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Practically Shooting

CZ 527 7.62x39 (on the way)


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I’ve looked and thought and thought and looked for a couple of years, and gave in.  I’ve shot the Ruger American and liked it fine.  A shop nearby had a Howa Mini 1500 I looked at, and it was OK.  

I really wanted the CZ though, and pretty much knew it was where I’d end up. I used the excuse that the Ruger is pretty hard to find right now.  

Why do I want a 7.62x39 bolt action? Uhhhhhhh...

Because I have ammo?  Because they’re so cute?  Just because?   I don’t know, but it should be here next week.  

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  • 1 year later...

Its here, and it’s been here for a year.

And I think it’s gonna stay here.   What I didn’t know when I got it was they were about to be discontinued and replaced with a very different model.  I need to hang onto this one.


I’ve had it out shooting several times at both the clubs I belong; one nearby with 100-yard range and another more distant   place with a 240-yard range.  I’ve given it enough use for some thoughts.  



First, the two main things.   It’s compact and it shoots well.




This thing is small, light, and handy.   I can read the manufacturer’s weight and size figures, but if I don’t have a rifle in my hands, I have a hard time really knowing what it will be like.  I especially have trouble grasping weight figures when they are given to me.   Even a simple comparison to another rifle would help me.  



Compared to a typical 20” barrel Winchester 94, this CZ 527 is a fraction of an inch shorter but over a half pound lighter.   Compared to a standard Ruger 10-22 Sporter, it’s a fraction of an inch longer and a little over a half pound heavier.    So call it right in the middle between those two.  

Like I said, it is small, light, and handy.  



How does it shoot?   It does surprisingly well.  At least I was surprised.  I had a hard time coming up with what to expect for accuracy.  CZ rifles usually shoot well, but the 7.62x39 cartridge isn’t exactly known for precision.   All I had for test ammo was all I ever expected to need or use: Steel cased, Berdan primed, and as cheap as I could get it.   None was bought within the past 15 years, and probably closer to 20+. 


Cutting to the chase, ANY and ALL of that ammo shot into 1.5 MOA at 50 and 100 yards.  It could have been better I guess, but it sure could’ve been a lot worse and I wouldn’t have been surprised by it.  That’s with a 4X scope that I never could get focused, but more on that later.


Looking around online, that seems to be typical accuracy for these.  Some report even better, and this one might (should?) do better after a scope change.  I wouldn’t have thought this would be the case, and I honestly don’t know how it is possible. 






I have to talk about the set trigger.  I like it a lot.  A LOT.

I’ve used set triggers on Muzzleloaders but never owned a modern rifle with them.  There used to be a couple of Steyr rifles with double set triggers floating around this area.  I’ve messed with them but didn’t care for them.  The trigger pull was nice of course, but the trigger guard seemed crowded and the reach felt unnatural.  


This CZ uses a single set trigger.  One trigger.  You can use it normally, or push it forward until it clicks to “set” it.  I haven’t measured mine yet, but reports I read say in normal configuration it’s around 3.0-3.5 pounds, and when set it’s around a pound or just under.  



This one is great to use.   The normal trigger is fine for general use, and the set trigger is nice to have at the bench or for other fine work.  It’s easy to use, and VERY importantly, I can’t think of any drawbacks to it.   I am sure it’s more complicated and adds more parts, but unless it starts freezing up in dusty use (could happen) I’m not going to worry about it.   If it was a double set, I wouldn’t like it near as much, if at all, due to the space taken up in the guard by two triggers.  




Function was fine, as expected.  It’s a mostly-Mauser-type bolt action.  It’s not the smoothest feeding rifle but is OK.  The bolt itself runs very nicely, but feeding from that stack of tapered steel cases can’t be the easiest.  The last round feeds so smoothly I always thought it was empty and had to pause and tilt it over to check until I got used to that.  



CZ centerfire rifles have a “backwards” safety that always get comments or abuse.  Rather than the typical back for safe/forward for fire, it’s the opposite.  Jeff Cooper went so far as to suspect it was used on their dangerous game rifles as a communist plot to get capitalists killed, and I don’t think he was entirely joking.   

If it was a sliding safety, maybe it would bother me more.   It is a rocking thumb piece.  I once read it helps to think of it as a stubby hammer that you are cocking to shoot, and I had that in my head as I went into this.  That must have worked!  With that thought planted in my head, it was just fine; almost natural, really.




Now for some more excruciating detail.




Yes, it comes with some. Real iron sights!


I zeroed the iron sights first.  I bought Quick Detach throw lever rings* so I could switch between scope and irons if needed, so wanted to get a good solid zero with the irons.  The CZ iron sights are really good.  I’d say they might be the best open sights on a factory rifle I know of today.  The sight picture is good with a square rear blade and squared notch, and the front sight on current models being a red fiber optic.  


Fiber optic sights aren’t my favorite because they can be fragile, but this may be the most rugged I’ve seen.  The sight itself is well designed, plus it has a protective hood guarding it.  This hood is skeletonized to allow light in to the sight.  



