CZ 557 Eclipse
- By Chris Parkin
- 0 Comments
- Last updated: 25/05/2021
I first encountered the 557 across a packed dinner table in a Czech hotel, the night before a wild boar hunt. Assured they had been zeroed, we got a box of .30-06 ammo and that was that. The trip was with Meopta Optics and the new CZ was a pleasant surprise to everyone. We were breaking rule number one by having no familiarisation with the rifle before hunting began, but it worked perfectly, and I have fond memories of a single successful shot.
Now to 2021 and the 557 in ‘Eclipse’ format arrived, this time in a .308 Win. Initial inspection showed a polymer stock, not the walnut from Czech, and a solid feeling rifle. The primary checklist of the trigger, stock geometry, stiffness, free float, scope mounts etc all passed muster.
Off I went to the range and after a brief clean showed no internal barrel fouling at all, the borescope then showed me a very slickly manufactured tube! Removable windage and elevation adjustable iron sights are fitted and include fibre-optic elements for visibility where desired.
I was immediately struck with the engineered craftsmanship applied to minor details. The 15.7mm muzzle is neatly crowned and threaded 14x1 under a cap for a moderator, blued all the way along the thread to the shoulder just like the steel throughout. This has resisted damp spring weather, cold nights, condensation and direct contact with the natural perspiration found on our skin. An oily cloth soon removes any debris from the polished surface, the stock too.
The cold hammer-forged barrel is fully free-floated within the stiff forend for reliable zero retention and accurate performance across all conditions. Plus it is fitted into the receiver via a good old-fashioned screw-threaded tenon.
I like the way the facetted 43mm wide forend matches the upper walls on the otherwise flat-bottomed action within it. This is anchored with twin T25 Torx screws fore and aft of the sprung magazine floorplate. Action removal from the stock shows a delightfully snug inlet fit and tests showed me zero bedding stress.
I was supplied with Warne 30mm medium-height scope rings that are a specific match to the CZ action’s dovetails. They allowed a 50mm objective scope to clear the barrel by a perfect 7mm. The rear ring has a recoil lug that mates to the rear action bridge’s recess for a solid lockup and reliable return to zero.
The 124mm stroke length on the twin lug bolt indicates a ‘long’ action length.
This is inherently suited to the .30- 06 chambering (I adore) but fully operable with shorter cartridges like this .308 Win or the 6.5 Creedmoor. It might benefit from a shorter bolt stop to limit stroke length a touch but don’t get caught up in the fear of long actions being inherently less accurate. This is a rifle that has already shown fantastic attention to stock inlet detail, which I would consider far more important anyway.
The bolt lifts 90° to cock the action and withdraws twin lugs showing a right-side extractor claw and opposing sprung plunger ejector in the bolt face. Machining standards are superb, with a bright polished finish to the steel that rather embarrasses quite a lot of other rifles. Bolt timing is excellent and when fired, there is zero bounce on the 70mm handle, which is capped with an 18mm spherical tip.
The two-position safety catch is deeply blued with serrations for excellent grip. It emits zero noise when applied Rear for SAFE, or Forward for FIRE. There is no bolt lock on these trigger sear locking mechanics.
Bolt removal uses a recessed catch to the rear of the action on the left side, which is almost undetectable under the shroud. It pops up as the bolt is drawn rearward but needs fingernail contact. This is perhaps a little too delicate but maintains slick looks and operation. A visual and tactile cocked action indicator pin protrudes at the rear.
Shooting the rifle saw the first box of ammo bedding things down quickly. The single-stage trigger showed a tiny amount of creep but CZ like to advertise its adjustability, so with not a drop of thread lock in sight, I couldn’t resist the opportunity. It was soon tweaked to remove any tactile creep, although the weight at 1200-grams, as supplied, was perfect for the colder months and gloved hands.
Magazine loading benefits from assuring the rounds are slid all the way to the rear of the well, over the sprung follower within. This and the cover plate are polymer and offer silent operation, although CZ has still used steel for the actual ‘bottom metal’ physically anchoring the action. I like the intelligent compromise with functional benefits.
I suppose I could have wished the bolt handle a little more curved down to aid hand clearance under the scope’s ocular bell but there was enough. Considering the stock, I actually think a 50 or 56mm objective scope’s overall dimensional position is best suited to the comb height of what is becoming an impressively up-to-date modern rifle that’s optimised for current trends.
Drawing the bolt all the way out of the receiver shows literally 2mm of clearance from the comb, which is a delight. The rifle maintains acceptable operation tolerance as well as a taller comb, parallel to the bore for superb scope alignment and eye box retention through recoil. Hats off to CZ here.
CZ advertise that they have paid serious attention to ergonomics and I agree, they have. The length of pull is 14.25” with a 1” thick recoil pad that can be replaced with a slimmer one if needed. I’m a tad biased because the rifle fit me perfectly and the firm, grippy pad adds further tactile joy to its use, with anchored position and rounded edges that don’t snag when mounted.
The pistol grip and forend show simple-looking raised polygons that rise from the overall flat, soft-touch finish of the stock to aid grip. A modest ambidextrous palm swell blends with the deeply radiused curve of the grip, which seems to comfortably accommodate large and small hands. This seems to be a growing trend. There’s space to anchor all your fingers without and digits dropping below and space to accommodate reach to the trigger. We all differ in size, so it’s good to see a layout differing from the norm.
The comb tapers from 25 on the nose to 40mm at the butt, offering a head position with no lateral jawbone displacement. The linear shape fends off recoil transmission into the cheekbone, helping to maintain a head-down position, keeping you in that eye relief ‘box’ and better able to spot the fall of shot.
The 1:10 barrel twist rate suits 165-grain + projectiles the best, but is not incapable with 150s, although it helps future proof for copper bullets. Ejection and extraction all proved reliable and single rounds dropped into the ejection port chamber directly without fault, or you can click them down into the mag if desired. Feed from the mag was made much smoother by making sure rounds were inserted fully to the back of the larger than necessary (long action) internal magazine.
I enjoyed shooting the rifle, it had an assured feel, partly down to its slightly heavier build. It balanced well and mounted smoothly without snagging and reminded me of my first driven boar encounter. Recoil is similarly well controlled with minor muzzle lift freehand or prone. Two sling studs are shown up front, with one to the rear.
This is one of those rifles where three pages really don’t do it justice. It not only shot well, but it also demonstrated technical features and ergonomic benefits beyond its price point, from a manufacturer who still clearly feels the love for design and manufacture. The value for money is superb.