This edition of Pot-Shot pays tribute to one of the classic .22 rifles of the 20th century. Produced over seven decades and appearing in various guises, the current version of the .22 Long Rifle CZ 455 Lux is a rifle that has a proud heritage stretching back to the 1940’s. This article looks at the fascinating history behind a tried and trusted favorite that has been used by several generations of shooters.
Czechoslovakia has a longstanding history regarding the manufacture of quality firearms. The firms of Brno (Zbrojovka Brno) and CZ (?eskoslovenská Zbrojovka) both boast rich histories as designers and makers of fine sporting and military firearms.
?eská zbrojovka Uherský Brod, or ?ZUB, was first established on 27 June 1936 as a branch of the ?eská zbrojovka Strakonice armament firm in the town of Uherský Brod in Czechoslovakia, now in the Czech Republic. The decision was made in the light of the rising power of Nazi Germany’s expansionism, with the aim of moving the manufacturing of firearms further away from the German border. After the German invasion and during World War Two the Czechoslovakian armament factories fell under direct German control, and the manufacture of existing firearms models continued, with the aim of producing firearms for use by the German military forces.
After World War Two all the Czechoslovakian firearms manufacturers returned to manufacturing firearms for their country’s own use. The firms now were managed by a single central agency, which stipulated that "any firearm exported will bear the BRNO markings". This is why many ?ZUB firearms, even those made in Uherský Brod or Strakonice, bear BRNO markings.
One of the earliest post-war rifles supplied by Brno to foreign markets was the Brno Model 1 rifle which appeared in 1947. It was chambered in .22 Long Rifle caliber and featured a handsome walnut stock with a 21 7/8 inch barrel. It proved to be an instant success and gained rapid traction with foreign consumers who appreciated the fine quality, accuracy and good value for money that this rifle offered.
The Model 1 was developed at the request of the occupying German authority in 1943-44, when a very limited number of rifles were built as fully stocked Mauser 98k type trainers. The receivers of these early .22 training rifles were marked tgf (Tschechische Gewehr Fabrik - German for Czech Rifle Factory) by the German Heereswaffenamt. Because of wartime requirements for combat weapons, assembly and production was halted on all .22 training rifles, leaving a large stockpile of parts and receivers at war's end. After the war, these parts (some of which still have the tgf code) were used along with new barrels and stocks to create the Brno Model 1.
With CZ/Brno’s experience in manufacturing different variants of the famous Mauser K98 rifle and the request by German authorities for a miniature version of their standard issue military rifle, it followed that elements of this famous design would be incorporated in the new little rimfire rifle. While the Brno Model 1 was not a true copy of the Mauser K98, it resembled Model B type Mausers very closely in terms of general appearance and operation.
The Model 1 Brno rifles were among the more desirable .22 sporters ever made. They featured twin locking lugs, twin extractors, and five-shot magazines that did not protrude noticeably. Other features included forged bolt handles and solid metalwork, ramped front sights and 3-leaf u-notch backsights, and graceful walnut stocks with schnabel fore-end tips. Consumers appreciated the fact that the Model 1 was built like a proper rifle and also looked like a proper rifle. Manufacture of the Model 1 continued until the mid-1950’s before a slightly improved version, the Model 2, was launched in 1954.
The CZ 455 Lux version is the latest incarnation of this classic rifle. The new model of the CZ 455 rimfire rifle is still based on the classic design, but incorporates several improvements affecting most of the main parts of the rifle.
It features a lacquered stock made from Turkish walnut with checkering on the pistol grip. The rear sight is adjustable for elevation and windage in the wide range of distances, and the receiver has a factory milled dovetail 11 mm (0.43 in.) wide for the rifle scope mount. The CZ 455 Lux comes with a 5 round polymer magazine with an option to buy a 10 round magazine.
Using new knowledge when making the barrel’s muzzle (acquired in the course of development and manufacture of firearms designed for hunting at long distances) has allowed shortening of the barrel while retaining CZ’s traditional high accuracy.
Stock improvements have been made by optimizing the grip ergonomics in the pistol grip area. A new method of connecting the barrelled-action with the stock is now done with only two screws. This allows for improved interface securing, simpler tightening and superior appearance. The use of a cold hammer forged barrel has also been retained along with a receiver made from a single billet of high quality steel.
CZ’s customary uncompromising care for details remains present on each new rifle and the CZ 455 Lux continues the proud heritage of its predecessors to ensure that this is also a rifle to be used by several generations of shooters.
The suggested retail price for the CZ 455 Lux is approximately R9,500 incl. VAT.
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