Thursday, April 10, 2008

Watch out you wily woodchucks . . . .

I've been meaning to be back in touch with Yeoman about his rifle advice from last year. Since our exchange here on the blog I have picked up two smallbore guns, a CZ 527 in .223 Rem, and a Tikka T3 Lite in .243 . (I also picked up a CZ .22lr military trainer, which I and my kids absolutely love.) Here's my report so far:

CZ 527 American
Yeoman, while I think I've come to agree with you about the CZ's overall quality compared with the Tikka, let me tell you that it seems to me CZ makes you work for it. This .223 CZ gun has a very rough bolt and very rough magazine feeding. The bolt was so bad that the gunsmith at the store offered to polish it for me as a warranty repair before I even took it home.

The CZ also makes it hard (though not impossible) to mount a scope, due to (a) the short action, but also (b) the clearance needed between the scope and the bolt handle. I ended up fitting a very nice 4x14.5 x40 Nikon Buckmasters scope on it, but I won't be able to put flip-up scope caps on it.

The good news is that the .223 shoots well and seems to like (so far) Black Hills remanufactured ammo with 55 grain soft points. The set trigger is also kind of fun to play with--basically a hair trigger once it's set.

So basically the main issue is that I've got to wait for the action eventually to smooth out after shooting it a bunch more.

Tikka T3 Lite
Here's more good news. This thing shoots. I've got a Nikon Buckmasters 3X9X40 with a BDC reticle I'm not sure I need. But lookee here--at 160 yards with Federal Premium 70 grain Nosler Ballistic tips:

These rounds will go an inch high at 100 yards and an inch low at 200 yards--about right for the fields around here. While 70 grains through a .243 seems like overkill for groundhogs, one thing I learned from the elephant gun video . . . it pays to use enough gun.

Watch out you wily woodchucks.


Dr. Dirt said...

Jim, you are the most serious varmint hunter I know. Oh to make the mistake of being a woodchuck on the Tantarlow ranch.

PS I have a bottle of cachaca awaiting our next trip to Cayuga and the preparation of caipirinhas. I wonder if it goes well with varmint hunting?

Yeoman said...


I'm sorry to hear your .223 had a rough bolt. Indeed, I'm disturbed to hear it. CZs generally uniformly exhibit high quality, and your report on the bolt does not meet with what I, and others, generally expect from them.

Some 98s (which is what CZs are) have rougher than average bolt strokes, but still that isn't what I'd expect. I'd contact CZ about it.

FWIW, a co-worker of mine also picked up a CZ on my recommendation over the past year, this one in .300 Win Mag, and he is very pleased with it (thank goodness!). Still, I'm disappointed to learn that you weren't completely happy with yours.

Yeoman said...

Jim, following up (as I'm distressed and surprised) did you find the CZ's bolt to be noticeably rougher than other 98s. Off hand, is it considerably rougher than Remington's import 98, (798), or the Ruger evolved 98, the M77MkII?

Yeoman said...

Here's the thread Jim mentioned (I tried to bring it up with a current comment, but then I realized there isn't one of those "last commented on" sidebars here.

Yeoman said...

Well, that didn't work (posting the link).

Well, suffice it to say, as I tried to note on the other post I was trying to bump up, liking CZs so much, it's disappointing to hear of an instance where one didn't work out. Also, it causes me to think that I'd best save rifle advice for where my victims can see me in person, so if it doesn't work out, at least I'm there to share the grief!

Grousers' Jim Tantillo said...

Yo, Yeoman! (what is your first name, anyway?) You shouldn't feel guilty in the least. I think it's still a fine gun and a good shooter. I just wanted the caliber--I had a choice of a CZ in 22-250 at full price versus the .223 marked down (probably because of the bolt). I had full disclosure. The 22-250's action was sweet, and what led me to ask the house gunsmith to work on the .223.

While I'm tempted to try sending it to CZ-USA, I've read on some of the CZ boards that if the gun is functioning, they don't consider it a warranty repair. But I also think you've got to get the CZ gunsmith ("Mike") on a good day.

We'll see how it goes. Some lapping compound and some time just working the bolt should make it smoother over time. And like I said, it's a good shooter so far. I'm having trouble finding the Federal Premium ammo for it, that's what I suspect I'll end up with for groundhogs.

Yeoman said...


My real first name is Pat.

Yeoman said...

Jim, do you not reload? With .223 being an easy to burn through ammo, you might want to consider it. I've reloaded .223 for many years for that reason.

Grousers' Jim Tantillo said...

I don't reload . . . at least not yet. I got started in shooting when I was about 20 doing black powder. For ten yor so years I cast my own bullets, played with sights, lubes, swaging dies, you name it, I played with it. And got kind of sick of it, frankly.

But I take it that reloading centerfire cartridges is a lot less complicated. :-)

I am tempted, though, to try it. I know the cheap Lee reloading "beginner's kit" runs about $100 (without dies), but that better reloading equipment runs about $400-500 or thereabouts. So I'm tempted to try it at some point. I'm a newbie when it comes to modern rifles, so I've got to see how much shooting I think I'll be doing before investing in reloading gear.

mdmnm said...

I'm surprised at your CZ experience-bummer. I picked up a CZ 527 American in .223 a couple of years ago and the bolt on it is fine. Not as smooth as it will be after a few thousand rounds, but nothing bad. I had a Pentax 3x9 that went on with no trouble and it will shoot a couple different factory loads/reloads within an inch at a hundred so long as the bullets are under 60 grains. Since your .243 is dialed in, maybe it would be worth sending it back to CZ USA to see if they won't work on it a bit.

By the by- great blog!