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CZ 527 Carbine


For some time now my favorite light rifle has been my “Black Marlin”. It remains one of my absolute favorite rifles of all time. However, now there is a challenger for the #1 slot.

The USA doesn't have much in the terms of Light Rifles. Here, a light rifle is the M1 Carbine or an old Lever Action or a Rim Fire. Most of the small caliber centerfire rifles are actually big heavy bull barreled varminters. If you want something different, the options are thin.

CZ has been making a nice little light rifle since the 1930's but they have not been available in the USA. Now they are, and now they are and we even have it in a real .30 caliber cartridge capable of taking medium sized game. These guns have been nicknamed “Mini-Mausers” because that is exactly what it is. CZ simply scaled the classic Mauser action down and now we have a slick little carbine that weighs a scant 5.9 pounds.

You can get different versions of the 527 in different squirrel rifle calibers, barrel types, lengths and what not. And they are all brilliant, but the one I am especially smitten with is the Carbine version chambered for 7.62X39MM.

The carbine has an 18.5 inch barrel that feels shorter than it is. The gun feels like it is lighter than it is. And the gun handles far better than it has any right to. It handles so well, the thing is like the centerfire equivalent of a sports car. I know a large majority of my readers have not seen the film “The Graduate”. But those that have, know what I'm talking about here... the Alpha Romeo Spyder was “The Sportscar” for a whole generate of people around the world. While the Alpha is no hot rod and makes no records in terms of performance, but for those who have driven one... that's it. You don't need any more... it is just right. Top down cruising on a warm sunny day with a pretty girl in the passenger seat... does it get any better than that?

Well, this 527 Carbine is the same thing. It has the classic lines... it reminds me of the SMLE rifles, with the stubby little 5 round magazine sticking out. While some guys look sideways at it, I really dig it. This is a European gun, and I like that European look to it. This isn't an American gun, so it doesn't bother me that it doesn't look typical American. It also reminds me of a small African Safari type rifle. I just wish it had the European style stock... that would have been perfect.

It also has great handling just like those little Alphas. In 7.62X39MM, the little gun is potent enough for serious work. It can put meat on the table. It can keep the Huns at bay. It can be a pleasure to shoot just for fun. For smaller framed folks, it remain easy to shoot. My 11 year olds had no problem with it. They could shoulder it, and fire it, and by the grins generated, they enjoyed it.

One of the things that good handling help in, is making hits come naturally. My 14 year old son, the first time he fired it, was able to nail a hub cap at a solid 500 yards. I told him the hold over, he pulled it up and fired. Dead bang on. Easy. That's what it is all about.

Accuracy with the 7.62X39MM is not spectacular. The cartridge its self is just not inherently accurate... but it isn't inaccurate. It isn't random. It consistently shoots 2 inch groups at 100 yards with most ammunition. Using the single set trigger (more on that in a bit) and some commercial grade rounds one can bring the group down to an inch and a half. A lot of guys that read too many gun magazines and refer to them as “Gun Porn”... they focus too much on published group sizes. Gun writers are doing the shooting public no favors by concentrating the article around tables of loads and the group sizes. When it comes to practical accuracy, most shooters when they are not on a bench, are shooting between 2 and 3 inches anyway. Let me put it this way, when shooting off hand, I'm just as accurate with the 527 Carbine as I am with any of my other rifles. It keeps up.

I will be doing some performance testing on the 7.62X39MM and the .30-30 Winchester... and that information will be linked here.

The gun is not without warts. Mounting a scope is a challenge. The bases are a part of the receiver, and much like Ruger rifles, require specialized rings. Do to the short action and limited mounting options, fitting a scope to it can be a pain the butt. You can mount any 1” scope you want, but eye relief will be a problem. You can't push the scope forward enough, and you don't want it back too far... so you have to find one with a balance. I don't have any specific recommendations for it, but let's put it this way... I put a Bushnell on it and it only lasted 29 shots before the reticle broke. So right now I'm using a Leupold fixed 4 power and it is working great. Looks handsome, has the right eye relief, but I wish it was a 6X. I'll try other scopes on it in the future, and I'll report on those here. To improve the scope mounting issues, I would really like to see CZ ditch the odd sized rail and go with standard Weaver. I'd also like to see the option for a longer 1 piece rail and the option for a forward scout position.

