One of the most gratifying range trips are those that involve shooting an accurate .22 rifle from the bench. That experience is enhanced with a little friendly competition. Some of my friends have decided to put together accurate rifles for this purpose. Granted, our budgets require us to confine ourselves to what is commonly referred to as “sporter” rifles. That is, they are mostly stock rifles with the best cheap optics we could find. Our rifle selection seems to primarily lean toward CZs, though a couple Savages and even a Remington 597 periodically make appearances.
But there’s just something special about the CZ rifles. Nothing exemplifies this more than the active community of people that love CZ rimfires. One of the very best resources available on the web is Rimfirecentral.com. If you are just starting out with accurate rimfires, it will be difficult to find a better resource. The CZ forums are particularly helpful and the membership is more than willing to help those that are just getting started. There are also a number of very helpful stickies to get you started. Here is a link to the CZ/Brno forum: http://www.rimfirecentral.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=18
This now brings us back to the subject at hand. My friends and I have, through unspoken agreement, stuck primarily to modifying the triggers and leaving it at that. It is easy to go down the rabbit hole of modifications, and the next thing you know you find yourself trying to make a benchrest rifle out of a CZ. While CZs are indeed accurate, it is unlikely that you’re going to win a national benchrest championship with one, especially when there are many folks spending $6,000 and more on their rifles. But for what the CZs are, and for the price point, they are hard to beat.
That’s not to say one can’t get excellent results from swapping out the stock and/or pillar bedding the action. Many have done so with exceedingly wonderful results. But in this article we’ll concern ourselves only with slight modifications and accessories that I’ve found, through my experience, every CZ owner should consider purchasing. There is a reason that people often refer to CZ rimfires as the “poor man’s Anschutz”. From an accuracy perspective as well as overall fit and finish, I have to agree. For around $400, you can get a very accurate rifle so long as you maintain it well and find the ammo that it “likes”.
When it comes to ammo, we found early on that we shot a lot fewer rounds if we went ahead and bought the good stuff. First, let me explain what we’ve been doing. We began by shooting at various paper targets of every shape and size imaginable. Eventually, we began to shoot at objects like grapes, which my friend brought as a snack. It quickly became apparent that reactive targets are where it’s at. The next step involved shooting flies or bees that landed on the targets. We also shot at small pieces of dog food. It was at that time I came up with a way to shoot biodegradable reactive targets. I took a few 2x4s, cutting them into 3 foot long sections. I then drilled several holes in each of them large enough to securely hold a golf tee. Putting the holes about 3″ apart seemed to work best. We would set up the boards, put the golf tees in the holes, and place a small biodegradable paintball on the golf tee. We place them at 50 yards and are able to hit them at will with decent ammo. Now that we can hit them with boring regularity, the next phase of the game is to cut the golf tees in half.
But that brings us back to the discussion of ammo. The most important thing to do is to find the ammo that your rifle likes. We found that we could shoot at a target several times with something like CCI Blazer, and we might actually hit it after a couple rounds. Or we could use SK or Wolf, and drill it the first time. Unfortunately, finding lots of different types of .22 ammo these days is very difficult. In fact, finding any .22 LR ammo is proving to be a challenge. Fortunately, we started shooting these rifles back in 2009, and since then have managed to acquire a small sample of all sorts of types of ammo. Now, if someone buys a new rifle, we’ve at least got some options to try. That said, we aren’t shooting super expensive and accurate benchrest rimfire rifles. Most of what we shoot is Wolf, SK, and a little bit of Eley. On special occasions we might break out a box of Eley Tenex, but that is rare due to the fact that it is over $20 for 50 rounds. The vast majority of what we shoot is Wolf and SK in about the $5 to $7 dollar range. In addition, we do not engage in testing particular lots of ammo. We find what generally works for us and we keep it simple. Perhaps one day that will change. For now, it is all about having fun.
Ammunition can’t really be considered an “accessory”, but the fact remains that it is one of the biggest determining factors when it comes to accuracy and one would be remiss not to mention it. The “new normal” when it comes to ammo prices makes it so that shooting any .22LR ammo is a lot more expensive than it used to be. If it is going to cost more, it is my opinion that it becomes even more important to hit what you’re aiming at. And anyway, as my wise Uncle John says: “Only accurate rifles are interesting”.
2. Cleaning Rods, Jags, and Patch Loops
Now this brings us to what accessories are good to have for CZ rimfire rifles. First and foremost is cleaning supplies. CZ rifles are different from many other rifles in that they have exceptionally tight bores. As a result, you may find that your ordinary .22 LR cleaning supplies can’t be used because they are dangerously tight. Or simply won’t work at all. Some companies make cleaning rods, brushes, and other tools specifically for CZs. While there are a few companies out there, my personal choice is Dewey.
J Dewey Rods makes some of the best cleaning tools available. For the CZ owner, the best news is that they carry rods and accessories that are .20 inches.
