CZ 512 Tactical in 22 WMR
By Chris Parkin
I have reviewed the CZ 512 semi auto in 22 LR format a few years ago and found it a capable rifle if not specifically anything innovative or unique. When you swap that to a 22 WMR it all gets much more interesting, and I treated the gun with significantly greater excitement. The 512 is a simple blowback action and uses common CZ polymer magazines which makes it easy and cheap to feed with multiple spares for fast courses of fire. The slim 15.2mm diameter barrel is cold hammer forged and threaded ½”x28 for a moderator or muzzle brake, the latter of which is supplied. The barrel is a blued finish and disappears into the 293mm long aluminium forend which is hard anodised black and cylindrical with multiple cooling slots and threaded holes for accessory mounting, but it’s not specifically M-Lok compatible. It has an underside sling stud and the upper carries a full length Picatinny rail which reaches 530mm in overall length stretching back to the rear limit of the receiver.
The right side of the aluminium receiver shows an 18mm long bolt handle projecting out 90 degrees to cock the action. This blends almost seamlessly into the polymer supporting lower Incorporating the trigger guard and grip anchor point. The grip is rubberised with a palm swell into your hand and ambidextrous like the reast of the rifle other than the bolt handle/ there is a buffer tube supporting the telescoping butt which extends length of pull from 315 to 502mm /12 3/8” to 14 5/8” in six stages bringing the overall length to a maximum of 975mm/38 ¾”. There is a sprung lever on the underside of the cheekpiece to unlock the length of pull extension before reaching the slim rubber buttplate that locks into your shoulder, there is no recoil for it to transfer in comfort anyway. Lastly, the butt has qd sling stud anchor points on either side and the cheekpiece is height adjustable.
Some manufacturers like to advertise a fully floating barrel and when you inspect the rifle, it’s nothing of the sort. CZ make no such claims at all and in fact the barrel, although appearing to free float within the handguard, is bolted to the handguard adjacent to the front sling stud position. This might seem worrisome but in fact the handguard is so stiff, it increases the rigidity of the barrel which is itself quite spindly in looks. During the shooting process, the gun never seemed to suffer any inherent point of impact shift and although not what you might call Match Rifle consistent, it was accurate and most importantly, totally reliable. It didn’t need to be handled with any delicacy and took the bumps around a general pest control and steel plate shooting venture in the woods with ease. The magazines are single column and present the ten rounds to the push feed bolt face to be driven forward by spring tension into the chamber. The bolt can be held back with a manually operated button in the front of the trigger guard and when a loaded mag is fitted, just pull back on the handle and it closes automatically. It does not have an automated last round hold open function and the magazine release catch is a small lever to the front of the mag. The single stage trigger has some creep but breaks consistently at 1200 grams/44 oz and although you can feel it move, there is no grittiness or drag to the movement which is non-adjustable. Lastly, the safety catch is a crossbolt unit to the rear of the trigger, pushed left to right for safe or opposite for fire. The Sportsman Gun Centre supplied me with a 1-8x24 riflescope with Cantilever mount although there is so much Picatinny rail, you aren’t short of space. The rail is bolted to the top of the action and forend and worth keeping an eye on the bolt tension of.
|Average Muzzle Velocity/fps
|Muzzle Energy Foot/Lbs
|5 shot 50 metre group size (mm) centre to centre
|Aguila 40 gr
One great advantage of WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire) over standard 22 LR other than just extra muzzle energy is the jacketed rounds which are a lot cleaner in use through the action. All semi-autos eventually clog up with carbon but that’s usually a long time after the lead shavings and lubricants do their worst to foul things up so this 512 was very reliable. I used ammunition from Aguila, Remington and Subsonic from Winchester. The latter was interesting as it deliberately replicates 22 LR subsonic ballistics with 40 grain exposed lead hollow point bullets with notably quiet report. But the action was never designed for it’s lesser physical recoil and wont cycle subsonics automatically so if you do want or need to use them for a specific purpose (it will still be effective on quarry), you will have to manually reciprocate the bolt after every shot to extract, eject and reload a new round with some noise penalty over a regular bolt action rifle. There is also a factor of less velocity consistency due to the breach opening also being inconsistent.
All this is important because when using `normal` 22 WMR ammunition projecting 32 and 40 grain jacketed bullets from 1700-1800 feet per second, with close to 300-foot pounds of muzzle energy. The action is now fast, snappy, and totally reliable with the brake on. When I swapped to a sound moderator, the 32’s were a little less consistent again, but that character changed with the 40gr Remington Ammunition which became and remained the absolute favourite with smallest groups, highest energy and 100% reload reliability. These would be my first choice although I was surprised the moderator made the rifle less, not more consistent as they usually retain a little more back pressure helping the recoiling case drive the bolt open.
Groups on target were accurate to consistent point of impact but this is never going to be one to show off on a `one hole wallet ego card`, yet when people see it in use, the speed at which you can shoot is something many have never seen within our shores. The reciprocating action is also a lot quieter than AR-15 derivatives in 22 WMR I have used, their buffer spring tends to be noisier transferring it’s vibration into your cheekbone as the larger, heavier AR sizzed bolt reciprocates. The action her is scaled more toward a 22 LR, not a 223, so less reciprocating mass in the bolt and spring is appreciable. This is though, a fundamentally simpler, less accurate and far cheaper rifle that AR types. Magazines are also scaled to the cartridge and if you do hunt, you can fit a few in a regular pocket and with that sound moderator fitted, you cut a lot of noise from a muzzle braked rifle as it is supplied as standard. The trigger does have a little creep, but you get a feel for it and most of the rewards from this rifle, and the multiple positions you might shoot it from while maintaining a consistent, realistically stable aimpoint hold at speed are to get hits and avoid misses, without worrying how small the group is.
CZ have a new 22 LR Scorpion semi-auto rifle in the wings but that’s not to take back from what has been a reliable and fun rifle. This WMR is the closest you can get to replicate the fast fire dynamic of a true AR-15 and it’s been incredibly fun use to use for informal competition on both paper and steel with some creative courses of fire. The ammunition costs are still realistic and although not the gun for lovers of the tiniest groups, certainly quite capable of some pest control duties where a faster backup shot might just be desirable, especially for the tougher foxes you might call in to closer ranges for effective control with much less noise around urban areas than with a centrefire.
Model CZ 512
Calibre 22 WMR (22RF also available)
Magazine Capacity 10 round supplied (5 round available)
Barrel 410mm/16” Hammer forged steel, screwcut ½”x28
Scope mounting Picatinny Rail
Weight 2.8kg/6lb 4oz.
Length of pull 315mm to 502mm /12 3/8” to 14 5/8”
Accessories Muzzle Brake, Instruction Manual, Magazine
Primary Arms SLX8 Series 1-8x24 SFP riflescope
Primary Arms Cantilever scope mount
- 512 Tactical in 22 WMR
- A brake is supplied for the ½”x28 muzzle thread, the barrel is bolted within the forend above the sling stud
- Simple blowback action relies on the case’s recoil to cycle the bolt
- Length of pull is adjustable with wide range of dimensions
- There’s loads of Picatinny rail for scope mounting as well as threaded holes for accessories and a ten-round magazine
- Release catch to the front of the magazine
- Not the most accurate rifle I have ever used at 50 metres but certainly fun to shoot and very reliable
- Single stage trigger, cross bolt safety catch and bolt locking button within the trigger guard
- You can just see the barrel’s action fastening within the forend to keep everything ultra stiff