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Tested Tough: CZ 600 Alpha Series Rifle

We put the legendary gunmaker's innovative new big-game rifle to the test on a unique hunt for California blacktail deer.

Tested Tough: CZ 600 Alpha Series Rifle

CZ's latest series of big-game rifles is one of the most adaptable on the market. (Photo courtesy ofJoe Ferronato)

CZ has long been an authority in the firearms world, and we got a first look at a new series of rifles specifically designed for the outdoorsman. The recently announced CZ 600 Series big-game rifles are an all-new design for the Czech-based gunmaker, combining their long history of accuracy, reliability, and function with modern innovation and new technology.

The flagship model of the new CZ 600 is series is the Alpha, a modern, polymer-stocked rifle fitted with some key design innovations that the Czech-based gunmaker is so sure of, it guarantees sub-MOA accuracy right out of the box. The Alpha fits the bill for American hunters that are looking for unique controlled-round reed rifle that is both ruggedly reliable and extremely accurate, but still offered at a fair price. The synthetic stock maintains a light overall weight, making it a popular choice for hunters on the move, while the durable, blued receiver and cold-hammer forged barrel ensure accuracy at the range and in the field.

The Alpha will be offered in nine calibers:

  • .223 Rem.
  • 7.62×39
  • .224 Valkyrie
  • .308 Win.
  • 6 Creedmoor
  • 6.5 Creedmoor
  • 6.5 PRC
  • .30-06 Sprg.
  • 300 Win. Mag.
Tested Tough: CZ 600 Alpha Series Rifle
$749 | 

For the American market, CZ will also be offering three other models in addition to the Alpha:

CZ 600 Range

Tested Tough: CZ 600 Alpha Series Rifle
$1,199 |

Benchrest shooters and varmint hunters who demand maximum accuracy will find what they’re looking for with the CZ 600 Range, which the company guarantees five-shot, ¾”-MOA accuracy with match-grade factory ammo. The heavy barrel and nitride-steel receiver is fitted into a laminated wood stock with a pistol-style grip, tool-free adjustable comb and accessory rail.

CZ 600 Trail

Tested Tough: CZ 600 Alpha Series Rifle
$1,155 |

For those of you who spend time scouring backcountry roads in side by sides, on a four-wheeler or snowmobiles, or checking fence in the ranch truck, the Trail is the model for you. Featuring an action built on aluminum receiver and forend, this rifle sports an impressively nimble chassis with a collapsible, polymer stock that allows for easy transport in or on whatever mode of transportation you see fit. The Trail also accepts AR-15 and Bren 2 magazines.

CZ 600 Lux

Tested Tough: CZ 600 Alpha Series Rifle
$849 |

Finally, we have the Lux, aptly named for its classic looks that lean to the rifleman’s rifle. This model still maintains the same action, barrel, and trigger, but features a select-grade walnut stock, decorative forend and checkered grip. The package is set off by a unique walnut bolt knob and features open sights with fiber-optic front and rear.

First Impressions in the Field

Hunting with the Alpha was a treat. When I first laid my hands on the rifle it was easy to tell that the engineering behind it was purposeful and thoughtful. The rifle was lightweight but maintained proper balance to ensure a comfortable shooting experience.

I was near Paso Robles, California, pursuing blacktail deer in a less-than-common environment: Steinbeck Vineyards. This hunt, while not physically challenging, proved to be mentally fatiguing and a true test for my marksmanship skills. We had to check every row of the vineyard hoping to find wily bucks lingering in the shadows of the tall vines. Shot opportunities were often quick and from some less-than-ideal positions: standing, leaning on a vine, or off sticks. The Alpha was a perfect rifle for this hunt.

Tested Tough: CZ 600 Alpha Series Rifle
Range time at a California vineyard is just a little prettier than usual. (Photo courtesy of Joe Ferronato)

In the hand, the Alpha was nimble and comfortable. I operated the safety and dry fired the trigger to become comfortable with the process without wasting our precious lead-free ammunition on the range. That said, I made sure to check the zero on my rifle before heading out on the hunt. My rifle was chambered in .30-06 and the platform handled the recoil of the larger round well. What’s more, the Alpha shot a sub-MOA group with ease. After several shots to confirm my zero, I explored some of the great features of the CZ 600 series before heading out on the hunt.

