The Czech firm has split its Model 550 series with the debut of the 557. Shades of 1964?
If you’ve not had bottled milk delivered, or used vacuum-driven windshield wipers, you may not recall Winchester’s 1964 overhaul of the Model 70. Bean-counters brought the great rifle to its knees with cost-cutting measures that drew howls from riflemen.
Surely, thought I, CZ was smarter. The company’s Model 550 has much in common with the pre-64 Model 70, including a Mauser extractor for controlled feed. It’s still in CZ’s catalog, with the addition of the new the push-feed 557. I’ve used the 550 afield on moose and goat hunts. No lightweight, it’s sturdy and accurate, with fine balance and clean, conservative lines.
“You’ll like the 557,” said CZ’s Jason Morton. I got the same message when I visited the plant in Uhersky Brod, in the Czech Republic this past summer. From the forged receiver and hammer-forged barrel, to the hand-finished walnut stock, I watched the 557 come together in a sprawling industrial complex pre-dating WW II. It extends for over a mile. The older buildings retain the peaked red roofs fashioned to make them look like houses through German bomb sights. CZ employs 1,750 people here, where traditional tooling and handwork complement new processes (like investment casting) and machines (over 100 CNC centers!) to build rifles, pistols and shotguns for export to 80 countries. CZ-USA came about in California in 1997, moving to its present home in Kansas City, Kansas the next year. Alice Poluchova, an avid shooter, heads CZ’s U. S. arm.
One look at a 557, with a quick bolt throw and a press to shoulder, and I had to fire one. This is no “entry level” rifle built to a price. Its polished receiver, machined from a billet steel, boasts integral 19mm dovetails for CZ scope rings. The two-detent safety is that of the 550, and it permits the bolt to function in either position. Though the trigger is not of single-set design, it’s adjustable for take-up, pull weight and over-travel. The fixed 4-round magazine has a hinged steel floorplate. The 20.6-inch, cold-hammer-forged barrel is factory lapped. Straight-combed and gracefully shaped, the 557’s American walnut stock wears clean-cut checkering
CZ offers the 557 rifle for the short-action .243 Win. and .308 Win., and long-action 6.5x55mm, .270 Win. and .30-06 Springfield. Choose the Sporter with either a walnut or Manners synthetic stock (the latter only in long-action form), or the Carbine, oddly enough also with 20.6-inch barrel. The walnut Sporter retails for $792, the Manners version for $1,268. Iron sights—an adjustable two-dot notch rear and fiber-optic front—distinguish the Carbine, which costs $812.