CZ-USA Model 527M M, 7.62x39mm Carbine – Product Review Short by Nature - Not short on Performance!

CZ-USA was founded in 1997 and is the US-based subsidiary of Česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod, a Czech firearms manufacturer. CZ-USA, based in Kansas City, Kansas, is responsible for the importation and distribution of CZ products in the United States.

The CZ 527M, when chambered in 7.62×39, comes in several configurations (American, American Rustic, American Left-handed, Carbine, and Youth Carbine (short LOP)). While I like full-size hunting rifles, the CZ 527M Carbine would make a fine companion to the SKS and AK-based firearms that I have for sending 7.62x39mm projectiles down range. Note that the CZ 527M is also offered in other chambering; for example, the .223 Remington. The 7.62x39mm is, simply, one of my preferred cartridges. For comparison, the Ruger 10/22 and the M1 Carbine would be very close in both size and weight.

THE BASICS:

The Carbine is an intermediate range ‘brush gun.’ Weighing in at less than 6 lbs, this handy rifle has a straight comb walnut stock and open sights. For a long time this was our only model chambered in 7.62×39 (now joined by the 527M Youth Carbine), it combines low recoil with effectiveness on medium-sized game such as deer and wild boar, making it ideal for younger shooters. Both chamberings offered in the Carbine are economical to shoot given their service rifle heritage and the availability of surplus ammunition.

Built to CIP specifications, our 7.62×39 chambers are ideal for shooting steel-cased surplus ammo. Designed to shoot .311 bullets, some American brass ammo may not perform as well as the imported steel-cased variety because of SAAMI brass dimensions and varying bullet diameters.

– Source: CZ-USA

THE REALITY:

Ruger used to make a rifle for the 7.62x39mm cartridge with their M77 MKII series, but has since been discontinued. I understand that they were fine rifles; albeit pricey, but quality rifles usually are. For a time (2006 – 2008), Remington Arms advertised the Compact Model 799 Mini Mauser bolt-action rifle chambered in 7.62×39mm in 2006. Savage Arms has introduced (around 2010–2011) their own bolt-action rifle in 7.62×39mm caliber – Model: 10 FCM Scout. However, it is no longer available in 7.62x39mm. The aforementioned firearms can still be found, but simply are no longer manufactured.

Of course, there is the Ruger Mini-Thirty, but another 7.62x39mm semi-automatic firearm was both unwanted and not needed since I already had a stake in semi-automatic firearms in this caliber. The CZ 527M Carbine in 7.62x39mm seemed to have all of the qualities that I like in a firearm; wood furniture, quality steel with excellent finishing, good sights, light in weight, and an excellent trigger system. There is something “old school” in most of the CZ firearms that I just favor.

The CZ 527M Carbine is not “tactical” in any sense of the word. With a 5-round detachable magazine, it is essentially a brush gun; a carbine capable of shooting the 7.62x39mm cartridge with better accuracy as compared to Samozaryadnyj Karabin sistemy Simonova or Kalashnikov firearms, and that can be used for hunting, personal defense, target shooting, or plinking.

I have developed a fondness for having a bolt-action firearm for any semi-automatic firearm that I may have, and the CZ 527M in 7.62x39mm does fit within that fondness. I have to say that if CZ-USA offered the Model 527M in the same caliber, but with a full (Mannlicher) stock, that would have been my first choice. Unfortunately, the Model 527M with the full stock is only available in .223 Remington.

Fit and Finish:

There is something about a well-fitted firearm of wood and steel that just warms the cockles of my heart, and the CZ 527M Carbine warms the cockles of my heart. The wood furniture mates to steel in a fine fashion.

Safety Considerations:

The safety lever is located on the right-rear of the receiver. For a right-handed shooter, the safety lever is well accessible with the trigger finger or thumb of the shooting hand. For a left-handed long-gun shooter like myself, I simply use the thumb of the shooting hand (or support hand) to actuate the safety.

The safety is a two-position safety; up for “safe” and down for “fire.” Some have complained about the direction of the safety, but you have to consider that the Mossberg 500 shotgun, with its tang safety, operates in a similar fashion – rearward to fire, forward to safe. The bolt or trigger cannot be operated when in the “safe” position (up). The safety lever cannot be actuated when the bolt is unlocked and to the rear.

