For a bolt action rifle manufacturer to abandon the Mauser-type action is no small step, especially when it has served you so well for so long. But that is just what CZ, the renown firearms manufacturer based in the Czech Republic, has done.
Predictably, they went with the fat bolt, tri-lug concept that has since been adopted by so many other European firearms manufacturers over the past decade. However, there are enough unique features that set this new Model 600-series bolt action apart from the competition.
For one thing, it isn’t based on a tubular receiver, which is one of the cost-cutting benefits of the design. However, it is by no means inherent, for there are several rather expensive rifles based on tubular receivers.
Instead, CZ chose to go with the rather expensive route of machining the receivers from billets. In fact, some models are based on a steel receiver with Remington 700-style ring base geometry, others on an aluminum receiver with an integral 5-position Weaver-type rail (three slots on the receiver bridge, two on the ring). Not only that, but there are three receiver lengths — one scaled to the .223 Rem., .224 Valkyrie and 7.62×39; a medium for .308 Win.- length cartridges, and a long for the .30-06, 8×57 IS and .300 Win.
One of several unique features of this 600 Series is what looks like a plunger-type ejector — which is incompatible with controlled-round feeding — is actually an inertia-type ejection system similar to a ‘98 Mauser or Model 70 Winchester. However, how it accomplishes that same end result is quite different.
With the familiar Remington 700-style ejection system, the plunger is always under spring pressure so that it always projects from the bolt face; that’s why it precludes CRF because it prevents the rim of a cartridge rising from the magazine from sliding upwards against the bolt face to become captive to the extractor — which defines controlled-round feeding.
Instead, this action’s plunger ejector button is retracted, thus allowing for CRF. Only when the rearward-moving bolt reaches its last 1/4-inch of movement is the plunger met by a static button to kick the case out of the ejection port. And as with all CRF actions, the bolt can be eased back to just short of fully withdrawn, allowing the empty (or cartridge) to be plucked from the port manually.
With the 600 Series, the bolt locks up with the barrel rather than within the receiver ring. Such locking systems allow for barrel/bolt head interchangeability and CZ takes advantage of that.
The barrel is mated to the receiver by a slip-fit arrangement. The receiver ring serves as a C-clamp, which tightens around the barrel shank via three transverse machine bolts (Allen key provided). Bolt heads can be removed and exchanged without tools, as can the striker assembly. One can therefore go from a 6.5 Creedmoor to a .300 Win. Mag. in a matter of minutes.
As I’ve pointed out many times, a tri-lug action can have one, two or three rows of locking lugs (three, six or nine in total), but if the lugs are oriented on 120-degree centers, they all qualify as tri-lug systems.
CZ chose to go with two rows of lugs, which is a bit puzzling to me because with three lugs you have a better chance of achieving 100 percent contact between each locking lug and its abutment surface than you can with six lugs. And with nine lugs like the Weatherby Mark V, even less of a chance.
The fire control system is another innovative feature. The trigger is externally adjustable via a small round button in the ceiling of the guard bow. Using the Allen key, this button can be rotated to one of four detent positions indicated by one, two, three and four dots. Rotate to the one dot setting and you’ve got a 1 1/2-pound trigger pull; the two-dot position is 2 pounds, and so on.
At the rear of the trigger guard bow is the safety consisting of a steel rod that moves vertically within a housing at the rear of the receiver. Pushing the serrated button upwards engages the safety, the opposite end of which now projects from the tang above. It also locks the bolt, but there is a bypass button that allows the action to be cycled with the safety engaged. Pushing down with the thumb disengages the safety; it’s a very ergonomic system.
Another great feature is the detachable magazine. It’s of unitized polycarbonate with integral feed lips so it’s virtually indestructible, feeds smoothly and quietly, and stacks cartridges in a staggered row so capacity is five for standard cartridges, three for the 6.5 PRC and .300 Win. Mag. Also, the magazine can be locked, so it can’t be released accidentally. Moreover, it can be charged from the ejection port, something that can’t be said for a lot of detachable mags.
Five models are being offered, two of which I found especially appealing. There’s the ERGO, a synthetic thumbhole that weighs 5 3/4 pounds in .223 Rem., and 6.6 pounds in .30-06 and .300 Win. — Ouch! Unfortunately, the ERGO will not be available here until 2023. The TRAIL is CZ’s chassis version of the 600, and it uses AR-15 magazines, has a telescoping stock, and weighs 6 pounds. It’s chambered is .223 Rem. and 7.62×39.
I was fortunate enough to be among five U.S.-based writers invited to the factory for the unveiling of the new rifle, but we were but a small part of the more than 35 other media people in attendance from around the world.
Following the presentation, we had several hours of range time where we had the opportunity to fire all five models. The following day the U.S. contingent was treated to a mouflon hunt using the model 600 of our choice. I chose the Ergo in .308 Win.
These animals, along with red deer, were free-ranging — no fences, but they were fed, so it pretty much accomplished the same thing. I would have liked to have been more selective in the taking of my ram, but when a small group of them emerged from the woods surrounding an open field, one was badly crippled and ethics demanded — as did my Jaeger — that I shoot it.
With this brief review I was only able to cover some of the high points of CZ’s new Model 600-Series rifles. There are a lot more features you should know about, features that make the 600 not just another ho-hum tri-bolt. See more at www.cz-usa.com