Review of CZ 515 Tactical (compared to Savage A22r)

Rimfire bolt action rifles, lever action, pump action and self loading rifles. Air rifles.

Review of CZ 515 Tactical (compared to Savage A22r)

Post by InisBineest » 14 Mar 2021, 10:43 am

So first, some context. I like rifles that are different. I hunt a little, I do a little target shooting, and I do a lot of plinking. I just enjoy firearms! To this end I buy, swap and sell all sorts to try out new things. So back a few years ago, when Savage released their A22r, I pre-ordered with the understanding of… this is gonna be good! The idea of a lever release rifle is a brilliant one for a country that heavily restricts semi-autos. They are not semi-autos though… not even close. If you owned a semi-auto .22 pre 1996, I’m sorry, but these will not fill the hole that was left by their loss.

Now the Savage, for me, was a neat bit of kit. It did what it said on the tin and had precious few downsides. It fired any of the cheap bulk ammo I fed it, was fairly light and no nonsense, and apart from its novel action, really had no gimmicky features. I still recommend them, especially considering they can now be found sub $500 new at some shops. (I bought mine for $800… no I’m not bitter about that… much). The base model has a plastic stock that… well works. It’s not fancy, but it is sturdy. The plastic dust cover for action was not idea, given its less than theoretical chance of catastrophic failure (there were some unverified reports of this), but they still sell them, and in the litigious world we live in, I imagine there would have been a recall if they were an actual danger. That and they have been used in the semi-auto A22 for years without any major issues.

For me personally, there was one major issue… it was very plain. It felt like a budget Steven’s rifle with a souped-up action. It was great for everything it said it would do… but it was a little ordinary in feel and appearance. Function, not so much, but aesthetics count for me.

Enter CZ.

I’m not in the industry, but I’m guessing Savage showed CZ that there was a potential market opening. And it looks like they rolled the dice and took a punt with the introduction of their neutered/Australianized CZ 512, the CZ 515 American and CZ 515 Tactical.

When I saw their advert for the 515, my Savage went up for sale immediately. For two reasons… One, I’m an unashamed CZ fanboy. They make good rifles, and they make fine looking rifles. Which brings me to two, the CZ 515 are fine looking rifles! It was a bit of a wait, but so it is for any rifle new to a market. I ordered the CZ 515 Tactical version and it arrived just after the first COVID lockdown in Vic.

Why the tactical? Well I have nothing against the American version, it is a fine looking rifle also. But I was after a bit of utility and interchangeability. I have a Warwick WFA1-L that is quite modular, and I have bits of kit that fit to pic rails that can let me switch between different hunting and target shooting situations. I wanted to be able to use that gear on the 22 as well. That and the similar form factor, the tactical version is a good cheap trainer (sort of) for the Warwick. But I digress…

Cz 515 S.JPG
Set up with a bit of extra rail on the bottom of the forend, a Bushnell Rimfire 6-18x40 and some cheap offset iron sights
Cz 515 S.JPG (142.74 KiB) Viewed 647 times



The CZ 515 Tactical.

Pros:
•Modularity- The top pic rail, the adjustable stock with QD sling stud, a threaded barrel, all very handy for kit that suits (I have it set up to run; a torch, a sling, a bipod and some 45 deg offset iron sights, not all at once but as needed)
•Length and weight- It’s a 16” light profile barrel and an adjustable buttstock. This thing is short enough, and not that heavy, even with a full bit of kit. Its brilliant with a sling to carry around on your front and at the ready, so popping a few rabbits on food is a breeze.
•Magazines- Its takes CZ rimfire mags… the same as the 452, 455, 465 and 512. You can get these things cheap and made in Aus (Look up Ideal small arms). This is a boon for me as I share can mags with my 455 target rifle.
•Speed- It is definitely faster than a bolt action. I can’t compare to a lever action 22, but I can say it is faster than a toggle action. If it is raw speed and no aiming, I think lever release could be fastest of the lot, but then there are some folks that get blisteringly fast with their lever 22s, so that is yet to be tested scientifically! The real benefit is not raw speed however, it is speed with accuracy. You can take shot after shot without your eye never leaving the target as all you move is the palm of your hand to slightly relocate your thumb to the lever release.
•Overall finish- Very sharp! Everything is clean and crisp, no tool marks I can see (better than the 455 receiver… that is another story!)
•The trigger- Don’t get me wrong, it is a heavy trigger! Not what I would call a highlight of the rifle. BUT, it is a lot nicer than the trigger on the A22R. This is less an outright pro for the CZ, as it is a con for the Savage. The trigger and lever release were heavy as all get out on the A22r. Mine even went back on warrantee repair for them to look at it (and they did improve it, a bit). The CZ trigger is… good, but not like what you could find on a bolt action. It is heavy, with a little bit of pre travel, but the break is crisp. It isn’t by any means a target rifle trigger, but it is perfectly usable in the field.

