Photos by Author and Neal Shera
In the last ten years, there has been an increasing interest in sound suppressors here in the United States. More and more shooters and hunters have become interested in the benefits they offer leading to an explosion of sales, especially over the past five years. Many shooters, after having the opportunity to shoot a suppressed firearm, immediately recognized the benefits. They, in turn, would buy one, let others try it, and the cycle would continue. The “mystery” also has been removed from legally purchasing a sound suppressor. No longer do you need to try to figure out the paperwork and procedure yourself. Websites with detailed, step-by-step information abound to walk you through the purchasing process. Due to this, more shooters than ever are interested in purchasing sound suppressors for recreational shooting, competition, hunting and the health of themselves and their loved ones.
As sound suppressor sales took off, and interest in them grew, the firearms industry noted and responded to this new market. While many firearms, such as AR-15s, can easily mount a sound suppressor due to their threaded muzzles, it’s a different story for many traditional designs. This is especially true for bolt-action rifles, which typically do not feature muzzle threads. So if a rifleman wanted to add a sound suppressor to his favorite bolt gun, he typically had to send it out to have the muzzle threaded. This is a bit of a hassle and another added expense shooters previously swallowed to shoot quietly.
The world we live in is changing though, and more and more companies are adding models that come from the factory ready to accept a sound suppressor. The CZ 527 in 7.62x39mm seen here is just such an example. New from CZ-USA, the CZ 527 Synthetic Suppressor-Ready comes with properly cut 5/8x24 muzzle threads. This makes mounting the sound suppressor of your choice as easy as possible, out of the box. Available in two calibers, 300 AAC Blackout and 7.62x39mm, this handy and compact little bolt gun is sure to appeal to many.
When Firearms News was offered the opportunity to have a first look at this new model I pondered which caliber to select. While the 300 AAC Blackout seems like a natural, I chose the 7.62x39mm instead. Why select this old Combloc cartridge over the darling of the shoot-quiet crowd? Well, for a couple reasons, actually. The first is that 7.62x39mm is widely available in not only economical steel-case loads, but also a host of modern expanding domestic offerings as well. Winchester, Hornady, Wolf and Federal all offer excellent loads with modern bullets, which expand reliably. Also, for the handloader reloading data, components and dies are all readily available.
My third reason for choosing this model is one most do not consider, the compact 7.62x39mm is an excellent candidate for subsonic ammunition. Some companies do offer subsonic 7.62x39mm ammunition, and I have been shooting factory subsonic loads in this caliber for well over a decade. It’s also noteworthy to point out that the Soviets fielded suppressed AKM rifles with a 200-grain subsonic load. These saw use in Afghanistan and elsewhere, so I was interested to see what a suppressed 7.62x39mm bolt gun could do.
There are few rifles that garner the world-wide respect the 1898 Mauser does. Designed to endure the hardships of a military life, the ‘98 has given yeoman service around the globe. With a rugged and reliable action, the ‘98 Mauser is one of the few military arms to be openly embraced by hunters and target shooters alike. Hunters appreciated the action’s good looks, strength and positive feeding. Down through the years, game large and small, have been taken on the various continents with custom sporters built around this action. Target shooters were also quick to note the accuracy potential of the ‘98. Numerous matches and competitions, both formal and informal, have been taken by target rifles built on Mauser’s venerable 1898 action.
Today, more than a century after its introduction, the 1898 Mauser is still going strong. One company in particular, Ceska Zbrojovka (CZ) of the Czech Republic, continues a long tradition of building fine hunting rifles on this famous action. An old well-established European company whose history dates back to 1936, CZ has earned a reputation for manufacturing quality firearms. Today, CZ-USA offers an extensive line of handguns as well as sporting rifles.
The CZ 527 is built on a tiny, modified ‘98 Mauser action. While not a straight 1898 clone, it shares all the virtues inherent in the famous 1898 Mauser system. The action is extremely rugged and features dual-opposed locking lugs on the front of the bolt. A massive extractor claw runs the length of the bolt, providing controlled round-feeding. This precludes the possibility of an operator-induced double-feed under stress, and points to the action’s military heritage. Primary extraction and cocking are on the opening stroke.
A square bridge design, the CZ 527 features 16mm scope mounts machined directly into the receiver. This makes mounting an optical sight straightforward with no need to acquire separate bases. Mated to the front of the receiver is a handy 16.5-inch cold hammer forged barrel. This features a 1-9.5-inch twist, allowing use with a wide range of bullet weights. The muzzle is specifically designed to accept a suppressor or suppressor mount with standard 5/8x24 threads and a slightly oversize shoulder. Unlike some of CZ’s other models the Synthetic Suppressor-Ready dispenses with barrel mounted iron sights.
