CZ-USA is the distributor of many fine
handguns, rifles, and shotguns, but their flagship line is the
variety of excellent rifles from Ceska Zbrojovka Uhersky Brod
of the Czech Republic, known worldwide simply as CZ.
CZ makes rifles for riflemen. They make their
rifles out of real honest-to-goodness steel and walnut. They
make rifles that are user-friendly, reliable, and accurate. CZ
makes rifles the way that shooters and hunters around the world
want their rifles to be made. They have been making them this
way for many years.
CZ-USA recently sent to me for review one of
their .17 HMR chambered rifles; the Model 453 Varmint. As the
name implies, this rifle is meant for varmint hunters, and the
.17 HMR cartridge is well-suited to many types of varmint
I really took to the .17 HMR cartridge right
from the beginning after its introduction by Hornady and Ruger
a few years ago. It has been about five years since I
first reported on the new cartridge, and have since
tested several handguns and rifles so chambered. They have all
exhibited fine accuracy, and I expected no different from the CZ
453 Varmint. I wasnít disappointed. The .17 HMR is a
delightful little cartridge, and works very well on small vermin
and pests, offering explosive performance on small rodents and
such. The video shows the explosive performance of the cartridge
on marauding water bottles, which really proves nothing, but I
do like shooting them anyway. The little bullet simply
vaporizes the water into a mist, and splits the bottles
lengthwise instantly. I have used the .17 on large groundhogs,
with perfect results. I have heard of hunters reporting good
performance on coyotes, but have not tried it myself on
predators that large.
Upon opening the box containing the new rifle, I
was pleasantly surprised by the handsome appearance of the
rifle. I have seen many CZ rimfires before, and they all looked
very good, but I expect to someday open the box and find that CZ
has also gone to using cheap plastic on their rifles. So far,
they havenít taken to that habit as have many other rifle
makers. On the 453, every part that is metal is made of
steel, and what isnít metal is the good-looking walnut stock,
which is fitted with a synthetic rubber recoil pad. Of course,
the .17 HMR cartridge hardly recoils at all, but the pad is a
nice touch, and lends to the overall grown-up appearance of the
rifle. By that, I mean that while many rimfire rifles seem
scaled towards smaller sized shooters, which is perfect for
kids, the CZ 453 is a man-sized rifle; feeling much more like a
light centerfire rifle than a rimfire. Weighing in at a
half-ounce over seven pounds, the 453 feels comfortable to hold,
not like a toy as do many rimfire rifles. This is a quality
firearm, and that is obvious right out of the box. The barrel is
free-floated its entire length, but is fitted very precisely,
and I had to slide a piece of paper down the channel to be sure.
The walnut stock exhibited good figure, and the
pistol grip area is cut-checkered on both sides, with a slight
palm swell for right-handed shooters.
The barrel measures twenty-one inches long, and
is a medium-heavy profile tapering to just under three-quarters
of an inch at the muzzle, which is finished with a recessed
crown. The trigger guard, receiver, and magazine are finished in
a bead-blasted matte black blued-steel finish, with the barrel,
bolt handle, and magazine floorplate a satin blue-black. The
trigger and bolt are left in the white, and contrast nicely with
the rest of the rifleís finish.
The trigger on the 453 varmint is one of the
finest available. It is CZís excellent fully-adjustable single
set trigger, and is a delight to use. It operates as a normal
trigger if desired, but by pushing forward on the trigger, the
mechanism is set for a very light, crisp pull measuring just
under one pound pull weight. In the normal un-set mode, the
trigger pull measured three pounds and two ounces as supplied
from CZ-USA. The safety is attached to the bolt, with forward
being the "on safe" position , securely locking the
firing pin, bolt, and trigger. Pulling back on the safety allows
it to fire. A bit unusual, but it works very well.
As should every hunting rifle, the CZ is
supplied with sling swivel studs attached front and rear. The
bolt is equipped with dual extractors, and the all-steel
magazine holds five rounds, for a loaded capacity of six total.
The CZ proved perfectly reliable during testing, with feeding
and extraction experiencing no problems at all.
For playing around and general hunting chores, I
mounted a 2 to 7 power Leupold Compact scope in Leupold
Rifleman rings, which worked very well on the 453 Varmint. For
serious accuracy testing, I mounted a trusted Leupold 6.5 to 20
power target scope. This scope has become my "mule"
scope, as I find myself using it often to test the accuracy of
various rifles. I trust it. Nothing is more frustrating than to
try to work out accurate loads for a rifle, only to find that
the scope is not holding its settings. With the target Leupold,
I donít worry about the scope, as I have come to trust it to
hold its settings, and not drift the point of impact at all.
I had available to me for testing only two types
of .17 HMR ammo; the Hornady 17 grain V-Max load and the CCI 17 grain
Speer TNT hollowpoint load. Both performed
very well. The Hornady load is advertised at 2550
feet-per-second (fps) velocity, but achieved almost 100 fps more
from the CZís barrel, at 2647 fps. The CCI load clocked 2585
fps. Both loads exhibited excellent accuracy from the 453
varmint. One hundred yard five-shot groups would consistently
cluster within less than one inch every time, with most groups
being even tighter than that. At twenty-five yards, one hole
performance was achievable every time. At fifty yards, it
would put three or four or sometimes five shots into less than
three-eighths of an inch. When the groups would open up to over
one-half inch, it was always my fault. Three shots at one
hundred would usually settle between one-half and three-quarters
of an inch, with the two one-hundred yard groups shown
being representative of the order of the day, both measuring
nine-sixteenths of an inch. In every case, when I did my part,
the CZ would shoot superbly.
The 453 Varmint is an excellent .17 HMR rifle,
and is probably the best .17 currently available. Others are
good-looking and accurate, but I have seen, handled, and shot
none that were as good as this CZ 453 Varmint. For any shooter
or hunter who is looking for a pest, varmint, and small predator
cartridge, I recommend the .17 HMR cartridge. It is
flat-shooting, explosive, and accurate. For any shooter or
hunter who is looking for a good bolt action .17 HMR rifle, I
highly recommend the CZ 453 varmint.
For more information on the line of firearms
available from CZ-USA, go to: www.cz-usa.com.
For the location of a CZ dealer near you, click
on the DEALER LOCATOR icon at: www.lipseys.com.
For a look at Leupoldís quality optics, go to:
To locate a dealer where you can
buy this gun, Click on the DEALER FINDER icon at:
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