Key Features of the CZ 600 Rifle

CZ’s new 600 series rifles exhibit features more commonly found on rifles that sport a much higher price tag. The proprietary receiver is an integral part of the action which features a modified controlled-round-feed extractor that grips the cartridge case throughout the cycling movement and ejects spent cartridges reliably. The 60-degree bolt throw is quick and smooth allowing for the user to comfortably and reliably chamber a round without catching on scope caps or covers. An oversized bolt head makes it easy to find the bolt in fast-action scenarios when a quick reload is of the utmost importance.


The trigger has a four-position set screw that allows for quick and reliable adjustability without the need for a scale. The screw is accessible without the need to remove the action from the stock, and adjusts through the four settings, from 1.3 lbs. to 3 lbs. with audible and tactile clicks. I didn’t need to adjust the trigger out of the box as I found the weight was perfect and the factory setting broke crisp on every pull.

One of the rifle’s most unique features is the vertical cross-bolt safety mounted on the tang. I’ll admit, when I first saw this design, I was skeptical because I wasn’t accustomed to the idea. The safety goes straight up and down through the tang. You operate the trigger by pushing down with your thumb when you’re ready to fire and up with your trigger finger to reengage the safety. Although it was strange at first, after handling the rifle for a bit, the safety became intuitive and quick to use. A bolt release button also allows the hunter to operate the bolt without disengaging the safety.

The detachable magazine can be locked in place and top-loaded, effectively creating a box-style magazine for added assurance when hunting under hard field conditions.

On the Hunt

After getting sighted in and spending some time getting familiar with the rifle, we headed afield. Ryan Newkirk, manager of the family vineyard, loves these blacktail deer and takes their management very seriously. We weren’t just on the hunt for any buck, we would spend as much time needed to find a mature buck. We spent a lot of time scouring rows and straining our eyes through glass to pick apart the deep shadows below the vines—a favorite bedding spot for the deer.

It didn’t take long for us to locate deer; they were seemingly everywhere and moved through the vineyard wires like ghosts through walls. Where deer would move through easily, we strained and ached to cross between rows. We stuck to the open roads as much as possible, carefully checking each row as we moved forward.

The first morning was full of excitement with several failed stalks. One buck stood out above the rest, mature and wearing an impressive rack. His frame was narrow but tall and he was a true four by four which is tough to find in the blacktail of the Central Coast. I had my mind made up, that was the buck I wanted.

Tested Tough: CZ 600 Alpha Series Rifle
Joe had his mind set on a particularly tall and handsome mature buck. Spoiler alert: he seals the deal. (Photo courtesy of Joe Ferronato)

The midday sun made it difficult to glass and the hunting was slow as most of the deer sought out deeply shaded areas to escape the heat.

As the sun started to dip towards the horizon the deer started moving again. The afternoon hunt was exciting. Deer were everywhere, and we located the heavy four by four that was haunting my thoughts. There was one problem, though, he joined a bachelor herd with several other decent bucks that made it difficult to get a clear shot among the group of deer and the vines.

We moved stealthily between the rows of vines following the small herd of bucks. It was incredibly intuitive to push the unconventional safety on and off multiple times as a shot would present itself then quickly disappear. Finally, the group paused in one row for a longer period. I was able to get set on the sticks, the range finder sent back a distance of 185 yards. A doable shot, but the wind was cutting through the vineyard making the standing position on the sticks less than stable. I pushed into the sticks, steadied my breathing and held firm to the rifle. As the buck cleared, I pushed the safety down and squeezed the trigger until it broke clean. The Norma Ecostrike met its mark, but I cycled the bolt without pause. Another round was in the chamber ready to fire, the safety went back on as the buck stumbled to the next row out of sight.

Two rows over, the buck lay dead, and the celebration commenced. I removed the live round from the chamber and approached my first blacktail buck. As we cleaned the deer, we enjoyed a bottle of fine cabernet from the vines where the deer fell—a tradition at Steinbeck Vineyards.

As I enjoyed my wine, I reminisced about the hunt and the rifle that I used. I was impressed with the 600 series and the many features that make it so great. As these rifles come into production, I can’t wait to have the Alpha grace the walls of my safe.

Tested Tough: CZ 600 Alpha Series Rifle
An unforgettable hunt and a handsome buck. (Photo courtesy of Joe Ferronato)
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