November 14th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: CZ 457 Rimfire — Pursuit of Accuracy Channel

pursuit accuracy youtube channel joshua thomas
Pursuit of Accuracy’s Josh Thomas has done well with his upgraded CZ 457 precision rimfire rifle. Shown above are Open Division trophies he won in the 2021 season.*

Interested in the Rimfire Precision game — NRL22 and PRS Rimfire? Then this article is for you. Today we feature the CZ 457 of Joshua Thomas, the talented host of the Pursuit of Accuracy YouTube Channel. Josh loves his CZ 457, which has been upgraded with a Lilja barrel and Timney trigger. Josh tells us: “You don’t need to spend $3000 on a precision rimfire — you can win with a $700 CZ. Here’s how….”

Rimfire Precision Report by Joshua Thomas, PursuitofAccuracy.com
In the precision .22 LR market, the CZ 457 offers stellar performance for the price. For $400 to $1000 you can pick one of many CZ 457 models that will suit your needs and shooting style. Every model offers the same exact receiver and trigger assembly. I have found both standard 457 and the “match chamber” 457 barrels to be accurate and extremely well-made. There are lots of aftermarket choices for the rifle that make it easy to get exactly what you are looking for out of your rifle — triggers, stocks, chassis sytems, barrels, bolt knobs, scope rails, and more.

pursuit accuracy youtube channel joshua thomas

Best Features of the CZ 457
The CZ 457 may be the most modular precision rimfire on the market. You can swap barrels and magazines easily. The interchangeable barrel feature is by far the best feature of the CZ 457. Want to shoot .22 WMR for varmint hunts then transition to a .22 LR for precision shooting? No problem — five minutes and four screws are all you need. The CZ 457 is also an excellent value — it’s WAY better than a 10/22 but a fraction of the cost of high-end custom rimfire rigs. [Editor: Josh does own a Vudoo V22, but he says with a barrel upgrade the CZ 457 offers very similar performance at a fraction of the cost].

With his CZ 457 Josh drives nails at 100 yards. But it did take multiple shots.

pursuit accuracy youtube channel joshua thomasCZ 457 VPT MTR Equipment List
Barrel: Lilja 1:16″-twist, 21″, .920″ straight taper
Scope: Athlon Cronus BTR Gen II 4.5-29x56mm
with Mil APRS1 Reticle
Rings: Athlon 34mm Low height rings
Scope Base: Area 419 +30 MOA base
ARCA Swiss Rail: Area 419 14″ weighted
ARCA Clamp: RRS ARCA clamp (Atlas)
Trigger: Timney 457 Curved Shoe (5 oz.)
Magazine and extensions: Anarchy Outdoors
Dope Card: Coletac Cheatsheet
Cheek Rest: Victor Titan universal cheek rest
Bipod: Atlas BT46-NC

CZ 457 Accuracy — What Can It Deliver?
I have done extensive testing with my CZ 457 using both factory and aftermarket barrels. You can expect the stock barrel to group most match ammunition around 0.3″ at 50 yards. This can obviously vary but this is a good general standard. Aftermarket barrels, such as the Lilja, are capable of shrinking those average group sizes down to 0.2″ or lower. I have personally shot a few 0.1″ groups with my Lilja at 50 yards with ELEY Match ammunition. While this doesn’t sound like a huge difference at 50 yards that variance between the factory barrel and the Lilja grows the further out you go.

pursuit accuracy youtube channel joshua thomas

Upgrade Strategies for the CZ 457
As I’ve noted, the CZ 457 is easily upgraded. But first buyers need to make an initial decision. Do they want to build a CZ 457 or just slowly upgrade as they go? If a buyer wants the best performing rifle he/she can start with the cheapest 457 model they can find. Remember all CZ 457s have the same receiver assembly. Then buy a Timney trigger, buy a Lilja custom barrel (e.g. .920″ straight taper), and upgrade to your choice of stock or chassis. I recommend a Manners stock if you don’t already have a different preferred aftermarket chassis.

For those looking to upgrade as they go on a tighter budget I would recommend the YoDave trigger kit — basically a spring change. With the YoDave upgrade my trigger averaged around 9-10 ounces. Next I would buy the Lilja barrel, then a stock later.

Ammo Selection for the the CZ 457 — Why Comparison Testing Is Important
Every gun and barrel is different, so you so should always lot test your gun with various ammo types and lots. If you’re serious about rimfire accuracy, then lot testing is a must, whether at your own rage or a testing center. There is no replacement for starting with a good lot of ammunition your rifle likes. A lot of guys want to buy various ammo in small quantities than use a tuner or sorting to get the ammo consistent. If you compare how much ammo you’re wasting in that endeavor it’s much more cost effective to lot test FIRST and buy a case of what your rifle likes.

Lot Testing Ammo — What You Will Discover

Improving Results for Your Rimfire Rifle
To get the best results from your CZ 457 rifle, first check your action torque — that’s something many rimfire precision shooters overlook. Then collect as much data as you can. From a cold bore find out how long it takes to foul-in, and determine the round count for the best accuracy. And learn how many rounds you can shoot before you need to clean (this will vary from gun to gun).

Also work on your gun handling. With a rimfire, good follow-through is vital because of the “long barrel dwell time” of the rimfire bullet. (A rimfire bullet, since it runs 1000-1100 fps vs. 2800-3200 fps for a centerfire bullet, spends much more time inside the barrel). Follow-through is huge in 22s as far as accuracy goes. For my rifles I try to keep a relatively light but constant pressure on the butt/comb.

