CZ 750 S1M1

CZ 750 S1M1
Caliber: .308 Win (7.62x51mm NATO)
Barrel: Hammer Forged, Heavy Contour
Barrel Length: 26" (660mm)
Twist: RH 1:12"
Weight (Rifle only): 11.9 lbs (5.4 kg)
Overall Length: 48.0" (1219mm)
Magazine: CZ double stack 10 Round Detachable Box
Trigger: Match, single stage set at 3.5 lbs
Stock: Synthetic
Metal Finish: Matte Blue
Price: About $2000 (2012 prices)

The rifle reviewed here is the CZ 750 S1M1 which is their standard purpose built sniper rifle. CZ offers several other sniper rifles as well, but the 750 has been their bread and butter sniper rifle for a number of years now. The CZ 750 M1 is a direct replacement rifle for their original CZ 700 M1 rifle which was one of their rifle which was one of their first, if not their first, forays into the sniper rifle market. The CZ 700 actually used a different action than their standard CZ 550 Mauser style action and it utilized an adjustable laminated wood stock with flush mounted 10 round magazine and some other unique features. The CZ 750 M1 replaced the 700 model some years back and has been a standard offering from CZ since then. Because of its purpose built designation and the fact that the Czech Republic uses it as a sniper rifle, we determined it was time to give the 750 M1 a run through and see how well the rifle stacks up against other mid-priced duty rifles. The price of the 750 is listed at $2000 (2012 dollars) and they can be had for a bit less than that if you shop around. This squares it off with some of the higher end Remington tactical rifles, Steyr SSG-69s, Kimber 8400 tacticals, the Weatherby TRR and a few other rifles in the $1500-$2000 price range.

The stock on the 750 M1 is a fiberglass synthetic stock with what appears to be a thick, all black, epoxy style painted finish. The finish is a semi-flat black color that does have a slight texture, though the finish it is a bit slick when handled, especially when moist. The finish reminds us of the standard black finish on the HS Precision M24 stocks. There is a sharply curved padded butt plate on the rifle and the length of pull is adjustable by using spacers. There is also a unique adjustable cheek piece that rises up and down once the tightening mechanism is loosened. To loosen and tighten the lock mechanism the operator flips up a hinged finger hold and twists counter-clockwise to loosen and clockwise to tighten. It is a simple and effective system that seems to hold the cheekpiece in place well. We had no problems with it coming loose during our testing time with the rifle. The cheekpiece itself has a sharp angle on it which was slightly uncomfortable and a bit more rounded, or contoured, cheekpiece would be welcomed. The stock also has a butthook beneath the rear buttplate to allow the operator to easily use a sandsock in conjunction with hocking their non-shooting hand around this hook area to hold the rifle firmly in the pocket of the shoulder.

The stock has a vertical thumbhole pistol grip which is nicely contoured to allow for a comfortable natural grip for the shooting hand and places the trigger finger in the proper location for a good trigger pull. In front of the trigger guard the stock is fairly deep to allow for a nearly flush fitting magazine and then the stock tapers up toward the forearm. The forearm itself is flat in both the length and width to allow for a solid resting platform on sandbags and other rests and it is also a good mounting platform for a bipod. There is an accessory rail that runs the length of the forearm to allow for attaching sling points, hand rails or other devices beyond just a bipod. The forearm is also fairly deep giving it a 'tall' and deep feeling rather than low and wide such as on a McMillan A5 forearm design. The stock on a whole is functional and aside from the angle on the cheekpiece, a comfortable stock to shoot with.

The heart of the rifle is the standard CZ 550 action which is based on the venerable Mauser 98, but with some of their own changes. The 550/750 action of course includes a claw extractor, which insures a very positive control round feed and extraction and on the CZ 750 the main bolt body is made of a polished steel without any finish. While the claw extractor actions are not typically as smooth as a push feed design, such as a Remington 700, they do provide a more reassuring feed and extract operation and typically prove to be very effective long term in the field. During our testing the CZ 750 never had a feed or extraction problem of any type and always fed and extracted in a positive manner.

One very distinct difference between the CZ 550/750 action and the Mauser 98 is the safety. Instead of the traditional Mauser three position safety located up on the shroud, the CZ has a two position safety located along the right side of the rear tang, similar in location to the Remington 700. When the safety is engaged, which can only be done when the bolt is cocked, it locks the bolt preventing the handle from being raised, either accidentally or intentionally. While this can be a good safety feature, it also prevents the operator from being able to unload the chambered round while the rifle is on safe, though a detachable magazine at least makes it that this is only the case for the one chambered round as the rest can quickly be unloaded from the rifle by removing the magazine.

