For the past few months I have been learning the ins and outs of 3 gun shooting competitions and it would have been pretty difficult to accomplish this without a shotgun with which to work. By SHOTShow 2014 I had at home, a rifle and a few pistols, yet, up to that point, shotguns were still not on my radar. So when it came time to bring a shotgun into my world, I wanted to work with one that had some 3 gun mods already, but that might also fall into the category of “entry level”. CZ’s 712 Practical retails for $699.00 and with the brand’s long history of lux sporting shotguns, one can expect a solid platform on which to build.
I actually received the very first 712 Practical ever assembled, because while the gun had been unveiled in January, CZ was having trouble getting certain parts from other manufacturers. According to my last communication with CZ, the shotguns should now be in the hands of retailers with more on the way. These guns seem well suited for the beginner 3 gunner, because they are adaptable but also offer some of the most important features, right out of the box. If I were CZ, I would play up the ease of loading the 712 Practical. The first time I tried I thought I must be doing something wrong. Without a welded fork or a cut back loading port, this shotgun is RIDICULOUSLY easy to load. I couldn’t get my thumb stuck even if I wanted to! However, if you buy one of these guns and get the original fork welded, or feel like one loading fork just isn’t enough, CZ’s gunsmith is known for sending out an extra one, at no charge.
Similar to Benelli’s M2, the CZ 712 has a carrier button for clearing the chamber without unloading the entire tube. In the CZ, the carrier button is at the base of the fork. Some 3 gun shotguns I have seen have this button and for emptying an entire tube of dummy rounds, it can be a bit of a pain. Other than that very specific situation, it has caused me no issues.
The bolt release and bolt handle are not the big, easy-to-manipulate controls most 3 gunners prefer, and there aren’t many aftermarket parts available for CZ. However, I am now of the opinion that oversized charging handles are over rated. They have been known to bend or break when shooting fast ammo or heavy hitting slugs and they offer little to anyone with reasonable finger dexterity. I would like to see a big release button on the CZ someday, but this is the most minor item on my short list of drawbacks, and there are some easy diy fixes I plan to try. While I might be inclined to enlarge or adjust the bolt release, the safety I will likely leave untouched. It’s a basic safety, as I would expect from this price level, but here again, the shotgun offers room to grow.
The ATI fluted extension tube turns the gun from a 4+1 into an 9+1 is a big heavy piece of steel that replaces a threaded cap on the end of the original mag tube. I have been informed that each 712 Practical that ships will have the inside of the extension tube deburred for a smooth transition for the follower. As mine was the first to go out, no deburring was done and it was noticeable when attempting to load the 5th and 6th shells into the tube. Even with the deburring, my suggestion is to invest in a metal follower. I purchased one for a little more than $10 and have been very pleased. The plastic follower that comes with the 712 is decent when not speed loading, but there is a noticeable improvement when switching to metal and this is an easy upgrade to make.
I have so much more to share about this gun, from the brass bead to the stock, that I feel it would be better to be thorough rather than squeeze it all into one post. Check back with me on Monday for part II of my CZ 712 Practical review. Until then, head to your local gun shop and see if they have any yet. I bet some of you may even get your hands on one.