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CZ-USA's plan to build its headquarters and a factory in Little Rock is big news, especially for firearms enthusiasts.

I have long been a fan of CZ's rifles and shotguns. CZ's Redhead over/under shotgun is a high-quality firearm that is as much at home in a duck blind or flooded timber as it is in a pheasant field.

CZ earned my appreciation by chambering its top-grade side-by-sides in 16-gauge.

It offered its excellent Ringneck SxS in 16-gauge in 2007 as a limited edition Shot Show special. It was for years my primary upland field and dove gun until I found side-by-side nirvana in a 1965 Beretta Silver Hawk. You read that right. Beretta made its Model 471 in 16-gauge for a few years in the 1960s, ending in 1967. A snafu on a gun auction site frightened bidders away by failing to post photos of the firearm and disabling communications with the seller. I won a non-reserve firearm in pristine condition for next to nothing.

Unfortunately, CZ short-changed the 16-gauge version by offering it only with fixed improved cylinder and modified bores. Other gauges had interchangeable chokes.

CZ resurrected the Ringneck in the form of its new and improved Sharptail, which is said to be have stronger triggers and other internal components. The only cosmetic difference I see is that the Sharptail has a pistol grip instead of the Ringneck's more stately Prince of Wales grip, and stamped engraving on the release tang instead of the Ringneck's stylish golden eagle. The weight and ergonomics are identical, as are the IC/M barrels. Other gauges have interchangeable tubes.

Though overshadowed by Tikka, Howa and Weatherby Vanguard, CZ offers a full range of rifles from .22 LR to 6.5x55 Swedish to .338 Lapua to 375 H&H Magnum.

I've had three, including 550 models in .22-250 and 7x57 Mauser. The Model 550 features a controlled-feed, Model 98-style Mauser action.

Its adjustable, single set trigger is unique to factory rifles. You can keep the trigger at a standard weight, or push it forward to set its break weight at mere ounces.

The bluing is excellent, and the walnut is comparable to that of any other rifle in its class.

My .22-250 performed adequately only with handloads, but the 7x57 printed three touching holes with regular Remington Core-Lokt ammunition. The scope was a Simmons Aetec 2.8-10x44.

The rifles also come with proprietary CZ rings.

The Model 455 Ultra Lux is the best, most accurate .22 rimfire I have owned.

Discontinued in 2018, the Ultra Lux features a miniature Mauser action that is smooth, solid and reliable. Its most conspicuous feature is its 28.6-inch long barrel, the longest of any production rimfire rifle.

Its rear tangent sight is adjustable for windage and elevation, as is its hooded front blade sight. The rifle is so accurate with factory iron sights that a scope is superfluous.

The long barrel makes it very quiet and dramatically dampens the crack of a .22 LR through a shorter barrel.

The birch stock is European style, curvy and textured, with an unusual strawberry blonde finish.

Though wicked accurate, its long barrel and heavy weight are unwieldy for long carries in thick Arkansas squirrel cover. Mine is a range queen, shooting several hundred rounds during the offseason to keep my eyes and mechanics sharp for deer season.

A better choice for squirrel hunting is the Model 457 American. It has the same great mini-Mauser action but with an American style stock made of Turkish walnut. It has no sights, so it must be used with a scope.

To accommodate a scope, the Model 457 has a 60-degree bolt throw, compared to 90 degrees for the Model 455. It also has a fully adjustable trigger. That is very rare for a factory rimfire.

Lastly, CZ gave the Model 457 a conventional push-to-fire safety. The Model 455 safety is reversed.

I've seen the Model 457 American for as low as $406, a bargain.

CZ also makes an eclectic selection of semiautomatic and pump shotguns in multiple finishes. Many cost less than $600, including the Model 612 Magnum Waterfowl. Chambered for 3 1/2-inch 12-gauge, it comes with five choke tubes and a camouflage finish. MSRP is $429.

Sports on 05/09/2019

Print Headline: CZ brings all-star lineup to state

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