Thinking about rifles

For whatever reasons, I spend a decent amount of my mental free time (different from actual free time) thinking about guns.  I know that probably comes as a shock to you guys, but it’s true.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about rifles, and especially bolt action rifles.  Me with a bolt action gun may seem a bit incongruous, with my known love of GOING FAST, but I’ve always preferred bolt guns to semi-automatic rifles. They just feel more natural, I suppose. Obviously, you’re not going to win any 3 gun matches with a bolt action rifle, but if you do want to compete with it there is always the option of doing long range matches.

However, what I’ve been thinking of for a bolt action rifle is a bit like Jeff Cooper’s concept of a Scout Rifle, except with a few minor twists. I’d like to have the reduced weight and forward optics of a scout-type rifle, but in 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington instead of .308. Sure, you lose some terminal ballistics, but the reduction in weight and felt recoil make the gun even better for humping around the horrible post-apocalyptic hellscape. Now, what I’d really like would be for the gun to accept NATO magazines. A bolt action .223 that feeds from standard AR style magazines would be the berries for a defensive carry rifle. Since everyone seems to be talking about how the world/economy/social order is going to collapse soon (it’s not) I figured the best rifle for that collapse would be a bolt action .223 with an 18 inch barrel, forward mounted optic, back up iron sights, and the ability to feed from standard AR15 magazines.  CZ-USA makes the closest approximation I’m going to find on the commercial market, the CZ-527 Carbine in .223 or 7.62×39.  It’s pretty much exactly what I had in mind, save for the fact that I don’t think it takes NATO magazines.


  1. IIRC, they no longer make it, but the Savage Model 10 Scout isn’t a bad choice, kind of a Poor Man’s Cooper Scout. The downside is it really needs a 10-round magazine, and finding the factory 3-rounders is tough enough. The plus is that it’s .308, and while .223 seems to be all the rage, there’s nothing you can do with a .223 that you can’t do with a .308 250 meters farther out.

  2. It’s not? Damn. I was all ready, too. What am I going to do with all of the black leather, the football pads and motorcycles I’ve been stockpiling?

    I could always pretend to be a Raiders fan, but that is not nearly as much fun as being the Lord Humongous, warrior of the wasteland.

  3. I’ve had a look towards those CZ carbines myself. Been trying to justify getting one in 7.62×39. There is the coolness factor and the fact I already have to buy that cartridge for my SKS and AK.
    I keep putting it off in favor of practical stuff that I need to fill holes in my small collection of firearms.

  4. I had a similar hankering a while ago and got a Ruger Frontier in .308 with the Leupold scout scope. There was a THR thread a while back about someone modifying an M1A 10-round mag to fit in the Frontier. It required no modifications to the gun, but alas, the mag in that setup is not removable.

    The pictures are now gone from the thread but I made a pdf of the thread (with pictures). If you are interested, email me.

  5. I guess I don’t understand the attraction of bolt guns, especally bolt guns in Minor caliber.

    A 16″ AR would do everything a CZ527 would, with the additional benefit of being fast to hit with up close.

    The CZs are pretty rifles, though.

  6. I’ve got to agree with CJR…

    BTW – Steyr made pretty much this rifle as the 556 version scout. Ok, so the magazines weren’t USGI, etc, but then again, going prone with a 30 rounder is a bit tough…

  7. Believe it or not I also spend a significant amount of time thinking about gun 😉 I love bolt actions, they are simply, reliable and straight forward.

    Now that I think about it I cannot think of any bolt action that has been modified to take STANAG magazines. I would have have thought somebody would have done it.

    This modern lee-enfield is quite cool. It can take AK mags but cannot be imported stateside because parts of it are made in ‘nam.

  8. I can think of two reasons why one might opt for a 5.56 bolt gun over a semi auto carbine. Local laws banning autoloaders, or you’re a cheapskate.

    Factory ARs seem to be selling for about $1000 these days. If you spend $400 on a new Savage or Remington bolt gun and another $300 on an optic and rings, you’re $300 ahead, and have something that’s more effective at distance. Just keep in mind a magnifying optic is pretty much useless at ranges under 50 yards, since it’s easy to get lost in the scope. The bolt gun should also have factory iron sights and scope rings that loosen and detach without tools so you can ditch the scope quickly when it breaks.

    Personally, I’d rather spend the extra coin on a real fighting gun. Economize somewhere else.

  9. I’m sure all those guys killed by bolt action rifles during pretty much every war since they were invented will be happy to know it’s not a “real” fighting rifle.

  10. Plenty of guys before that were killed by spears and arrows, but I’m not looking to stock up on those either.

  11. I wouldn’t discount the worth of a rifle because it is obsolete under battlefield conditions we are 99.98% unlikely to encounter. the Mad Max/shtf/teotwawki scenario isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. I could be wrong, but I figure my semi-auto rifles are unlikely to be used for anything but hitting inanimate targets.

  12. Stumbled across your blog and thought I’d share my two cents.

    I’ve had a CZ 527 in 7.62×39 for 2 years now and it is one of the finest little bolt actions around IMO. Out of the box accuracy was superb and the balance is dead on. Quality is top-notch and it slings on your shoulder so naturally you’ll forget that its there.

    There are two issues you should be aware of however. Putting a scope on it ruins the handy nature of the weapon in my experience and the single set trigger does not like lacquer coated steelcase. Some of the lacquer scraped of f and temporarily jammed the clockwork-like innards of the trigger. Shame to, as I had a lot of that com-bloc crap.

  13. I’ve got a CZ 527 Carbine in 7.62×39. Shoot pretty good with some bulk ammo I got a few years ago with the Hornady V-Max 123 grain bullet. It groups about 1″ at 100 yds with that round. I haven’t played with it in awhile though as I haven’t been able to find that ammo with the V-Max bullet. That would be a perfect 50 yard deer rifle. It’s very light, even with a scope and accurate enough to get the job done. And I’ve never put any of that Wolf crap ammo through it.

  14. Actually, what I was thinking about doing was buying one of the Ruger M77 Hawkeye Compact rifles in .223. It’s got a 16.5 inch barrel, weights about 6 pounds, and is basically ideal for what I’ve got in mind. It wouldn’t have a forward mounted scope, but I could slap an ACOG on there and be all set.

  15. I’m the proud owner of both a LMT CQB (AR), and one of the Kimber Montana .223’s. While the AR is fun to play with, even as a carbine it’s really too heavy to do much killing on things that don’t shoot back (and let’s all be real here, that’s the pretty much the extent of it for those of us that have the choice of which guns to use). I’ve gotta say, at 5 1/4 pounds (or 6.5 with Leupold FX-3 6×42), the bolt gun is awfully hard to beat for actual killing, with a 22″ barrel to boot.

  16. Make that 6.0 pounds even, for the Kimber .223 with Leupold 6×42 FX-3, just weighed it.
    Hard to beat…

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