. It never fails to lock flush or fail to release. My only issue is that it ships with just one of them. They aren’t particularly difficult to find or expensive, but still, a single fiver for a premium competition focused line seems a little cheap.
The big difference between this rifle and the other rimfire rifles in the MTR line is that aluminum chassis. Chassis make a lot of sense as you can swap actions and keep the user interface on the rifle mostly the same. At first, putting a chassis under a proprietary footprint didn’t make sense. And then I remembered how easy it is to swap the barrel and chambering of the gun. And now it’s a great idea.
The chassis’ emerald green is accentuated with a “CZ Orange” trigger guard. The geometry of it works well, sitting wide and flat for its entire length, to right in front of the trigger guard. That shape gives the shooter tons of real estate for bag placement. It also has QD attachments for a sling.
Instead of a full length chassis with an integral stock, CZ went with an AR buffer tube at the back end of the chassis. This allows the shooter to use a wide variety of aftermarket stock options on the 457 Varmint Precision Chassis MTR. Out of the box, CZ chose the very popular LuthAR MBA-4 Carbine with Cheek Rest buttstock.
This stock adjusts for length of pull and comb height, and includes a railed section on the bottom for the inclusion of a mono-pod or other stabilizing device. The LuthAR buttstock line is popular for a reason, and some kind of adjustable stock makes sense here. But for those of you who do most of your prone shooting with a rear bag, this might not be the stock for you. The front end is very narrow, and the tall nature of the stock itself allows for it to act as a lever on the bag, reducing horizontal stability. Of course, since it’s on a buffer tube, any user can quickly replace it with the stock of their choice.
The pistol grip is also AR platform based, and can just as easily be changed with any of the dozens of AR15 compatible grips on the market. I’d prefer a more vertical grip, but the out-of-the-box Hogue model works great too.
It feels good, it looks good, it’s got lots of options. It shoots great.
After more than 500 rounds of plinking, I cleaned the bore and the action and got to shooting groups. Because of the sharp forward portion of the bottom of the LuthAR stock, my usual Caldwell Stinger Shooting Rest didn’t work well. Instead, I jammed the stock into the rear of an old MTM Predator Rest. Once I bagged up that rest to add some weight, it worked extremely well, and I’m convinced there’s no way you could wring more accuracy out of this gun.
Mounting a Nightforce SHV 20X optic in CZ rings onto the integral 11mm receiver mounts, I shot four 5 round strings at 100 yards and averaged them together.
Of course, like all rimfire rifles, ammunition is more than half the battle. If all I had were Herter’s 36gr plated hollow point ammunition, I’d be disappointed in how this rifle shot. That ammunition printed 2.6″ groups, on average.
I shot several different brands of ammunition, but none of them were what most competitive shooters would consider “match” ammunition. Still, and unsurprisingly, the best shooting was the CCI Standard Velocity 40 grain lead target round. This ammunition printed average 1″ groups, with the best five round group at .8″. Again, those are 100 yard groupings. This gun deserves some Eley or Lapua ammunition, but I just couldn’t find any.
The CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis MTR certainly deserves some serious consideration for those wanting to compete in the long range rimfire game. Considering it’s price, you’ll be competing in the Open division, and probably against rifles that cost 2X or more than what you paid. Even so, you’ll be in the game and competitive, with an easy ability to upgrade your barrel in the future should you choose.
Specifications: CZ 457 VARMINT PRECISION CHASSIS MTR
Chambering: 22 LR
Rate Of Twist: 1:16 in
Magazine Capacity: 5
Magazine Type: Detachable
Stock: Aluminum chassis
Sights: No sights, integral 11mm dovetail
Barrel: Heavy cold hammer forged
Barrel Length: 16 in
Weight: 7 lbs
MSRP $1115 (about $915 retail)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * * *
The trigger guard’s nod to CZ’s performance “Orange” line is a nice touch. The nitride finish is smooth and even throughout, and the green really looks great.
Customization * * * * *
Swap the barrel. Swap the caliber. Modify the trigger is myriad ways. Put whatever AR stock and grip you want. Suppress it. This gun is the chameleon of bolt action rimfires.
Reliability * * * * *
Accuracy * * * *
Very, very good. There are more accurate rimfires on the market, but not at this price.
Overall * * * * ½
Nobody should be surprised CZ put out another great rimfire. I’m taking something off for only one magazine being included and what I really feel like is the wrong stock. But wow, this rifle is fantastic, and especially at this price. The out-of-the-box performance, and the adjustability and relatively low cost customization potential of this rifle really set it apart.