I do not normally review .223 rifles, as the caliber is not sufficiently suitable in the sniping role. (Read here to find out more). But, I was looking for an accurate and affordable to shoot practice rifle, just to get trigger time. At the same time, I have been hearing some good things about the CZ 527 Varmint rifle, and decided it would fit the bill nicely, and I’ll review it for possible law enforcement use. So out I went to pick up a CZ527 Varmint Kevlar. This was suppose to be a bargain rifle, but to be honest, the price was more then I thought it would be for a “bargain” .223. The cheapest I could find it locally was $610 USD. Now that I had the rifle, I brought it home and examined it closely.

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One thing to watch out for, the original CZ527 varmint rifles has a 1:12″ twist, and if you plan to shoot anything over 55gr, this could be a problem. About 2 years ago (2002) CZ switched to a 1:9″ barrel, which is what my test example has. But, some of those 1:12″ rifles may still be in circulation. In searching for affordable ammo, and making an acceptable compromise for long-range practice, I decided I would focus primarily on 55gr BT bullets, which is what the M193 original NATO 5.56 Ball ammo is.

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The 527 Varmint comes with a lighter weight heavy barrel, I would guess a 5 or 5.5 target contour. Its 24″ long and hammer forged. It has a recessed target crown. The action is the CZ527 action which is a modified “mini” mauser action. It’s only long enough for the .223 size calibers, and this rifle is only currently available in .223. Like all CZ’s, the actions have integral scope mounting bases (like Ruger). This caused more of a headache for locating rings (I ended up going with CZ rings) but this is changing, as Burris and Leupold have recently introduced compatible rings. There is a 5 round detachable box magazine that is decently enough built, and functioned without any problems. Though I’m still trying to get used to the magazine release. Currently it’s a bit stiff and clumsy, but it should get better. The bolt is typical mauser “claw” extractor and works well. Over all, the action is smooth and pleasant to use. The trigger is a single “set” trigger, and frankly, I don’t like it. Set triggers (especially single ones) have no place on tactical rifles, and is borderline on varmint rifles. Though they work well on competition rifles. I didn’t measure it official, but when “Set” the trigger is under a pound of pull, and I would guess 10-14 oz somewhere. In reality, the set trigger works well, but I shoot not using the set feature. If you do not set the trigger, it operates as a traditional trigger, but not a very good one. The pull is about 4-5 lbs, which isn’t too bad, BUT, the take up is long, with a distinct notch in it. Once you feel the notch, there is slightly more creep, another notch and finally a release. After as nice as the set trigger is, I was a bit bummed about this mode of operation. Once I got used to it, I was able to get the rifle to perform. Now, I might be able to clean that pull up some, or have a professional gunsmith do it.

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I mounted a Burris Fullfield II 3-9x40mm with ballisticplex. Mounted using CZ medium height 1″ rings. I’ll have a review of the Burris scope up in just a few weeks. I broke the rifle in during initial zero, and used PMC 223 55gr ammo. After the formalities were done, I came back a week later for evaluation, and then another trip a week after that. During the evaluation I used various factory loads, including Federal Gold Medal Match 69gr, BlackHills 52gr Match, PMC 55gr and US Issued M193. The PMC is their bulk loading, and cheap price, and as I had hoped, it shoots right around 1 MOA. In terms of the federal loading, the 69gr bullets require a 1:8″ twist to stabilize and I wanted to try them in the CZ. Well, I couldn’t defeat physics again. While the bullets never tumbled or acted weird, the groups were sporadic and not consistent with an average size of around 1.3 MOA. We got a few groups to go sub MOA, but not consistent enough. The bullets just didn’t stabilize enough in the 1:9″ twist. The Blackhills 52gr match performed very well, achieving the best accuracy of all the loads we tried. Average group size was about .65″ with a low of .43″. Unfortunately, its a flat base bullet, and doesn’t do well at longer ranges. Now, the most surprising development was the pleasant performance of military issue (Lake City) M193 55gr ammo. This is military ball ammo, and was extremely consistent. Group sizes ran from .62″ to .84″ With an average right around .75 for all groups!! This was an extremely pleasant discovery and I want to try a couple of other lots to be sure its consistent but so far, so good! Here are some of the groups shot

pmcgroup lcgroup fedgroup bhgroup

Conclusions: The CZ527 lived up to its billing, its a very accurate out of the box rifle. I don’t like the trigger, but I’ve also seen worse. The action is smooth, the magazine operation a little clunky, but the rifle is comfortable. The light weight of 7.5 lbs (less optics) make the rifle very handy to carry. It has a short overall length and would make a very good urban tactical rifle. The .223 caliber is not sufficient to trust hostages lives with, but some areas do not have the choice, and are limited to .223. This would make a fine option, especially with some trigger work done.

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31 Comments

DEAN TEASLEY

Thank you for your informative review of the CZ 527 223 varmit. I`m looking to buy one and needed little more information on the particulars of this one.