Photo Source: J Dewey Rods: https://www.deweyrods.com/cart/index.php?route=product/product&filter_tag=.20%20cal&product_id=63
They also sell the appropriate sized brushes, jags, and patch loops. Dewey rods will allow you to clean your CZ without getting your tools stuck in the chamber or otherwise risking damage to the chamber or crown. Yes, they are more expensive than the rods that come in various kits. It is very likely that I own more than half a dozen .22 rods, but the only ones that get to come near my CZs are from Dewey. If you damage the crown or the bore, it may have disastrous consequences for your rifle’s accuracy.
There is another brand of cleaning rod that is supposed to be better then Dewey, and that is the rods offered by Parker-Hale. I have never personally used them but they are very well respected by the benchrest community.
3. Bore guide
It is also a very good idea to get a bore guide for your CZ rifle. This will keep solvent from dripping into your action as you clean. This product is available from YoDave and I believe it is made by Dewey.
4. Trigger Kit
One of the best modifications you can make to your CZ is to install a trigger kit. Of course there are many complete aftermarket triggers available, but I’ve found that the kits are inexpensive (less than $20) and they work incredibly well. I’ve put them in four rifles thus far and have seen remarkable improvement in the way that each functions. The kits are easy to install for anyone that is somewhat mechanically inclined. The kit includes a few different shims and four different springs. Each spring has a different weight, which allows the shooter to choose with one they feel works best. However, there are a couple very important things to keep in mind. The first is that caution must be used when installing the shims. It is important to make sure you have enough sear engagement to remain safe. In other words, you don’t want the sear engagement to be so slight that jarring or bumping the rifle would cause it to fire. Also, you may want to try different spring weights to get the right amount of trigger pull. Keep in mind what you intend to use the rifle for. If I were to use it as primarily as a hunting rifle, I would probably either leave the trigger in the factory configuration, or simply install the heaviest trigger spring in the kit. If you plan to use it for bench shooting, you might want a light trigger and therefore would install one of the lighter springs. Either way, it is a good idea to make sure you’re being safe. I strongly urge anyone who is installing a trigger kit to make use of the following resources:
This is a thread from Rimfirecentral that features a pictorial guide for installing a YoDave trigger kit: http://www.rimfirecentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=330293
There is also a guide for installation on YoDave’s website: http://www.yodaveproducts.com/trigger-kit-installation-instructions.html
Trigger kits are available from YoDave Products. This is also the source of the photo above: http://www.yodaveproducts.com/store/p32/CZ_452%2C_455%2C%C2%A0BRNO_2%2C4%2C_and_5_trigger_kit.html
5. Striker Spring
There seems to be at least some consensus that the CZ factory striker springs could be a little stronger. I’ve not seen that in my personal experience. However, as I am constantly pursuing a more accurate rifle, I thought that it wouldn’t hurt and might actually result in more consistent ignition of the round. I have installed the aftermarket striker springs and can personally attest that they do seem to make a more pronounced indent in the rim of a fired case.
Striker springs are available from YoDave Products: http://www.yodaveproducts.com/store/p29/CZ_452%2C_453%2C_455%2C_and_513_Striker_Spring.html
CZ magazines are a bit more expensive than, say, those for Savage rimfire rifles. However, they seem to be of relatively high quality. Magazines may come in plastic or steel. For some reason, I prefer the plastic ones, but that’s just a matter of personal opinion. Other people I know prefer steel. They come in 5 and 10 round versions. The 10 round version is available from Midway:
Source of photo and link to purchase: http://www.midwayusa.com/product/141041/cz-magazine-cz-452-22-long-rifle-10-round-polymer-black
7. Scope Ring Adapters
CZs will either have an 11mm dovetail or a 3/8″ dovetail. Your owner’s manual should be able to confirm it, but you can also check the technical information for the rifle you are considering at http://www.cz-usa.com/products/by-category/rifles/.
Generally, it is a little more difficult to find rings to fit the CZ unless you choose the CZ brand rings. They are very well made and I highly recommend them. If you have other rings you would like to try, such as Burris Signature Zee (one of my favorites), you can get an 11mm or 3/8″ to Weaver adapter. This broadens the number of choices available with regard to scopes, and it also may help elevate your rings to allow clearance for some CZ rifle models that have iron sights. Personally, I prefer not to remove the iron sights and instead use higher rings and risers to give me proper clearance.
Those adapters can be found at J&P Custom Products. They also provide adapters for 3/8″ to Weaver. Source of the photo above is J&P Custom Products: https://www.jnpgunsprings.com/product_info.php?cPath=10&products_id=236
The residents of the affectionately dubbed “CZ ward” on Rimfirecentral.com have put together a database of scopes and rings that people have used, which helps substantially when it comes to figuring out what is going to fit on your rifle: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Aq7iefRObUEkdDdaY1EtUEd5ZWpYZHlzRmJQSGphVGc
Hopefully those that are new to CZ rifles will find this information helpful. Please note that I am not affiliated with any of the vendors for any of the accessories or ammo mentioned above. I also accept no responsibility for mishaps related to the installation of trigger kits or any modifications.