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Rimefire Delights

Rimefire Delights

The CZ or BRNO range of .22 rimfire rifles need no introduction, so imbedded have they become into the British shooting scene. These wonderful little guns are the backbone of the vermin/pest controller’s and farmer’s arsenals. Their design goes back before the Second World War and has changed very little within this time, save the introduction of laminate and synthetic stocks and nickel finishes and new rimfire calibres.

Blood line

Ceska zbrojovka (CZ) was founded in 1936 in Czechoslovakia and was linked to BRNO Arms, which is why you see Brno Model 2 or CZ equivalents, which are for all intents and purposes the same thing. The Modern CZ rimfires are designated CZ 452/453 -2E –ZKM and newer 455 and even 457 models have appeared, so long is the blood line. The early BRNO Model 2 with their superbly figured stocks are very desirable and still offer excellent value for money and are quite common. The original BRNO Mod 1 is a much rarer beast these days but a lovely little rimfire with old world charm and manufacture, worth looking out for.

Originally only chambered in 22 Long Rifle (LR), today you can order sporter or varmint profile barrels, long or short with walnut, synthetic or laminated thumbhole furniture. As well as a set trigger option and even a limited edition engraved model for the discerning shooter amongst us. Plus, custom options and aftermarket trigger kits and stocks.

Micro mauser

The heart of any rimfire model CZ or BRNO is the lovely, miniaturised, Mauser-type action with similar layout, but the bolt locks at the rear using the shank of the bolt handle, which is common in this calibre. The action is beautifully blued on older models, or on the new American, although a more practical matt finish is available on the standard guns if that’s your preference. Take off the stock and the older models were well finished, even where you could not see it.

Today’s models have an integral, 11mm dovetail rail for mounting a scope and the Varmint, Style, Silhouette, American and Royal models come without sights.

However, the Lux, Standard or Farmers model still offer basic irons if that’s your thing. Early Model 1s had a lovely set of Express sights with a fixed U-notch and two, fold-down leaves for extra range use.

Long and short

Barrel length too varies, from 24” long for older or standard models, whilst the Varmint and American offer the choice of 16 or 20”. Truth is, 24” is too long, with 16 ideal for 22LR and 20 for the magnums (22WMR and 17HMR). The sporter profile makes for a light weight and elegant rimfire, which is what CZ/BRNO were famed for, but today there have been changes with short Varmint models and semi target versions with fluting. Visually, there are very nice options, especially with the grey laminated thumbhole stock design.

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Originally, the barrels were made from Poldi steel with 12-groove rifling and gave legendary accuracy for a rimfire. Today, CZ and Brno guns are still revered for the same unerring accuracy. 1 in 16” rifling twist rate is standard and of course now you have the addition of a threaded muzzle for sound moderator use. This has been added to by the introduction of several new calibres, namely the .22WMR, 17HMR and the 17 MACH2s.

17 revolution

Of these faster calibres, the 17HMR has proved a massive success with sport hunters, game keepers and pest controllers all favouring this fl at-shooting load. The triggers were always good but had little adjustment in the old days; they work well as is, but a little more finesse is never a bad thing. Today, you can find set options for a very fine let off although there are aftermarket mechanical upgrades available for older models and the newer 455 and 457 range are adjustable from the box.

The safety remains the same, wing design mounted on the bolt shroud, not my favourite place, but it is positive and again very old Mauser action like. The detachable magazine system also won the Model 1 and 2 a lot of friends and they could be had in 5 and 10-shot options, making it highly practical for vermin shooters the world over. They are cheap too, compared to some other European makers.

Prices in 1968 were £29 for the standard model CZ, whilst an extra £1 got you the deluxe model with spare 5-shot magazines costing only just over a pound, if only that were true today! Even still, the new CZs offers excellent value for money and is a fine vermin rifl e in every sense.

Points to note

Points to look out for when buying a CZ or BRNO are original barrels can still produce fine accuracy but check for damage to the muzzle crown and corroded threads to moderator attachment, also nicks or scratches that effect the rifling and also check internally for pitting and rust, as plenty of rimfires never get cleaned, ever!

Sights, if fitted, are good and the tangent rear sight is adjustable with a blade foresight and original receiver grooved for 3/8 inch dovetail mounts. That classic and elegant, all-steel Mauser-type action offers good longevity and if well maintained actually gets smoother with age and wears a nice patina. But look for signs of neglect, with noisy bolt springs and damaged extractor claws.

Stocks are a personal choice, but rimfires often get bashed about more than centrefire rifles, so check for cracks in the pistol grip and action screw areas. Originally, all were walnut, but you can get beech, synthetic as well as aftermarket laminates in sporter style or now thumbhole.

Conclusions

One of the nicest, most accurate and reliable rimfires on the planet, available in an incredible array of styles and rimfire options. Available new from the original importer Edgar Brothers Ltd. and second or third hand in just about any gun shop. Prices can go from £100/150 up to £300/£450, depending on condition and model. The advent of the newer CZ455 and CZ457 models both offer switch barrel facilities, with the latter being a major re-design with improved safety to name but one upgrade.

Contact Edgar Brothers Ltd, www.shootingsports.edgarbrothers.com

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