The Trigger:

The trigger of the CZ 527M is a somewhat complicated affair with all kinds of adjustments available to the owner/operator.

  • Standard trigger pull adjustment
  • Set trigger pull adjustment
  • Pre-travel adjustment
  • Over-travel adjustment

I felt no need to adjust anything on the trigger. Out of the box, the standard trigger pull weight was 3.5 pounds average. The set trigger pull weight was 13.9 ounces! That’s right; the set trigger pull weight is less than a pound!

Out of the box, there was absolutely no pre-travel nor over-travel. When you place the trigger finger on the trigger, the trigger is ready to go when you are. In the case of the set trigger position, the trigger may be ready before you are.

The Bolt:

The “Mini-Mauser” short-throw bolt of the CZ 527M is as excellent in form as it is in function. Upon raising the bolt handle, the rifle cocks. The bolt slides as smoothly to the rear and just as smoothly when chambering a fresh cartridge from the detachable box magazine (see, The Magazine).

Locking is very positive and unlocking the bolt lends itself well to my “open-hand” method of working a bolt-action long gun.

The extractor is very robust, which it has to be when used for extracting steel-cased ammunition that is common to European ammunition manufacturers. The bolt works the smoothest with brass-cased ammunition, of course.

Ejecting a spent cartridge is accomplished with a spring-loaded ejector arm, which fits into an angled slot between the double locking lugs of the bolt, and is actually part of the bolt release button. As the bolt is pushed forward, as when chambering a cartridge, the ejector is pushed out of the way and rides on the bolt under spring tension. As the bolt is pulled fully rearward, the ejector slides into the angled slot between the locking lugs, which position the ejector under the base of the cartridge. Further pulling the bolt rearward forces the ejector against the base of the cartridge, which forces the cartridge case past the locking lugs away from the extractor, and out of the receiver.

The bolt is removed from the rifle by pulling the bolt to the rear while pressing a bolt release button that is located at the left-rear of the receiver. The bolt release button must also be pressed to insert the bolt into the firearm.

When chambered, a cartridge is held into place by a dual-locking lug. The bolt locks-up at the rear of the receiver. By the way, the bolt handle is a replaceable unit that can be replaced with another style of bolt handle applicable to the CZ 527M.

The Stock:

The Turkish Walnut stock is simply a pleasure to look at; beautiful grain and texture that is not covered with a clear lacquer finish. One of life’s greater pleasures that I am aware of is hand-rubbing a gun stock with an excellent stock-preserving oil.

There is very fine and excellent checkering in the “support” area of the stock and also in the grip area. While “texturing” can be applied to synthetic stock, holding a nicely checkered wood stock just means so much more.

For a carbine length of firearm, the LOP is at 13.5 inches. I am very comfortable with a LOP of 14.25 inches, due to my arm length. But, I find the LOP of the CZ 527M very nice. If I need a longer LOP, due to scope eye relief considerations or long shooting sessions, there is always a slip-on butt pad that will provide an additional LOP.

Sling mounts are present on the front and rear of the stock. I recently purchased a sling for a Ruger 10/22 Target model that looks, and functions, great on the CZ 527M . In brown, distressed Buffalo hide, the sling just fits the character of the CZ 527M.

A rubber butt pad helps to absorb some of the recoil while holding the butt of the gun against the shoulder without slipping. The butt pad has a curvature to it that, regardless of the position of the butt in the shoulder, just feels right at home against the shoulder pocket. The butt pad measures 5” Long x 1.5” in width, in case anyone is concerned.

The stock is shaped and of a straight-comb height that allows me to automatically align with the fixed sights without a lot of head movement to achieve a proper “cheek weld” on the stock. Even with a scope mounted, I do not find myself searching for that perfect spot on the stock to achieve a perfect scope picture.

The Barrel:

The barrel is excellently finished in a semi-gloss black as befitting a fine firearm as the CZ 527M. The slightly inset muzzle is protected by a target-crown. CZ has fitted the 527M with an 18-1/2″ hammer-forged barrel. The hammer-forged barrel is free-floated from just in front of the action to front of the stock although the action is not “bedded.”

