Range Report: CZ 550 American / Meopta Optika6

Yesterday I took the new toys out to work, said toys being a CZ 550 American (6.5x55mm Swede), topped with a Meopta Optika6 3-18x50mm scope.  Here’s the tout ensemble:

…and the illuminated reticle:

…which I would only use if I were hunting at dusk or dawn.  (On paper, the cross-hairs work just fine.)

Now, I’m pretty sure I heard someone saying, “Meopta-whut?”

Me, too;  until I discovered who they are.  Here’s the full scoop, but the executive summary is:

  • Czech company
  • been around since the 1930s
  • mainly makes commercial photo-enlargers
  • renowned for the quality of their glass
  • started making scopes a couple decades ago
  • if you’ve ever bought a Zeiss Conquest scope [raises hand], it was made by Meopta and stamped by Zeiss
  • congratulations;  you just paid two hundred-odd dollars more than you had to, for the identical scope.

Let me get the basics out of the way, first.

This scope cost me about $650, and I honestly think I got $1,200 value for it.  Holy cow:  the precision of the scope is astonishing, and the clarity as as good as any scope I’ve ever looked through.  I was originally going to get a Minox ZX-5i of similar power for about $100 more, but nobody had it in stock at the time and I was antsy, so I took a flyer on the Meopta, and I don’t regret it, at all.

That said, there are a couple of things that irritated me about the scope’s setup operation.

I’m using Warne Maxima rings, the tallest you can get, because the 50mm bell needs to be raised off the barrel and CZ bases are quite low.  As it turned out, the bell wasn’t a problem.  What was a problem was that yuge magnification adjusting ring on the scope:

…which proved very good at preventing the bolt from being pulled back — which, in a bolt-action rifle, is Not A Good Thing.  I had to put a shim into the rear scope ring to raise the scope the requisite millimeter or thereabouts so that the bolt handle would clear the adjusting ring.

The second issue also involved the adjuster, and it was the little stick screwed into it, supposedly to aid the easy working of the mag adjuster (which, by the way, is hellish stiff, more than it has to be, I think, but it should ease up with use).

Well, maybe the stick helps adjust the ring, but what it also does is get in the way when you’re working the bolt — and yes, there are several threaded holes to choose from to overcome this problem:  but what I found was that moving the stick so that it stayed out of the way worked for one magnification setting, but as soon as I changed the magnification (from, say, 10x to 5x or 12x to 18x), the fucking thing would catch on my hand when I worked the bolt.  And nothing makes Uncle Kimmy crankier than when something interferes with him working the bolt.

So I unscrewed the little stick and threw it away.  Don’t need it, won’t need it, especially as the adjusting ring has those deep, thick grooves to provide a decent grip*.

But those were the only issues I encountered at that session.  The scope worked flawlessly, and zeroing it took just under an hour (I generally let the barrel cool between strings, especially a skinny lil’ thing like the 550’s.)

Like an idiot, I hadn’t bothered bore-sighting the scope before hitting the range, and I paid for it by having to waste over a dozen rounds just to land the boolets into a dinner-plate group.

I had no intention of going for MOA (except by luck) during this session, anyway.  This is a hunting rifle rather than a precision target piece, and in any event, I was only shooting one brand of ammo to get everything into the same zip code.

The ammo was my standard sighting-in choice:  bottom-of-the-line no-frills Federal 140-gr Soft Point:

…with which I managed this 100-yard grouping with the last 5 rounds in the box.

That’s close enough for government work (or anti-government work, depending on your circumstances).

Now that the scope is roughly zeroed, next week I’ll get serious and start running through the dozen-odd different brands and bullet weights I have lying around in Ye Olde Ammoe Locquer, to see which one works best.

What fun.

*I don’t wear heavy gloves when shooting, anyway — in very cold weather (e,g, Scotland), I use the flip-off mitten type over thin gloves.


  1. Congrats, Kim. Were you using the set trigger?

    I had an FR 8, the Spanish “semi auto” bolt action 7.62 carbine (the “gas tube” actually held a cleaning kit and such). I’m a southpaw, I had to reach over the rear sight tower in order to cycle the bolt. I drew blood on the damn thing more than once.

    1. Yup. The 3-oz set trigger on the CZ is an excellent device for shooting-in a rifle or zeroing a scope because it takes away a lot of “fliers” — where the trigger pull might happen when the sights have wandered from the bull but the squeeze operation is still in progress and can’t really be stopped.

      With the CZ, the very millisecond the crosshairs are where you want them to be, you just touch the trigger and away we go.

      I can’t wait for Monday… Senior’s Discount Day.

  2. Hmmmmmm. I wonder if perhaps you don’t have “too much scope” there, Kim? Unless you are going extremely long range, a good 3×9 would be right at home on that beast.

    I had the CZ in the same calibre but with carbine Mannlicher style full stock. It was alright but mine had issues with the set trigger. I tend to sweep the trigger when I shoot, and that messed up the internals so the gun wouldn’t fire. Mine liked having that trigger pulled straight back.

    I think you’ll find you got a pile of value from the rifle too.

    1. I might take it to Boomershoot — where ranges start at 400yds — next year as a backup gun, hence the big-mag scope.
      In any event, I can always dial it down to 3x-6x for closer ranges.

  3. That sir, is a first class rig. Congrats.

    +1 for Minox. I snagged a pair of new in the box 8X32 BD on Fleabay some years back. Glass is world class.

    Here is a possible solution for your scope throw lever–



    I’m using one on a Nikon X1000 and it works great. Stays in place and you can position it anywhere around the clock. Possible negative is they are a bit bulky.

    1. I put that exact cat tail on my AR’s 1-6x scope 2 years ago and like it. Before cinching it down it’s wise to run the whole range of the zoom and pay attention to where the tail ends up as it’s pretty big. Even after 3 years of quite a bit of use that scope zoom is still pretty tight. But I’d rather it be tight than loose.

  4. There’s ALWAYS 6.5 Swede around, which is one of the many reasons I like it so much. You may have to buy more-expensive commercial, but at least it’s there.

  5. Meopta. I’m going to have to investigate this more and get the scratch to buy one before word gets out to everyone and his brother what a fine scope this is, and how they are a supplier for Zeiss, boosting the price.

  6. Beautiful rig, Kim, as would be expected when you put together a rifle package.

    I remember you (at least I think it was you) did a post on how most of the world’s most useful cartridges were designed by up to about a century ago, and with a few notable exceptions, everything else has just been tinkering. I came across this article after reading this post, and thought you would enjoy it. The part that made me chuckle was this …

    “Most Swede ammo is pretty pricy, because it’s made for people of taste and discernment, and you don’t find the cheap stuff that’s turned out for the 6.5CM.”

    Taste and diuscernnent, yep, That’s Kim! 😀



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