The other wart is the magazine. Not that it sticks out, I like that... but that you can not top load the magazine through the action like traditional hunting bolt actions and Mausers. You have to drop the magazine and load the cartridges from the front. I would also like to see an option for a higher capacity double stacked mag that does not add much or any length.

I would also like to see more chambering options. There is a company out there that is offering to rechamber these Carbines for 6.5 Grendel. A CZ factory Grendel Carbine would be fantastic, with my other suggestions to go along with it... it would be a hand down winner.

Other cartridges that would do well here:

.357 Magnum, .45 ACP, 9MM, 10MM, .45 Colt, .40 S&W, .357 SIG, .44 Magnum, .41 Magnum...

See the pattern there?  Whoa, imagine one of these, in .45ACP, with an integral suppressor? You have the rebirth of the DeLisle Carbine. How sweet would that be? 

Update 8-5-08:  The question of the ideal scope for this gun remains unanswered.  Well, let me answer that question now.

Vortex Viper: My new Vortex scope came in. I have to say that I am very pleased with it. The optical quality is very high. I compared it to two other 2-7x32mm scopes. The Bushnell Elite 3200 and the Nikon Monarch, which is actually a 2-8. The Vortex blows the Bushnell Elite right out of the water. I'm sorry Bushnell fans out there... but this is a solid spanking for you. Much brighter, colors are brighter... it just looks flat out better. And the Vortex has a much roomier eye relief than the Bushnell. MAP pricing on the Vortex is 110 bucks more than the Elite, but I think this is a hundred and ten bucks well spent. The Nikon Monarch is a better comparison to the Viper. Optical quality is identical between the two here. Brightness, field of view, color transmission... now, the Nikon has more magnification across the board... higher than the rate you set it at. With both set to 4 power, you have to crank the Vortex almost up to 5 to match the Nikon's magnification. With both magnifying the same, the field of view is the same and the scopes are equals. So Nikon has the advantage in magnification. Vortex has an advantage in the turrets. Click adjustments are easy and clear. The scope tracks when you walk the scope around the target... 6 clicks up, over, down, and back and it returns to zero perfectly. The Vortex also has a lot more internal adjustment range. And the best thing. You adjust your turret to zero... pull the turret cap up, set it to zero, put the turret cap back down and you are zeroed. So you can return to your zero after adjusting for range or wind. I like that. A lot. I also like the “Dead Hold BDC” reticle. Clear and easy to see... and it works well. The Monarch is about 30 to 40 bucks less... but which one is better? I don't know. Nikon has a good lifetime warranty... but so does the Vortex with their VIP Warranty. The Vortex is using their Argon gas purging which should prove to be a better solution in the long run. Both scopes are made in the Philippines... and both scopes have similar characteristics in the turret housing, main tube and objective bells. The main differences are in the turrets, caps, and the ocular housing. The Nikon has a large ocular bell, which causes problems on my stock CZ 527's bolt handle. The Vortex is slimmer, without sacrificing any optical quality. The Viper also has a power setting dial that puts an indicator facing the shooter. So when you are tucked into the rifle, you can glance up and see your power setting. This is important if you plan on using that BDC reticle for it's intended purpose. With the Nikon, you have to pull the gun off the shoulder and tip it up or tilt it to see the top of the scopes to read the power setting. This is a small touch that I am glad Vortex has made. I like the Vortex Viper the best between all three challengers here. Winner = Vortex.

I put the Viper on my CZ 527... I took my time zeroing it... making each click a precise calculation before I click it. Making sure each shot was as stead as possible so my zero was as precise as possible. Dead Nuts On is the technical term for it here. I only zeroed it at the 100 yard range because I was burning up my lunch break and didn't have time to run out to the long range benches. I am actually quite shocked. My barrel has reached that “Break In” point... because it is all the sudden shooting much tighter groups than what it was shooting before. I can't credit the Vortex for magically making my rifle shooter better... but considering the big increase in clarity... there is an argument there for it.

I'm going to say this once here. This scope is THE PERFECT SCOPE for the CZ 527 Carbine. I found it.



Copyright G H Hill 1999-2012

The 4 Rules of Firearms Safety:

1.  Handle all firearms as if they were loaded.

2.  Never point the gun at anything you're not willing to destroy.

3.  Keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until you have made the decision to fire the weapon.

4.  Know your target, and know what is beyond the target.

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