A couple of years ago, a friend came to me with a problem. He’s an avid precision rifle shooter who lives in an urban area where even 100-yard gun ranges are scarce. But every day, commuting to and from work, he drives by a building with a 50-yard rimfire range. He wanted some advice on building a rifle that he could use to hone his long-range skills shooting at shorter distances.
His questions were straightforward: What caliber should I use? Which action? Which stock? And does the project have any merit?
Well, yes, I thought the project had merit. After some thought, I suggested he consider CZ’s latest rimfire action, for which you can easily swap barrels and calibers, paired with a stock from Thomas Manners, the owner of Manners Composite Stocks.
After a few introductions were made at the 2011 SHOT Show, the project rifle was built and the executives at CZ were so pleased with the results that they decided to roll it out in 2012 as a production model, which is called the CZ455 Varmint Precision Trainer.
CZ created the 455 action a few years ago to serve as a single platform for their rimfire guns. The quality of the metalwork on all the 455s I’ve handled has been terrific, and this test sample’s was no exception. The barrel, receiver, and bolt are all smoothly polished and finished, and fit without blemish. The action operates as well as it looks, feeding, cycling, and ejecting rounds with each run of the bolt.
The trigger on the CZ is good but has a hint of creep–a perennial issue with CZs–but the rifle is hefty enough to achieve a good trigger press so you can call your shots.
Manners stocks are among the best aftermarket stocks available. They are stiff, strong, and–from an ergonomic standpoint–fit like a tailor-made suit. The stock on this rifle–the MCS T4–has textured palm swells on each side of the vertical grip. The broad, flat forend has the same texture on its sides, making the rifle easy to hold securely. The angles of the comb of the rifle give a comfortable cheek weld, and the hook on the underside of the butt lets the shooter snug the rifle into the shoulder with the off-hand if desired.
I shot the rifle with three barrels–two .22s, one of which was threaded for a suppressor, and one .17 HMR barrel. Swapping barrels takes only a few minutes and requires the removal of four screws–two that join the action and stock and two that hold the barrel in place in the receiver.
At the range, the Trainer was more finicky than I would have guessed, turning in tight groups with only top-grade match ammo. The best .22 groups, which I shot at 50 yards, came from Federal’s Ultramatch ammo and averaged .232 inches. With Remington Eley ammo, the rifle shot .776-inch groups, also good. Both the suppressed and non-suppressed barrels shot equally well. The .17 HMR, which I tested at 100 yards, averaged 1.5-inch groups, which is sufficient for varmints and adds some versatility to this 455. (Because the .17 HMR is a longer round than the .22, the 455 could only feed the .17s one at a time and not through the five-shot single-stack magazine.)
At $899, the rifle isn’t cheap. But when you start calculating the cost of feeding a centerfire precision rifle a steady diet of .308 match ammo, the economic advantage of the Varmint Precision Trainer becomes manifest. The lack of recoil, the steadiness of the sight picture, and the reliable operation make this 455 a joy to shoot.