Skip to main content

The CZ 457 Varmint MTR Ultimate Rimfire Rifle: Review

With a match chamber, adjustable trigger and premium stock, the CZ 457 Varmint MTR is a modern precision rimfire that is a pleasure to shoot.

The CZ 457 Varmint MTR Ultimate Rimfire Rifle: Review

Affiliate Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. We earn from qualifying purchases.

CZ is a company in constant motion. The brand has never ignored its flagship products, but CZ has never relied solely on their past successes. The 550 controlled-feed, bolt-action rifle was a favorite of hunters, but CZ replaced it with the new Model 600, an advanced centerfire for the next generation of shooters The CZ 75, which has been popular worldwide for decades, has spawned a whole new generation of modern CZ pistols, including the updated Shadow 2 series. It’s rare that a CZ gun gets long in the tooth. It was no surprise, then, when CZ replaced their 455 rimfire rifle (which had replaced the 452 a few years earlier) with the current 457 model. And, as you might expect from a brand that’s keeping its finger on the pulse of precision rimfire shooting, there are lots of 457 target guns with threaded barrels and adjustable stocks. But one gun that stands out from the crowd in their catalog is the 457 Varmint MTR. In particular, it stands out because it comes with a Turkish walnut target stock. With its large grip and beavertail forearm, it’s reminiscent of classic target guns like the Winchester 52, Remington 40X, and the Anschutz 1411. In fact, when I first unboxed the CZ rifle and looked at the pistol grip area with its laser engraving, steep profile, and relieved area behind the pistol grip, I immediately thought of the 1411. Since that rifle is one of the premier .22LR match rifles of the 20th century, it’s not a bad place from which to draw inspiration.

cz-457-rifle-02
The walnut stock’s grip is comfortable and conducive to accurate work on distant targets.

Unlike the 1411, the CZ’s Turkish walnut stock comes with more of an oil-finished look than the high gloss finish that was so popular in the 1960s and 1970s. CZ’s stock features a fair amount of feather and flame, which adds a nice aesthetic to a stock that is so robust and squared-off that it could look like a butcher block. The comb of the 457 Varmint MTR’s stock is straight, and the lower portion of the buttstock runs parallel to the bore just behind the pistol grip (a perfect resting spot when shooting off bags) and then runs at a rather shallow angle to the toe of the stock. The heel of the recoil pad is radiused like a shotgun stock, which makes it easy to slip the rifle into position on the shoulder without snagging the pad on your jacket. The black recoil pad is dense and nicely fitted, although at 7.5 pounds unscoped, the CZ doesn’t produce noticeable recoil. When CZ dropped the 455 in favor of the 457, the most noteworthy change was a transition to push-to-fire safeties. On their website, CZ claims that youth shooting sports instructors had been clamoring for the addition of this style safety for years, and as a former 4-H shooting sports instructor, I can tell you that is true. It was a hassle to retrain young shooters who already had experience on a push-to-fire design, which is common on every other rimfire rifle sold in America. But I think kids caught on quicker than adults, especially those who used American-style rifles all their lives. Finally, with the arrival of the 457, we had a CZ rifle with a push-to-fire design. The CZ’s safety was also moved from the shroud on the 455 to the side of the receiver on the 457.

While 455 rifles came with two-lug bolts, the new 457s use a three-lug design. Centerfire manufacturers have been touting the three-lug design’s short bolt lift (60 degrees versus 90 degrees for two-lug actions) for years, but shortened lift is likely more important on a rimfire because their bolt handles are shorter, and you’re more prone to wrap your knuckles on a rimfire with a long bolt lift. It’s also harder to mount larger scopes. The 457’s action has dual extractors. CZ’s Varmint MTR comes with a match chamber cut to CIP (the European version of SAAMI) dimensions. Naturally, a tight chamber means improved accuracy, and it’s one reason that MTR 457s have earned an outstanding reputation. These rifles feature CNC machined billet actions. Another key upgrade on all 457 rifles is the inclusion of a trigger that is adjustable for creep, weight, and overtravel. That means you can tune this trigger to make it exceptionally light and crisp, even dropping it under 2 pounds if so inclined. Striker weight has been reduced nearly 40 percent to eliminate vibration. There’s an independent bolt removal control on this rifle (on the left rear portion of the receiver), and the enclosed barrel shroud comes with a bright red cocking indicator. The 457 guns also come with an interlocking bottom metal design that is an improvement over the stamped bottom metal of the 455 guns.

cz-457-rifle-03
The stock design is reminiscent of classic, super-accurate target guns of the past. The 457 feeds from 5-round magazines.

CZ’s cold-hammer-forged rimfire barrels are exceptional, and the Varmint MTR comes with a 20.5-inch heavy contour barrel with 1:16 twist. Rather surprisingly, the muzzle is not threaded. As with other CZ 457 rifles, the barrel can be swapped by removing a pair of screws near the receiver. The receiver itself is shortened and reduced on the 457s, and like its brandmates, the Varmint MTR comes with 11mm dovetail mounts that make it easy to secure an optic on this rifle. The Varmint MTR comes with a 5-round detachable magazine and functions with 455 mags as well. The rifle’s overall length is right at 38 inches, and MSRP is set at $849.

