At a time when centerfire ammunition is not only expensive, but hard to find as well, rimfire guns for training make more sense than ever. I’ve recently been testing the CZ 455 Varmint Precision Trainer, a tactical training rifle that can allow a shooter to develop exceptional long range marksmanship skills at a low cost and on ranges under 200 yards. One-thousand-yard ranges are difficult to find and most of them don’t have pits and the ability to instantly see the quality and value of a shot just fired. A good spotter and a dirt backstop helps but there is no substitute for seeing exactly where you hit.
This is important since long range shooting is an exact endeavor. There is little room for error and the learning process requires the shooter to know his errors so they can be corrected. Having coached and fired on long range teams that won two 1,000-yard championships with the M14 service rifle, I’m acutely aware of this. The primary practice tool we used in learning to shoot well at long range was the .22 rimfire smallbore rifle. With a good spotting scope, the rifleman can spot his hits on targets at out to 200 yards, the rimfire equivalent of 1,000 yards with a 7.62 NATO caliber rifle.
The CZ 455 is an upgraded version of the successful 452 line of rifles. It uses a five- or ten-round removable box magazine, has a quality 20” heavy barrel and is in a composite tactical precision stock. There are two forward sling attachment points, but we fired the gun off a front rest in prone for testing. Accuracy was up to par with a club level smallbore rifle, with ten-shot groups with good ammunition being sub-minute at 100 yards. Better ammunition like Federal Gold Medal and Ely Match produced some groups near half-minute accuracy.
The stock design allows for accurate shooting using only a front bag. The belly of the stock provides a left hand grip just forward of the rear sling swivel allowing the shooter to adjust elevation and windage with his non-firing hand. I scoped the 455 with a Simmons 6-18 x 40 Rimfire Tactical scope. This is the perfect complement to the 455 because this rimfire scope has precision clicks to allow for elevation and windage changes and has side parallax adjustment. I was barely able to get the scope forward enough for comfortable prone shooting. I’d like to see some sort of bridge mount to make the rifle easier to scope in the forward position needed for shooting prone. My only other beef was that the trigger could have been a little better in a gun at this price. It was a good trigger for a hunting rifle, but a little creepy for precision work.
Image by Cherie Jones