Are you struggling with choosing the right .22lr rifle? A lot of people on the web come up with this question again and again. Here is how my thoughts went and how I feel about my decisions.
When discussing .22lr rifles, makes and models that are often named are:
- CZ 455
- Savage MKII
- Sako Quad
- Sako Finnfire
- Anschütz 151-1516
- Ruger 10/22
- Blaser .22lr conversion kit
- Sauer 202 conversion kit
Basically you can do a rough pre-selection based on your hunting budget.
- Low budget: Savage, CZ
- Medium Budget: Sako, Ruger
- High budget: Anschütz, Blaser, Sauer
Secondlz you have to decide if you only want to have a .22lr or even like to have an exchangeable barrel.
If you decide on an exchangeable barrel CZ 455, Sako Quad, Blaser and Sauer are probably your choice.
In my case I decided to pick a CZ 455 Varmint, .22lr and .22 WMR with laminated stock and thumbhole.
Un-boxing the product
The gun comes in a plain carton board package, with two tools for changing the barrel, a manual on CD, a paper manual and a protocol from the shoot test at the factory.
When I went to pick up my ordered gun from the dealer, he just got a whole new batch, so I was able to choose freely from the ones that had arrived. That makes sense since although you might not expect this, the laminated stocks all have slight differences in color, in my case light to dark brown. Since he opened all the boxes, maybe I should have looked at the paper with the results from the shooting test (which I missed to notice). CZ shoots with CCI 40 gr. ammunition at 50m. To be honest the results for my gun were not amazing (as I noticed at home when I found the test protocol), see picture below. Although I don’t know if the others were better, it might be worth a look if you have the chance.
Looking at the stock finish and the rest of the gun it looks nice. After the first disassembly though, I noticed some minor points that I don’t like.
The bolt action is not polished, so it looks very dull. Even worse there are a lot of scratches on the bolt. I will explain later how to easily fix this.
The trigger guard is made from sheet metal and not a solid piece of metal, so it feels a bit cheap. Since this does not change the performance of the gun, it’s just a question of taste.
Changing the barrel
The gun comes fitted for the ordered caliber. In the manual as well as many forums you can read that the exchange barrel needs to be fitted by a gun smith in order to ensure correct case gauge. There is an easy way to quick check if it is correct or not.
As you can see on the picture, this is basically how the barrel fits into the receiver and the cartridge is locked in between barrel and bolt.
“c” = “thickness of the rim” + “barrel neck”
For my .22lr the rim is 1,1 mm (.043 in) thick, and the barrel neck is 30,2 mm (c= 1,1 mm + 30,2 mm = 31,3 mm)
For my .22 WMR the rim is 1,3 mm (0.5. in) thick so the barrel neck should be 31,3 mm – 1,3 mm = 30,0 mm (what it in fact is.)
Do all your measurements first, otherwise there is the risk of you pushing your callipers in the right direction.
If the measurements don’t add up or you are not sure about what you do, you should take it to a gunsmith!
Disclaimer: This is just a practical tip, I am not a weaponsmith and am not taking any liability for possible consequences
First visit to the shooting range
After mounting the right barrel, I wanted to take this baby out to the shooting range.
I bought 10 different types of ammo and set my targets up at an equal range of 50m. All shots were taken by the same shooter (me) from prone position with bipod and a shaft support.
As you can see below, the result differs quite a lot from ammo type to ammo type, ranging from a 15 mm to a 72 mm spread. As with hand loading, this has to do with how your gun works with the load of the cartridge.
Actually I am not sure, how much it really helps you to get a better gun by comparing the factory test protocol pictures I mentioned in the beginning.
Shooting the CZ 455 for the first time, there are of course some points I noticed that are worth mentioning. Out of the box the bolt action feels a bit rough, not running smoothly as you might expect.
Many CZ shooters have mentioned this, so it did not come to me as a surprise. This is probably due to a lower machining standard for the final finish when comparing it to e.g. a Sako Quad, thus the price difference. This can be either fixed by a gunsmith or about 1000 bolt repetitions (I’ll have to see if that proves to be true).
For my CZ 455 I chose a thumb hole stock. While the grip really fits well into my hands and supports a good accuracy, fast bolt repetition proves to be a struggle. The hole is quite narrow, so it’s not perfect for getting your thumb in and out fast. This is not a CZ problem, I have seen this happen on many thumb hole stocks from different brands.
Here comes a great advantage with Blaser and Sauer. When doing training shots with your .22lr, you can use the same type of stock, grip and scope as you normally would have with your hunting caliber.
Having an exchangeable barrel probably still means you will have to shoot in your gun every time you switch barrel. Unless you have a gun like a Blaser, where the scope is mounted on the exchange barrel. In this case your can just switch the barrel and shoot as before.
Pimp your gun
As I mentioned in the un-boxing section, the bolt finish is quite dull. Fixing this issue proves to be quite easy even for beginners.
Before you start, you need the following:
- Sandpaper grade 600/800/1000
- Polish paste
- Polishing cloth
You might even go as far as to make it a jeweled polish, in this case I can recommend the video of “Midway USA” (sorry for the music though).
A lot of people have added a “Jo-Dave kit” to their CZ, mainly to adjust the trigger sensitivity, but also to fix a possible delay in the trigger mechanism. There can be a small gap in the trigger mechanism, creating a delay when pulling the trigger until the firing pin is released. You need to check if your gun has this kind of delay.
The trigger kit can be purchased at YoDave