August 25, 2017
TEXAS SALTWATER by Calixto Gonzales
August 25, 2017

The scimitar-horned oryx had no idea I was watching him as he grazed 75 yards away. I was set and ready, crouched on my knees behind a mesquite bush, with my .30-06 in my hands.

Time dripped by as I waited for him to turn just enough to give me a quartering-away shot. I adjusted my grip on the walnut stock and looked down the open-sights of the CZ model 557.

“This is the perfect rifle,” I said to myself.

That’s a huge statement to make, but I meant it. For starters, this rifle I was shooting is right out of the box. I’ve never had to do any work or modifications to the trigger, barrel, stock, or any other part of this rifle. All I have done is load it and shoot it. It was perfect from day one, right from the factory and, after three years of hunting with it, it’s still perfect.

The oryx had turned a smidgeon to the left, but not enough to get a bullet into his vitals. Then, he turned a little more.

The author with a Llano buck he brought down easily despite thick cover.


I flipped the safety to fire and lined him up in the open sights. I squeezed the trigger and the bullet screamed downrange at more than 2,900 feet-per-second. The impact alone nearly dropped the 450-pound animal, but the beast quickly found his feet and started to bolt.

I chambered another round as I stood. Confused, the oryx turned and ran straight toward me. With the stock pressed into my cheek, and the sights on the running oryx, I squeezed the trigger again.

The 168-grain bullet struck the oryx in the neck, stopping him instantly.

I’ve hunted all my life and through the years I have accumulated a tall stack of rifles.

I’m not a “rifle collector.” I have just bought many different calibers for the purpose of hunting different types of game, and I would like to share how I chose my perfect rifle for all kinds of hunting in Texas and around the world.

For starters, it is important for me to have a “ranch gun,” a preferred hunting rifle that is ready to go at a moment’s notice. After all, the ranch is where I spend most of my time.

My CZ 557’s precise accuracy, powerful .30-06 delivery, and compact size make it an ideal working gun for everyday carry in my Bronco and UTV. In an instant, I can have the rifle out and ready when necessary.

This “quick” rifle has been a real showstopper on fast hogs. Not only that, numerous times I have come across whitetail and axis deer with broken legs, and I was quickly able to get the rifle out and on target before they escaped.

While hunting at Sandstone Mountain Ranch in Llano with guide and friend Chris Treiber, we came across a giant whitetail buck with a broken back leg. Despite the buck having snapped a femur he was still able to evade us by darting through the thick brush. As we slowly stalked through the thick stuff, the buck jumped up to run. I quickly aimed and punched him in the shoulder with 3,138 foot-pounds of .30-06. He dropped immediately.

There isn’t a deer in North America the .30-06 won’t kill and kill quick, which is one reason it is such a popular and celebrated cartridge.

You might wonder what exact specifications make this rifle ranch and big game ready. For starters, with its 20.5 inch barrel, it is nice and compact. I personally don’t like long, bulky rifles. I prefer quick, highly maneuverable safari-style rifles. This particular rifle is carbine-sized and is perfect for stalking in the bush and maneuvering inside tight deer blinds and stands.

The 557 has a two-position safety that allows the bolt to be cycled while on “safe.” The trigger is also fully adjustable which allows the creep, over-travel, and weight to be tuned how you like it. The receiver is machined from steel billet and is paired with CZ’s cold-hammer-forged, factory-lapped barrel. All of that comes straight from the factory.

I was invited to join a group of hunters to the FTW Ranch in the Hill Country. We were going through the SAAM Hunter Training Program and all of us were equipped with off-the-shelf CZ 557s chambered in .30-06.

The SAAM Hunter Training Program took us through two field and classroom programs. The first was extensive training in safari hunting situations which included shooting charging Cape buffalo and elephant targets.

The other program was precision shooting. It was in the precision shooting part of the training where I was the most impressed. I was pulling off shots out to 900 yards with a 10x scope. Most of us even hit the 1,000 yard target.

That’s just insane! 

The key in picking a hunting rifle is to study the game you will pursue, match up the right cartridge, and then figure out which rifle can meet all of your other needs. Rifle selection in many ways is a very personal thing, and we all have our preferences.

Having the right rifle in your hand can not only help you down big game, but it might just save your life. Make sure you think it out and make the right decision.


Sidebar Template


African Introduction

I was first introduced to a CZ rifle while hunting in Africa in 2003. My professional hunter carried one in .375 HH Mag. It was an old rifle, with scars and scrapes from years of professional field work. That CZ had the look of a safari rifle and it was backed up by field tested design and real world function. It was a real dangerous game rifle and it saved our lives on that safari when we were charged by a very angry elephant. 

For years I shot and loved the CZ model 550s (still do). I own and hunt with 550s chambered in .375 H&H Magnum, .458 Lott, 9.3×62, .500 Jeffery and .270 Winchester.

Then, in 2014 CZ came out with the model 557. The 557 is a departure from the Mauser-style bolt found in the 550. The 557 has a short extractor and plunger-style ejector. 

The 557 is a real-world hunting rifle that is safari-ready right out of the box. It’s a true working rifle that can take the abuse of a professional hunter, but still has the classic feel and style that will make you proud to sling it over your shoulder. 


—story by Razor Dobbs


Return to CONTENTS Page


Comments are closed.