Get Ready for Whitetail – The CZ 557 (REVIEW)

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The barrel on the Sporter is longer than on the Carbine, but it was still manageable in the Florida brush.

CZ is not the first name in American hunting rifles, but I think they need more love. These guns are rock solid, very dependable, and as accurate as any rifle you’ll find on the shelf at any mom-and-pop gun store in America. It is time they get the respect they so obviously deserve.

Let’s start with the basics. This is a traditionally styled hunting rifle. It is meant for traditional North American style hunts, where you often only get one shot. What the 557 lacks in terms of magazine capacity, it makes up for in accuracy. If you’re looking for an old-school workhorse, you should check out the CZ 557.

Specs

This CZ 557 is a .30-06. The steel is all blued. The American walnut stock is ornate, but not ostentatious. The checkering, which is not cut by hand, serves its purpose and provides a solid grip. The Sporter model doesn’t come with any sights, but the milled cuts on the receiver make mounting scopes easy. The rifle can hold four rounds in its fixed magazine. The recoil from the .30-06 is mitigated, slightly, by a thin rubber pad at the end of the stock. This all seems pretty standard.

CZ 557

Walnut is a softer hardwood, which makes it easy to work. Yet it has a reputation for aging well.

The 557 does have some features that aren’t as common as they should be. The receiver is milled from a billet, not a casting. The barrel is cold hammer forged. My favorite feature is the safety, which allows the bolt to be worked while the safety is on.

The trigger is adjustable, which lets you adjust for all of the basics. If you want a lighter pull, less creep, or less overtravel, it is all adjustable. This gun came in for review with a trigger set just over two pounds. There was no creep, and very little over travel. The sharp curve of the trigger sits deep in the trigger guard, which would allow the rifle to be easily controlled while you are wearing gloves.

While many of CZ’s rifles use Mauser-style bolts, the 557 has a short internal extractor and plunger-style ejector. We had no issues with feeding from the 557 and it ejected well. CZ suggests that the push feed system makes the gun easier to hand load. The length of the .30-06 makes it even easier. If you’re working from the bench, and don’t want the hassle of loading the magazine every four rounds, this system has clear advantages.

We shot the rifle with a Burris E1 Fullfield. The E1 is a dynamic scope. While I don’t typically expect miracles from a typical 3-9×40, the E1 was well suited for the 557. The glass is clear, and the weight is average for scopes of this size. This E1 has an illuminated reticle, which was helpful when the hog hunt we had scheduled stretched into the evening. While it wouldn’t be of much use in full darkness, it is ideal for the low light conditions pigs prefer for feeding.

The 557, even with old bulk ammo, is capable.

The 557, even with old bulk ammo, is capable.

I had forgotten how much the .30-06 kicks. It has a definite punch. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t maintain my sight picture through the scope after I’d pulled the trigger. This is a disadvantage of the platform, I think. The heavy hitting round has its benefits, but rapid followup shots are difficult. And don’t stand beside the barrel while someone else is shooting. It is loud. If you’re directly behind the barrel, in the position of the shooter, it is loud, but it isn’t going to knock you down. I’d been taking pictures during this review and positioned myself directly beside the rifle, still in a safe position, when the shooter pulled the trigger. Even with muffs and foam plugs, the concussion hit me hard. And I knew the shot was coming, too.

Yet it is the other end, I guess, that’s going to suffer the most. The .30-06 delivers impressive terminal ballistics. There’s nothing on this continent, or many others, that the round won’t dispatch. And the .30-06 manages to hit hard without being over-the-top. It is manageable, effective, and easy to come by.

CZ 557

We were even getting under an inch with bulk ammo that had been banging around in an ammo can.

It is this last point that’s so important. The .30-06 is everywhere, in countless different grain weights and bullet designs. The 557 will eat it all. When we went to sight in the rifle, we pulled an old ammo can of .30-06 from the shed. The rounds were loose, knocking against each other, and tarnished by the Florida humidity. My expectations were decidedly low. I don’t even know how much the old FMJ bullets weighed. I still can’t tell you if they were boat tails or not. I thought we’d see keyholes, and have trouble extracting the cases, but no. They all shot with no problem.

