The coronavirus has pretty much shut down the country for months and even as things are reopening it is unlikely that big game hunting is something many are thinking about, yet surprisingly according to the National Rifle Association’s American Hunter, which tracks sales via GunBroker.com, the CZ-USA 550 was the top-selling bolt-action rifle this spring and a magnum to boot!

It is true that firearm sales have been strong this year, due to a combination of fears from the novel coronavirus, calls to defund the police and an election year. The rifle has also been a popular choice for years with hunters and while it is far from the most ideal home defense weapon for those who fear what the future may bring it likely isn’t a bad choice for a well-stocked home arsenal.

The CZ-550, which is a civilian evolution of the popular Mauser Kar-98K military rifle, was developed by Česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod (CZ UB)—often known simply as CZ—which began to produce versions in the late 1920s and early 1930s. However, the design departs from the traditional Mauser 98 in several ways including a different floorplate release, magazine box, bolt release and bolt shroud but the action and overall functionality of the rifle is very much based on the original concept developed by Paul Mauser nearly 125 years ago.  

The platform has evolved over the years, and the CZ-550 is available in numerous configurations and calibers. Of course the most popular has remained the super magnum cartridges including the American Safari Magnum (ASM), which is now produced by CZ-USA, the Kansas City, Kansas-based exclusive U.S. importer of the Czech-made firearms. 

The CZ-550 ASM is, in essence, a direct descendent of the famous Brno 602 and CZ 550 Safari Magnum and the company has reaffirmed that it retains the quality and features of them as well, including its forged square bridge receiver, controlled round feed Mauser style claw extractor, single set trigger, hammer-forged barrel, 3 leaf express sights, and integrated scope bases. The Mauser-style controlled round feed and fixed ejector make this rifle reliable for high-stress situations with heavy and dangerous game. 

The rifle is intended for use with magnified optics, but features backup iron sights in place were the optic to be removed. It features an American-styled stock that has a high, flat comb for this purpose, while its round forend won’t snag on brush and limbs. Quick-detach sling studs are mounted into the stock, while a thick rubber butt pad helps tame recoil. 

Even for those who do more shooting at the range than on safari, it would be hard to go wrong with this big game rifle. It features a combination of classic German designs, Czech engineering and the American spirit. 

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. 

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