Reviewed: CZ 600 Trail

This light little rifle is different, and customers will find it handy and inexpensive to practice with.

Reviewed: CZ 600 Trail

The unexpectedly unique CZ 600 Trail delivers a small and light rifle that will likely become customers’ hardest-working rifle. Even though the format is a bit different, those are the attributes that make it fun to shoot for customers, including a ultralight design, collapsible stock, and low-cost practice with 7.62x39 ammunition. The Trail is a format that will see far more use than just a heavy bench gun. The Trail is something very different in a me-too market that any customers will get excited about.

One of the attractive points of this rifle is the ability to shoot more at a lower cost per round without the cost and recoil of more powerful precision rounds. That equals a lot of fun for a little gun that can pay for itself in only about 500 rounds in ammo savings. Every hiking hunter at some point asks themselves if something lighter will do. The CZ Trail 600 is an extremely lightweight, compact, magazine-fed format in a proven caliber and is similar to the scout rifle concept that Jeff Cooper drafted many years ago. 

“The natural habitat of the general-purpose rifle is the field, the forest, the desert and the mountain — not the shooting shed with its benchrest. To be really useful, a rifle must be as short, light and quick to use as is technically compatible with adequate power and useful accuracy. What matters is not what the equipment can do, but rather what it will do in the hands of its operator under field, rather than laboratory, conditions.” - Jeff Cooper

CZ offers the 600 Trail in .223 and 7.62x39, and very soon, a .300 Blackout version. The 7.62x39 chambering was chosen with a consideration that this rifle might be used for hunting for mid-sized game. The 7.62x39 has proven itself as outstanding North American game-stopping round on everything from coyote to deer, black bear and even large hogs, which seems like the perfect application for this type of hike-friendly rifle. The energy, ballistics and less temperamental accuracy of the 7.62x39 also edges out the .300 Blackout. CZ’s new .300 Blackout 600 Trail will have rifling that is more optimized for those rounds. 

Surprisingly, the CZ Trail can also be a quiet thumper, just like the .300 Blackout, with the new Hornady brass-cased 7.62x39 255-grain Sub-X subsonic rounds, but the 255-grain Hornady rounds have about 20% more energy. For the dealer, the new Hornady round would be the perfect cross-sell. With a suppressor and an absence of action noise, the CZ 600 Trail 7.62x39 can be extremely quiet.

The 7.62x39 round can be insanely cheap to shoot with surplus-grade ammunition, but it can also be high-precision with premium rounds. The NATO standard 7.62x39 round generally has a reliable reputation in the AK formats, delivering 2- to 3-MOA accuracy; however, the CZ 600 Trail did deliver significantly better accuracy with both surplus and premium ammunition. Though “precision” is usually not a word associated with the 7.62x39 round, from what I experienced, the stigma seems to have been the lack of a precision rifle and ammunition tolerances and not an inherent trait of the cartridge. 

Sellier & Bellot and Hornady offer match-grade, brass-cased, precision factory rounds, with Hornady offering the hunter and precision shooter everything from subsonic to hollowpoint match rounds. Notably, the Hornady Black 7.62x39 with Amax-tipped bullets is extremely accurate, delivering sub-MOA accuracy levels that would surprise customers. With most inexpensive ammo tested, the usual AK47 2- to 3-MOA groups are improved with the precision of the CZ 600 format and scope into the 1- to 2-MOA range, which is more than enough accuracy and reliability for plinking, practice and hunting. When sighting-in, it was exciting to see a tight clover-leaf group at 50 yards. That accuracy continued at 100 yards, with very predictable sub-1-inch 100-yard groups with the Hornady Black rounds.

The CZ 600 Trail is a lot of great things, with major highlights being the light 6.1-pound weight, compact 27-inch length with the stock collapsed, and the ability to feed from reliable Bren-format magazines. With the exception of the bolt, all the controls are ambidextrous, and CZ offers an optional left-handed cheek rest. The MLOK front rail and integrated top Picatinny optic rail make the CZ 600 Trail highly adaptable, and the 5/8x24 threaded muzzle opens the Trail to muzzle devices and suppressors. The retractable four-position stock extends instantly to full length. A single button push and straight pull is all that is required to extend the stock fully. Notably, a stock latch assures the rifle can be carried with a sling attached even with the stock collapsed. It is a fast-extending stock even by tactical standards. CZ even integrated a small spring level to start the opening to provide single-handed stock extension. Having personally tested the Cooper Scout rifle concept at great depth, I cannot help but feel the CZ 600 Trail is a modern interpretation of everything Cooper suggested would make the perfect Scout rifle.

The CZ 600 Trail is the rifle that will get slung over a shoulder on every hike, tossed into the truck, or camper, or bungeed to the ATV. It will shoot steel plates beyond 500 yards and get used for hunting and protection on hikes. It is the gun that will likely be treated badly, covered in mud, cleaned a little, and carried a lot, and shot in all manner of positions when needed. Picatinny rails will get attached, and lights, lasers, and electro-optics will get clipped on and off the gun, providing adaptability beyond normal rifles. 

