The CZ 452 American: My Favorite Squirrel Rifle

This article has been a long time coming, but with such a great rifle I had to have time to collect my thoughts, and make sure I did this rifle justice in text.  Where do I start?  How about the journey that led me to my first CZ.  

Back in 2010 I felt the need for a bolt action .22 long rifle.  I was getting the itch for a highly accurate .22 capable of making tiny groups at a distance of 50 yards or more.  I wanted the best .22 for squirrel hunting I could afford.  So the research began and I settled in on two choices; the new (at the time) Browning T-bolt or a CZ 452 American.  The lure of the T-bolt was awfully strong.  Being a fan of Browning and having a unique chambering system led me to choose this rifle over the CZ.  I still wasn’t completely convinced on the CZ, yet…  If you’ve spent anytime combing my squirrel stories, and articles you know that’s been a 180° change.  Now, the T-bolt served me well.  I straight hammered some squirrels with it in 2010.  It then wore a Weaver RV7 and shot 36 grain, bulk box, Remington Golden Bullets.  I know, pretty much the turd of .22 ammo, but boy were they accurate and deadly on the squirrels that year.  Even after much success with this setup, I could still hear the echoing call of the CZ in the back of my mind.

Success with the dog

I picked back up where my research left off and gave the CZ’s another consideration.  My mindset was, “I’ll get a Scout” (which is the youth model) and just see if it’s all they are cracked up to be.  I also doubled down, and purchased one for my then one year old daughter.  When you hear internet rumor of CZ’s having the propensity to reproduce, let me tell you for a fact, it isn’t a rumor.  If you shut your safe or even closet door on two of these rifles, they are bound to reproduce!!  The Scout turned out to be the gateway drug into the CZ’s for me.

CZ 452 Scout CZ 452 Scout Mag

 

After seeing a few fellas glowing reviews of using a CZ Scout with squirrel dogging I figured there must be something to it.  After receiving my Scout I quickly added a Weaver RV7, which just seemed to fit that rifle perfectly.  The only thing I felt it needed was to raise the comb of the stock to align my eye with the scope.  I did that with an Accu-riser.  I’m only 5′ 10″ and the 12.5″ length of pull isn’t too short for me. Extended bench time can be fatiguing to my wrist, but other than that the CZ Scout is a miniature 452 American.  This setup makes for a just over 6 pound rifle.  It’s a perfect “stroll through the woods” rifle.

 

Now that I had finally figured out for myself what the CZ was all about it was time to start researching the other models.  So the story goes, and you’ve read enough of my introduction to CZ’s to get the gist.  I eventually made it to the CZ 452 American.  

CZ 452 Am #2

If you notice the blue painter’s tape on the scope, that lets me know what ammo that rifle is doped for.

CZ 452 AM #2-2

 

CZ 452 16 Bolt Open

Where do I start on the list of good about this rifle?  For one, the craftsmanship for the money spent should be double, about the only other rifle in this class, with this workmanship is the Ruger 77/22 and it is double the price!  I’ll take a CZ any day…. The walnut stock has a great finish, along with effective checkering.  The bluing is smooth and clean.  The bolt, straight out of the box, will need a little working to get it to smooth out, but that’s nothing that can’t be accomplished by shooting or even some light sanding with a high grit sandpaper.  Some of you may like the trigger out of box, and between 3-4 pounds isn’t bad for a stock trigger.  I always tend to lower mine to the 2 pound mark.  I also like to polish the tooling marks out of the firing pin, but neither of these are necessary to make this rifle function.  Once the trigger is turned down it’s time to work the accuracy.  Good ammo and good technique make a huge difference.  All CZ’s seem to have a particular ammo they like the best. Here’s just one example of the accuracy you can expect.

CZ 452 Grouping

CZ 452 Bolt

CZ bolts are very robust.

CZ 452 16 1

 

 

Other than what’s been listed above, What makes it my favorite squirrel hunting rifle?  The value, that simple.  You won’t find a better rifle, at this price point, with this accuracy on the market.  You’re not going to find a Savage with this nice of machine or wood work.  Nor will you find a Marlin in the same class.  True you’ll spend a little less, and may even get a rifle that will “compete” with the CZ on accuracy, but I still hold true to the vintage walnut and blued steel rifles of yesteryear.  I wanted a rifle I could take to the squirrel woods, make accurate, lethal shots with, and be able to pass down 50 years from now.  In the same way my Daddy or his Daddy would have purchased a rifle. That’s the allure of this brand of rifle to me, and makes it one of the best 22’s for squirrel hunting.  