We had the rifle sighted in quickly, and placed three of these old rounds under 1 MOA. One went right through the center ring. At that point, I felt somewhat satisfied. But we’d been shooting off of a solid foam rest, and that isn’t always an option when you’re in the woods. As I was bragging about the rifle’s abilities, one of my coworkers pointed out that what we were doing was really pretty easy. “Pick it up and shoot it,” he said, “and then tell me how it shoots.”

cz 557

This shot was made standing, form 100 yards.

He has a point. As much as we like to judge guns by how well they shoot under controlled conditions, conditions on any given hunt are rarely controlled. You may or may not have a rest. It is doubtful that you’ll really be able to get prone (especially in the Florida hammocks). You may be able to rest it on something, but depending on the angle of your shot, you will probably support the rifle yourself. At that point, having a gun that shoots under 1 MOA becomes somewhat academic. Can you hold it that steady? Can you find your target quickly, even with the magnification on the scope dialed way up? Once there, can you hold it steady enough to squeeze off that kill-shot?

Turns out that I can. When given the challenge, I picked up the rifle, chambered a round, found the target and leveled the reticle. When I pulled the trigger, I was less than an inch off of my intended pint of impact. That means something to me. The 557 is heavy enough to prevent excessive shaking, balanced enough to hold, and the excellent trigger caps it all off.

Keep shooting various loads and you'll find the one the gun likes.  This box of Hornady performed very well in the 557.

Keep shooting various loads and you’ll find the one the gun likes. This box of Hornady performed very well in the 557.

We put the rifle into the field during a hog hunt, but came up short. It wasn’t the rifle’s fault, but the pigs’. They didn’t want to get shot, so they hung out, hidden, and never showed. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

All told, the CZ deserves a lot of consideration. With an MSRP of $792, this is an heirloom quality rifle that shoots a lot better than most of the heirlooms I’ve come across recently. One of the other editors here at GunsAmerica shot the 557 for a month or so and described it as a “miracle worker.” That may be true, depending on how you define miracles. Even if it isn’t, the 557 delivers, and I can’t wait for the whitetail season to open.

CZ 557

Shooting .30-06 doesn’t have to be expensive. These rounds were hardly match quality, but still delivered.

CZ 557

This 557 has a long action, though short actions are available.

CZ 557

The only visible flaw we found was in the slot of the scope mount’s bolt.

CZ 557

Though the 557 is made in the Czech Republic, it is imported into Kansas City.

CZ 557

We used the Burris Fullfield E1, a 3-9×40. The scope is good for the shorter ranges of a Southern hunt.

CZ 557

This Burris E1 has an illuminated reticle, not that we needed it in the bright light.

The Burris is very easy to adjust and the controls can be manipulated by hand.

The Burris is very easy to adjust and the controls can be manipulated by hand.

CZ 557

The CZ mounts are solid, though I’d prefer to have them lapped.

CZ 557

The hash marks help with aligning the parts.

CZ 557

The checkering will appeal to those who appreciate the traditional look of the 557’s wooden stock, and it provides a decent grip.

CZ 557

The reall attention to detail is apparent in the right places, like the barrel crown.

CZ 557

There’s very little branding on the 557, which adds to the clean look of the rifle.

cz 557

If you’re in a deer stand all morning, the weight won;t as noticeable as when you are stalking.

CZ 557

The trigger guard flows into the bottom of the fixed magazine with graceful lines.

The E1has Burris's Ballistic Plex E1 Reticle.  In low light, the lit is reticle is visible in red.

The E1has Burris’s Ballistic Plex E1 Reticle. In low light, the lit is reticle is visible in red.

CZ 557

The red dot on the back of the bolt indicates that the rifle is cocked.

CZ 557

The handle can get jammed up against the eyepiece.

This Hornady didn't group as well, but it would still drop a whitetail or a hog.