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Jimd

I’m trying to break the one inch barrier with my CZ 527 Varmint. I’m going to try a 63 gr bullet at about 3050 fps. No luck with 55 grainer or 45. The gun is consistent. I will try the ammos you did well with before I go and reload a bunch of them. Very straightforward uncomplicated review and gave me a new starting point to try and achieve accuracy. Thanks and God Bless.

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Mel Ewing

Our pleasure! Do try some of the other grains and see what happens. The 527 has a 1:9″ rate of twist which will allow you to go as high as 69gr bullets.

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Benjamin Mcintosh

Try the hornady 40 grain vmax in the 527 varmint. Mine loves them! Will group 5 shots under one inch at 200 yards

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Earl keim ii

My cz is several years old,nice wood stock it likes most 52 grain balls with Barger and W748 in warm weather.
also does well with 55 grain.
Ifor I am having good day she will spit out a fair share of sub .5 and sub moan never a problem love the set trigger. Without the set I get a chuckle.. EARL KEIM II Be Well

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James Creager

I used Miller’s stability and twist formula to figure a 55 grain V-Max in my 527 varmint with a 1-12 twist and the result was 1-11.4 twist for optimum long range accuracy. I am shooting groundhogs @ 400 yds. I love the 1-12 twist.

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Mel Ewing

Good info, and that is about correct. The 1:12″ is excellent for 55gr. It doesn’t handle the heavier bullets though.

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James Creager

I could be off on the Millers formula but I know it was closer to the 1-12. I only use 53 or 55 grain though like you said. Great review on the rifle … you did a super job. Is it so that some of the rifles are stamped 1-12 but are really a 1-9 twist? Thanks. God Bless.

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Earl keim ii

Where is the twist stamped on the rifle? I have the1 12 twist to best of my knowledge. The gun does not seem to be stamped with twist rate. It loves 52 and 55 grain balls. Yesterday day seven groups produced three sub .5 and the remaining were all under moa. This was an excellent day for the gun and I both I love the gun and 4 to 16 Monarch scope. Would like to know the rate of twist zThank you E S Keim II

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mele-02

Unfortunately they never stamped the twist on the barrel, the only way to know for sure is to measure it. A crude way to do it, but should work, is to put a cleaning patch on a cleaning rod and then mark how far it takes for the rod to rotate around once while slowly pushing the rod into the barrel. You can use pieces of tape to mark the rod, etc.

Suzanne Davis

Good article- thanks.
I have had my 527 FS for about 2 1/2 years. It has the 9″ twist. I use Nosler ballistic 55 gr with 24.5 g powder . Need to trim the neck of cartridge mos of the time as chambering on mine is very exact.
I have noticed a distinct difference in groups from cold barrel to those with hot barrel. Did you experience that at all. I shoot 5 rounds and then start real shooting.
I (most days) have groups of 5 in about 1 1/2″ at 100 yards. I want to go to 200. I’ve been told to get another rifle. Your opinion?

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Mel Ewing

Is yours the varmint version? The one we tested was quiet accurate, well under 1 MOA.

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Paul Cournoyer

One other thing I thought of. try to get your “run out”, bullet out of round down to one thousandth or less. Simple trick I learned from a friend is to rotate your cases 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 as you seat the bullet. This will help to center the bullet in the case thus, fingers crossed, the bullet will enter the bore straight. I have a Hornady tool that I use to check concentricity and adjust as needed. Usually out of the press I’m inside the thousandth.

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Paul Cournoyer

I have a CZ527 Varmint in .223 purchased with a 1in 9 twist in 2012. Ran chamber tests on it and averaged 2.986 on 5 comparator tests. Shooting single shot as my OAL is set to 2.970. I also have a tight chamber and have neck turned my brass as well as uniformed the primer pocket. I trim the brass every time. Currently group size is +/- 1/2″ @100 yds.

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Jim

I am about to buy one for twilight fox hunts. 1:9 twist, tested trigger in shop, crisp and no travel in either set or normal. Stock has the most character ever in a wood stock. Mounting a Leupold vx2 4-12 x 50 on Leupold rings. May consider the 3-9 x 50 but I like the higher magnification. That and the land is flat and open and foxes wont come too close. I am going to start with hunting loads as accuracy is only good to me if I can take foxes and goats effectively. Will start with some sako 50gr BT noslers and see how it goes. Work my way up from there and will be sure to post the results. Liked everything about it at the shop, excepts that the magazine sure is clunky.

P.s. In Australia they cost $1250 which is roughly $950USD so it might be expensive to you, but I think you got a bargain =P

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Jim

So I have since picked up the rifle and so far only put 40 or so rounds through it.

I went for a Leupold VX3 4.5-14×50 in the end which is an incredible piece of work for the price. The modified”range finding” standard duplex reticle provides very close to accurate ranging if used correctly.