Comparison — CZ 457 vs. Vudoo V22 vs. Ruger Precision Rimfire

Editor: Josh owns a top-tier Vudoo V22 as well as CZ 457 rifles. In this video, he tests his Lilja-barreled CZ 457 head-to-head vs. the much more expensive Vudoo V22. The results may surprise you.

pursuit accuracy youtube channel joshua thomas
Here is the Vudoo V22 with F3R Machine +20 MOA mount.

In this video Josh compares the Ruger Precision Rimfire to a CZ 457 AT-ONE .22 LR. Josh reports: “We show accuracy at 100 yards and talk about the advantages and disadvantages to each rifle. If you are looking for your next .22 LR purchase check out the video and see which rifle comes out on top for you.”

Favorite Accessories: Timney Trigger, Area 419 scope base and ARCA rail
The Timney trigger is the best aftermarket trigger available for the 457 currently. Mine averaged 5-6 ounces and is extremely crisp. It’s a great trigger for Benchrest or PRS/NRL style shooting. The Area 419 Scope Base has the best fit and finish in the market with no close seconds, in my opinion. It is available a +15, +30, and +50 MOA versions. This can allow rimfire competitors to reach 400+ yards without needing to hold over. That’s roughly 20 Mils of elevation travel at 400 yards.

The Area 419 ARCA rail is another best in class in my opinion. The 14″ universal weighted ARCA rail really helps for for PRS / NRL style shooting. The rail’s weight helps the rifle settle into the support bags, and helps to steady the reticle for cleaner shots off of barricades and props.

Upgrades — Installing and Headspacing a Lilja Barrel

One advantage of the CZ 457 platform is the ease with which the barrel can be upgraded. In this video, Joshua installs and headspaces a Lilja .22 LR match barrel onto his daughter’s CZ 457 AT-ONE rifle. The video shows the process for setting headspace.

Josh explains: “Different rimfire ammunition manufacturers use different rim thickness for their ammunition. CCI, Lapua, and SK have a thicker rim thickness than that of ELEY. I like to start at the standard of .043″ for headspace and work my way in .001″ at a time. I’m working my way in looking at accuracy changes, extraction reliability, and the feel of the bolt close. I have found that this will vary barrel to barrel as the chambers are slightly different. For the Lilja I have found .041″ was best for Lapua, SK, and CCI while .039″ was what worked best for ELEY.

Always follow the barrel manufacturer’s directions and work in small increments. Lilja provides instructions on how to set your headspace, and how to make the required measurements to achieve this. I believe Lilja currently is the only barrel manufacturer that is offering a barrel for the CZ 457 for which the end user can easily set the headspace themselves.”

Reactive Targets — Why They Are Fun to Shoot and Good for Training
I love to shoot small steel swinger targets. Reactive targets give the shooter instant positive feedback that what they have done is correct or working. These can be great training tools for both the novice shooter and the expert shooter. However I recommend competitive shooters use smaller reactive targets so they don’t get over-confident with big plates. I like to stick to 1-2 MOA size targets in relation to the distance.

If the rifle is capable of 1″ groups at 150 yards I will use a 2″ – 3″ target as I’m usually shooting these from a field position and not a bench. This allows for small errors on my part and wind calls without making it so easy a bad shot hits.

About the Pursuit of Accuracy Video Channel

pursuit accuracy youtube channel joshua thomas

Mission Statement: We push the boundaries of rimfire accuracy through education and a shared learning experience with our audience. We claim no professional status … we are simply a small team of dedicated marksmen attempting to redefine the generally-accepted limits of what can be done with .22 LR rifles. We remain committed to our viewers and community. We do not conduct paid reviews. We feel this must be the standard as the trust and honesty we share with our viewers is simply worth more than any paid product review.

Q: What is the biggest challenge in creating videos?
Josh: The biggest challenge with creating rimfire content is dealing with changing environmentals. Not only does all the preparation to film need to be completed but the weather must also cooperate. It’s nearly impossible to demonstrate the accuracy of a platform with a varying amount of wind affecting bullet flight.

pursuit accuracy youtube channel joshua thomas

Q: How has making videos has helped your shooting and your knowledge of rifles?
Josh: Creating content for YouTube has pushed me to shoot nearly every single day of the week. The increased time behind the trigger and the opportunity to see my mistakes on camera afterwards create a unique learning environment. I have thousands of people seeing my mistakes and quickly pointing them out to me. The amount that I have learned in the last seven months of daily rimfire shooting has proven to me I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought I did! You can always keep learning and improving.

Joshua also competes with his daughter. The young lady is a talented shooter and has actually outscored her father on occasion:

Q: What you like most about making rimfire marksmanship videos?
Josh: Making videos for YouTube constantly pushes me to rise to challenges I would have never thought achievable with .22 LR rifles. My audience is attentive and well-informed. That makes me bring my best game to the range every time I have the camera in hand.


* Trophies for 2021 Open Division Precision Rimfire matches: Large IPSC plate for 2nd overall in VOD 2021 series; Small IPSC plate for 2nd overall VOD series finale; State of NC trophy for VOD rimfire 3rd overall; Gray griffon trophy for Liberty Precision rimfire 4th overall; Small IPSC dark plate for Top MIL/LEO in Frontline Defense Match.

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