This Hornady didn’t group as well, but it would still drop a whitetail or a hog.

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Bob Parker September 16, 2014, 11:27 pm

    I purchased the 557 carbine in 270. I was waiting for the 308 to become available but had a hunt planned and did not want to wait. I researched the two rounds and believed it was a true toss up between the two.
    I had used my brother in laws savage 308 hunting pigs with great success … Dropped a couple of 250 lb. pigs in their tracks hunting in the Texas hill country with the 308 . I had the same success with the CZ carbine 270 although the pigs were closer to 180-200 lbs range .
    Love the traditional aesthetics with the cheek piece . The oil rubbed wood finish and matt finish barrel is a nice combo.These finishes are less costly to produce than a lacquered wood and high polish barrel but more functional .

  • Bob Parker September 16, 2014, 11:17 pm

    I purchased the 557 carbine in 270. I was waiting for the 308 to become available but had a hunt planned and did not want to wait. I researched the two rounds and believed it was a true toss up between the two.
    I had used my brother in laws savage 308 hunting pigs with great success … Dropped a couple of 250 lb. pigs in their tracks hunting in the Texas hill country with the 308 . I had the same success with the CZ carbine 270 although the pigs were closer to 180-200 lbs range .
    Love the traditional aesthetics with the cheek piece . The oil rubbed wood finish and matt finish barrel is a nice combo.These finishes are less costly to produce than a lacquered wood and high polish barrel but more functional .

  • exnavy123 July 21, 2014, 12:01 pm

    Good review. Good gun, good cartridge. Pleasing eye appeal, but heavy. No one wants a near Garand weight unless you have no choice. (Been there, done that.)
    Florida hogs, we have 45 years experience dragging them out of sloughs, hammocks and bayheads. Over the years they have multiplied and in non-management area private land pest eradication, followup shots are the key after that first gimmie/DRT pull. The light recoil/quick follow up 5.56/.223 was the ticket, then folks needed more terminal ballistics. Went through the 300 AAC BLK only to realize more range was needed in open pastureland.
    My 30-06’s, .270’s and even the A-Bolt .243 Browning will get things done, but when half a dozen are scattering we need to rock n’ roll and keep up with the crowd.
    AR 10/.308 are getting lighter, but Mr. Meanie Greenie is on deck, coming to bat. The 6.5 Grendel. Hope to see you review a Grendel on a Florida open range with real pork actors.
    No article criticisms, no taking shots at the weapon. Folks like me likely have more deer hunting rifles than we really need. The CZ would be a good gun for someone wanting to get into shooting/hunting sports, no arguments. Age, father time, old bones and joints and changing tactics and requirements make a person like me who said “I don’t need me no black rifle” eat their words. One shot one kill still is the rule, ethical placement always has been, but the action immediately following that first “tap” is where we find the need today with piggies. Last one I shot was est. at 650 by locals in Liberty County, Fl./Robert Brent Management Area, long ago.
    I don’t recall needing followup shots on deer from a stand, so the CZ still can come along.
    An article focusing on one gun that can do it all would be interesting, what do you think?

    • Julio Galletti July 21, 2014, 10:22 pm

      Greetings to all. Many of you make very salient and precise points. The venerable 06 is an awesome round. You can load it up to 220 grains. That can nearly stop anything on four legs. Insofar as a .257 Roberts, that is a sweet little caliber. I am the very fortunate owner of a sporterized 98 Mauser in 7×57, with a 2oz set trigger, Lyman sights and a magnificent stock, with a Monte Carlo comb, Schnabel and bulge. I love it to death. Now insofar as Florida piggies are concerned, there is only one gun. I inherited it from my father and it is the Ruger Deerstalker Carbine in .44 mag. It is hands down the finest pig gun ever made. It is incredibly light, lightning fast with the original Lyman sights, probably even faster with the newer version’s open sights atop the barrel and weighs in at app. 6.5 lbs. Also the felt recoil is very moderate. Even with 240 grain Remington hollow points.

