As a writer for about 40 years, I’ve had my share of .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire rifles and handguns, but a relatively recent addition to CZ-USA’s lineup caught my eye. The CZ 455 American is chambered for the .17 HMR and .22 Long Rifle in addition to the .22 WMR.
According the CZ, this new 455 will eventually replace the 452 series, and the 455 features interchangeable barrels that are easy to switch out by simply installing a new barrel and magazine, plus adding a mag-well spacer for the .22. (Ed. note: This report was written in 2010, but at press time we got a sneak peek at the 2011 catalog and learned CZ will be selling a switch-barrel set in .22 LR and .17 HMR for a suggested retail of $531.)
The American 455 is one handsome rifle. In the past, CZ rifles were nothing really to write home about, but now its stuff is top shelf.
Take the straight-comb, classic stock, for example. The diamonds on the machine checkering are well-formed and pointed, and the point pattern has a clean line border on both the pistol grip and fore-end. The checkering was cut after the finish was applied, and the finish is satin smooth–without any runs, dips or dust under the surface.
The wood is straight grained with no pin knots, and although there is not a lot of a grain or figuring in the wood, it is very pleasant to look at. Inletting is as good as it gets around the barrel channel, trigger guard and bottom metal, and the plastic buttplate has been installed with such precision that you would think it is all one piece.
The 21-inch (it says 20½-inch in the literature) hammer-forged barrel is polished and blued. Much to my surprise, there are swing swivel studs attached, which isn’t common on a rimfire gun.
The machined receiver is finished in the same satin bluing as the barrel. The bolt is typical rimfire, with dual extractors and the firing pin mounted at 12 o’clock. The bolt body has been left in the white, while the bolt handle and knob are blued.
The bolt handle stem has been flattened somewhat to allow extra scope mounting clearance, and with a Leupold Rimfire 2-7X scope attached in 11mm rings, I had no problems working the bolt. To remove the bolt, drop the magazine, check to be sure the chamber is empty, pull the bolt back to its rear-most position, pull back on the trigger and withdraw the bolt.
The safety is mounted on the shroud of the bolt. In the forward, Safe position, it blocks the firing pin from moving forward. In addition, when pushed forward it also blocks the bolt handle from being lifted. Although the movement of the safety is the opposite of what most of us are used to, it has been designed to allow your thumb to ride on top of the lever, pulling it back when you need to fire the rifle.
The trigger is adjustable via a small lock nut that is accessible when the action is parted from the stock. From the factory, mine broke at 31⁄4 pounds with about a quarter-inch of travel.
The trigger guard is well-formed with more than enough room for a gloved finger. The polymer, five-round magazine is released via a latch at the front of it.
My only criticism lies with the magazine and feeding. When I stuffed five rounds into the lone magazine supplied with the rifle, I had a heck of a time getting that top round to feed properly into the breech–regardless of the ammo I used and whether I forced or coaxed it.
The fourth round went in a little better–but not much–and it wasn’t until I was down to three rounds that it would feed the way it should.
Aside from that, the gun shot with uncanny accuracy at 50 yards. Using CCI, Remington and Winchester ammunition, the CCI Maxi-Mag with its 30-grain bullet at 2,227 fps took the honors for the morning. Both the Remington and Winchester samples shot an inch or better, so no complaints.
As I wrote last issue regarding Savage’s .22 WMR, I think more shooters and hunters should reinvestigate this terrific round, and the new entry from CZ-USA certainly deserves a look. Aside from the magazine problem, which could certainly be an issue with just that particular magazine, it’s a winner and deserves a spot in your gun room.