The rear sight is a simple notched-site that is drift-adjustable for windage. The rear sight does not fold down; the rear sight height must be taken into consideration if the CZ 527M carbine is to be fitted with a long magnified optic or if the optic needs to be pushed further forward than the rear sight (for eye relief).

The front sight is ramped and incorporates serrations to prevent glare. In addition, a removable front sight hood provides protection while allowing light to reach the front sight. While some may remove the front sight hood, I prefer to have them if they are provided.

One feature that I found interesting is that the front sight can be removed at the press of a button to allow the user to select a higher or lower front sight post, or exchange the front sight with a fiber-optic style. Changing CZ front sights takes just seconds; hold down a spring-loaded button, slide the sight forward and slide in the replacement. The carbine came with front sight No. 9. I have often congratulated Ruger with providing a quick means to easily exchange front sight on their GP100 and Redhawk revolvers; I congratulate CZ for their means to easily swap front sights as well.

The Magazine:

The magazine for the CZ 527M is an all-steel unit that can be easily disassembled for maintenance. The magazine holds five rounds and is loaded from the front; the magazine cannot be top loaded when in the firearm.

The follower spring is stiff at first and does take some cycling and leaving the magazine fully loaded for a few days for it to loosen up. Initially, the top two cartridges were stiff to strip from the magazine. After cycling about fifty rounds through it, chambering began to get easier. To assist things, I stripped the magazine that came with the CZ 527M down and used 1200 Emery cloth on the feed lips to polish them a bit. With this done, chambering a round did not come any easier.

The magazine has two lips that hold the magazine firmly in place within the magazine well. A magazine “catch” is located on the side of the magazine, which engages with a locking lug inside of the magazine well. A magazine release button is located on the lower right side of the firearm just above the magazine well opening.

Since I am a left-handed long-gun operator, I find it easy to place the fingers of my support hand (right) against the left side of the stock, loosely cup the hand around the magazine, and press the magazine release button with my right thumb; the magazine simply falls right into my hand. For right handed shooters, the thumb of the support hand (left) can be pressed against the left side of the stock, loosely cup the magazine with the left hand while using the middle finger to press the magazine release button.

The magazine does not have an anti-tilt follower.

Magazines are expensive and range from $35 to $50 depending on where you can find them. Gunmagwarehouse.com is an excellent source with very good pricing, but unfortunately magazines for the CZ 527 were out of stock at the time of this writing. Plans are to have three more magazines on hand.

On a personal note, I would have preferred a drop-box, 10-round (or even a five round) magazine, like the SKS, on this firearm. But, CZ would not be able to sell expensive magazines now would they?

MAGNIFIED OPTIC CONSIDERATIONS:

Scoping the CZ 527M carbine has been a contentious project for me. So much, in fact, that I decided to write a separate article so that you can learn from my mistakes should you decide to purchase a CZ 527M carbine and plant an optic on it – Scoping the CZ 527M Carbine @ http://guntoters.com/blog/2017/02/26/scoping-the-cz-527m-carbine/.

As of the time of this writing, the CZ 527M Carbine is sporting a Leupold VX-1 3-9x40mm scope mounted on Warne “Medium” scope rings.  Plans were made; however, to find a scope that was more “compatible” with the CZ 527M.

RANGE TIME:

The 7.62x39mm cartridge, surprisingly, has a relatively flat trajectory from about ten yards to 110 yards with open sights (0.5 inch sight height). Even with a magnified optic mounted 1.5 inches above the bore axis, the flight path is still reasonably flat out to about 130 yards. Velocity drop about 273fps from muzzle to 100 yards and energy drops about 332 ft. lbs. The 7.62x39mm cartridge has ballistics similar to the .30-30 Winchester and .300 Blackout cartridges. With the current scope/ring combination, the center of the optic is 2” above the center of the bore.

For a one hundred yard zero, the bullet would have to impact approximately 0.2845 inches above my POA at twenty-five yards using open sights. With an optic mounted 1.5 inches above the bore line, the bullet would have to impact the target approximately 0.46 inches below the POA. Of course, this is speculative data based on ballistic charts firing a 124-grain FMJ cartridge from Federal, which closely approximates the M43 Russian ball ammunition in both BC and FPS. Making it happen was now left up to me.

The First Range Session:

My initial “run-in” of the CZ 527M was to establish how well the fixed sights were set from the factory at the maximum distance that I could shoot at the time, which was twenty-five yards. Note that the rear sight or front sight is adjustable for elevation, but are drift-adjustable for windage.

A 100-yard sight-in target was posted twenty-five yards distant, the five-round magazine was loaded with Wolf Polyformance 123-grain FMJ cartridges, and off to school we went.

The CZ 527M in 7.62×39 is “built to CIP specifications, our 7.62×39 chambers are ideal for shooting steel-cased surplus ammo. Designed to shoot .311 bullets,” as you recall. While twenty-five yards is not conducive to extracting exact performance measurements, it does provide a baseline for future testing with various ammunition types, especially after the CZ 527M is enhanced with a magnified optic.

To begin with, at 5.24 pounds unloaded and not scoped, the CZ 527M weighs in at somewhere around two pounds less than the average milled receiver AK47 with an empty magazine and it is a bolt-action carbine. In fact, the CZ 527M actually weighs a hair more than the Ruger 10/22 International (5 pounds) with wood furniture, and about one-half pound lighter than the M1 Carbine, while being almost dimensionally (in length) the same. The bottom line is to expect more felt recoil than the AK; there is no buffering, no springs, and no gas system. Recoil is straight back and muzzle flip is straight up. With that said, it is nice not to expect blown-back debris coming out of an ejection port – especially for the left-handed shooter. The shooter can let things die down a bit and then, and then as leisurely or as fast as desired, open the breech by operating the bolt. I love bolt guns!

Lesson number two; expect muzzle flash forward of the muzzle, as there is no flash hider or muzzle break to dissipate the burned-off escaping gases and debris. In fact, expect a lot of muzzle flash! On an outdoor range, this might not be an issue. On an indoor range, expect your life to be lit up. I learned this lesson when shooting the Ruger American in .223/5.56x45mm ammunition for the first time and I expected the same lesson with the CZ 527M. The CZ 527M is not like the soft-recoiling AK, but that is not to say that recoil is extreme, it is simply more in line with what you would expect out of a short-barrel, bolt-action, locked-breech firearm – sharp and quick.

Of the three brands of ammunition that I had with me, the CZ 527M did not like Fiocchi 124-grain, brass-cased ammunition; I had three light primer strikes out of five rounds. Wolf 123-grain steel-cased and Golden Bear 123-grain brass plated steel cases fired without fail.

With the iron sights, the CZ 527M shot slightly left of POA but elevation was about what I expected with my using the open sights; elevation was within reason. At the next range session, the CZ 527M will be outfitted with a magnified optic and I will be using premium ammunition to sight it in.

The “mini-Mauser” bolt functions slicker than Owl…, well, you know what I mean, when not trying to push cartridges from the magazine into the chamber. With a new magazine, and a new action, chambering a cartridge took some effort until the last round in the magazine. I suspect the strong and fresh magazine spring was holding the cartridges tight against the feed lips of the magazine. I suspect that I will be cycling some cartridges through the magazine for several days and leaving a full magazine to help “set” the magazine spring.

Upon returning home from the range session, I disassembled the magazine and ensured that everything was clean and lightly lubed with Ballistol. I also took a piece of 1200 Emory cloth to the feed lips to ensure that there were no burrs to hinder feeding a cartridge. I cycled about fifty rounds though the magazine and it was beginning to get easier to chamber, although it was, in my opinion, still suspect. One thing that you don’t need is a bolt hanging up when you need to chamber a round quickly.

I researched feeding issues with the CZ 527M and I discovered that I was not the only one with them. It all seemed to come down to the magazine provided by CZ. I ordered two new magazines from CZ to see if the chambering issue would go away or remain. I would try the new magazines before the next range session.

Being a left-handed long gun shooter, I work the bolt with my right hand, which incidentally is my strong hand, and the short-throw bolt is a pleasure to work when it is working right.

The trigger is just short of fantastic regardless of the mode it is in when pulled; normal or set. With that said, the set trigger is scary light; trigger finger discipline is a must when the trigger is set.

