July 24, 2022
The year was 2012. Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of space and fell safely to earth, and the iPhone 5 was introduced. It was also the year that CZ launched its 557 Sporter. Having a bolt with a short extractor and a plunger-style ejector, the 557 represented a new direction for the company seeking to expand its product line beyond the Mauser-style bolt action that was fundamental to its well-known CZ 550 models.
Nine years after, CZ announced the 557 Eclipse among its list of new-for-2021 products. Available in .308 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor and .30-’06 Springfield, the 557 Eclipse continues the same approach that made the 557 an entry-level classic.
The 557 Eclipse is based on a push-feed action that’s CNC’d from steel billet and then mated to the same barrel as CZ uses on more expensive models. The barrels are cold-hammer forged and lapped at the factory in Uherský Brod, Czech Republic. Being hammer forged, it’s no surprise that these barrels are known for being accurate and having a long life. You might not consider an affordable bolt gun an heirloom, but the rifle will last long enough that it could be.
The barrel measures 201/2 inches, regardless of the three chamberings. Each of the cartridges were determined from CZ’s best-selling medium game models. Regardless, finding ammunition to feed the 557 Eclipse shouldn’t be a challenge.
Ammunition is fed from an internal magazine that can be unloaded by unlatching its fixed, hinged floorplate. Inside, the magazine design can carry five rounds.
One unique characteristic of the 557 Eclipse chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor is that it’s the only version that features 5/8x24 threads at the muzzle to accept a suppressor or muzzlebrake.
The CZ 557 has a number of features worth noting, details that make it an ideal choice for anyone looking for a high-performance hunting rifle without having to finance the purchase. The push-feed action, for example, is machined from steel billet and houses a two-lug bolt with a light, 90-degree lift. Little effort is required to work the action smoothly.
The action has integral 19mm scope bases. This means that there’s no chance they’ll ever come loose. The number one reason that any rifle suddenly stops shooting accurately is that some part of the scope-mounting system comes loose. The mounting base is often the culprit because there’s no way to check it without first removing the scope, and nobody wants to do that. CZ’s integral bases eliminate this failure-prone component and allow CZ-style scope rings to be mounted directly to the receiver.
The 557 Eclipse also comes with a chrome-moly steel barrel that’s hammer-forged and lapped at the factory. Purchasing a rifle with a lapped barrel means the new owner will start seeing the rifle’s accuracy potential immediately. Based on Guns & Ammo’s experience in testing various 557 models during the last decade, “break-in” procedures are typically not necessary with CZ barrels. That translates to a significant cost savings.
The Eclipse stock is synthetic with a number of large rectangular shapes at the gripping areas. Despite being an obvious cost-saving measure, it doesn’t feel cheap, perhaps due to the soft-touch coating. At the shoulder, those who are recoil sensitive are protected by a soft and oversized rubber buttpad. The stock is complete with three sling studs, too. There are two at the forend, and one at the rear. This allows the shooter to take the rifle afield with a bipod attached, and still carry it comfortably with a two-point sling.
At the range, the 557 Eclipse proved very accurate. In part, credit can be given to its excellent, user-adjustable trigger. G&A’s test rifle produced a pull weight that averaged 2 pounds, 13 ounces. CZ indicated that the range usually falls within 2 pounds and 4 pounds. In addition to its pull weight, the trigger can be adjusted for pre-travel and overtravel.
Rifles & Optics Editor Tom Beckstrand was assigned to further evaluate the 557 Eclipse in the field on a hunt with Cibolo Creek Ranch for scimitar oryx, an antelope species that went extinct in the North Africa wild in 2000. It was reintroduced in 2016, saved by conservationists. They continue to thrive in Texas.
“Land-owners carefully monitored the oryx population and focus on maintaining the land’s ideal carrying capacity,” Beckstrand said. “Cibolo was heavier than it wanted to be with oryx, so that’s what we hunted.”
Beckstrand paired the CZ Eclipse with a Leupold VX-3HD 4.5-14x40mm scope selected Federal Premium’s 135-grain Hybrid Hunter, a Berger bullet, so it was used ahead of time for accuracy testing. The load averaged near a half-MOA for three-shot groups at 100 yards. As expected when shooting Berger bullets, the load proved accurate and appropriate for the type of hunting he would be doing. Berger Hybrid Hunter bullets are designed for deer-sized game in open country with shots placed either behind the shoulder or high on the shoulder. Hybrid Hunter bullets have thin jackets and expand rapidly, so they usually don’t perform as well when fired directly on the shoulder.
Beckstrand’s shot at an oryx came after an arduous stalk. The shot measured a distance of just more than 210 yards. The bullet entered just behind the shoulder, and one shot was all that was required to bring the animal down.
Back home with the 557 Eclipse, Beckstrand continued to explore the rifle’s performance at the bench. The most notable feature that separates it from other budget-minded rifles is the adjustable trigger. The shooter can set it for a crisp let-off and light pull weight, but he warned that you must be savvy enough to know that minimum sear engagement can become problematic in the field, especially when cycling the bolt aggressively. If there’s not enough engagement, cycling the bolt won’t reset the trigger. If the sear engages, you’re likely good-to-go for field use.
Accuracy was exceptional for any production rifle shooting factory ammunition. Three-shot groups averaged .63 inch across the board.
The CZ 557 Eclipse is at the high end of a crowded field of low-cost rifles. Unlike most of its competitors though, it has a substantial stock, integral scope bases, lapped barrel, and the best adjustable trigger in this price point. If economical but full-featured bolt-actions tickle your fancy, the CZ 557 Eclipse might be for you.
CZ 557 Eclipse Specifications
- Type: Bolt action
- Cartridge: 6.5 Creedmoor (tested)
- Capacity: 5 rds.
- Barrel: 20.5 in., 1:8 twist, CHF
- Overall Length: 41.5 in.
- Weight: 7 lbs., 13 oz.
- Stock: Synthetic, soft touch
- Grip: Raised polygonal shapes
- Length of Pull: 13.8 in.
- Finish: Matte blued (steel)
- Trigger: 2 lbs., 13 oz.; adjustable
- Sights: None
- Safety: Lever, twoposition
- MSRP: $659
- Importer: CZ-USA, 913-321-1811, cz-usa.com
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