A Boyds Pro Varmint stock was the first upgrade I made to my new CZ 457. When CZ redesigned their 455 to the 457, they went from a 90-degree bolt to a 60-degree throw. This was to allow for larger scopes, and I really appreciate this feature. Yet when I installed my scope with a 56mm objective so that it sat just over the barrel, it seemed a bit high for me to get a proper cheek weld. There was an easy fix though. Boyds offers their excellent Pro Varmint stock with the option of an adjustable comb, which was exactly what I needed.
Why the Boyds Pro Varmint stock instead of a chassis?
I could have gone with an aluminum or polymer chassis for this rifle. But there is something about a really nice wood stock that just holds more appeal. A well-made wood stock can combine aesthetics with good ergonomics, and improve performance. And that is exactly what I was after. My new stock provides a very nice fit for me, from length of pull to the cheek rest height to the hand position. It’s pretty much perfect for my needs. The fact that the wood adds a bit of warmth, and the more organic shape is easy on the eyes is a bonus.
Am I giving up stiffness or durability?
Not at all. The Boyds Pro Varmint stock is a solid platform to start any rifle build with. They use 37 layers of laminated wood, and the massive pressure of the lamination process actually pushes their adhesives deep into each cell of the wood.Â By combining these thin layers under pressure, with an adhesive, Boyds is able to produce rifle stock blanks that are both stiff and durable. They are also stable across a wide temperature range. So there is no compromise when it comes to performance. All the benefits of a traditional wood stock, plus some, with none of the downsides.
My rifle came with the black textured stock, looking very much like my Savage MKII. That Savage, which has been in a Boyds stock for over a decade, has a much smaller scope and is set up perfectly for me. As long as I was upgrading the stock on my CZ, I went with their Sky laminate, which is mostly blues and greys.Â It’s one of 14 colors offered for this particular stock. The photos don’t really do it justice though. In order to achieve those bright colors, the individual layers are dyed before laminating. This adds more depth than staining a finished stock. After the stock is machined, a super-hard spray-on finish is used to seal it. This process helps maintain the color while also protecting the wood from moisture. Overall, it’s another step that contributes to the durability and stability of the stock.
I also went with the standard finish, rather than high-gloss. For recoil pads, I stick with the standard 1/2″ pad with the Boyds logo on my rimfire rifles, but they have more substantial ones for centerfire. Length of pull can be selected across a range of 13-1/4″ to 14-1/4″ in quarter-inch increments, though I ordered the standard there too. I guess I’m just average. Lol. When it came to the laser engraving options, which include skip-line, scale, checkering, and stippling, I chose the latter. Boyds also offers some graphics as well as initials, for anyone who really wants to make it their own.Â Topping it all off was the adjustable comb, which was the point of the upgrade in the first place. Not an option, but it’s worth noting is that Boyds does include three sling studs in all the right places as well.
Installation and adjustment
In most cases, swapping stocks is pretty straightforward. If there are any specific concerns, Boyds usually includes a note with the stock, such as making sure the recoil lug is in place. Boyds also mentions that some minor fitting may be required, yet I haven’t had any issues that couldn’t be fixed with a few passes of some sandpaper. So after verifying that my rifle was unloaded, I removed the action screws and pulled the barreled action out of the stock. Not surprisingly, it dropped right into the new stock with zero fitment issues. After tightening the screws, I checked that the magazines fit and dropped free. Then I checked that the bolt ran smoothly, and the safety still functioned. Everything worked as expected.
Boyds includes the wrench necessary for adjusting the comb height, and it’s pretty simple. Loosen the two screws in the top of the comb, and raise or lower it as needed. Once it’s in position, tighten the screws. They’ll wedge it in place pretty solidly. No wobble, no creak, nothing. That’s the simplicity I needed on this rifle. Knobs and buttons have their place, but I wanted smooth, clean, and functional.
Before swapping stocks, this CZ 457 was plenty accurate, so I wasn’t expecting any big changes there. Most of that accuracy is the rifle and ammo, but having the barrel free-float in the Boyds Pro Varmint stock certainly doesn’t hurt. Of course, the adjustable comb plays a role too. When shooting from a bench, I can now get a proper cheek weld. So while testing various ammo, I can already see my groups being a little more consistent.
That stippling in the grip area is really nice too, and I prefer it over checkering. Speaking of the grip area, this stock definitely seems to cater to shooters who keep their thumb on the same side as the trigger. Or maybe I have been shooting that way for so long, that anything else feels unnatural. Matching stippling on the forend is aesthetically pleasing, and offers a little extra grip there as well. Really, the stock was everything I expected it to be, with one minor surprise. Almost without fail, every single person who saw it had a positive comment about it. The CZ 457 has a short (16.5″) heavy barrel. When paired with the stock and a suppressor, it just looks “right”. Don’t get this upgrade if you don’t like attention.
Boyds makes it easy to get a custom look and fit, improving both form and function.Â Their Pro Varmint stock starts at $181, and even with all the options, is still reasonable at $363. That’s less than a chassis with no options would have cost. Yet I have the perfect fit, and even got to choose a color other than black grey, ODG, or FDE (not that I don’t like FDE). Overall, this is a very worthwhile upgrade in every possible way. As my skills have improved and I focus more on performance, I appreciate that I don’t have to give up anything as far as aesthetics. If you’re thinking of upgrading your own rifle with a Boyds Pro Varmint stock, or any of their other options, head over to the Boyds website and play around with their stock configurator.
As always, I’d like to thank Boyds for providing this Pro Varmint stock for my testing and evaluation. It’s the first of a few upgrades this rifle will see, and definitely a solid foundation.
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