The Second Range Session:

Since I had five sight-in points to work with, I also decided to bring along Brown Bear 123-grain Bi-Metal HP, Golden Bear 123-grain brass-plated HP, and Monarch (Academy Sports) 123-grain steel case FMJ for comparison purposes. Note that Fiocchi ammunition was not included due to the potential light primer strikes, although they do well through an AK-based firearm.

With the Leupold VX-1 3-9x40mm scope mounted, the rifle weighs in about a pound or so heavier than without the scope. At about 6.5 pounds, the CZ 527M is still a light carbine that is stout of recoil, muzzle flash, and muzzle blast. It is also a blast to shoot.

As mentioned previously, I originally had feeding issues, which I believed to be magazine related. I ordered two new magazines from CZ who is, unfortunately, the only manufacture for these magazines. I had suspected that rounds were binding against the feed ramp and the top of the magazine. Of course, the last couple of rounds were easier to chamber simply because the magazine follower spring tension was near its least-compressed point.

First thing I did was try the new magazine, which had seemed to cycle rounds better when I tried it in my shop last night. No FTFs with the new mag.  I switched to the original magazine, and FTFs (this was steel case ammo) suddenly went away.  I alternated the use of the magazines a couple times with the same result. I took both magazines apart and compared them side by side, and the springs are definitely very different. I put the old one in the range bag, and will be using the new magazine(s) exclusively from here on out.

TO SUMMARIZE:

The CZ 527M Carbine can serve in multiple roles such as sport, hunting or defense. The 7.62×39mm is an intermediate cartridge that factors in well with modest shooting budgets.

More and more premium load options are becoming available online for the 7.62×39 with literally tons of surplus ammunition available that performs better than most would believe when combined with the bolt-action CZ 527 and a solid optic.

The CZ 527M can serve in its own right or in combination with a high-capacity AK variant for defensive purposes. The CZ 527M, compared to an AK chambered in the same cartridge, does not have an “Evil Weapon” look about it.

Aside from capacity and rate of fire, there is no doubt that the CZ 527M will have far more accuracy an AK if pressed into a survival situation. For those who like light carbine types of firearms, the CZ 527M should be worth a look.

The CZ 527M is a little kicker, and I have named it after that fact; “Little Kicker” is now its name.

UPDATE:

“Little Kicker” was updated with a new magnified optic and scope rings.  A scope that I had intended to go on the Henry AR-7 turned out to be a perfect fit for the CZ 527M, The Sightmark Core HX 2-7×32 HHR Hog Hunter Riflescope (SM13067HHR), which is shown below.

You can read about the final scope that was selected @ Scoping the CZ 527M Carbine: http://guntoters.com/blog/2017/02/26/scoping-the-cz-527m-carbine/

UPDATE 04/15/2017:

It was range day with the new Sightmark Core HX 2-7×32 HHR Hog Hunter Riflescope (SM13067HHR) scope. Golden Bear 123-grain FMJ was the selected cartridge for sighting in the package.  Once a cartridge is chambered, the CZ 527M show its true nature and accuracy is excellent. Chambering cartridges; however, is not as easy as I would like.  The magazines are still new and very hesitant to release their contents.  As I mentioned earlier in the article, rather than a separate and removable box magazine I believe that the operator would be better served with a “Drop Box” magazine that would be integral with the firearm. The CZ 527M is, after all, meant for sport shooting/hunting and five rounds are all that is available. The magazines, I feel, take away something from the firearm.

Muzzle flash is quite apparent when the CZ 527M is shot indoors, as it was when sighting in the scope.  The CZ-527M is definitely an “outside” piece and exhibits plenty of muzzle flash in low light – more than enough to “light up” the scope.  However, the same can be said for the Ruger American in .223.

The new Sightmark Core HX 2-7×32 HHR Hog Hunter Riflescope (SM13067HHR) scope is a definite “keeper” on the CZ-527M.


DON’ JUS’ TAKE MY WORD FOR IT:


RESOURCES:

About Taurian

Taurian is an Oath Keeper, veteran, former LEO and Defensive Tactics Instructor. Until retirement, Taurian had over forty-seven years of experience as a Technical Writer and Training Program Developer. After leaving home at the age of ten without any shoes, Taurian continues on with many years devoted to the keeping and bearing of arms.

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