So, okay, not everybody wants a switch-barrel rimfire, but I happen to like the idea. Seems like I’ve always been intrigued with switch-barrel guns, and this little number from CZ-USA has a lot of appeal for me. Living in Illinois, where we can’t hunt with high-powered centerfire rifles (except for coyotes), we do a lot of rimfire hunting. A lot of guys own separate rifles in .22 LR, .17 HMR, and .22 WMR. Heck, I even know one guy who owns probably 20 or 30 different .22 LRs.
Me, I have a Browning .22 Auto, grade III, and an old Savage .22 LR/20-gauge over-under. I’ve owned quite a few others over the years, including a really nice, accurate Winchester Model 9422 in .22 Magnum, but currently I have just those two. I do enjoy hunting with the .22 WMR, and while I have never owned a .17 HMR, I think it has some application in the small-game and varmint hunting fields as well. Imagine my interest when ST received the CZ 455 American in .22 LR along with an extra barrel in .17 HMR!
The 455 is nicely endowed. The particulars are shown in the accompanying specifications list, so I won’t go into detail here. Suffice it to say, the 455 feels like a "real" rifle, not like some of the cheap rimfires I’ve handled. Fit and finish are excellent, as is the trigger pull. As you can see from the accuracy results chart, the 20.5-inch-barreled bolt gun was no slouch in the accuracy department. Undoubtedly, the nice trigger contributed to its fine accuracy.
The advantages of a switch-barrel rimfire are essentially the same as for a switch-barrel centerfire rifle. The biggest one in my book is you can shoot different cartridges–in this case, three different ones–in the same action with the same trigger system. Doing so allows you to become extremely familiar with that one trigger, and that translates into better shooting.
Switching barrels on the 455 is really easy. All you do is remove the magazine, the bolt, and the two stock screws and pull off the trigger guard, the trigger guard plate, and the stock. Then loosen the magazine housing rear screw (one to two turns) and the two barrel-retaining screws and pull the barrel off the front of the receiver. Insert the new barrel, tighten the barrel screws, tighten the magazine housing screw, place the barreled action into the stock (minus the spacer if you are switching to either of the magnum chamberings), replace the trigger guard and plate, and tighten down the stock screws. That’s it. It takes less than 10 minutes.
As I said, ST first received the 455 set up for .22 LR and .17 HMR. A few days later we received the Lux .22 LR extra barrel, which has an adjustable rear sight and a hooded front sight. In the meantime, I called our contact at CZ and ordered a .22 WMR barrel for the rig. So, with the rifle and three extra barrels, I headed to my range and proceeded to run it through a rather lengthy shooting session. And I have to say doing all that rimfire shooting (five, five-shot groups with 12 different loads) was very therapeutic. The fact that the little rifle produced such nice groups obviously helped make the project a fun one. If you haven’t fired your favorite rimfire in a while, you really should get out and shoot it. Better yet, pick up a CZ 455 American with an extra barrel or two and have some real fun!