The barreled action is dropped into a rugged black synthetic stock. Designed for the American rifleman, it features a 13.5-inch length of pull and distinctly American, rather than Central European, aesthetics. The polymer stock features a black rubber recoil pad and sling studs on the fore-end and toe of the stock. The front stud can be used to mount a bipod, sling or both.
Rather than a traditional internal box magazine, the CZ 527 feeds from convenient, detachable box magazines. The magazine is a nicely made steel, single-column design. It holds five rounds, inserts with a simple upward push and is easily removed. The magazine release is located on the right side of the receiver.
Another departure from the original 1898 design is the safety. It has been moved from the rear of the bolt to the right side of the action. This is a definite plus if an optical sight is to be mounted.
The addition of a single set trigger is a desirable feature of the 527. The rifleman can “set” it by simply pushing forward on the trigger until it clicks. It then provides an extremely light single-stage pull. This is a very useful feature especially when firing for accuracy from the bench. The single set trigger is one feature I really like about CZ-USA rifles although I love the classic look of a double-set design.
This model is just 35 inches long and weighs only 5.9 pounds, making it very compact and handy. Finish is a handsome blue, and the MSRP is $748.
With rifle in hand, I needed a suitable optic for it. I was looking for something that complimented the CZ without being too big or heavy. Plus, I wanted something with a useful reticle for extending the distance a bit. I settled on a Leupold Tactical Mark IV, 1.5-5x20mm MR/T. The model I chose has a BDC reticle designed for use with both super and subsonic 300 Blackout ammunition. It provides holdovers to 850 yards for supersonic ammunition and 400 yards for subsonic ammunition. The exterior ballistics of the 300 Blackout and 7.62x39mm are very close, so I thought I would give it a try. Not only is this scope the perfect size but the magnification is also a good match for the performance of this handy little rifle. Better yet, the combination was pleasing to the eye.
Every rifle needs a sling, so I contacted Brownells to try one of the 1¼" brown leather Montana slings it offers. Crafted from thick, high-quality bridle leather, it features a unique adjustment knot braided into the leather. This allows the rifleman to quickly adjust the sling by sliding it. No buckles to adjust, just grab it and go. Once adjusted, the design of the knot keeps it in place. It has a certain look you will either love or hate. The quality is first-rate though, with nice, thick leather and quality stitching. Sling swivels are included, so it’s ready to mount. While not cheap at $50.57, it’s an interesting design.
There’s no point in having a suppressor-ready rifle without having a sound suppressor handy, so I removed the factory thread protector the CZ comes with and replaced it with a 5/8x24 LaRue Tacticals TranQuilo muzzle brake/sound suppressor adapter. By itself, this unit acts as a conventional muzzle brake to reduce felt recoil and muzzle movement. Plus, it looks cool. More importantly, it also acts as a mounting adapter for LaRue Tactical’s TranQuilo sound suppressor. The TranQuilo was specifically designed for the Larue family of semi-automatic precision rifles and reduces the report to hearing safe levels and almost eliminates flash. What sets this unit apart though, is its Safer Operator Technology (SOT,) which reduces gas blow-back emitted from the ejection port of an AR rifle.
While designed for use on AR-15-type rifles, I’ve used the TranQuilo on a variety of designs. Calibers I’ve personally shot through it include 7.62x51mm NATO, .260 Rem, .25-08, 6.5mm Grendel, 300 Blackout, 5.56x45mm, and now 7.62x39mm. Performance has been excellent. Manufactured from 17-4 PH Stainless Steel and Incoloy A-286, the TranQuilo is eight inches in length and weighs 23 ounces. Retail price on the TranQuilo is $699.
With optic and sound suppressor mounted, I only needed ammunition. I selected three popular 7.62x39mm loads for testing. These consisted of Hornady’s 123-grain SST, Winchester’s 120-grain PDX1 Defender Split Core Hollow Point, and Wolf Performance Ammunition’s Military Classic 123-grain FMJ. Both the Hornady and Wolf loads feature steel cartridge cases, while the Winchester load features nickel-finished cases. Both the Hornady and Winchester loads feature expanding projectiles suitable for medium-sized game or self-protection. The Wolf load is very economical, allowing lots of practice and recreation for a small outlay of cash.
In addition to these loads, I also included one subsonic load from Engel Ballistic Research (EBR,) Inc. This was its old 220-grain subsonic FMJ load originally intended for use in suppressed 7.62x39mm AR carbines. Many years ago, the company’s founder, Whit Engel, and I attended an Advanced Tactical Marksman Observer course together. I learned about his company and what he was doing and was impressed. While this is an older load no longer offered, it was what I had in the ammo bunker. Currently EBR, offers two subsonic 7.62x39mm loads, a 220-grain “Jackhammer” SP and a 220-grain “Ghost” Expander. The latter is a solid-copper design that expands. Many shooters are unaware of factory 7.62x39mm subsonic ammunition, so I thought I would include what I had on hand, even though it is no longer available. I felt it would give readers an idea of the possibilities.
