WINCHESTER’S CZ 600 RIFLES

Most shooters are familiar with the Brno rifles. Small arms were manufactured in the Zbrojovka Brno Works from 1918 onwards and then they began making Model 24 Mauser rifles in 1942, along with military rifles, carbines and pistols.

After WW2, the plant concentrated on sporting rifles, including the very popular Brno Model 1, and later the Model 2 and 3, which were all .22 rimfire rifles. The ZKK series, based on the original Mauser action, was launched in 1964 in three different action lengths to cater for small, medium, and large bore calibres.

Today, the respected Brno label is owned by Czeska Zbrojovka (CZ), which was founded in 1936. CZ dropped the popular ZKK series in the 1990s and introduced a new line of centerfire rifles on its 527, 550 and 557 models. Unlike the Mauser style ZKK action, it had a push-feed bolt and continental-style stock. Sales were disappointing and it was dropped in favour of a new patented action, the 600 series that has a bolt which combines the best of both controlled and push-feed bolt actions in a modular design. It’s available in different rifle designations – Alpa, Lux, Range, Trail and Ego – and in several popular calibres.

The 600 series has three different action lengths: small, medium, and large. The bolt has a low 60-degree lift, making it ideal for low-profile scope mounting. When a spring-loaded button on the right side of the receiver is pressed, the bolt can be removed. The bolt operation is smooth and has a modified, controlled-round-feed extractor that grips the cartridge throughout its full cycling process from the magazine into the chamber.

The ejector is manually activated; a good thing for hand-loaders as it’s easy to pull the bolt back slowly and remove the case by hand instead of having it ejected away from you at force. The safety tang is vertical, silent in operation and released when pressing on it. The receiver gives you a choice of two scope-mounting positions: the popular Weaver-style rail or a drilled and tapped screw mounting system that accepts Remington 700-style scope bases.

The Model 600 has a double-stack magazine. It can be changed from a removable to fixed magazine. It’s a push-click loading system that provides very smooth and reliable loading of rounds into the chamber.

The trigger is single-stage and can be adjusted to four different pull weights that vary from 1.5 to 3lb (0.7 to 1.4kg). A four-positional set screw is used to alter the weight of trigger pull to your liking without having to remove the barrelled action from the stock or having to use a trigger scale. The barrel is cold-forged, with each model have an optimum length that is matched to the calibre and ranges from heavy, medium and light profiles for the designated model aimed at varmint, hunting and target shooting. The barrel muzzle is threaded for a muzzle brake, flash eliminator or sound suppressor.

Because of the 600 Series’ modular design, it has an interchangeable barrel system that allows barrels and bolt heads to be switched to a different calibre, providing the replacement barrel fits the stock channel. It’s a simple matter, but for most of us a little bothersome, especially the legal minefield one must go through by having different barrels for the same action as each barrel, provided it’s a different calibre, will have to be registered as such. And don’t forget, if you have a scope fitted, the replacement barrel will have to be sighted in.

Accuracy is guaranteed to shoot sub-minute of angle at 100m for three shots, though it differs for different models. The models vary in looks and heft; for instance, the Alpha has an alloy receiver, a semi-heavyweight barrel and a fibre-reinforced polymer stock. It’s available in nine calibres ranging from the ever-popular .223 Remington to the .300 Winchester Magnum.

In comparison, the Lux has a steel receiver, a light barrel with fibre-optic sights and a traditional European-style timber stock and is chambered for five different cartridges. Its traditional look will appeal to older shooters who love their classic timber stocks.

The Range is a target and bench-rest rifle that sports a heavy barrel and a laminated stock with an adjustable comb; it is capable of extreme accuracy, including long range shooting. It’s fitted with an accessory rail under the stock for a monopod and QD sockets and is chambered only in .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor, both being amongst the most accurate rounds in the world.

In sharp contrast, the Trail is a tactical rifle that has an AR-style four-position polymer stock with pistol grip; interchangeable backstraps and Bren 2-style controls; a Weaver-style scope rail on the receiver (and another under the forend that has M-LOK accessory fittings for bipods); and more. It’s only available in .223 Remington and 7.62x39 mm. However, we may not see it here due to its compact system and military look that may displease the authorities.

The Ergo rifle is the top of the range, with calibres ranging from the .223 Remington to the .300 Winchester. It has an alloy receiver, integral bases, lightweight barrel that is supported by polymer stock fitted with soft-grip inserts, and is adjustable to three different butt positions to cater for shooters of different body builds and sizes. It’s chambered for six calibres ranging from the .223 Remington to the .300 Winchester Magnum.

The new 600 series features a new bolt design, which could be considered a radical change by CZ to modernise its rifle range and a sharp departure from the traditional Mauser-style action. So far, the three models currently available in Australia, the 600 Alpha, Lux and Ergo are enjoying good acceptance by shooters.

CZ products are imported and distributed by Winchester Australia. The present price for the Alpha is $1695 and the Lux and Ergo are $1995. Currently, the Range and Trail are not available, but don’t be surprised that once overseas demands are met you will find the Range on your local dealer’s shelves; perhaps even the Trail, which looks to be ideal for buggies and quad bike hunters.

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