A CZ 550 Surprise

Discussion in '.375 & Up' started by Cleathorn, Nov 26, 2009.

  1. Cleathorn

    Cleathorn AH Senior Member

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    I bought a CZ 550 in 458 Lott/458 Win Mag for the Elephant part of my Big 5 Safari this year. Still looking for a double but I have a custom .375 H&H Mag. that is a great gun and originally belonged to my uncle you gave it to my when he died and I always considered it to be a special honor, since every other gun in his collection was sold when he got sick and neededthe money.

    Anyway, I bought the CZ from gun broker and it arrived yesterday. I figured I would need to take it to the gunsmith for some work. I figured an action polish, new trigger and sights at a minimum.

    I cannot belive it but the trigger is awesome. It breaks perfectly at 2.75 lbs with no pull, sticking or anything like it.

    The action is smooth as well.The only issue is when its fully opened to eject the shell there is a slight lift, but that seems to be the case with all long action bolts the length of a 458.

    the sights - well - CZ really missing the mark on that. They stink. New sights are a must - I do not even know why they bothered.

    The wood is good, the gun has a nice balance, the action engaged and the trigger sets very well (I have an original Mauser action on an Enfield P 17 frame and the CZ is almost as good).

    Does anyone else have a CZ 550 and have you had similair experiences? I was really expecting a gun that would need work - except for the sights (and I might matte the barrel for African DG hunting) I like it.

    I would like to hear from the CZ owners out there how they perform on the range and hold up in the buch?
     
  2. FFemt5287

    FFemt5287 AH Senior Member

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    I actually just bought one about a month ago in .458 Lott, myself. I echo your feelings about the trigger, I really like it, very little creep. The feeding is another story. With just one round in the magazine, it feeds up fine. More than one round in the magazine, and both softs and solids get jammed up on the feed ramp and don't feed. The bolt raceways are a bit rough on mine. They need polishing. Finally, I also HATE the sights.

    That said, I contacted AHR (American Hunting Rifles) and will be shipping my 550 to them to have their package 2 upgrade along with a mercury recoil reducer placed in the stock and an NECG ivory flip up night sight added.

    American Hunting Rifles - CZ Owners

    I was quoted a 6 week turn around time. Mike70560 turned me onto this smith and they seem to do some great work from my research of them on other forums and this one.
     
  3. Cleathorn

    Cleathorn AH Senior Member

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    Mike sent me the same info when I first posted about the potential of buying a CZ in .458 Lott. I do not think I will need the upgrade - as I origonally expected. My GS can do the sight without any problem. I will run some rounds through it to see how it feeds after the shot. The recoil will obvisouly change the positioning in the magazine so I need to shot it a bnch to see where I need to go with it. It's not sticky so I do not plan on having the action polished - but I will be on the look out for the magazine feeding issue - I had not heard about that before. Thanks for making a point of that.:thumbsup:

    Let me know how your gun turns out.

    And thanks again Mike - good advice on the GM
     
  4. Mike70560

    Mike70560 AH Fanatic

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    Guys,

    Congratulations on the rifles. The CZ's are the best value on the big bore market with plenty of extra potential.

    You will like the NECG sites.

    Are you reloading or shooting factory ammo?
     
  5. AFRIVENTURE

    AFRIVENTURE AH Member

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    FFemt - You are correct with feeding problems, I had the same problem, although I bought my rifle over 2 years ago in the US
    I would have thought they would have rectified the feeding problems by now!??:redhot:
    A lot of guys make the mistake of testing the rifle with only one bullet at a time, big mistake!
    The problem was that these rifles or should I say "the action" was made for the normal 458 Win Mag and then used on the Lott without "opening" the "rails" wich means cutting them back a bit to help with the longer cartridge of the Lott, a quick and simple job for any good gunsmit that are familiar with big bore rifles.

    Mine is a working rifle and I kept it as is - no cosmetics for me, only polished the Ramp myself, opened the rails and had the bolt handle bent a little upwards - and I am very happy with it the way it is - been using it a lott:oops: over the past 2 years!!:worship:

    I painted the the whole front sight white, wich helps a lot, other than that I have no problem with the sights and mine are very accurate after some windage corrections made on the rear.

    I only use handloads and also only Barnes Tripple shock and their solids.
    Mine had the straight stock to begin with.
     