On the left side of the rear tang is the bolt release lever. When the bolt is pulled to the rear, pressing this lever forward allows the bolt to be pulled back and free of the rifle. Nothing fancy, and it works effectively. The bolt itself has a large rear shroud with the rear of the firing pin protruding from an opening in the shroud to allow for a visual indicator that the firing pin is cocked and ready to fire. The bolt does not have the large bolt handle that was present on the CZ 700, but instead has just the traditional CZ 550 round bolt knob. The action itself is a medium length action which means it is a bit longer than a standard short action typically used with a 308 rifle. As such, the bolt stroke is just a bit longer than a normal .308 rifle, but unless this is pointed out, it is really not noticeable.

The trigger is claimed as being a single stage match trigger and the trigger shoe itself is less curved and more vertical than most triggers on rifles today. This more vertical, non-curved shape seems to help with a good trigger squeeze. The shoe is also smooth and fairly thin which some may like, and others may not. Using our trigger scale we measured the trigger pull at an average of 3.75 lbs, but it was not very consistent with readings from 3.5 up to 4.0 lbs, and everything in between. Also, the trigger has some take-up and is not what we would consider smooth when compared to other match triggers. Honestly, it feels like it just needs a good trigger job by a competent gunsmith to smooth things up and really make it a good trigger.

The rifle utilize a double stack detachable box magazine that holds 10 rounds of .308 ammunition. The fact that it is a double stack magazine allows it to be kept fairly short in terms of height and with the deeper stock it is nearly flush fitting like its predecessor the CZ 700. The magazine also has a rubber "wrap" around it to help the magazine not rattle and make noise when there are only a few rounds in it and it is secured in the rifle. The construction of the magazine appears to be all steel and they appear to be well made and the rifle does come with two magazines from the factory. The magazine release is found inside the trigger guard toward the front and the magazine is easily dropped by pressing this release forward with the trigger finger. The trigger guard itself is large and will easily accommodate a gloved hand and finger.

The barrel is a hammer forged heavy contour barrel with a length of 26", not counting the muzzlebrake which adds about another inch. The diameter of the barrel is .946" at the muzzle which is thicker than many other heavy barreled rifles on the market today. The barrel has 4 lands and grooves with a 1:12" twist rate. The muzzlebrake itself has chambers that direct gasses to the side and back to help reduce recoil and the shape of the chambers is also designed to reduce muzzleflip as well as not stir up dust during firing. A unique feature not normally found on sniper rifles but found on the CZ is the provision to attach a barrel band, or mirage band, to the rifle. Barrel bands are flat bands, usually made with a semi elastic cloth that is held slightly above the barrel to block the heat from the barrel so that it prevents a mirage from distorting the image through the scope. These are commonly found on match rifles but due to their shape and the fact that they tend to get in the way and make it difficult to apply camoflage to the barrel, sniper rifles do not tend to have them. The CZ 750 does come with one as part of the package from the factory but for the above mentioned reasons, we did not utilize it on the test rifle.

All of the metal work on the rifle, excluding the bolt, is finished in a satin matte bluing with a nice overall appearance. Due to the long and thick barrel the rifle has considerable heft, weighing nearly 12 pounds (5.45 kg) without any optics or accessories attached. As mentioned previously the finish on the stock is a bit slick and one must be careful not to lose grip on the rifle when picking it up in certain conditions. The overall fit and finish of the rifle is of decent enough quality for a factory built rifle in this price range.

This is another rifle that is destined for long term use in the SC testing armory and as such a suitable optic needed to be matched to the rifle. Based off of the stated designed accuracy goal by CZ for the rifle to have a max effective range of 800 meters, we determined that a fixed power optic with a similar range and country of origin would make a good match. Apparently the Czech Army uses the CZ750 M1 combined with a Meopta scope, but the correct Meopta has eluded us up to this point, but an IOR Valdada 10x56mm with illuminated MP8 reticle seemed like it might be a suitable partner for the CZ. Before we mounted the permanent scope to the rifle and conducted our long range evaluation, we thought it would be best to use our higher powered Leupold 6.5-20x50mm test scope to perform some 100 yard accuracy tests in an effort to help us get the most accuracy out of the rifle.

