There are many names in quality sniper rifles, and CZ now appears ready to add their name to the contenders. CZ was showing off their CZ 550 Urban Counter Sniper rifle at the 2012 SHOT Show. The rifle design showed a lot of promise, and the materials addressed many needs of tactical operators. If the CZ 550 is made with the same care and craftsmanship of the famous CZ-75 or the new CZ P-07 Duty pistols, this rifle should begin making a name for itself in short order.
This area of firearms is not one to be entered lightly, as the competition is fierce. There are heavy hitters in the form of Remington, Savage, Accuracy International, H-S Precision, and G&A Precision. In the European market, and a lessor influence in America, there is Steyr. The Remington 700 is perhaps the cornerstone of all American sniper rifles dating back to the 1960’s, and still holds a commanding influence and market share.
CZ 550 Urban Counter Sniper Rifle
Chambered in .308 Winchester, perhaps the most widely used police sniper caliber in America, the CZ 550 looks to offer a few features to set it apart from some of the big names in this arena. At first glance the viewer immediately recognizes that this rifle is designed for compact carry and maneuvers. There seems to be a definite acknowledgment of Col. Jeff Cooper’s ideas and requirements for a scout rifle. This rifle is compact, . 30 caliber, and has a 10-round detachable magazine. The rifle comes with a olive green coated barrel, and a black stock with green paint looking splashes.
CZ 550 Features
- Overall length – 37.0”
- Barrel length – 16.0”
- Weight (unloaded) – 8.3 lbs.
- Barrel – Cold hammer forged, Bull, Free-floated, Target crown Rate of twist – 1:12
- Barrel finish – Teflon
- Muzzle Break – Surefire, QD Suppressor compatible
- Receiver finish – Teflon
- Stock – Bell & Carlson fiberglass with a Kevlar, Aluminum bedding block
- Trigger – Single set
- Safety – Two position
- Action – Polished
- Magazine type – Detachable box
- Magazine capacity – 10
- MSRP – $2398
The CZ 550 has a very nice feature in the enlarged bolt handle. Becoming more common, the enlarged bolt handle allows snipers a much greater textile confirmation during bolt manipulation. The added size and weight of the handle also assists the bolt in moving back and forth, making bolt manipulation smoother and quicker.
An interesting design is the bolt design. Most rifle bolts are smooth sided with the extractor located on the inside of the bolt face. The CZ 550 has a long metal attachment that actually runs on the outside of the bolt. At the tip of the attachment is the extractor that curls around the bolt face. I haven’t been able to find anything on this particular bolt design, or its unique features and function.
Another unique feature is the locking mechanism on the bolt. Instead of the locking lugs being incorporated at the bolt face like many other rifles (including the Remington 700 and Savage models below), the CZ 550 has a smooth bolt face with the locking lugs behind the face.
The 10-round detachable magazine is a real plus. Most sniper or hunting rifles has an internal magazine with a capacity limited to 4-5 rounds. The internal magazines are unforgiving, so if you misfeed a round, there is no quick fix. With the detachable magazine, a shooter has greater capacity, and an easier method of fixing any misfeeds.
When the magazine runs dry, the sniper can begin combat loading (one round at a time), but has the option to make a quick reload with another 10-round magazine. This significantly reduces reload times and follow-up shots.
The Surefire muzzle break is another great addition. Many sniper rifles are finished at the barrel muzzle with a simple crowning. With the Surefire muzzle break the CZ 550 not only has suppressor adaptability, but has the ability to redirect expelled gases to help reduce muzzle rise during firing. In combination with a heavy bull barrel, and a decent overall weight, this should provide very nice recoil results for the shorter barreled CZ 550.
The CZ 550 has standard sniper rifle sling attachments. One is located towards the back of the stock, and there are two under the front of the stock for personal preference in set up.
The CZ 550 comes with a receiver that is designed to accept Picatinny rail style scope mounts. Some prefer mounts that are directly screwed into the receiver, but the Picatinny style mounts allow for easier mounting. There are many options for this style of scope mount, from Leupold, Burris, Millet and others.
One thing that I found very surprising was the fact that the CZ 550 does not come with a bipod or bipod mounts. The sling mounts on the base of the stock do not appear ready or capable of mounting a respectable bipod, like a fairly standard Harris bipod. Being an “urban counter sniper” rifle, the CZ 550 should, in my opinion, have bipod capability. A departure from Col. Cooper’s “scout” rifle, but in modern sniper rifle requirements, a must.
Not that bipod shooting is the best, or even the most widely used method of snipers, but the option should be readily available. Personally I find that I can make quicker follow-up shots shooting from a well placed carry bag, but having the bipod ready is a good option.
REMINGTON 700: In comparison the Remington 700 SPS has an overall length of 43 5/8”, with a
24” barrel. The 700 SPS weighs a little less at 7.25 lbs. (the lightest of the compared
rifles), but only has an internal magazine capacity of 4 rounds. The 700 SPS has an MSRP of $702.
The Remington 700 SPS Tactical has an overall length of 39 5/8”, with a barrel length of 20”. The 700 SPS Tactical weighs 7.5 lbs. with an internal magazine capacity of 4. The 700 SPS Tactical has an MSRP of $757.
THE SAVAGE MODEL 10/110 FCP HS: The Savage FCP HS has an overall length of 44.5”, with a barrel length of 24”.
The FCP HS weighs 9 pounds (the heaviest of the compared rifles), and has an internal magazine capacity of 4, with an optional detachable magazine capacity of 10. The FCP HS has an MSRP of $1192-1549.
The Savage Model 10 FCP SR has an overall length of 44.25”, with a barrel length of 24”. The FCP SR weighs in at 8.75 lbs., and comes standard with a 10-round detachable box magazine. The MSRP for the FCP SR is $1213.
There are many other comparison rifles, but the ones I’ve listed are very common throughout America, and should give you a good framework of comparison. Many of the H-S Precision, Accuracy International, and G&S Precision rifles start in the range of $2500 and go up quickly. Don’t expect to find a Steyr for less than $5000.
The CZ 550 features lend it to being very mobile regardless of the terrain. Adding heavy barrels for accuracy, and firepower through detachable magazines, there is a lot of potential here. I have not fired the CZ 550, nor have I read any reviews on its accuracy. Ultimately that characteristic alone will determine CZ’s stature in the field of sniper rifles. You can build a beautiful rifle, but if it can’t maintain tight groups of follow- up shots the rifle will end up sitting on the shelf.
The MSRP of $2398 is noticeably more than several of the competitors, but I think CZ is proud of what they’ve produced and banking on it performing to the most stringent of requirements.
As an “urban counter sniper” rifle the CZ 550 had better perform well. I know that snipers will not accept a rifle that cannot consistently perform, and in the tactical sniper world that means placing shots in the smallest of openings. When a hostage’s life is on the line, there really is no room for error, and there is no room for a rifle that cannot succeed in those demanding situations. We’ll see if the CZ 550 is up to the task, but so far it seems that it is ready to go the distance.