Enough about the scope, lets talk rifle. The trigger on mine is very impressive in both settings, though I seem to be better with the standard setting. The pull is almost exactly 2lb on mine right out of the box.

I can provide photos if anyone wants to see them. I was getting .8″ groups at 200yds with Sellier & Bellot 55gr SP, .74″ at 200yds with an Australian brand (OSA Buffalo River) Sierra Game kings I think they were BTSP. The far more expensive Sako 50gr BT Nozlers have only had 3 shots at 100yds but I was putting bullets through bullet holes.

Looking forward to taking it down to a range for some more serious testing as all of this was just off the bi-pod in the field. Not that that is a bad test, its like he exact field I hunt in so seeing what it can do going prone on the real field with all the same gear I use for hunting. It is proving to be a great gun. I will need to measure out a 400 and 500 yd range and get some medium range results.

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Tim Arkebauer

I have a 527 with the laminated stock. Out of the box, at best I was getting 1.5″ 100yd groups. Once I realized how bad the factory bedding was, and rebedding it with some quick steel two part epoxy, the rifle came to life! It is a consistent cloverleaf rifle… Oh, I should also mention that mine is likely a 1/12 because it loves 40-45 grain bullets. Even factory ammo is always sub moa. It works magic on coyotes. No exit wound and the only way to figure out where you hit them is to feel for the very large mushy spot in the body that used to be bone and mussel.

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Jack Therwhanger

I just purchased a walnut stocked 1:9 varmint and used medium Warne CZ mounts and an almost unused USA Burris 3-9 Ballistic plex FFII. I took it off a 9.3 because of short eye relief. No problem on the .223. Glad to hear the LC performed well as I have a can of that in bandoleers.

I will be looking for a do everything ranch bullet to handle everything from porcupine, to coyotes, to deer and pigs. The 60 NP might work except for price. Suggestions?

Thanks

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jeff

I also have the 527. this a varmint not a tactical and the older 1:12 were more accurate. i feel kinda taken after buying one and figure out its no longer a varmint twist , instead some generic manufactured 1:9. my own fault for not questioning things more. i like the set triggers but do not like the feed from the clip, its rough and tends to damage bullets. accuracy is still not acceptable but its a fairly new gun so im hopeful. not the quality gun i was expecting!

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JPH

With Hornady 75 grain BTHP match bullets and H4895 powder, my CZ 527 Kevlar Varmint shoots 5-shot groups of 0.75″ at 200 yards. I have broken my rifle in on prairie dog towns, with hundreds of rounds through the rifle. I have owned 4 CZ rifles. They all shot vastly superior than the factory supplied test target with custom handloads. The reviewer seems to never have made use of the adjustable trigger feature. The first thing you should do to improve a CZ rifle is send a few hundred rounds downrange. The most I ever had to do to get sub-MOA accuracy was glass bed the action on one CZ 550 that had a bit of a double-grouping problem and a wood stock. It still shot under 1″ at 100 yards even before bedding with custom handloads.

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Mel Ewing

Yes, that is correct, we never adjusted or made modifications to the rifle. When possible, we leave the rifles we are reviewing just as they were when they were shipped from the factory.

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Saeed niazi

I have recently purchased Czech-223 made USA . I have NATO ammo 5.56 x 45 with me please advise can I use this ammo. Thanks

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Mel Ewing

You will need to contact CZ to be sure. We have fired it through the one we had here, but that DOES NOT MEAN IT WAS SAFE. Please contact CZ before firing any to verify that you are not endangering your life.

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Ronald Belcher

I am waiting on my CZ 527 American .223 to be shipped in from Buds. Great timing on the review. I have a 4-12-44 vortex scope to mount on it. Can’t wait to put some rounds down range. Loading 55 gr. FMBT Berries. Using H335 powder 24 gr. Trimmed the brass and loaded up some. Waiting for the weekend.

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Earl S Keim II

I love mine bought it about a year past but think it is one of the older 1 12 laminated stock models .Once broken in it will shoot sub moa when I am having a fair day. In fact with proper hand loads I can get sub .5 at times, for 100 yds The gun loves Hornady 40 grain and most 52 grain balls with 26.5 grain of W748 The main trigger is so so but love the set Going out now to shoot some of the above loads. The gun looks beautiful and for the price it is a bargain would love to have one in .243- Try some of the 52 grain mentioned, think you will be pleased. Great little gun!

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jerry may

How does this varmint gun compare to the Savage 25 lightweight varminter in .223? I’m concidering one or the other. M.o.a, quality?

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mele-02

The one that we tested here was very accurate and I would say the accuracy was perhaps better than the Sav 25, but we have not done a full review on the savage to know for sure. The CZ has a mini mauser action, so if you prefer that style action (or not), that may be a deciding factor

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Shangai

Does anybody know – longest OAL which can be used in detachable magazine?
I’m very interested to buy this rifle…

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