Sunday, November 19, 2023

CZ 600 Trail & Why I cannot get enough of this Unique Rifle

 CZ 600 Trail & Why I cannot get enough of this Unique Rifle

Always on the lookout for something unique in the market, I picked up a CZ 600 Trail just because it was very different from anything I currently own. To push that uniqueness further, I chose the 7.62x39 chambering which is unusual in a bolt gun format. I like bolt guns but as a semi-auto rifle person, I often find myself feeling bolt guns can be slow and usually heavy compared to a semi-automatic AR. In many cases this usually seems like a step backward especially in cases where accuracy is very similar. The CZ 600 Trail is none of those ideally problematic things and can be shot very fast, has all the modularity of an AR, accuracy that far surpasses its comparable AK semi-auto platform and is crazy light and packable. The CZ 600 Trail is an addictive little light gun which is tough to slip into a category.

The gears start to turn the moment you pull the CZ 600 Trail from the box. You think, “This thing is an insanely light 6.1lb rifle with the pop of 7.62x39… and the option for Hornady’s new subsonic rounds.” Then you realize with the 27.2-inch collapsed length, it can slip into a myriads of SBR/PDW covert packs and cases. It is literally a can-go anywhere rifle with the power to also do most things. After all, who doesn't need a slim light compact rifle?

Admittedly the rifle is unique, but not in the "that's freaking weird" way, but more in a "huh, why do we not see more rifles like this." The answer to why the rifle is so unique is pretty simple. After the CZ Colt Group rollup, CZ now has access to a lot of non-typical engineering, design and manufacturing capabilities. Some of those capabilities include very advanced design, machining, molding, and industrial 3D printing expertise which greatly speed R&D on new ideas. They also have a refreshing drive from the executive team that lacks fear of pushing the envelope of what CZ could be. The CZ 600 Trail is a representation of that forward thinking which is based on another forward thinking CZ 600 action that is pretty unique within the industry. I have to say, this rifle changed my mind a lot about CZ to now wanting to see what else they offer.

The action is an extremely short throw “mini-action” with the ability to quick swap bolt faces and barrels which opens it up to caliber swaps. Technically CZ offered this caliber swap feature as an option on another CZ 600 action model, however customers would inadvertently configure incompatible bolt barrel combos so they have, at least temporarily, discontinued that option. Personally, I think color coding a barrel and bolt face with Cerakote would make it rather clear, but people do stupid stuff, so it seems reasonable CZ took the precaution. I like the way CZ’s design team is thinking though and hope they reintroduce the barrel swap options idea.

With the lower power AR spec rounds, the receiver does not need to be 1-lb of steel and is instead lightweight billet aluminum which drives down the overall weight. CZ carried forward their standard hammer forged barrel profile but in a 16-inch threaded muzzle. CZ tipped the muzzle with a recessed match crown which must have contributed to the extremely impressive accuracy. Carried forward is the truly impressive adjustable trigger which can be user tuned from 3-6 pounds right from the trigger guard and the controlled feeding which makes even very fast shooting extremely reliable. If you want to do that combat bolt action speed shooting maneuver where the thumb and index finger run the bolt and the middle finger trips the trigger, the 10-round Bren magazine empties fast, but I am not sure most buyers will do those antics.

The CZ 600 mini-action is an impressive and proven foundation, however the innovative chassis is what makes the Trail unique. It is an extremely lightweight and compact chassis delivering BREN magazine, MLOK mounting, and a very unique SBR’esk collapsible stock. CZ also integrated BREN style ambi-selector and magazine releases. Owners can also swap out the AR spec grip if they like as well. The ergonomics feel fast and familiar to hands familiar with an AR. For those that want a big magazine beyond the included 10-rounder, CZ also offers a 30-round magazine option. The 10-rounder is a great compromise, however a 20-round magazine option would be perfect if CZ offered one. The only real gripe is the expandable stock could be a bit tighter and the cheek rest a bit wider, but it works and certainly delivers a solid enough platform for some surprising precision from the 7.62x39 round. 

The fantastic trigger is adjustable
from the trigger guard

Frankly, accuracy was shockingly good. Even with some rather inexpensive bulk-packed Russian 7.62x39 rounds, sub-1-inch 50-yard groups were typical and match grade rounds like SST tipped Hornady Black delivered nice little clover leafed ¼-inch groups. At 100-yards it was very interesting to see most quality FMJ rounds like Sellier Belliot printed sub-1 MOA and with the Hornady SST tipped rounds I actually printed more than a few ½-inch groups. Skeptically, I reshot these groups again and repeated the ½-inch groups. Is the CZ 600 Trail a 1/2-MOA guaranteed gun all day long? No, but it is certainly capable if you are not on your 9th cup of coffee, doing your part and are not fighting 30-MPH crosswinds. From an accuracy perspective, the super light 6.1-lb weight is more challenging than nestling behind a 18-lb precision rig and letting gravity deliver a steady shooting platform, but that is the price for a 6.1-lb rifle that you would gladly go hiking with.

Many will ask, why not wait for the new latest 2023 300 Blackout model, but I really would prefer the 7.62x39 round and can still shoot subsonic ammo. The new very heavy hitting 255gr Hornady subsonic rounds deliver about 20% more thump than Hornady’s own 300 Blackout Subsonic rounds. Though the 7.62x39 may not be many people’s first choice, the cartridge usually delivers more power on the hot rounds than the 300 Blackout and with the Hornady Subsonic option, it is a clear power factor winner across the board. 

From my personal experience with over a dozen 300 Blackout guns, 300 Blackout is a picky round from an accuracy perspective whereas the old 7.62x39 round is far less finicky. The 7.62x39 also has the option to shoot the cheap stuff which makes it super fun to just plink. Though the round is definitely a sub-300 yard round, it was very fun to figure out the artillery trajectory using my ballistics app for consistent 600-yard hits on the steel gongs. For those that would never buy this rifle in anything but 300 Blackout, you will be glad to hear CZ plans to offer a CZ 600 Trail 300 Blackout model by the end of 2023. 

Honestly, I was not expecting the CZ 600 Trail to need more than a 1-6 low power variable optic, however the gun was clearly more capable than the limits of the magnification and upgraded to a Athlon 1-10 Helos scope. The Athlon 1-10 delivered both a better reticle system for the ranges intended and more magnification to take advantage of the accuracy. The Helos 1-10 is about all I could ask for to support a 7.62x39 round and the expanded reticle tree comes in handy with shots beyond 300 yards and with Hornady Subsonic rounds. 


The CZ 600 Trail has a lot of flexibility to be what you want it to be and what you need it to be. It can handle a bunch of mounted accessories like a light or laser which can be a huge challenge for your average hunting rifle chassis. It feels familiar like a lighter weight partner to my AR in a caliber that I could go deer or hog hunting with. The CZ 600 Trail offers the option for very quiet shots with subsonic rounds. The weight really is truly amazing considering the internally matrixed chassis is fiber reinforced polymer vs not just a flexible hollow injection molded legacy style stock. The chassis actually has AR controls, a grip, SBR style collapsible stock and aluminum MLK forend, which is a lot considering the weight overall. I find myself thinking that this was the bolt action rifle I never knew I needed that can go from hunt, hike, ATV, to truck and still be cheap to shoot, powerful and precision enough to get the job done. This is a fun and handy little gun that fits in many categories. Great Job CZ!

No comments: