The CA 527 Carbine – A modern bolt action rifle chambered in two modern military calibers
Article By Nick Jacobellis
Those of us who are military history enthusiasts know, that millions of bolt action rifles chambered in various calibers have been used by combatants in numerous wars and combat actions throughout the world. Even in the 21st Century, bolt action rifles have been effectively used to engage terrorists, insurgents, and enemy military personnel. Likewise, modern-day law enforcement tactical teams also include highly qualified snipers, who are armed with bolt action rifles chambered in various calibers.
In this article for ARGunners.com, we will review a current production premium brand bolt action rifle, that is available/chambered in two of the most widely used modern military calibers. I am referring to the CZ 527 Carbine in .223/5.56 NATO and 7.62×39 calibers. As far as military-grade firearms are concerned, CZ USA is the U.S. based subsidiary of Ceska zbrojovka Uhersky Brod, the world-famous Czech manufacturing company.
In the Beginning
The first bolt action rifle that I ever fired was a .22 LR caliber Remington. That was a very long time ago, when I was a kid in summer camp and I participated in NRA competitions. One of the reasons why so many years passed before I fired a bolt action rifle, was because I was never a hunter. I also served as a state police officer in New York City, before police departments issued and or authorized semi-automatic magazine-fed rifles to patrol personnel. Even when I joined the U.S. Customs Service and I trained with and was issued a variety of select-fire and semi-automatic rifles and submachine guns, I never owned or trained with a bolt action rifle. Instead, I trained with and carried M1 Carbines, GB Model Ruger Mini 14s, a Colt M16, a Colt CAR 15 (an early model M4), an HK 93 (.223/5.56), as well as 9mm submachine guns, including the HK MP5 and the Walther MPK.
After I retired from my LE career and I started writing magazine articles and books, I focused on field testing numerous semi-automatic and select-fire rifles, carbines, and sub guns. My lack of experience with bolt action rifles changed when I had the opportunity to shoot a sniper version of a WWII refurbished Springfield Model 1903 .30.06 caliber rifle. While nailing targets at 300 yards with this amazing battle rifle, I gained a tremendous amount of respect for the troops who carried a bolt action rifle in combat. After all, unlike the semi-automatic battle rifles that saw service in WWI, WWII and in other conflicts to date, a bolt action rifle like the Springfield ‘03 was only loaded with 5 rounds of hard-hitting 30.06 caliber ammunition. Ironically, after years of not shooting bolt action rifles, the third bolt action rifle that I fired since I was a kid, was another Springfield M1903 that I refurbished for my youngest son.
Fast forward to 2020 when the United States experienced another shortage of ammunition and beyond skyrocketing prices for the available ammunition. Even by April of 2021, ammunition was still in short supply and when it was for sale, the ammo was being sold at insane prices.
When I decided to field test a bolt action rifle I asked my contact at CZ to send me two Model 527 Carbines. As stated above, I made this request because CZ manufactures their Model 527 Carbine in two of the most popular military calibers in the world. I was also interested in the CZ 527 because the .223 variant is also chambered to reliably operate with 5.56 NATO caliber ammunition. This capability makes the 527 much more versatile than a rifle that is only chambered to operate with a .223 caliber ammunition. The CZ Model 527 Carbines can also be reliably operated with steel cased or brass cased ammunition. This is an important point because during the recent ammo shortage in the U.S., it was possible to purchase steel-cased ammunition. Steel cased .223 and 7.62×39 caliber ammo is also generally less expensive than brass cased ammunition. Stand by because there’s more. The CZ Model 527 Carbine is also fitted with a set of fixed sights, that includes an adjustable rear sight and a hooded front fiber optic sight. The bolt action Model 527 is also equipped with a set trigger and is designed to use a very well-made five-round detachable metal magazine.
When the time came to consider which sighting system to use on these CZ bolt action rifles, I decided to begin testing the Model 527s while using iron sights. I did so for several reasons. One was because much like the famous Springfield Model 1903 and other famous rifles like the ones made by Mauser, millions of troops effectively used bolt action rifles fitted with iron sights in many armed conflicts. My other reason was that except for various Trijicon ACOG magnified optics, as well as Trijicon and Aimpoint red dot optics, I’ve been using iron sights on various semi-auto/select-fire rifles and sub-machine guns for several decades. As a result, I am confident that I can engage torso and humanoid size targets at various CQB distances and beyond with a rifle fitted with iron sights. That said, for the second half of this Field Test, I evaluated a CZ Carbine with a Trijicon Credo Rifle Scope. (More on this later.)
Even though I am not a hunter, if I found myself in a hardcore survival situation, a CZ 527 Carbine in .223/5.56 NATO and 7.62×39 could be used to take certain types of game. At 37.4 inches long and weighing just under 6 pounds unloaded, the CZ 527 is a carbine-length firearm that is ideally suited to be carried in brush country. The compact nature of the CZ 527 design (37.4 inches long) and it is relatively lightweight also makes this carbine easy to wield in fairly close quarters. These features make the CZ 527 in either military caliber a capable performer as a Personal Defense Weapon. As stated earlier, the fact that CZ 527 Carbine is designed to be operated while using brass or steel ammunition also makes these rifles a very versatile firearm to possess, when it comes to ammunition selection.
When it came time to field test the CZ 527 Carbine Model Number 03371 chambered in .223/5.56 NATO I assembled a variety of brands and types of ammunition, including IMI 55 grain 5.56 NATO, Federal XM193 5.56 NATO, Hornady M193 5.56 NATO, Hornady Varmint Express V-Max.223 and Hornady steel cased .223. The ammunition that I assembled to field test the CZ 527 Model Number 03050 chambered in 7.62×39 included Golden Tiger, Silver Bear, and Wolf.
During the first range session a TQ19 Law Enforcement Qualification Target and a metal plate the size of the scoring area on a TQ19 was used to evaluate how the 7.62×39 and the .223/5.56 NATO caliber variants performed at CQB distances and beyond 75 yards using iron sights. When testing this rifle at CQB various distances out to 25 yards, I also made it a point to time how fast I could accurately put rounds on target while operating a bolt action rifle. The fact that the CZ 527 has a bolt assembly that is a scaled-down version of the famous Mauser bolt, made it possible to accurately engage targets with enough speed to be effective against one or more threats.
The first range session produced some very interesting results. Between the two rifles, the 527 Carbine chambered in 7.62×39 caliber consistently delivered the best accuracy. The level of accuracy that I am referring to was a tad under two inches at 25 yards from a standing unsupported position. The 7.62×39 variant also delivered hit after hit on the metal plate at 75 yards, from a standing unsupported position. Bear in mind that this part of the test was conducted using steel cased 7.62×39 caliber ammo.
I should also mention, that while both rifles needed to have their rear sight adjusted, the 527 Carbine in 7.62×39 required fewer adjustments, which explains why this variant produced better results during the first range session. In contrast, the .223/5.56 NATO model initially shot more to the left, but still delivered groups that were under three inches.
During range session number two, my buddy Retired School District Patrol Sergeant Rick Batory headed back out into the wide-open spaces to make some additional adjustments to the front and rear sight on the CZ 527 in 7.62×39 caliber. Once this was done, the rifle was used to accurately engage a relatively small target at a distance of 70 yards. Rick then finished sighting in the CZ 527 in .223/5.56 NATO caliber.
During range session number three I took over the testing of the CZ 527 chambered in .223/5.56 NATO and began engaging targets at 50 yards from a standing position. While using magazines loaded with 55 grain M193 ammunition, I scored a succession of hits on small orange clay discs as fast as I could cycle the bolt and pull the trigger from a standing unsupported position. Now that the 527 Carbine in .223/5.56 NATO caliber was properly sighted in, the performance of this rifle improved to match the performance of the 7.62×39 variant.
Precision shot placement with the Trijicon credo rifle scope.
While both variants of the CZ 527 have proven to be very adequate performers while using iron sights, you can increase the capabilities of these bolt action firearms, by equipping either of these carbines with a suitable rifle scope. The scope that I selected for use on my pair of CZ 527 Carbines is the Trijicon Credo 1-6×24. I selected this scope for several reasons. First and foremost is my long standing preference for Trijicon products. This particular rifle scope is also a bit of a “cross over” that combines the same features of a traditional magnified rifle scope with that of a traditional red dot.
Once installed on the CZ 527 in .223/5.56 NATO, the Trijicon Credo 1-6×24 turned this rifle into a precision platform that delivered sub ½ inch groups with 55 grain Hornady M193 and 55 grain Hornady .223 V-Max Varmint Express ammunition. While equipped with the Trijicon Credo 1-6×24, the CZ 527 Carbine in .223/5.56 NATO was also used to effectively engage targets at distances ranging from 25 yards to 200 yards from a sitting, standing supported, and standing unsupported position. In fact, combining the CZ 527 with a Trijicon Credo 1-6×24 scope and Hornady M193 55 grain ammunition, along with Hornady steel cased .223 and Hornady 55 grain .223 V-Max ammo produced one of THE MOST accurate platforms that I have ever evaluated. I should also mention that the Hornady steel-cased 55 grain .223 caliber ammo also proved to be the most accurate steel cased ammo that I have tested to date.
Lightweight-compact-accurate-reliable-easy to wield, easy to operate, and easy to maintain.
During my career as a U.S. Customs Agent, including when I worked undercover, I was injured several times in the line of duty, including when I crash-landed an undercover aircraft while sitting in the co pilot’s seat without the benefit of seat belt protection, while serving on an undercover vessel during a storm at sea and while operating an undercover vehicle. All total, I sustained 11 different physical injuries that include two hip and nine spine and head injuries. As a result of these injuries, I suffer from varying degrees of chronic pain regularly. I mention this because as I get older I gravitate toward firearms that are lighter and easier to carry and wield. Both of the CZ 527 Carbines featured in this article fit this bill. The first time I picked up a CZ 527 Carbine in 7.62×39 caliber, I immediately ordered a CZ 527 Carbine in .223/5.56 NATO caliber.
I also ordered a polymer stock from CZ and installed it on my 527 Carbine in .223/5.56 NATO caliber. Even though the Turkish Walnut stock is very well executed, the polymer stock makes this rifle less prone to being damaged when transported in a vehicle and used in rugged outdoor conditions. The polymer stock also has a slightly edged surface that is comfortable to grip and makes it possible to hold onto this rifle with wet hands.
At some point in the future, I intend to equip one of my CZ 527 Carbines with a tactical rail, that can be used in conjunction with a lightweight premium brand red dot optic. I am looking forward to conducting an extended field test with the CZ 527, because I’ve used well made red dot optics to effectively engage targets out to 300 plus yards with various .223/5.56 NATO and 7.62×39 caliber semi-automatic rifles. Installing a lightweight red dot optic on such a well made carbine length bolt action rifle seems like an experiment that is worth conducting.
If you are in the market for an extremely well-made bolt action rifle, that is chambered in modern military calibers and can be used with steel cased or brass cased ammunition, check out the CZ 527 Carbine. I assure you that you won’t be disappointed.
About the Author: Nick Jacobellis is a Medically Retired U.S. Customs Agent and a former NY police officer who was physically disabled in the line of duty while working undercover as a federal agent. To date, the author has published over 180 magazine articles and nine action-packed nonfiction, historical fiction, and fiction books: Controlled Delivery Books One and Two, The Frontline Fugitives Books I, II, III, and IV, Buck Banderas U.S. Marshal Books One and Two and A Special Kind of Hero. These books have received 5 Star reviews and are available on Amazon.com (US), and (UK). He was born and raised in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn NY and has a BS Degree in Police Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice