The .22 LR CZ Model 452 Lux Rifle
By Chuck Hawks and the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
CZ is the U.S. trade name of Ceska Zbrojovka Uhershy Brod (CZUB) and CZ-USA is their American distributor. CZ firearms are made in the Czech Republic (part of the former Czechoslovakia).
Ceska Zbrojovka means "Czech weapons factory" and Uhershy Brod is the town where the factory is located. Most Americans do not realize that CZUB is the world's largest small arms factory. It was established in 1936 and its factory and office buildings now cover over 200 acres of land.
There were hard times during WW II and the Nazi occupation, and they continued during the subsequent Soviet occupation and the Cold War. CZUB's production of sporting arms was severely curtailed by the Communist government imposed by the Russians, but the company is making a strong comeback in the civilian gun trade since the restoration of freedom and the formation of the independent Czech Republic.
The subject of this review is the .22 LR Model 452 Lux bolt action rifle. The Model 452 is available in several variations. The Lux is the standard European style rifle, and is perhaps the most commonly encountered CZ. (There is a review of the top-of-the-line Model 542 American in .17 HMR elsewhere on the the Product Review Page.)
The 452 Lux is supplied with a polished and blued barreled action. This action is machined from a steel billet and the receiver is dovetailed to accept 11mm European type scope rings. The machined steel bolt locks at the rear by means of two lugs; the bolt knob is round with a hole in the bottom to reduce weight. The safety blocks the firing pin and is mounted at the top rear of the bolt. Model 452 rifles come with hammer forged and lapped barrels. The trigger is user adjustable for weight of pull.
Cartridges are fed from a 5-round, heavy gauge sheet steel, detachable box magazine. This magazine seats positivley and detaches cleanly when the small release at the front of the magazine well is pressed rearward. A 10-round magazine as well as a single shot adapter are available as accessories.
The 452 Lux wears a typically European walnut stock with a curved comb and a tight pistol grip. The forend is slender and graceful with a Schnable tip. The pistol grip is checkered, but the forend is not. Sling swivels are included.
Aesthetically, the greatest single failing of the CZ 452 Lux (from my perspective) is the cheap looking trigger guard, clearly stamped from sheet steel. This part should be replaced by the type of trigger guard used on the CZ centerfire rifles. The other problem is a poorly sculpted pistol grip, which is too thick, too hooked, and lacks a grip cap. A minor criticism is that the 5-shot magazine protrudes about 1/4" below the bottom of the stock, but that is a complaint common to many .22 rimfire rifles.
The basic specifications of the Model 452 Lux are as follows:
The CZ bolt action .22's have a good reputation for accuracy, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to review one for Guns and Shooting Online. Despite the test rifle's Euro-style stock (of which I am not particularly fond) it is a good looking rifle. The walnut stock was rather plain, but the barreled action was precisely inletted and showed good craftsmanship.
Three of us, Bob Fleck, Jim Fleck and I, participated in test firing this rifle at the Isaac Walton outdoor rifle range south of Eugene, Oregon. The weather was moderate, partly cloudy with the air temperature about 70 F degrees and not much wind. This facility offers covered firing positions and solid bench rests. We fired the CZ 452 Lux over a sandbag placed under the forend.
A fixed 4 power scope is just about ideal for a .22 hunting rifle; accordingly, we mounted a Bushnell 4x rimfire scope with a 1" tube. This scope has entirely adequate optics for its intended purpose. The .22 LR is an outstanding small game cartridge, but it is not a long range cartridge under any circumstances, and its miniscule recoil puts minimal demand on a scope. This accounts for the modest price and satisfactory performance of most rimfire scopes.
Since the CZ is a hunting rifle, we did our shooting with Long Rifle high velocity HP ammunition from Remington (Golden Bullet), Winchester (Super-X), and CCI (Mini-Mag). In addition, CCI Mini-Mag solid point ammunition was also fired. Shooting was mostly done at 25 yards, a typical range for a .22 rifle. 25 yard groups consisted of both 5 and 10 shots.
Many shooters zero a .22 for 50 yards, but that results in the high velocity hollow point bullet hitting 5.6" low at 100 yards. On the other hand, a 100 yard zero means a maximum mid-range rise of about 3.5" for the HVHP bullet, so you will shoot over a lot of small game at intermediate distances.
The trajectory of the .22 LR cartridge is such that if a scoped rifle is zeroed for a maximum mid-range rise of 1.5" the bullet will first pass through the line of sight at about 25 yards and it will hit dead on at about 75 yards (the "zero" distance). At 100 yards that bullet will strike about 4" low.
The 75 yard zero is probably the most effective way to sight-in a .22 hunting rifle, as it gives a maximum point blank range (+/- 1.5") of almost 85 yards. This means that you can hold dead-on a squirrel at any distance from the muzzle to about 85 yards and hit him.
At the range the CZ turned in a sterling performance. This rifle seemed to slightly favor hollow point ammunition, and all shooters fired groups with the three available brands at 25 yards. 5-shot groups with Winchester Super-X HP averaged 29/32". 5-shot groups with Remington Golden Bullet HP averaged 3/4". These groups were quite consistent with both of these brands of ammunition, varying little from one shooter to another.
The best performance was achieved using CCI Mini-Mag HP ammo. 5-shot groups measured right around 3/4", with one exceptional group measuring only 7/32". In addition, three 10-shot groups were fired with CCI Mini-Mag solid point ammunition. These averaged a credible 1 1/8" center to center.
One nice feature of this particular rifle is that it grouped all four types of ammunition to the same point of impact. Unlike many .22's, this rifle was not temperamental about the ammunition it was fed.
Bob also shot several 100 yard 5-shot groups with the CZ 452, using a Caldwell Lead Sled rest weighted with one 25 pound bag of shot for extra stability. The smallest of these went into about 1", a few went into 1 1/2", and the average 100 yard group measured about 2". This is excellent performance at that range for any .22 small game rifle.
No malfunctions were experienced at the range. The CZ fed and functioned reliably. In operation, one shooter, who grasps the bolt knob with his fingers, felt that the bolt should have been a little longer and curved a little more. I could see his point, as the bolt does come rather close to the scope when opened.
One oddity is that the safety on the CZ works backward from just about every rifle with which I am familiar. That is, you push the safety forward to put the rifle on "safe" and pull it back (toward the shooter) to the "fire" position. It would be wise for CZ to change this safety so that it operates like most other rifles.
The trigger pull of this rifle deserves some criticism. It is too heavy as set by the factory (like most triggers these days), but worst of all it has a tremendous amount of not very smooth creep before it breaks. Unfortunately, we did not have the rifle long enough before our trip to the range to adjust the trigger.
In conclusion, the CZ 452 proved to be a well-made .22 hunting rifle. Despite our minor quibbles, it delivered good accuracy and reliable performance. We all agreed that anyone shopping for a medium priced .22 hunting rifle should take a close look at the CZ 452.
RIFLE REVIEW SUMMARY
Copyright 2004, 2006 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.
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