CZ 550 Magnum
Rifle|September - October 2020
Brian Pearce

For more than a century, CZ has been producing a huge variety of military and sporting firearms that include pump, autoloading, side-by-side and over/ under shotguns, autoloading pistols and bolt-action rifles, which are of particular interest. The CZ story really began during World War I (circa 1916 to 1918) with the building of the Zbrojovka Brno plant, which was followed with moves and mergers that lead to CZ producing arms in Uhersky Brod, around 1936. During World War II, the company ultimately suffered from German takeover. Like so many other gun companies during this era, it produced a variety of non-firearm related products, including diesel motors. In 1995 CZ-USA purchased Dan Wesson, which produces outstanding Model 1911pattern pistols, and its doubleaction .357 Magnum revolver offers legendary accuracy.

Today CZ offers a variety of sporting bolt-action rifles that range from rimfires to big bores such as the 550 Magnum (aka Safari Classics Express), which have earned a reputation of outstanding reliability and accuracy. These rifles are offered at comparatively modest prices. This column’s subject is the 550 Magnum, which is a descendant of the CZ Brno ZKK 602 rifle that dates back to the 1960s but is simplified and generally considered improved. It is designed specifically to handle large, big-bore cartridges such as the .375 H&H Magnum, .416 Rigby, .458 Lott, .505 Gibbs (all currently offered) and many others. It is often described as a large ring magnum Mauser 98 action, which is only partially accurate. While it does feature the important controlled-round feeding system with a non-rotating claw extractor and blade ejector, twin forward locking lugs and a third locking lug located on the bolt body just below the bolt handle, 90-degree bolt lift, etc., there are design departures that serve to offer the needed mass and strength of large and magnum cartridges.

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