In my post on Wednesday we covered the following parts of the CZ 712 Practical, (6) Loader, carrier button, (5) safety, (7) bolt release, (8) bolt handle, (10) mag tube extension and follower. Some, I felt, were excellent for an entry level shotgun such as this one, other features, I said, needed minimal tweaking to bring them to a level that would benefit the beginning 3 gunner. We’ll get to the DIY opportunities that the 712 Practical offers, but first, we must discuss a few major (and a couple minor) features of the gun.
For the 22” barrel (9), CZ-USA includes five choke tubes that seem to get the job done. They are of sturdy stainless steel construction as is the included key. There are three things I would like to mention about CZ’s included set:
First, with the mag tube extended past the end of the barrel, changing chokes can be a bit time consuming. Extended chokes would be easier to twist on and off. A few companies make extended chokes for CZ shotguns including CZ-usa, themselves and Briley. However, don’t expect to find them at your local sporting goods store. (If they don’t sell the gun, it’s not likely that they will sell accessories for it either, and CZ shotguns are not on every store shelf, like some brands.)
Second, the chokes come in a box separated by a bit of dense packing foam. They fit neatly in this box but I doubt this set up will last long at the range. Get yourself something nicer that will hold you chokes and keep them safe.
Third, there are tiny notches on the outer rim of each choke to identify it. Anyone who needs reading glasses, will need them to see these markings. Further, you may want to keep a note in your choke case that clarifies what three notches means, in comparison to one notch, or five.
The 22” barrel is a great length for 3 gun, because it is easy to maneuver, yet accurate with flying clays (provided you select the right choke for each stage). At the end of the barrel sits a basic brass bead, that is easily swapped for a fiber optic, if you’re not a shotgun purist. I think I would also like rear sights on the 712 Practical, but I have been surviving without them, so far. The barrel is safe even when dropped in a 3 gun “dump barrel” partially because of the sturdiness of the ATI mag tube extension. As a 3 gun beginner I can imagine that dumping one’s gun, nose down, might be concerning, but this design helps to alleviate any hesitation.
What seems to draw the most attention about the 712 Practical, is the stock (3). It is the ATI “Talon” made especially for the CZ 712. The stock is an M4 style 6 position adjustable part, that is mounted on a commercial spec “buffer” tube. The pad (1) on the butt of the gun is ATI’s “Scorpion X2” which is supposed to help with recoil. (Let me stop here and note that the only thing that I have found to help with 12 gauge recoil, is proper stance and light load shells. ) The drop at the comb is noticeably drastic, but it is helped by the cheek rest (2) that is included with the 712. All this adjustability is good for some beginners, but may confuse others. As a female, I appreciate that, unlike almost every shotgun on the market, I can fit the stock of the 712 Practical exactly to my specifications. Shotgun stocks, off the shelf, are not made for those of us with long thin faces and necks, so finding a gun that fits will always take some work.
Also interesting is the Talon’s addition of a pistol grip. A stock with a pistol grip may not be a common option for most 3 gunners anymore, but I can see how one might come in handy in some of the more odd shooting positions. While the pistol grip may offer more options in one way, it may limit a shooter when it comes to speed loading techniques. With a weak hand reload the gun is usually dropped under the arm and pinned against the shooters body. I would discourage the use of this method with the CZ 712 Practical, for two reasons: First, when pinning the gun, a shooter will keep their strong hand on the gun in shooting position. When holding a pistol grip, this maneuver might torque the shooters wrist and prove virtually impossible. Second, the hard plastic, AR style stock would make squeezing the gun highly uncomfortable.
The Talon stock is my biggest concern when it comes to the new 712 Practical. Just by touching it, one notices the poor fit it has around the “buffer” tube. The rattle made me less than confident about the stock from the moment I began using it. I will say that while I had my doubts about the pistol grip initially, I have come to appreciate it and have no interest in removing it. The predecessor to the Practical, the 712 ALS, used ATI’s “Akita” stock which is also adjustable in length and comb height while appearing far more solid (though I have not put hands on it as of yet). The Talon can be changed on the 712 Practical, for any commercial spec AR stock, or one can buy the Akita from ATI and adaptor parts that allow it to fit the 712 receiver.