The CZ comes with a picatinny rail that is already attached to the rifle. Alternately, the rifle also has standard CZ 19mm slotted groves, or dovetail, on top of the action if the owner wished to mount the scope rings directly to the action. We wished to utilize the benefits of the universal picatinny rails on all of our rifles so we used the provided rail and mounted the Leupold using Leupold Mk4 medium height rings, the lowest height tactical rings available from Leupold. It became immediately apparent that the rail on the CZ is very tall as the scope was held very high off of the rifle. The adjustable cheekpiece made it no problem to easily align the shooter to the scope, but it is still desirable to have the scope mounted as low as possible without touching the barrel and a recommendation to CZ would be to create a lower rail for use on the 750 M1.

With the Leupold scope mounted and loaded up with two of our favorite accuracy factory loads we headed out to the range one two separate occasions to perform the accuracy tests using three round groups at 100 yards. The weather on both days was sunny and in the mid 80's Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) with just a slight breeze. The results are posted below:

Ammo Average Best Average MOA
HSM 168gr Sierra Match King.944".794".90 MOA
Federal Gold Medal Match 168gr1.003".610".96 MOA

You probably noticed that the accuracy of the 168gr Match King match loads was not what we would consider stellar accuracy. Those two loads will typically shoot very well in just about any quality rifle so this had us scratching our heads a little. The accuracy was not terrible, but not as good as we expected either. After these tests we mounted the permanent IOR 10x56mm scope to the rifle and needed to zero it. We planned to use the HSM 168gr AMAX load for the long range tests due to that bullet being better for long range use than the 168gr Sierra Match King, so we headed to the range again to zero the rifle and scope using this ammo. We only fired two groups for zero, with the first group measuring .884", which was about the same as the other loads, and then we rattled off the second group which was a phenomenal .236". Because we only fired two groups with this ammo, which is not enough to make it statistically valid, we did not include the results in the table above. Since this was the load we wanted to zero the rifle with and use consistently in the future, we do plan to get back to the 100 yard range to see if this load may actually be a good accuracy match for the rifle.

For the long range tests we took the CZ to the Butte shooting range to stretch its legs out with shooting out to the 800 yard mark using only the HSM 168gr AMAX load and the IOR 10x56mm scope. This combination proved to be effective with very consistent hits out past 700 yards including head shots in medium wind (8-12 mph). All of the long range firing was done with an attached Harris bipod and a sand sock at the rear of the rifle. Due to the heavy weight of the rifle and an effective muzzlebrake, the recoil of the CZ was rated as very mild and the strongly curved recoil pad held the rifle in place on the shoulder quite well. The trigger continued to be a sour point with its inconsistent and notchy trigger pull, not what one would expect with a higher end rifle. Another negative was that when single feeding the rifle and firing with an empty magazine, every couple of rounds the magazine would detach and fall from the rifle during recoil. This never happened with ammo in the magazine, but was an annoyance and is considered a defect for the rifle. When we pulled the barreled action from the stock (see below) and examined what the problem might be, everything looked good and we could find no manufacturing defects and we have labeled it as a potential flaw in design.

Due to the accuracy not being as good as we had hoped for the rifle, after the tests we pulled the barreled action from the stock to see how the bedding looked and discovered that the actions are not glass bedded, unless you consider two tiny dabs of glass resin about a quarter of an inch wide where the recoil lug seats as being glass bedded (we do not). There are also two aluminum sleeves where the action screws go up through the stock, but they are not glassed in and are not sturdy or thick enough to be considered pillars. A good glass bedding job would probably be the number one priority for someone looking to improve performance on their CZ 750 M1.

With the CZ 750 M1 being built as a purpose built sniper rifle as well as it being used in the Czech military, we had some high hopes for the rifle. But with its average accuracy and other shortcomings such as the dropping magazine, we were a bit disappointed. The rifle does have many good things going for it, such as the 10 round DBM, mild recoil, claw extractor and nicely adjustable stock, so underneath it all lays a good foundation. But for a purpose built sniper rifle, it still needs some work to bring it to its full potential. A glass bedding job, trigger job, lower profile picatinny rail, and some tweaking to the magazine latching mechanism are all things we would consider must do items before using it as a full time duty rifle. There may need to be some chamber and truing work that needs to happen to the barrel and action as well if improved accuracy is desired. The rifle did average 1 MOA which is the minimum we consider acceptable for combat snipers, so in reality, it does get the intended job done and we did have good success with it engaging man size targets at longer ranges. But we do feel there is more potential left in the rifle and we hope that CZ will make improvements in the future.

Sniper Central, Sep 2012

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