As seen in Thunder Roads LA-MS Nov. 2017 Vol. 14 – Issue 10.
Solace: to make cheerful.
On occasion, a trip to the range comes with a desire to relax while seeking quiet entertainment. By far, the most fun that I have during range trips is when I go out shooting .22 LR in some form or fashion. The most annoying aspect of shooting rimfire, with my Tinnitus, is the periodic splattering of blowback from some rounds in semi-automatic rifles. It doesn’t diminish the quality of the experience, though. I challenge myself to take the white from inside the paper target’s diamond or removing clay pigeon chips off a range berm.
Currently, I have fun with an outfitted Ruger 10/22 to do that job. The problem with this is that it’s not exactly relaxing. It’s just that: a job. If the clay pigeons were hostile targets, charging down the hillside, that would be one thing. The semi-automatic action of the Ruger peeks the desire to quickly defend the static position that one keeps on the bench. I have had the fortune to shoot another .22 LR option and it fills the relaxation niche far better than any of the semi-automatic counterparts.
CZ-USA offers many different styles of rimfire rifles in their line-up. Their current flagship bolt-action line is the 455-series. I have had the opportunities to fire several other 452s, but most of my time has been spent behind several CZ-455 Varmint rifles. Five- and ten-round box magazines feed the heavy-barreled Varmint and the weight of the walnut stock keeps the rifle from bouncing around if you man-handle the bolt for a quick follow-up shot on a target.
The time has been put in to every bit of the woodworking and machining in the metal of the 455s. All this quality cumulates into accuracy. I have seen some superb 50-yard groups with everything from CCI Standards to the upper-tier and highly expensive Eley, Lapua, Norma, GECO, SK and RWS. The owners of those rifles tested their holds and zeroes at that range, but I would love to challenge another shooter to a diamond match at 100-yards plus. I would also certainly prefer to put my future children behind the CZ, versus a Ruger 10/22, as it would force them to take their time. They wouldn’t be able to just spray ammunition all over a berm in a two- or three-second span.
As far as optics, I would purchase another Vortex Diamondback 3-9×40, with the Dead-Hold BDC reticle, and throw it on the 455. I have also shot the rifle with some Leupold VX-IIs and Nikon scopes, but the older Duplex reticles left something to be desired. I would prefer not to have an errant shot or two on a scorecard due to failing to properly guesstimate a hold-over at 100-yards, with a 25-yard standard zero. I see the Vortex as a perfectly priced mid-range option. I cannot tell you a quality difference between the Diamondback and the VX-I or VX-II Rimfire lines, which range in at $125+ more than the Vortex. The Nikon doesn’t compare to either in quality, but comes in at around $130 before shipping.
Some will prefer other optics and reticles due to the layouts of the rifles and their own physical requirements. I am still blessed with fair eyesight and I can pick up the thin reticles, as well as the smaller targets at distance. In the future, I will order a model with a threaded barrel and drop it into a thumbhole stock. Adding a suppressor to the mix ends in a very satisfying sound of striker on the rim of the cartridge, while only sometimes yielding a sonic report at 50-yards or so. I am interested in wrapping up the build by purchasing a SilencerCo Sparrow or an AAC Halycon in the future.
The bottom line is this. I love the challenge of long-range .22 LR shooting. I have shown quite a few people that shooting clay pigeons – otherwise known as “taking out the trash” – off a range berm is far more fun that checking shot groups on paper. I have also seen that staring at a slight bit of orange forces discipline and taking one’s time to hit the target. The new shooters have more fun shooting the clays over the paper; after they have a grasp on what the rounds are doing at intermediate ranges and what hold-overs they need to utilize on the scope reticle.
The CZ 455 delivers quality, accuracy and simplicity in three different calibers. The only thing that you need to purchase is a new barrel, in the desired caliber (.17 HMR or .22 WMR), to convert the rifle. I don’t have an affinity for the other two options, but I know they are highly popular for rodent hunting and pest control. The operating method will keep the rowdy kids in line, so they won’t quickly blow through your stock of rimfire ammunition. It also gives you the opportunity to teach them how to be disciplined in life by being precise on the targets down-range. If you’re looking for something to purchase for a child or loved one, which is simple and easy to use, I would certainly suggest this rifle over all other options.
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