  • BRUCE CUNNINGHAM July 14, 2014, 3:22 pm

    I find it laughable that the writer finds the 30-06 a heavy-hitter. The beauty of the venerable ’06 is that is has a bit of punch without crippling the shooter. It leads one to surmise that whitetail hunters are wimps and afraid of their rifles.

    That said, CZ makes a very accurate rifle, and the 557 could be even more so with the wonderful CZ set trigger. Americans seem to shy away from set triggers, just as they shy away from anything that says 8mm! Too European for us colonials, I guess. I can see right off two reasons why I’m not excited about the 557. It’s TOO HEAVY, and it was offered without the set trigger. This makes it just another ordinary rifle in an ordinary chambering. We already have plenty of those flooding the marketplace.

    Offer it in a slender nice handling rifle like the Ruger Hawkeye, but do it with the set trigger and in rounds like 257 Roberts, and you’ll have a winner with CZ’s inherent quality and accuracy. One done along the lines of the old Winchester Mdl 54 but with a well executed cheek piece at under 7 pounds, and you’ll have something unique and pleasing to carry. The market has nothing like that right now, and CZ seems to know what we need, but not what we want. This looks to be another CZ club, not something I’d like to wrap my arms around.

    • Jim July 21, 2014, 11:08 am

      Why do people get so defensive about recoil. He didn’t say the 06′ was “crippling”? He said it has “definite punch”, that I think is a true statement most people would agree with. Chill out tough guy, no one is taking your man card.

  • Don Tros July 14, 2014, 10:05 am

    Good review. I also have 30.06’s, as well as .270’s and even a 6.5X55 deer rifle. The problem is if you want to purchase a moderate quantity of ammo for any of these guns, it going to cost you. Where as, you can get 308 ammo for considerably less. No, the considerbly cheaper 308 that you get isn’t match grade, or even close, but it is still very deadly. I recently went to order some 30.06 and 270 ammo, and decided I could buy a nice 308 rifle for the difference in ammo cost. So I did. Hoping to go with almost all 308, however selling deer rifles, or really any firearm is not easy today with the huge “glut” on the market today.

  • Robert E. Dougherty July 14, 2014, 9:39 am

    Looks like a good clean fully operational rifle. Mine looks like my M-7 I used in the Military for security reasons, I like it that way. Bob 🙂

  • Robert Brock Watkins July 14, 2014, 7:38 am

    I’m the proud owner of a 22LR, 17 Remington, 17 HMR, 223 and 3006 in the older 400 series and 550 CZ’z. I found the screws for the scope mounts and rings to be soft a few years back and replaced them with screws from my weaver gun-smithing screw set. However, if anyone else has the problem and “FYI”, you can see at least three screws on your pictures of the new 557 that are buggered-up, simply heat the screw head to cherry red and dunk in cold water before installing. (Obviously you should use the correct fit screw driver) You could also dunk into oil but the temp of the screw prior to dunking would need to he about 300 degrees hotter to have the same surface hardening effect.
    I’ve always been very happy with the CZ products and the wood is typically above average for an off the shelf gun.

  • Walter. Thomas July 14, 2014, 6:08 am

    Make a bit cheaper or sell for less .nice.

  • Matthew July 10, 2014, 10:49 pm

    Thanks for the review I love seeing classic deer rifle reviews wood and blued metal. I trust your reviews more than the gun magazines .

    • Norman Blansett July 14, 2014, 11:52 pm

      I believe I can do as well with My Mosin – Nagant 7.62 x 54R and it is just as cheap to shoot and sells for $150.00/

      Norman Blansett

      • Administrator July 14, 2014, 11:53 pm

        dream buddy lol

      • Rodger July 15, 2014, 3:03 am

        Mosin Nagant wouldn’t even come close! What are you smoking? LMFAO

        • michael May 25, 2015, 4:11 am

          i know this is old, but i had a mosin with a 7 power scout scope put 3 203 grain soft points into pretty much 1 hole at 50 yards…i know i know…it’s 50 yards

          but its a Mosin…with Silver Bear ammo….and only a 7 power scope

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