The CZ 527 Synthetic Suppressor-Ready carbine was shot from a rest with rear bag at 100 yards to evaluate accuracy. Four five-shot groups were fired with each load. Velocity readings were measured with a LabRadar Doppler radar chronograph. When I first took the CZ out of the shipping box, I noted the barrel was not quite centered in the barrel channel of the stock. It was bearing to the right side, and I was worried this would affect accuracy as the barrel heated. The action was a bit on the rough side, and required a bit of force to work, fresh out of the box.
The CZ 527’s single-stack magazine loaded to full capacity easily, and it snapped neatly into the rifle with a simple upward push. I could feel the bolt dragging slightly on the feed lips as I ran it forward. Even so, rounds fed and chambered without issue. The CZ 527’s trigger is good in its standard state, and well-suited for field use. Push it forward to its set position, and it is fantastic. It’s extremely light and crisp. The set trigger is extremely useful when firing for group from the bench. Extraction and ejection was positive with zero issues.
I’ve shot a number of 7.62x39mm chambered CZ 527s over the years and while all performed well, none really stood out. This particular rifle, though, shot very well, and I posted the smallest group I have ever fired in this caliber. My best group of the day was fired using Hornady’s 123-grain SST and measured an impressive 1.1 inches. This load averaged a respectable 1.5 inches at 2,328 fps. Wolf’s 123-grain FMJ load posted a best of 1.2 inches and averaged 1.8 inches at 2,387 fps. Winchester’s 120-grain PDX1 load opened up a bit and averaged 2.1 inches at 2,282 fps.
The EBR, Inc. 220-grain FMJ subsonic load had a point of impact 7.5 inches lower than the others, and two inches to the right. It posted a best of 1.7 inches and averaged 2.2 inches at 1,007 fps. It was quiet enough that I had a group of about 10 wild turkeys strut across my range while I was shooting. It fed and functioned with zero issues.
Next, I moved to running the CZ 527 on steel from field positions, shooting out to 550 yards. I have quite a bit of time behind a CZ 527 and always find them fun to shoot. They are very light, easy to carry all day hiking or hunting, and don’t make your shoulder sag. When it’s time to shoot, the CZ 527 is fast to the shoulder. It swings quickly and stops on a dime. Practical accuracy is very good. However, due to its very light weight, it doesn’t hang as well from position as a heavier rifle would.
Keep in mind, the action does like to be run hard. This is partly due to the primary extraction and cocking both being on the opening stroke. Treat it like a 1960s vintage American 4-speed, and you’ll be good. It will become smoother with use. The very short bolt throw aids speed, and it is a fun little rifle to shoot fast. Recoil is very mild, and with the LaRue muzzle brake, the rifle hardly moved, even on the bench. With the TranQuilo sound suppressor attached it was very pleasant to shoot with both standard and subsonic ammunition.
Practical accuracy was very good. I spent a bit of time snap shooting silhouettes at 100 yards, and then I shot them standing, and kneeling. I worked my way to 400-yards and began shooting prone with a hasty sling for support. I rocked the 400-yard target and moved on to 550 yards. This distance was rather challenging, with the wind really blowing the small bullets around, but I was able to frequently connect with the steel plates. The best part was the inexpensive nature of the Wolf ammo I was shooting at these distances.
A big part of the 7.62x39mm cartridge’s allure is how inexpensive and widely available it is. With modern loads, it works well on coyotes, pigs or whitetail, if a rifleman is selective with his shot placement. Inexpensive ammunition facilitates both more practice and more fun with friends and the family. The mild recoil also makes it well-suited for anyone recoil-conscious.
I made the mistake of loaning the last CZ 527 I owned to a friend to use deer hunting. He fell in love with it and gave me a check back in its place. If a bolt gun in 7.62x39mm interests you, and you have, or are thinking of purchasing, a sound suppressor, you may want to consider CZ-USA’s CZ 527 Synthetic Suppressor-Ready carbine. MSRP on this model is $748.
CZ-USA CZ 527 SYNTHETIC SUPPRESSOR-READY
Action: Manual turn bolt with dual-opposed front locking lugs
Barrel: 16.5 inches cold-hammer forged
Rifling: 1-9.5 inch twist
Overall Length: 35 inches
Trigger: Single Set trigger
Feed: 5-round detachable box magazines
Stock: Black polymer
Length of Pull: 13.5 inches
Weight: 5.9 pounds
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