November 04, 2021
Prejudices die hard. When I first saw CZ’s 457 Varmint Precision Chassis MTR, I looked at its 16-inch barrel and thought, “This is a target rifle?” Having competed for many years with Winchester 52s and Anschutz 1413s, with their long, heavy barrels—as in 27 to 28 inches long—I was suspicious of how accurate an abbreviated barrel like the CZ’s could be.
This is why I’m not a firearms designer.
For one thing, the 457 VPC MTR isn’t intended for NRA three-position or prone shooting. It’s intended for today’s hot new competition games: National Rifle League 22 (NRL22), which I focused on, Precision Rifle Series rimfire and others. These matches have you shooting over barrels, off ladders and from various barricades/obstacles in addition to standard position shooting like standing, sitting, kneeling and prone. Distances can stretch to 200 yards for NRL22 and even farther in other sports.
The 457 is the successor to the 455, itself a forerunner to the excellent 452, a .22 I bought years ago because of its smooth action and accuracy. The 457 has grown into an extensive line of sporting rifles, so it made sense for the company to expand into the competition side of things.
As I mentioned, the 457 VPC MTR has a short 16-inch barrel, and it’s a cold-hammer-forged bull style with an 0.875-inch diameter. It’s threaded 1/2x28, and that’s one reason behind having such a short tube. Suppressor use has grown incredibly in recent years, and this has extended to .22 rimfires. Suppressors for .22s typically measure around five inches long. Add that to a 16-inch barrel and you’ve got a more “normal” barrel length, whereas if you started with a longer barrel the resulting rig could become unwieldy. And besides, the rifle is plenty accurate with the barrel just as it is; check out the accompanying chart.
(As an aside, I’m still waiting on my ATF paperwork for a suppressor to clear. Thanks to Silencer Central, this is an incredibly easy process to go through, but it doesn’t make the ATF move any faster. Once my suppressor shows up, I hope to do an update on handling and accuracy of this rifle with a can attached.)
The 457 action works smoothly and locks up solidly, and in the case of the VCP MTR it gets a match chamber. A big change with the 457 is the safety, which now operates like Americans think it should: forward to Fire, back for Safe. Previous CZ rimfire designs operated in reverse, and after receiving feedback from U.S. customers—especially those who work with young shooters—the company changed the 457’s safety to meet our tastes.
Also new is a 60-degree bolt throw. It’s not only faster to work than the old 90 degrees, it allows more clearance for the larger ocular bells on today’s scopes.
As a dedicated match rifle, the 457 VPC MTR sports a stock with an adjustable cheekpiece. It is the MBA-4 Carbine Cheek Rise from Luth-AR, a good choice on CZ’s part. The MBA-4 is a stripped-down version of Luth-AR’s more expensive stocks, but it retains the features you need. Instead of employing a lever, length of pull is adjusted by pulling down on a locking pin and sliding the stock to the desired position. Length of pull ranges from 11 to 14 inches.
I don’t have a lot of experience with this type of stock, and my first impression was that it had far too much play. I wasn’t wrong, but until I read up on it, I didn’t know why you would sell a stock that “rattles” on its tube.
Luth-AR builds its stocks so they fit on both commercial and mil-spec extension tubes, so it’s oversize on smaller commercial tubes. But Luth-AR doesn’t leave you hanging. There’s a small Allen head screw in the left side of the stock. Turn it in, but not too tight, to remove all the play in the stock. Luth-AR even provides the proper Allen wrench, stored in a keeper bracket right on the stock.
A single screw raises and lowers the adjustable cheekpiece. The cheekpiece can also be moved forward and back a total of 3.5 inches.
The semi-hard buttpad has raised, serrated sections at toe and heel to help keep it in shoulder, and it’s removable if you want to change it. The bottom of the stock has a built-in rail attachment for a monopod, and there are QD cups for sling attachment on both sides of the stock. These take GrovTec QD cup inserts, which are not supplied but are readily available.
The VPC MTR’s lightweight aluminum chassis is an attractive green and features M-Lok slots at three, six and nine o’clock. A Hogue pistol grip is attached to an orange aluminum fitting. Why orange? That’s the color CZ uses on its premium competition pistols.
The trigger is a fully adjustable single-stage. Mine came in at two pounds, 10 ounces on average, and the pull is superb. There are instructions on adjusting the trigger in the owner’s manual, but CZ also has an excellent video on YouTube that explains and shows the process really well.
