The folks at CZ USA have introduced several line extensions of late, the two most interesting of which are the CZ 455 Varmint Evolution and the CZ 527 Varmint Target. The CZ 455 Varmint Evolution is a heavy-barreled, bolt-action .22 set into a wild-looking, laminated, Boyds’ SS Evolution stock of alternating layers of blue/grey veneers. The CZ 527 Varmint Target, another bolt action, has a target-weight barrel chambered for the .223 Remington family of cartridges and is outfitted with a Kevlar stock featuring a hand cutaway behind the grip for shooting off of sandbags.
As bizarre as some folks may consider the Boyds’ SS Evolution stock to be, it is both functional and ergonomic. The near-vertical grip positions the hand in a more natural attitude than with a conventional open grip and provides superior trigger control. The CZ 455’s non-tapered, free-floating bull barrel measures 0.87 inches in diameter, and the barrel channel—what little there is—will accommodate any barrel contour. The CZ 455 Varmint Evolution represents the latest generation of CZ’s rimfire action, on which several other models are based including the CZ 455 Varmint, which differs only in that it sports a straight-comb, classic-styled Walnut stock, and the CZ 455 Varmint Precision Trainer, which is set into a Manners Composite T4 stock and described in the catalog as being “designed to provide the same look and feel as your full-sized tactical rifle while allowing for much more economical training.”
What sets the 455 action apart from most bolt-action rimfire rifles is that it offers barrel/caliber interchangeability. The Varmint Evolution will accept user-interchangeable barrels in .22 LR, .22 WMR and .17 HMR—just like any in the 455 line. The shank portion of the barrel, which is 1.2 inches long, slip-fits into the receiver, where it’s locked in place with two rearward-angled Allen-head screws. These screws bear against similarly angled flats on the barrel shank. Switching barrels, of course, has been made idiot-proof, as the barrel cannot be fully seated and locked unless a flat surface on the breech, just below the chamber, is aligned with a matching flat in the receiver ring. It takes but a minute to change barrels, and when changing from .22 LR to either .22 WMR or .17 HMR, the only other change required is to remove a plastic baffle in the magazine well to accommodate the longer magazine, which of course is furnished when you purchase the accessory barrel. My test rifle was chambered in .22 LR, but I also requested the .17 HMR barrel to check out the caliber-swap aspect.