Cons:
•The Plastic- There is still, much like the Savage A22r, too much plastic for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, it is a proven design given the 512 has been around since 2010, but I still don’t like it! I don’t mind the alloy upper, given it is just a 22lr, but I’d much prefer and allow lower as well. Alas, it is plastic. And so too is the buttstock adaptor and the forend adaptor. If you don’t like this, the American version is only slightly better, given the wooden furniture. But still, too much plastic for my tastes.
•Overall Finish- Very sharp… but literally, the edges are very sharp. You can actually cut yourself if you hit the wrong edge the wrong way. It is fine machining, but throwing the alloy forend in a tumbler for half an hour before anodising would have much improved the end result!
•The buffer tube- I’ll make special mention here that the buffer tube is not interchangeable and is also plastic. While I believe you can swap out buttstocks (for a Magpul or such) but I’m not sure how the fit would be. I’ve resigned to use the one it come with... which is not awful… but it’s not wow either.
•The upper pic rail- Not a problem I have personally had, but others have noted that the fit between the upper pic rail and the receiver is loose. Hard to explain here, but the rail screws to the forend and the rear butt stock adaptor. There is no screw that actually holds the rail (that your optics will sit on) to the receiver. For accuracy, this is not a great design as there can be some wiggle. There are some fixes, but they either look scrappy (zip-tie) or they will definitely void your warrantee (drill and tap the receiver) This, however, is not a problem you will get with the American version.

Not a great fan but not bad S.JPG
Note the plastic buffer tube.
Not a great fan but not bad S.JPG (104.36 KiB) Viewed 647 times


A note on accuracy. I use this for plinking, and rabbits. That’s more or less it. It was the same with the Savage. They both grouped at around 1” (+/- 0.5”) at 50m with cheap bulk ammo. I don’t waste money throwing SK match at it. Why? Because neither of these rifles are target rifles. If you want a target rifle, spend the money on a proper target rifle. There is a reason you don’t see many sub $1500 rifles at bench rest comps:)

Another note I’d like to make is the location of the lever release on the CZ. This is a straight up improvement over the Savage. The A22r has its lever release located in front of the trigger guard. It’s a bit of a chunky thing, and very heavy to pull… although it has a short travel. The CZ lever is located on the right side of the receiver. It is more of an actual lever compared to the trigger like lever on the A22r, and it takes much less force to operate. It is a longer push down than the short and crisp pull on the A22r, so take that as you will. It might be more of a preference thing.

Bolt closed S.JPG
Bolt closed S.JPG (189.66 KiB) Viewed 647 times


Bolt locked back S.JPG
Bolt locked back S.JPG (105.02 KiB) Viewed 647 times


Lever throw to close bolt S.JPG
Lever throw to close bolt S.JPG (120.93 KiB) Viewed 647 times




Overall, I do like the CZ 515 more than the Savage, but it is mostly down on look and feel. Functionally they are both pretty good, but options that the 515 has from the factory just win it for me. With the A22r, you can buy an aftermarket Boyds stock, or and MDT tactical type stock for your AR grip and buttstock, but you can get either look factory from CZ. Honestly, I’m hoping Boyds come out with something for the 515, I think that would be a nice aftermarket option should it ever happen.

small cz 515 2.jpg
Next to my CZ 455 Target set up, they are a neat pair!
small cz 515 2.jpg (604.52 KiB) Viewed 647 times
Alfa Proj Carbine .357/38
CZ 455 & CZ 515 Tac, Lithgow No.1 -22lr
WFA1L .223
Ruger No.1 308


Gone:
Rem700VSF, CZ527FS -.223
CZ527 American .222
PWS T3 Summit, Mossberg802, CZ 452FS & 455PT, Savage A22R -22lr
Boito 12G
Marlin1895 45-70
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Re: Review of CZ 515 Tactical (compared to Savage A22r)

Post by womble » 14 Mar 2021, 4:12 pm

That was a great and honest review, much appreciated :thumbsup:
I think both are on anyone’s list for a light weight utilitarian 22.
So good info to know.
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Re: Review of CZ 515 Tactical (compared to Savage A22r)

Post by InisBineest » 14 Mar 2021, 6:48 pm

womble wrote:That was a great and honest review, much appreciated :thumbsup:
I think both are on anyone’s list for a light weight utilitarian 22.
So good info to know.

Cheers mate, I have a bit of fun with these reviews! I could find a written one anywhere so I thought I'd fill a gap:)
Alfa Proj Carbine .357/38
CZ 455 & CZ 515 Tac, Lithgow No.1 -22lr
WFA1L .223
Ruger No.1 308


Gone:
Rem700VSF, CZ527FS -.223
CZ527 American .222
PWS T3 Summit, Mossberg802, CZ 452FS & 455PT, Savage A22R -22lr
Boito 12G
Marlin1895 45-70
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Re: Review of CZ 515 Tactical (compared to Savage A22r)

Post by Woden » 16 Mar 2021, 11:30 am

Very nice review! My son-in-law is chomping at the bit to get his hands on the CZ Tactical so I will refer him to your excellent write up. Good work.
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Re: Review of CZ 515 Tactical (compared to Savage A22r)

Post by InisBineest » 16 Mar 2021, 12:12 pm

Woden wrote:Very nice review! My son-in-law is chomping at the bit to get his hands on the CZ Tactical so I will refer him to your excellent write up. Good work.


Cheers! If he is anywhere around northern Vic, get him to contact me and he can come have a go first.
Alfa Proj Carbine .357/38
CZ 455 & CZ 515 Tac, Lithgow No.1 -22lr
WFA1L .223
Ruger No.1 308


Gone:
Rem700VSF, CZ527FS -.223
CZ527 American .222
PWS T3 Summit, Mossberg802, CZ 452FS & 455PT, Savage A22R -22lr
Boito 12G
Marlin1895 45-70
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Re: Review of CZ 515 Tactical (compared to Savage A22r)

Post by Mattraff » 20 Mar 2021, 7:18 pm

My thoughts on this rifle after 4 months are it's really not worth the cost. I have the tactical version as I think both versions are ugly but thought the tac would be better ergonomically as the wood stock version looks a bit odd and the packing case timber makes it look cheap.
The ATI stock is absolute rubbish and is just cheap and poor quality in every way. Mounting the optic on what is a separate and esentialy a floating rail is just stupid and certainly not conducive to good accuracy. My rear rail screw came loose at the range causing some head scratching for a few minutes as the group's become very loose. I have since put some loctite on the screw and it has been ok but it only goes into plastic which is not ideal as it needs to come out every time you need to strip the rifle down to give the action a decent clean.
On a positive the action has been faultless and has fed every round I have tried without an issue. I have put 500 rounds through it without cleaning to see how it went and found no issues.
The adjustment in the stock is handy if multiple people are using the rifle and my 12 year old has claimed it for himself.
Accuracy is fine for a field gun easily achieving sub 20mm groups at 50m with most ammo and better with certain rounds.

I can see the appeal and fun factor in these lever release rifles and you can certainly go through some ammo but they are no semi auto and are really best suited to plinking in my mind.

Would I buy it again? Probably not as I don't think the tactical version is worthy of the CZ name with it's sub par stock. If I was going to buy this style of rifle I think I would just get the Savage and put the $600 saving towards my next gun.
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Re: Review of CZ 515 Tactical (compared to Savage A22r)

Post by InisBineest » 21 Mar 2021, 2:53 pm

Mattraff wrote:My thoughts on this rifle after 4 months are it's really not worth the cost. I have the tactical version as I think both versions are ugly but thought the tac would be better ergonomically as the wood stock version looks a bit odd and the packing case timber makes it look cheap.
The ATI stock is absolute rubbish and is just cheap and poor quality in every way. Mounting the optic on what is a separate and esentialy a floating rail is just stupid and certainly not conducive to good accuracy. My rear rail screw came loose at the range causing some head scratching for a few minutes as the group's become very loose. I have since put some loctite on the screw and it has been ok but it only goes into plastic which is not ideal as it needs to come out every time you need to strip the rifle down to give the action a decent clean.
On a positive the action has been faultless and has fed every round I have tried without an issue. I have put 500 rounds through it without cleaning to see how it went and found no issues.
The adjustment in the stock is handy if multiple people are using the rifle and my 12 year old has claimed it for himself.
Accuracy is fine for a field gun easily achieving sub 20mm groups at 50m with most ammo and better with certain rounds.

I can see the appeal and fun factor in these lever release rifles and you can certainly go through some ammo but they are no semi auto and are really best suited to plinking in my mind.

Would I buy it again? Probably not as I don't think the tactical version is worthy of the CZ name with it's sub par stock. If I was going to buy this style of rifle I think I would just get the Savage and put the $600 saving towards my next gun.


Fair enough. I agree the stock is far from ideal. I wouldn't call it total trash, but as you've mentioned, the floating rail is an odd choice. It hasn't caused me problems yet, but I'm anticipating them since a video that pointed that out as a potential source of inaccuracy (in that vid the rail was very loose, even when the screws were tight)
Alfa Proj Carbine .357/38
CZ 455 & CZ 515 Tac, Lithgow No.1 -22lr
WFA1L .223
Ruger No.1 308


Gone:
Rem700VSF, CZ527FS -.223
CZ527 American .222
PWS T3 Summit, Mossberg802, CZ 452FS & 455PT, Savage A22R -22lr
Boito 12G
Marlin1895 45-70
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Re: Review of CZ 515 Tactical (compared to Savage A22r)

Post by Kraken tactical » 05 Apr 2021, 10:16 pm

I'll add to this about the ATI stocks that everyone is calling rubbish. ATI designed and made the stocks for the semi auto version CZ512 however ATI didn't manufacture the stocks on the Australian version CZ 515 they haven't manufactured these stocks for over 2 yrs as CZ purchased the design rights from them so the crappy stocks on the CZ515 tactical are actually being manufactured by CZ I actually have one of the original ATI Cz 512 stocks and they are completely different and extremely well built compared to the ones fitted to the aussie CZ 515.
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Re: Review of CZ 515 Tactical (compared to Savage A22r)

Post by InisBineest » 05 Apr 2021, 10:46 pm

Kraken tactical wrote:I'll add to this about the ATI stocks that everyone is calling rubbish. ATI designed and made the stocks for the semi auto version CZ512 however ATI didn't manufacture the stocks on the Australian version CZ 515 they haven't manufactured these stocks for over 2 yrs as CZ purchased the design rights from them so the crappy stocks on the CZ515 tactical are actually being manufactured by CZ I actually have one of the original ATI Cz 512 stocks and they are completely different and extremely well built compared to the ones fitted to the aussie CZ 515.