The front is adjustable for elevation, and rear adjusts for deflection.  Without getting into it here, neither adjusts in a normal fashion, but adjust easy once you know how, and they look like they should stay put.  


* A word about scope rings for the CZ 527.   If you want anything more than fixed mount rings in medium height, expect to pay a little.  CZ rings are different from other makers’ ring design anyway, and the 527’s are different from other CZs!   Also, most 527 rings are on the high side since the 527 used to have a bolt handle shape that caused clearance problems with a lot of scope eyepieces.  

It’s not a huge problem.  You can get aluminum fixed rings from CZ for $30. If you just have to be picky like me, and get the lowest height rings AND in QD form, expect to pay $100.  The same rings from the same company (Warne) but for 3/8” .22 rails will be at least $20 less.  Even their rings for Tikka rifles run less.  



I spent some time deciding what scope to use.  The handiness of it screams for something small like a 1-4X variable or even a 2.5X fixed.  On the other hand, it shoots well enough to make more magnification tempting.  In the end, I got a Leupold 2.5X fixed power.  It’s one of the lightest scopes currently made, and I couldn’t resist that for this neat little rifle.  
It sure takes a lot of concentration (and some creative targets) to shoot groups on paper without more magnification, but it has been plenty for general playing around.  



For my initial shooting I did what I always do and picked a scope that wasn’t being used on another rifle at the moment.  This time it was a Leupold 4X Rimfire Special.  I chose it before the rifle even got here.  For starters, 4X should be enough to tell if the new rifle had any potential or needed to be traded away ASAP.   I wasn’t sure if the newer design bolt handle completely corrected the clearance issue either, and this little scope would be OK regardless.  

After some more thought, the finer reticle in that Rimfire model might help on paper, and the overall size seemed appropriate, so I considered leaving it on the rifle.   



Leupold scopes have a fantastic reputation, but I’m one of the few who tries to avoid them.   Their traditional focus method of screwing the eyepiece in and out always gives me fits!  Usually I never so get them focused for me, and if I do, they won’t stay.  Occasionally I will come across one I can work with, but usually not.  I guess I’m “special” because I’ve only heard one or two other people complain of it.   My best shooting buddy is one of them.   Admittedly, neither of us have the best eyes in the world.  



I can usually use them well enough in the field or just playing around, but trying to shoot little groups on paper with them is a struggle.  This 4X Rimfire Special had been on an integrally suppressed .22 for a long time and saw a lot of use without a problem, but it was rarely used to shoot paper.  


All that was to explain the rifle should do better than what I got from it on paper.   It took so much concentration to shoot groups on paper that I couldn’t shoot for very long at a time.    I had a lot of hesitation going with the Leupold 2.5X because of this, but like I said, the compactness of that scope was too tempting.   I am glad I went that direction, because it has been fine for general goofing around, and is so small it “fits”.  
Once I got the holds, hitting the IPSC sized silhouette steel at 200 and 240 was easy enough.  The first time out, I got four out of five standing at 240, and they were good hits.



Thinking about that on the way home, it’s the best I could hope for, and better than I expected.  


Thinking about it now, that line of thought sums up the rifle pretty well.   The best I could hope for.

I am glad I got it.  





After I bought this rifle, but before it arrived, our government banned the import or Russian ammo.  Since situations with Russia have only gotten worse since then, I don’t see that changing any time soon.   Right after this rifle arrived, I stopped at a large farm and ranch store that carries guns.   They had Russian 7.62X39 ranging from $9.99 to $12.99 for 20 rounds.  All of it was steel cased and Berdan primed.   That’s a lot less than prices on the 5.56 they had, and overall wasn’t bad compared to other prices that day, but it’s also a lot more money than it used to be.  I don’t see it getting any cheaper.   The ammo I had on hand was marked $2.99 on each box.  Those weren’t the best prices when I bought them, but those days are long gone now.



If you have a supply of 7.62x39 ammo already, I think a bolt action in the caliber is definitely a rifle worth getting.  If not, I would have to think about it.  A quick look online shows 7.62x39 at 37.5 cents at the low end, or $7.50/20 rd box.  That translates to around $8.00-8.50 at a local store, give or take.  You can still walk into a store, get 200 rounds, tax included, and get a little change from a hundred bucks, but not much.   I don’t know how much longer you can.  




Let’s get stupid. 


A year or so ago, I might not have thought much about reloading for one of these except for my sick curiosity.  Now, between the ammo situation changing drastically, and it showing potential for great things, I want to try some experiments.  With things as they are, components aren’t easy to find, but that only makes us want to try harder, right?   
I want to start simple.  I want to pull the factory bullets from ammo I have, and replace it with something like Hornady SSTs in the same weight.  Those are starting to show up now. 
And if I want to really go nuts, Lapua makes bullets in the proper size and weight.  


Oh yeah, the fun may only be beginning with this thing.


I’m glad I got one, especially since they stopped selling them. I’d love to have another one or two in other calibers.   Among others, they made them in .221 Remington Fireball, which I think would be a fun little combination. 

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