The CZ Model 452 and 513 Rimfire Rifles

By Chuck Hawks

CZ 452 Lux
Illustration courtesy of CZ U.S.A.

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 subjects of this review are the Models 452 and 513 bolt action rifles. The Model 452 is available in several variations and is chambered for the .22 Long Rifle, .22 WMR (Magnum), and .17 HMR rimfire cartridges. The Model 513 is available in .22 LR only.

The two models are basically similar, and both are built on the basic 452 action. These actions are machined from a steel billet and the receivers are dovetailed to accept scope mounts. 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. 452/513 rifles come with hammer forged and lapped barrels.

Most models are stocked in wood (either walnut or beech), but two of the many Model 452 variants wear synthetic stocks. All but one model (the Style) come with blued barreled actions. They are supplied with sling swivels or studs (except the 452 Scout) and steel 5-shot magazines. A 10-round magazine as well as a single shot adapter are available as accessories. The latter is included with the Scout model, which is a youth rifle.

Aesthetically, the greatest single failing of the CZ .22 rifles (from my perspective) is the cheap looking trigger guard, clearly stamped from sheet steel. This cheesy part should be replaced by the type of trigger guard used on the CZ centerfire rifles. The other endemic problem is a poorly sculpted pistol grip, which is too thick, too hooked, and lacks a grip cap. The 452 American is an improvement in this area, but somebody at CZ needs to take a close look at the pistol grip on a Ruger 77/22R. 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. Otherwise the wood stocked CZ .22's are decent looking rifles.

The Model 513 Basic, as its name implies, is the entry level model in the CZ the line. It is a variation of the 452 Lux supplied with a beech stock sans checkering, a dovetail-mounted "step" type rear iron sight and a simplified, non-adjustable, trigger assembly. The 513 comes with a 5-shot detachable box magazine, iron sights, measures 39" in overall length, has a 13.75" length of pull, wears a 20.9" barrel, and weighs 5.4 pounds. Its 2004 suggested retail price was $240.

The Model 452 is supplied in several variations. Starting with the least expensive and working up these are the Scout (beech stock with 12" length of pull, 16.2" barrel, $242), Military Training Rifle (24.8" barrel, beech stock, $272), Silhouette (22.5" barrel, synthetic stock, $378), Style (22.5" barrel, synthetic stock with satin nickel barreled action, $378), Lux (24.8" barrel, Euro-style walnut stock, $378), American (22.5" barrel, classic-style walnut stock, $378), Varmint (20.9" heavy barrel, walnut stock, $407), and FS (20.7" barrel, full length Mannlicher-style walnut stock, $436). All prices quoted are CZ-USA's MSRP as of 2004 for .22 LR caliber rifles. The .22 WMR and .17 HMR calibers are somewhat more expensive.

The receivers of the American and Varmint models are grooved for U.S. standard 3/8" tip-off scope mounts. All other models are grooved for 11mm European scope mounts. The Lux, FS, Training Rifle and Scout come with iron sights, the other Model 452's do not. All Model 452 rifles come with a trigger assembly that is adjustable for pull weight.

The Lux and FS are available in calibers .22 LR and .22 WMR, and the American and Varmint are available in .22 LR, .22 WMR and .17 HMR. Other models come in .22 LR only. The basic specifications of the Model 452's are similar to those of the Model 513 quoted above.

To my eye the 452 American is the best looking rifle of the bunch. Its classic walnut stock has less drop at heel, a better defined pistol grip with a smoother curve, and a rounded forearm tip rather than the schnable of the Lux. The cut checkering on the forearm is a rather skimpy triangular pattern, similar to that used by Ruger on their Model 77/22, but the pistol grip checkering is a little more extensive than on the other CZ models. The American weighs 6.1 pounds.

The 452 FS features a full-length Mannlicher-style walnut stock with a slender and attractive checkered forearm. The sleek effect is some what nullified by the bulky pistol grip shape and Euro (hog back) comb profile. The FS weighs 6.4 pounds, heavier than the 5.4 pounds of most CZ .22's. The Lux has a similar buttstock and a forearm ending in a schnable tip. The pistol grip of the Lux is checkered, but the forearm is not, an odd combination. The FS and Lux come with a tangent rear sight that is adjustable for windage and elevation. They are attractive rifles in the European style.

The Varmint comes with a walnut stock that combines the straight comb of the American with a bulkier look. It is checkered on the pistol grip, but not the forearm. This is the heaviest of the CZ .22 rifles, weighing 7 pounds.

The Model 513 and Model 452 Scout and Training Rifle are basically utility rifles with uncheckered beechwood stocks. The Scout is the lightest of the CZ .22's, weighing only 4 pounds. These models share the same, simple, rear sight. They are perfectly serviceable, and probably better than most, for their intended purposes.

At the far end of the 452 spectrum are the Silhouette and Style. The cheap black synthetic stocks on these models combine an unattractive, bulky, and excessively hooked pistol grip with a Monte Carlo comb and a schnable forend. These disparate styling details do not mesh well; the result is a stock that looks as if it were designed by a committee. The blued Silhouette and matte nickel Style are identical except for the different finishes on their barreled actions.

One of the larger gun shops near where I live pushes the CZ line pretty hard, so it has long been my suspicion that CZ has a better than average mark-up built into their pricing (compared to most American brands). A little research proved this to be the case. When I compared the CZ 513 to a Savage .22 with an identical dealer cost, I found that the dealer makes an extra $21 on the CZ if he sells both at the MSRP. Believe me, that matters in a retail business. Most specialty stores are surviving (if they survive) right on the ragged edge. This should not be taken as a criticism of CZ-USA. I spent a lot of years in retail management, and I understand the importance of an adequate margin.

The CZ bolt action .22's have a good reputation for accuracy, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to examine one for Guns and Shooting Online. This rifle is a Model 452 Lux in .22 LR. Despite its 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.

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. We did not attempt to adjust the trigger, but it is user adjustable for weight of pull.

In conclusion, the CZ 452 is a well-made, high quality .22 rifle. I suggest that anyone shopping for a medium priced .22 hunting rifle should take a close look at the CZ line.

Note: Complete reviews of the CZ 452 Lux and CZ 452 American rifles can be found on the Product Reviews page.

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Copyright 2004, 2016 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.