Charles Daly Superior II Bolt-Action 22 Rifle

by Daniel Congiolosi

photography by Daniel Congiolosi

January 9th, 2021

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Unfortunately, often in life, we have to part with things that we hold dear. You can ask almost any man in America about "the one that got away" and it usually met with the same kind of response. He will just blankly stare off into space for a moment. A single tear will form in the corner of his eye, as he reflects on what was, and could have been. We have all done it, whether it be a truck, knife, gun or high school sweetheart, we all have had one get away. If you were to ask me about what gun I most regretted losing in the past, I would tell you that it was a Beautiful Remington 1903A3 that has been rebuilt into a stunning sporting rifle chambered in 350 Norma Magnum. I would also tell you about the fox I shot with it at point blank range. But there are two others that I equally miss. The first would be a Husqvarna 30/06 rifle. The second would have been the feature of today's article. 

It's rare, but every once in a while, the stars align, and fate presents the opportunity to get back that which chance had taken. That happened to me recently. While making a trade for a Ruger 3-screw 30 carbine with a friend, we got to talking and I learned that he still had a rifle I had traded him nearly 10 years before. A little haggling, and he walked away with a first gen Colt SAA project, and I walked away with my beloved Charles Daly Superior II. I had traded him this rifle, as well as a few others when I was a teenager for a beat-up Dodge pickup, because I had just moved out on my own and needed a vehicle. I have tried to find another 22 rifle to fill the Superior II's shoes many times, but they had all lead to disappointment. 

So, let's talk about this rifle. What makes this rifle so special? I'm not a very sentimental person usually. I've traded off many guns that were gifts or used on hunts and the like, and don't usually have regrets. As a matter of fact, the only gun I would say has any sentimental value to me would be a Marlin 1895 45/70 that is in my father's possession until I inherit it, but that's a story for another day. 

The Charles Daly Superior II, although a very nice rifle, isn't anything special on its own. It was manufactured by Zastava, and has been imported under several names, including Remington as the model 5. One of the first Companies to import the rifle was Century Arms, as the CZ 99 precision. When I was about 11 or 12 years old, my dad brought 3 of these rifles into our small shop, and I believe the price on them was a whopping $149. These first three rifles were very nice, and my dad decided that we should go ahead and shoot one to test. This was a mistake that led to only 2 of the guns ever leaving the shop. The one we test fired, dad ended up keeping, and to this day is the most accurate sporter grade 22 rifle I have ever seen. It would constantly shoot MOA at 50 yards with cheap bulk ammo and the cheap 3-9 Tasco scope with which he had topped it. The other two rifles hung around the shop for a while and I knew I had to have one. 

At the time I was working a couple odd farm jobs, none that paid well. My dad and I traded guns back and forth all the time, but he wouldn't trade me one of those CZ rifles since they were new shop inventory. I saved and saved, and worked every small job I could find, until I finally had the cash to buy one of those rifles. Unfortunately, by the time I saved up the cash, those rifles had been sold, along with a second batch of three, and Century Arms didn't have any more. The import deal had swapped over to Charles Daly, and these rifles were now just a bit more expensive. Fortunately, I had managed to save up the extra cash by the time they hit the distributors, and soon I had my very own fine bolt action 22 rifle, and that is where the special part of this rifle comes in. This is the first new rifle I remember saving up and paying cash for. 

So, let's talk about the rifle. Remington imported their model 5 from Zastava as barreled actions and fitted them with laminate stocks. The other importers brought them in with plain, walnut stocks, which had almost no finish on them, but nice double line hand cut checkering. The bluing on these guns is excellent. The ones imported by Century Arms had their usual laser engraved import marks, but the Charles Daly ones had a small flat milled on the receiver with the import marks on that. I believe that flat spot was likely milled off to get rid of the manufacturer marks. The rifle came with a 22" barrel, equipped with a hooded front sight and flip up rear sight. The rifles were also equipped with a grooved receiver, as well as sling studs. If memory serves me correctly, the Century imported rifles came with 2 magazines -- a 5 and a 10 round -- but the Charles Daly ones came with just a single 5 round magazine. The stocks, with a little elbow grease and some boiled linseed oil, turned out to be very nice chunks of wood. 

All through my teen years, this rifle served as a faithful companion. The number of bricks of ammo that were fired would fuel most people for a lifetime of shooting with ammo left over. I got to know this rifle like an extension of my arm. The stock shape is absolutely perfect in my opinion, and it is an extremely comfortable rifle to pack and shoot. I bagged a lot of small game with this rifle. The rifle also rode with me on many tradeline rides, and dispatched lots of critters, including a moose. 

This rifle, although very accurate, did not quite live up to the accuracy standards of the one that my dad kept from that first batch of rifles, but it is still extremely accurate for a 22 rifle. This rifle gave me an unhealthy standard on which to base the accuracy of future 22 rifles that I would own, none of which I was ever very pleased with. As a result, none of them hung around very long. I've always just used the iron sights on this one, and unfortunately the hood from the front sight has been lost somewhere in the past. It was very likely left in the drawer of my reloading bench when I moved out.

Accuracy testing, once I got the rifle back, proved that indeed the rifle lived up to the standards I remembered. I tested three types of ammo that I had on hand, CCI Blazer, Remington Thunder Bolt, and some Imperial ammo from Canada. I fired 5, 5-shot groups with each ammo at 25 yards from a rest. It should probably also be mentioned that it was 14 below zero while doing this accuracy testing, and I did mount a Vortex 3-9 scope on the rifle just for the accuracy test, and set it at 6 power. The largest group fired measured .736" fired with the Remington ammo. The smallest group measured just .216" fired with the Imperial ammo. The average for all 15 groups was .436", which I felt was pretty good, everything considered. 

I was pleased to learn that rifle had been well cared for while out of my possession, and I don't think it had even been fired, as the magazine was still loaded with my favorite 22 ammo, with a flat spot filed on the nose of the bullet, something I did to enhance the effect of cheap ammo on game. Picking up the rifle, it instantly felt right at home in my arms, and I have no doubt that it will become a close friend again on many walks looking for small game, or even just the random rock or snow clump that needs shot at. It's good to have it back in the stable, and I don't see myself letting this one go again for any small reason.

Daniel Congiolosi

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