August 21, 2019
In years past, if you didn’t have a varmint rifle with a bull barrel, heavily glassed stock and a twitchy trigger, you did not belong to the club. Nowadays, though, it seems lighter is better—and that suits me. While a Weatherby Mark V VarmintMaster is my go-to choice for hiking after woodchucks, it now has a challenger: CZ’s Model 527.
This rifle is chambered for a wide assortment of varmint cartridges, including the .17 Hornet, .22 Hornet, .204 Ruger, .222 Rem. and .223 Rem. All are fitted into the CZ “micro-length” Mauser-type action.
One thing I’ve always liked about CZ is that when it builds a model, the company offers it in many variations, and the Model 527 is no exception. I am still a wood guy, so I gravitate to these models, and here CZ fills the cup with models to include the American in Turkish walnut, which is what I tested; the Varmint with a slightly heavier barrel; Varmint MTR with a target-style stock; a Carbine for lighter weight and a shorter barrel; and the Lux with a Bavarian stock. There’s also the American Synthetic, which is suppressor ready.
My American sample, which features a classic-style stock, has what I would call “select” wood with a nice, even-grain pattern free of knots—all coated with a weather-resistant semi-gloss finish. Neatly cut checkering on the fore-end is executed in a point pattern complete with a border.
The pistol grip also has the same pattern and covers most of the grip for a good purchase. It has a slight, almost Wundhammer swell. Regrettably, there is no pistol grip cap. This is something I would like to see because when you have to drop quickly into prone to make a shot you can damage this part of the gun if there’s no cap.
It’s a straight buttstock—no Monte Carlo comb or cheekpiece. It doesn’t need either, at least for me. My eye went right to the center of the scope reticle every time. The length of pull is the common 13.5 inches, and it sports a sling swivel stud and a rubber buttpad.
The American model comes with a 22-inch sporter-weight barrel with a .580-inch muzzle diameter, which is perfect for my needs around the Northeast. The “micro-length” Mauser-type action fits right in with the design of this gun—a shade over six inches from the front of the receiver to the rear of the bolt shroud.
Pulling the bolt from the action shows it is patterned after the Mauser design, and even with a long extractor on the side that rides smoothly within a raceway on the right side. Keeping everything in scale, the bolt handle has been reduced to conform to the smaller, shorter action. The bolt body is polished in the white, making for a handsome combination.
The steel five-round magazine fits neatly into the receiver, but for field duty, I’d rather have a flush magazine.
One of the best features on this series is the single-set trigger. Using the standard trigger pull yields a four-pound pull—too much, you say, for a varmint rig. Maybe so, but pushing the trigger forward until you hear a click puts you into the set mode. You now have a trigger that breaks at less than a pound.
Clean and crisp, this is the trigger mode for accuracy testing, and for field use…well, you simply can’t beat this arrangement. And if you think such a light trigger is unsafe, I banged the gun on the floor in my office, and the trigger never released.
The safety is on the right side of the receiver and rocks between Fire and Safe. Both the bolt and the sear are locked on Safe.
There are no open sights, but CZ supplies a set of rings, and they have witness marks on one side for flawless assembly and mounting. I installed a Leupold 6x42mm scope, and I was ready for the range.
I was not disappointed. The best group of the morning went to Remington’s pointed softpoint, with three shots going into a cluster not more than 0.730 inch. It also turned in the best average, as you can see in the accompanying chart.
I enjoyed shooting this CZ rifle both on and off the bench. On the bench, the gun with its “target”-type trigger was a pleasure to use and in all probability led to these fine groups. I later shot prone at clay targets—about the size of the woodchuck’s vital zone—at 50 and 100 yards, and it worked nicely.
The CZ 527 is accurate and handy, and with that set trigger, it will prove to be a great companion in the woodchuck fields.