There are downsides to this format, which includes a cheek weld area that is sufficient, but far from the comfort of a heavy precision stock. The telescoping stock does have an expected amount of play for this type of design when extended, but it feels more than solid enough when shouldered. If customers understand those limitations, the CZ 600 Trail is a very appealing and intuitive format that begs to be shot. A 10-round magazine is included; CZ Bren 30-round black and clear magazines are available if customers want more capacity.

The CZ 600 line has a great reputation for quality and accuracy, and CZ carried those features forward on the Trail model. Since the rifle is offered in AR spec rounds, there is no need for a heavy steel receiver, and instead the gun features a lightweight aluminum CZ 600 mini action with an integrated top Picatinny rail. One of the smartest features is the ability to engage the safety and still unload the rifle using the bolt release to clear the round. The Trail model also adds an ambidextrous Bren/AR-style safety selector, magazine release, and AR-compatible grip, which helps with intuitive operation for those who are familiar with CZ Bren or AR ergonomics. 

Functionally, the CZ 600 Trail is very fast on target and runs reliably even when pushed hard and fast, thanks to the proven Bren magazines and the CZ short extractor and controlled feeding. The impressive accuracy is due in part to the excellent, crisp and clean trigger and midweight free-floated hammer-forged barrel with recessed match crown. The adjustable two-stage trigger is exceptional, with a 3- to 6-pound adjustment range that can be tuned right from the trigger guard. 

The Trail features an extremely stiff and light glass-reinforced composite chassis with simple action attachment via two torx screws. The CZ 600 format has a lot of unique hidden features, including a barrel with an internally milled locking lug, guaranteeing tight tolerances and improved safety. The CZ 600 design was originally engineered for caliber changes; however, CZ found that customers could inadvertently install an incorrect barrel and bolt face combination, causing a safety issue. Those initial customer problems led to CZ discontinuing that flex-caliber option, and the company now offers only single-caliber models. 

Best With Low-Power Optics

The CZ 600 Trail delivers great practical accuracy with most general purpose rounds and sub-MOA precision with match grade 7.62x39 Hornady Black ammunition. With that noted, the CZ 600 Trail really is designed as a flexible and fast-shooting platform, and either a magnified prism sight or a low-power variable optic are the perfect options. 

On my test model, I mounted an Athlon Helos BTR Gen2 1-10x28 MOA in Athlon 34mm aluminum rings. The Helos 1-10 is 18 ounces and 10.3 inches long and pushes the total tested rifle weight to 7.4 pounds, which is still extremely light. The Athlon Helos offers a huge magnification range for both short- and longer-range shots, plus a very sophisticated reticle. For this article, enough magnification was needed to test accuracy, and the 10X magnification is perfect for longer shots. The ATMR4 SFP MOA reticle offers the hunter and practicing long-range shooter a full array of MOA holds for bullet drop and even target ranging. The full main BDC tree is illuminated instead of just a dot or circle-dot illumination. 

For the 7.62x39 round, the reticle can allow compensated range and wind holds to 500 yards. The Helos optic is extremely clear and bright, even after hours, thanks to the oversized 34mm tube, multi-coated optics and XPL coating. Adjustable illumination is CR2032 powered; however, I also added the new Athlon Optic-compatible Primary Arms AutoLive Battery Cap. The PA AutoLive Cap installs between the battery compartment and factory Athlon cap and adds shake-awake-reticle functionality. This extends battery life greatly with an auto-off/on feature when illumination is left on. The shooter still has the option to just turn off illumination to save battery life during high movement activities. The Primary Arms AutoLive Battery Cap offers compatibility with many LPVO on the market.

Final Thoughts

The 7.62x39 round is very much a 250-yard round without bullet drop becoming severe. With that noted, a very entertaining experiment was using the Athlon reticle system, my ballistic calculator app and Hornady Black ammunition to deliver predictable hits on my 8-inch steel plate at 500 yards. The 7.62x39 round can be surprisingly precise at longer ranges with the right ammo, even with a 6.1-pound rifle with a tiny cheek rest. Adding in a few 16-ounce cans of corn as targets provides a very dramatic effect when hits connect, and those 4-inch-wide targets seemed easy for the CZ 600 Trail, regardless of ranges to 300 yards.

This gun is unlike anything I own: compact, light and accurate. Admittedly, I cannot seem to stop shooting it — it is just a very fun, practical rifle. It will adapt to every need thanks to the MLOK slots and will get carried a lot due to the light weight. The CZ 600 Trail is a unique gun in a sea of polymer and wood-furniture bolt-actions, which should help it stand out on the gun rack, regardless of whether flip-up sights, a red-dot or a scope is attached. The extremely light weight and short size with collapsed stock will also get the attention of customers. CZ has a long reputation for making quality firearms, and the CZ 600s has been well-proven as durable and accurate rifles. The CZ 600 Trail delivers an updated Scout rifle that customers should consider as they are looking for a rifle that will get used, carried and shot a lot.


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