  6. Cleathorn

    Cleathorn AH Senior Member

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    Reloading. I cannot see how the manufacturers can justify the prices for factory ammo. If you releoad, the price per box is about the same as a factory box of .30 06 loads. True you do not get as monay loads from a pound of powder and if you are shooting premium bullets (if you need a .458 Lott - I think you can safly assume you need premium bullets) the cost is higher than reloading for smaller bore magnums like a .300 Win Mag. or the .375 H&H but not by much. Besides, I like to tune the load to the gun and I am always surprised at how different 1 or 2 gr of powder can make. I have a .270 WSM and was shooting 61 gr of RE 19. MOA groups at 200 yards (shooting from a lead sled) with 61 gr but could not get under 3" with 62.5 gr. 1.5 gr blew the bullistics by that much.

    I shot it up to 65 gr and it stayed more or less the same, but at 66 it was like a shotgun. If you live in a place were you can buy the components at sensible prices and you like to shoot, IMO reloading is essential. I canot see how you can get the best performance with factory ammo. It is usually good enough that it does not matter but when I am paying the money it takes to hunt abroad, I want everything that is in my control to be, well, controlled.

    I might miss, we all do it, but not for lack of practice with the gun in use.
     
  7. daggaboyblog

    daggaboyblog AH Veteran

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    I actually have an old ZKK602 from the old BRNO establishment - she's going on 18 years old! Bought it in .458 Winchester and rechambered to .450 Ackley Mag immediately.

    I had feeding problems with the longer case but a quick trip to the gunsmith sorted that out nicely. Back then we also had to add a second crossbolt as I split the first stock while testing; i think this is standard on the 550. Also the safety runs opposite to every other rifle I own, back for fire! The ZKK is a lot less refined than the 550 when it comes to looks - nothing is polished - but Cleathorn mentioned that he wanted to matte the barrel on his 550...

    As for firepower - five in the magazine and one in the chamber. That's serious firepower. I had a PH tell me not to fill the magazine as the spring was not up to pushing those big shells up. I always keep her full and have never had a problem, so maybe they're making the spring a bit softer these days?

    Do they still make the CZ 550 with the 3-leaf folding front sight? Although a bit too much of a good thing, my sights work well on my old rifle. I've had a Leupold 1.5-5x on the rifle since 1996 and it's never skipped a beat.
    I have the hog's back on my stock so the rifle does tend to rise at the front, I think they have a more classic straight stock on the 550? I've learnt to deal with it.

    These days I use brass from Bertram and Woodleigh projectiles - both Australian made. I also use our local ADI powders. Together, we can shoot 1" at 100 yards with those big 500gr bullets scooting along at 2380fps. Any faster and our groups open up a bit. She really is a beauty and points like a shotgun (though a little more thick set!).

    I use the ZKK602 to hunt pigs so as to maintain the friendship. My most recent cape buff hunt afforded me only one shot at a dagga boy, at his rapidly departing behind, quartering away in thick mopani. With our well established relationship, I put one just left of his anus and down he went. It was a spectacular moment for the whole team to see the bull on full throttle come down like that.

    This rifle has seen a lot of work. On a good pig hunt in the hot months I can easily put 60 rounds through the barrel in four days, scrub hunting in temperatures between 38 and 46 degrees C (100 - 115 Degrees F). I have never been let down yet. And when you get amongst some swine and you unleash all six rounds - well let's say you know you've been out hunting when the dust settles.

    If the CZ550 is anything like the ZKK602, then you have a truly great working rifle if you can learn to get along!
     
  8. TexasAg

    TexasAg AH Member

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    My Dad and I have 458 Lotts and have used them in Africa on elephant. Several mods we did are bedding the action (we had stocks break on our Winchesters in 458), ghost sight (these are made for the 550 by New England Custom Gun), and shortened the barrel by 3". You will find that when moving through the bush it helps to have a shorter barrel. Also, we found that the feed ramp does not work well if you are using Barnes Solids (500 gn). The flat nose on the solid will hang up when a round is being fed from the left side of the magazine. What we did was rework the ramp. I high-lite this because it could put you in a bad spot using a flat nose solid.
     
  9. FFemt5287

    FFemt5287 AH Senior Member

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    I find the same issue with 500gr soft and solid Hornady rounds (DGX/DGS) Mostly a problem with the round coming up from the left side. Mine's heading out to AHR in January to have this rectified.
     
  10. pcrage

    pcrage New Member

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    I just bought a CZ 550 in 375 H&H and have the same feeding problem with barnes flat nose banded solids on the left side of the magazine. I made a few rounds with the new barnes round nose banded solids and no problem it feeds fine. Also feeds fine with Hornady DGS as they are note as flat nosed as the barnes. I still think I will send the rifle to AHR and have the upgrade #2 nonetheless.
     