The 457 action itself features cuts behind the receiver ring to create a slab-side effect, which trims weight and looks sporty. Just like its 455 precursor, the barrel on the 457 can be changed by turning out two screws at the front of the receiver. So if you wanted to use the Varmint Precision Chassis for varminting, as well as competition, you could swap out barrels to a couple of different lengths of .22 Long Rifle as well as .17 HMR and .22 Mag. chamberings. Price for these extra barrels range from $139 to $199 and are available at CZ’s webstore.
The 457 also accepts 455 magazines. A five-round metal magazine is included with the VPC MTR. Most NRL22 stages are 10 shots, so if that’s your game you probably want to hunt up 10-round magazines, which are sold by CZ and other sources—although availability was spotty when I looked for them.
The rail setup is CZ’s tried-and-true 11mm dovetail. I mounted a Bushnell Match Pro 6-24x50mm to it with high rings. Frankly, I would prefer a rail, and, fortunately, you can find rail adapters that fit the 457’s dovetail.
Depending on what you plan to use the rifle for—and depending on your scope and mounts—you may need additional m.o.a. built into that rail. NRL22 matches use one of two-stage types. Option 1 stages go out to 100 yards, but Option 2 stages can stretch to 200 yards.
With the Bushnell, I would have run out of adjustment somewhere between 150 and 175 yards. Of course, if your scope’s reticle has additional aiming points, you could accurately hold over a sufficient amount to get to 200 yards and beyond, but a rail with elevation built-in would give you more options.
I’ve mentioned NRL22 several times, but to be honest I didn’t really know what it was all about. So after conducting the standard accuracy test at 50 yards, I shot both Lapua loads and the SK load at 100 yards to see how they performed at the longer distance. After settling on the Lapua Center-X load and nailing down 50- and 100-yard zeroes, I attended an NRL22 match at one of my local clubs.
Man, what a blast. Everyone was welcoming, and the veteran shooters on my squad gave me a lot of pointers to get me through the match. We shot off tank traps, various buckets, a ladder, a 55-gallon drum on its side (talk about unstable!) and prone from a bipod out to 100 yards. All the targets are metal, some are really tiny, and you have two minutes to get off 10 to 12 shots for each stage.
The 457 VPC MTR performed like a champ. It’s an accurate rifle to start with, and the combination of the gun’s short barrel and the Bushnell scope balanced surprisingly well. I say “surprisingly,” because the Match Pro has a 50mm objective and is built on a 30mm tube, so it’s a pretty big scope. But as the Bushnell PR guy who recommended this model told me, it’s the type of scope NRL22 competitors gravitate to.
I wish I could say I shot to the rifle’s capabilities, but I can’t. Being unfamiliar with this type of shooting, my positions on the various props weren’t nearly as stable as they needed to be. But, boy, from prone with a bipod the rifle really shined. Even at the longest distances and on the smallest targets I was able to ping the steel.
I loved the bolt’s short throw and smoothness. While I took my time aiming at the targets, I didn’t want to waste time in cycling the action, so I ran it as fast as I could. It never hung up, and there wasn’t a single feeding issue—either from the 10-round polymer magazines I used in the match or the steel five-rounder I worked with during accuracy testing.
At the match, I had plenty of company, as I would say CZ actions were in the majority, but with its green/orange chassis, the 457 VPC MTR stood out. A couple of shooters were curious about the gun, having seen it on the Internet, and I was able to report that the rifle performed well in all regards—despite my shortcomings as a shooter.
NRL22 bases its major divisions—Base and Open—on the total suggested retail price of rifle and scope. The 457 VPC MTR’s retail price of $1,115, combined with the price of the Bushnell Match Pro (relatively inexpensive at $450 with the etched-glass mil reticle I had), puts you in NRL22’s higher-end Open division. And it’s fine there because it can easily compete in Open right out of the box.
I think it’s a heck of a deal, considering you’re getting a chassis rifle with a stock that costs $128 by itself. I’m so impressed by the gun’s accuracy and handling, and so taken by NRL22 shooting, that I decided to buy the rifle. Can’t wait until the next match.
CZ 457 Varmint Precision Chassis MTR Specifications
- Type: bolt-action rimfire
- Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
- Capacity: 5-round detachable magazine supplied
- Barrel: 16 in. bull, cold-hammer-forged, 1:16 twist; threaded 1/2x28, thread cap provided
- Overall Length: 31.5–34.25 in.
- Weight: 7 lb.
- Stock: aluminum chassis w/M- Lok slots; Luth-AR MBA-4 Carbine Cheek Rise six-position adjustable stock; Hogue pistol grip
- Sights: none; integral 11mm dovetail receiver
- Trigger: single-stage adjustable; 2 lb., 10 oz. pull (measured)
- Safety: two-position rocker
- Price: $1,115
- Manufacturer: CZ-USA, cz-usa.com