Yesterday morning I went out to shoot some cottontails that were hanging a little too close to my garden. I took a CZ .22 long rifle.
Yesterday evening I went over to my buddies ranch to shoot some jackrabbits that were eating his cow’s grass. I used a CZ .17 HMR.
Neither of these incidents is noteworthy in and of themselves. The interesting part of this tale is that I used the same basic rifle for both events. Yep, CZ has on the market a neat little rifle that has a quickly interchangeable barrel system that allows the owner (not a gunsmith) to easily change from the inexpensive .22 long rifle to the more powerful (and more expensive) .17 Hornady Rimfire Magnum. It is the CZ 455 American Combo Package. See it at the CZ website. http://www.cz-usa.com/products/view/455-american/
After my cottontail expedition yesterday morning I went to my workshop, got out my screwdriver set and swapped the barrels out. It was an uncomplicated job that would have been considerably more uncomplicated if the included instructions had been a bit more complete (there is a video on the CZ website that demonstrates how to change the barrels, but I don’t have a computer in my workshop). Even with having to figure out a couple of insufficiently explained steps, the job was simple, and I had the barrels swapped and was sighting in the little rifle for the .17 HMR in less than 30 minutes.
The difference in point of impact at 50 yards wasn’t much, and if I had been satisfied with 50 yards I probably wouldn’t have changed a thing, but I wanted the gun ready for anything up to a hundred yards, so I adjusted the sights until it was dead center at a hundred.
Everyone knows how a .22 long rifle hollow point handles a cottontail, so I won’t go into that, but I was, I admit, a bit surprised at how well the .17 HMR handled the jackrabbit. I found the big jack hanging around my buddy’s feed yard, nibbling on the sweet, tender forbs that have sprung up after our recent rains. It was after dark and he was just barely visible in the upper edge of my friend’s headlight beams. I leaned out the passenger window, took a solid rest on the big mirror on his ranch truck, got the jackrabbit in the 4X scope, and squeezed the trigger. At the pop of the CZ there was a thump from the rabbit and he flopped over and never even kicked. The little 20-grain hollow point hit the rabbit behind the right shoulder and left an exit wound an inch across in the ribs of his left side.
I love the CZ. It’s accuracy is superior and the ability to change from .22 long rifle which currently costs about 20 bucks for a box of 550 hollow points, to the .17 HMR which currently costs from $12 to $20 a box of 50 rounds, is a real boon to the shooter. He can practice with the inexpensive .22 long rifle, and if he feels he needs the power, switch over to the .17 HMR, with minimal trouble.
The only thing I would do differently, if I were CZ, is that I would offer the outfit with a .22 Magnum barrel, as an option. The .17 HMR is a nifty, accurate, flat-shooting cartridge, but the tiny bullets do tend to lack in penetration and often will fragment like itty-bitty grenades. I tested the .17 HMR when it first came out and found that it worked well on critters up to the size of jackrabbits, but failed much too often on animals such as coyotes and bobcats. After several failures on well hit animals I just quit using it on anything larger than the big hares. The .22 WMR, while still insufficient for any bigger animal, does have a larger, heavier bullet, which provides greater penetration. In the case of a person who thinks he just has to use a rimfire on the larger animals, the .22 WMR is a much better choice. While I do not reccommend the practice, our executive editor, Chester Moore, has used the .22 WMR successfully on wild hogs, using very carefully aimed head shots.
This really is a neat package for the guy or gal who wants both calibers in high quality guns, but doesn’t want to plop down that much hard-earned cash. Nice. Very nice.