  11. PaulT

    PaulT AH Fanatic

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    I bought my CZ 550, in 458 Lott 3 years ago to replace a worn out Winchester, a decision i have lived to regret each day since.

    I've had feeding issues with mine from the day I bought it, to the point I've completely lost faith in it and have arranged for its replacement(with a Winchester).

    In principal, the 550 is a good valued gun but in the larger calibers and in particular straight-walled cases, definitely not field ready in the box.

    There appears to be major feed issues with a lot of CZ's in certain calibers, the Lott and the 404J in particular.
    Mine not only refused to feed reliably with solids, but softs as well.
    Freinds who purchased 550's around the same time all had the exact same issues.

    I also have a CZ 550 in .375 which we use as a loan rifle and it has performed flawlessly.
    Luck of the draw ?, different case feeding I'm not sure, but this one works fine.

    My only other critisims of the 550 are based on my own personal preferences for what a big game rifle like this should bring to the table.
    The factory sights are poor.
    The original stock design, for me, is uneccessarily heavy and cumbersome and the long, relatively heavy barrel does little to promote good handling characteristics.

    I hope you had better luck with your Lott than I did with mine.
     
  12. Code4

    Code4 AH Enthusiast

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    I have a .416 Rigby CZ. I opened it up with my gunsmith Tony Small and checked everything.

    The bedding was all good with the proper sections of the action abutting the furniture with no need to 'bed' it with epoxy. The two cross bolts are at weird angles and not at 90 deg to the centreline of the stock. They were in the right spots however to hold the sides of the stock under recoil. He adjusted the trigger to 2.5lbs without having to disable/rebuild the 'set' option.

    Yep, the sights are crap. I replaced the front bead with a slightly higher and larger dia. white plastic bead from Recknagel. Not the best option as the sun 'highlights' one side of the bead depending on the time of day. This may not be a problem at 50 yards. I also threw away the front sight guard as it obscured the sight picture. I love express sights.

    I fitted a Recknagel roll off scope mount as it is very easy to operate and has a dished front ring mount allowing scopes with an objective bell to be mounted furthur to the rear to assist eye relief.

    Feeding was reliable with a certain grittiness from being new. Mine holds five down as the stock has a little extra in the belly, lowering the floorplate plate. Some CZ's have this, others don't.

    For me, it was a good value buy. IMO every new rifle needs a little tuneing, it is only a matter of how much and the result reflects the skill of the gunsmith involved.
     
  13. pcrage

    pcrage New Member

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    I realize that all new rifles need a little work but the basic feeding of cartridges should not be one of those things that needs work. I have purchased over 25 rifles in my life and never, I repeat never, had a feeding issue until the CZ. This is a dangerous game rifle no less. If anything, a dangerous game rifle should have impeccable feeding afterall no rifle needs quick follow ups more than this category.

    Whats more, I paid $1,700 for this rifle in left hand configuration. I have rifles costing less than $1,000 that have operated better out of the box.

    To say I am dissappointed with this CZ 550 would be an understatement.

    Now I have the prospect of spending an additional $1,000 to get it right.

    Not good.
     
  14. sestoppelman

    sestoppelman SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    One thing comes to light in this discussion, well two really. CZ rifles of late seem to have some feed issues, mine included, a .404 Jeff. But only with the Barnes Banded Solid with the huge meplat on top. Number two is this. Apparently this is a common problem with this particular bullet in all rifles as Barnes has now changed the design to a more rounded style to accomodate shooters and will still offer the old bullet when asked. So yes CZ should spend more time making sure their rifles feed properly and now with the new style Barnes all rifles should have fewer issues with the BBS bullet. In my case I didnt care about the BBS, there are other good solids out there, but now I may try some of the new style to see how they work.
     
  15. Rastaman

    Rastaman AH Veteran

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    I have a mixed report on the CZ 550, my first one in .416 was great, bought in 2001 and liberated from me by Robert Mugabes thugs in 2004.

    My next one, CZ 550, .416, bought in 2004 to replace the first one....was pure crap. it would never hold a pattern, feeding problems and ultimately developed a crack in the stock. I took it as a back up in may and thankfully I never had to put it to use. When I got home i contacted AHR and sent it to them for their package # 3 upgrade. They did fantastic work and it came back looking like a custom built rifle or a dakota. in the end it was cheaper to buy a CZ and send it to AHR for the rebuild than to by a dakota. Havent hunted with it yet but I am very proud to own it.
     

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