CZ 452 16 muzzle

The CZ 452 American is produced for optics only and has a straight “American” style comb.  If sniping squirrels from 15 to 100 yards is your game the CZ 452 American should be on your list.  Some 452 American’s come with the 3/8″ scope rail and some show up with 11mm rail for mounting a scope.  The way I get around that discrepancy is a set of BKL 257 rings, which are designed to fit both measurements.  Depending on the optic of your choice, your CZ 452 will weigh in between 7-8 pounds. 

“Supposedly” the CZ 452’s are being “phased out”, and I’ve been hearing that for a few years now. (Or it may be the best marketing scheme ever!!) There are a few gunshops in the the states that still get batches of them from time to time (mainly Whittaker Guns).  Maybe 100-200 rifles at a time, and they go in a matter of weeks.  If your looking for that heirloom .22 the next time you hear of them making landfall I would certainly not hesitate to pick one, or two up.  You won’t find a better heirloom rifle for the money spent.

Squirrel Carrier in Action 3

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11 thoughts on “The CZ 452 American: My Favorite Squirrel Rifle

  1. I came in late on this but I feel I must comment. A year ago I purchased a CZ452 American with a left handed action. With Eley Subsonic HP ammo half inch groups are routine at 50 yards. This is with a totally stock rifle.To say that I am a happy camper would be a huge understatement!

    1. Better late to the game, than never playing at all! Eley subs, along with the famed CZ 452 American, keep the squirrels on edge in my neck of the woods. To find a budget rifle that performs with a quality ammo makes going afield a real treat. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your findings.

  2. Hi Nate,

    I also have a CZ 452 american. in 17hmr and also find that not only has it great value for money but very reliable and accurate(prob not as much fun as my old 10/ruger semi in synthetic stock Had to hand it back in due to law changes in Australia back in 96).
    I have enjoyed watching your videos and reading articles on your sight. And I noticed one of your videos you had a suppressor attached to your 452. Can I ask did you have to get the barrel threaded. or was that a slip on with some form of clamp?
    Thanks for your time.. and hopefully hear from you soon

    1. It sure is tragic that you had to turn in a rifle, silly government…. All of the barrels that I attach the can to are threaded. Some I had cut and threaded, others were threaded from the factory. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  3. Ahhhh… good story.
    Yes.. i like my cz 452..
    Spent lots of time and money at the cz warrenty center in warsaw missouri, just to get it to work.
    It’s “ok” not world class.
    Just ok.
    Yes, i got a lemon from wittakers.
    She’ll shoot 1/2 @ 35 yards. With cci standards.
    Luepold 2×7 rimfire scope on top.
    Talley rings.
    …….
    Having said that. ..
    My marlin model 60 the 1986 model.
    Will outshoot it all day long.
    BKL scope mount. Luepold 2×7 rimfire scope.
    And even having the cz shop work over the 452s trigger.
    My marlins kat trigger is much better.

  4. I love my T-bolt, but I agree that at its price point the 452 is hands down the best option without a doubt. I put the 455 at a close second for its price range. Great article nothing beats a 22lr in the woods with bushy tails in season and cutting.

    1. Well now that my T-bolt has been cut and threaded for a suppressor it will most likely see opening day duty. It’s been on a long bench run. I also got brave enough to get inside the trigger group and get my trigger down to 2.5lbs. You haven’t experienced squirrel hunting to the fullest until you’ve hunted with a .22 rimfire.

  5. Excellent article Nate! I feel the same way about my 455’s. As you, I started out looking for a 452 but as you know they are far apart and few between, so my first CZ was a 455 Varmint model. Outstanding accuracy right out of the box, I have not done any type of trigger modification or anything else for that matter. Just stuck a decent scope on it and off we went, it is a squirrel killing machine that just loves the Aguila Super Extra ammo that I hollow pointed. Anyway, that lead to two more for the grandkids but I am still on the lookout for that 452.
    Again, excellent article…thanks!

    David

    1. I’m glad the 455 has worked well for you. I will give the 455 one thing, the bolt out of box is smoother than the 452. You’ve got to love the fact it loves the cheaper ammo, and being able to alter it for squirrel hunting purposes makes it that much better. See, they multiple without hesitation…..

  6. Nate, you hit the nail on the head with this review…I am totally stoked with my CZ 452 American left-hand!

    I tried to get one a few years ago in left hand but no one had one in stock and couldn’t get one in a timely manner and I get antsy at times and purchased a Savage BTVLSS in left hand but it is retired now. The CZ 452 American has all I need for a squirrel gun for my type of “squirrel hunting” and just shooting holes in paper at 52 yards.

    I have my own review of my CZ 452 American left-hand at: http://www.portercalls.com/cz_452_american_left_hand.htm

    Thanks again for that excellent article.

    1. I recommend taking a look at Bill’s journey into the 452. He’s done a great job documenting the whole process.

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