Range Evaluation

cz-457-rifle-05

Using a pair of CZ 1-inch 11mm rings, I mounted a Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10x40 for testing, and with that optic, the 457 Varmint MTR weighs in at a total of 8 pounds, 13 ounces. It’s not a lightweight varmint setup like the 457 American Synthetic that weighs in at 5.4 pounds unscoped, but the 457 Varmint MTR is rock solid on the bench. The trigger is excellent, and the curved design is easy to control. The grip is unconventional, and it may be a feature that shooters find polarizing. It does provide a comfortable grip position, and the broad tang makes it easy to secure a thumb-forward grip that is so popular with precision shooters. At 13.75 inches, the length of pull will be a bit long for some shooters, but it was perfect for me. The action cycles smoothly. Lifting to cock the bolt is light enough with the three-position safety that even shooters with weak hands should have no problem.

cz-457-rifle-04
CZ barrels are well-known for their quality, and this 20.5-inch, cold- hammer-forged Varmint MTR barrel is no exception.

CZ rifles have a reputation for outstanding accuracy, and the Varmint MTR produced excellent groups. Five-shot clusters at 50 yards went as small at .3 inch with a couple of premium target loads, and even the “worst” groups were in the .5-inch range. I then backed the rifle off to 100 yards and fired additional groups, which hovered at .5 for the best groups. Though it’s heavy, new shooters will like this rifle because it doesn’t move, and that makes it an excellent training rifle. Even experienced shooters will benefit from range time with a target .22 like this because it helps solve some of the problems that arise when you spend time shooting hard-kicking guns like lifting the head off the stock and not following through with the trigger. Mechanically, the gun performed well, and there were no issues with feeding, extraction, and ejection. The match chamber is tight as you would expect, but I never had any issues chambering rounds. The extractor design takes a serious bite on the rim, which is important to the consistent operation of a .22LR rifle, and there’s a fixed ejector that runs along a cutout in the bolt body. Ejection is more reliable when the bolt is pulled rearward with purpose, and while running the bolt slowly, I had to tilt the gun to clear the empty case from the chamber area twice.

cz-457-rifle-06

My father owned a Winchester Model 75 target rifle when I was a kid, and the CZ’s 5-round metal magazines remind me of the mags in that gun. The magazine itself is robust, and loading is simple and doesn’t require a lot of finagling to seat the cartridge properly in place and make them feed. There’s a small extension on the lower portion of the magazine that makes it easier it grasp, and I noticed that tilting the mag slightly forward as it is inserted into the rifle helped. The ability to swap barrels is nice, and in that regard, this rifle offers more flexibility than competing guns. All the improvements that CZ has made to this rifle, from the bottom metal to the bolt lift and the safety position and orientation have been improvements. I am surprised that this rifle does not come with a threaded barrel, but perhaps CZ was trying to maintain that traditional look. The wood stock is functional for target work and has the look and feel that nothing but walnut can achieve. I’d say the CZ is more target gun than walking varmint rifle, but it is well-executed and offers the level of reliability and performance you would expect from an $850 rimfire from CZ. The 457 Varmint MTR design is different than anything else in the lineup, but CZ did an excellent job blending a functional stock with classic design elements and modern machining and features.

cz-457-rifle-07

CZ 457 Varmint MTR Specs

  • Type: Bolt-action repeater
  • Cartridge: .22LR
  • Capacity: 5+1 rds. 
  • Barrel: 20.5 in. 
  • Overall Length: 38 in. 
  • Weight: 7 lbs., 8 oz. 
  • Finish: Black Nitride
  • Sights: None, 11mm integral dovetail 
  • Trigger: 2 lbs., 8 oz. 
  • MSRP: $849
  • Manufacturer: CZ USA



GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Learn the difference between revolvers and semi-auto pistols and what makes them different. Learn more here: http://bit....
Guns

Browning X-Bolt Mountain Pro

Learn the difference between revolvers and semi-auto pistols and what makes them different. Learn more here: http://bit....
Guns

Taurus TX 22 Competition

Learn the difference between revolvers and semi-auto pistols and what makes them different. Learn more here: http://bit....
Gear

Federal FireStick Precharged Loads

Learn the difference between revolvers and semi-auto pistols and what makes them different. Learn more here: http://bit....
Gear

Remington Core-Lokt Tipped

Learn the difference between revolvers and semi-auto pistols and what makes them different. Learn more here: http://bit....
Guns

Walther PDP

Learn the difference between revolvers and semi-auto pistols and what makes them different. Learn more here: http://bit....
Learn

Hodgdon Shooting Powder

Learn the difference between revolvers and semi-auto pistols and what makes them different. Learn more here: http://bit....
News

A World Record Attempt: Practice Round and Media Day

Learn the difference between revolvers and semi-auto pistols and what makes them different. Learn more here: http://bit....
Learn

How to Aim with Iron Sights

Learn the difference between revolvers and semi-auto pistols and what makes them different. Learn more here: http://bit....
News

Interview with Israeli Defense Forces, Part 1

Learn the difference between revolvers and semi-auto pistols and what makes them different. Learn more here: http://bit....
Guns

Custom Mossberg 500 at the Range and Live Turkey!?

Learn the difference between revolvers and semi-auto pistols and what makes them different. Learn more here: http://bit....
Learn

SHOOT 101: Know Your Handgun Types

Shooting Times Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Shooting Times App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Shooting Times stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Shooting Times subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now

Never Miss a Thing.

Get the Newsletter

Get the top Shooting Times stories delivered right to your inbox.

By signing up, I acknowledge that my email address is valid, and have read and accept the Terms of Use