That is interesting to hear, I'll have to dig into that. As I said, I don't consider them total trash, and even now after roughly 500 rounds, I'm still very happy with it. I will say though, the quality of my first CZ (a 452 FS in 22lr) compared to this 515 is a far cry apart. Mostly it comes down to the use of the plastic lower and adapter parts (any smith want to machine an allow one for me?) but it is interesting to hear that CZ are using the ATI plans for a product they are making themselves. I was forgiving on the basis that ATI was skimping out on finishing steps, but it's a little disappointing to hear it is likely CZ themselves:(
Last edited by InisBineest on 06 Apr 2021, 9:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Alfa Proj Carbine .357/38
CZ 455 & CZ 515 Tac, Lithgow No.1 -22lr
WFA1L .223
Ruger No.1 308


Gone:
Rem700VSF, CZ527FS -.223
CZ527 American .222
PWS T3 Summit, Mossberg802, CZ 452FS & 455PT, Savage A22R -22lr
Boito 12G
Marlin1895 45-70
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Re: Review of CZ 515 Tactical (compared to Savage A22r)

Post by No1_49er » 06 Apr 2021, 5:30 am

InisBineest wrote: Honestly, I’m hoping Boyds come out with something for the 515, I think that would be a nice aftermarket option should it ever happen.

Given that this version of CZ rifle is made exclusively for the Australian market, overall numbers in the grand scheme of things would hardly be conducive of Boyd's producing a stock that would, in essence, be an exclusive Australian thing, for only a percentage of those that own them.
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Re: Review of CZ 515 Tactical (compared to Savage A22r)

Post by InisBineest » 06 Apr 2021, 7:08 am

No1_49er wrote:
InisBineest wrote: Honestly, I’m hoping Boyds come out with something for the 515, I think that would be a nice aftermarket option should it ever happen.

Given that this version of CZ rifle is made exclusively for the Australian market, overall numbers in the grand scheme of things would hardly be conducive of Boyd's producing a stock that would, in essence, be an exclusive Australian thing, for only a percentage of those that own them.



Well they did for the A22r, and given a stock for the CZ 515 would be same as the CZ 512, it could be a goer:)

I have it in another thread, but id love to keep the forend and replace just the buttstock and pistol grip with a wooden one for a two tone look!
Alfa Proj Carbine .357/38
CZ 455 & CZ 515 Tac, Lithgow No.1 -22lr
WFA1L .223
Ruger No.1 308


Gone:
Rem700VSF, CZ527FS -.223
CZ527 American .222
PWS T3 Summit, Mossberg802, CZ 452FS & 455PT, Savage A22R -22lr
Boito 12G
Marlin1895 45-70
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Re: Review of CZ 515 Tactical (compared to Savage A22r)

Post by Kraken tactical » 08 Apr 2021, 1:19 am

You can fix the wobbles with a bit of adhesive felt I've got the American in 22wmr with the tactical stock fitted and it is laser accurate but it has the longer barrel. I did also read in the manual for cz512 that the tactical barrels are only suit for standard velocity ammo where as the longer American barrels can run high velocity what ever that means.
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Re: Review of CZ 515 Tactical (compared to Savage A22r)

Post by InisBineest » 08 Apr 2021, 8:38 am

Kraken tactical wrote:You can fix the wobbles with a bit of adhesive felt I've got the American in 22wmr with the tactical stock fitted and it is laser accurate but it has the longer barrel. I did also read in the manual for cz512 that the tactical barrels are only suit for standard velocity ammo where as the longer American barrels can run high velocity what ever that means.


Good tip if that's an issue for you. I took mine out the other day and was getting 1 inch groups with Winchester bulk pack (Standard velocity CPHP).

I've given my scope a good wiggle, mine has no give in it whatsoever, this rail seems on nice and tight. That said, I have seen a video where a 22wmr chambered one had quite a lot of wiggle room between the rail and the upper. I recon an extra screw into the upper would do it alright, but you'd want to know want you are doing to thread it well, and to make sure the screw bottom didn't protrude into the path of the bolt.
Alfa Proj Carbine .357/38
CZ 455 & CZ 515 Tac, Lithgow No.1 -22lr
WFA1L .223
Ruger No.1 308


Gone:
Rem700VSF, CZ527FS -.223
CZ527 American .222
PWS T3 Summit, Mossberg802, CZ 452FS & 455PT, Savage A22R -22lr
Boito 12G
Marlin1895 45-70
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