The CZ 452-E Special is a no-frills economy version of the famous Czech rimfire rifle with a hardwood stock sans checkering. It has the same shape as the Classic walnut-stocked model and while it may lack a little in the way of looks, field shooters will appreciate its practicality. It is chambered for the popular .17 HMR which drives a 17gn V-Max bullet at 2550fps, giving it the potential to reach out beyond 125 metres to zap a rabbit or a fox. The hyped-up sub-calibre has a well-shaped bullet with a ballistic coefficient of 0.125 which allows it to retain its velocity well to give a flat trajectory.
Undoubtedly the effectiveness of this .17 HMR rimfire cartridge was enhanced by the Hornady V-Max bullet it shoots. Copying the design of the its larger stablemates, the SST and A- Max, the 17gn V-Max features a precision-made copper boattail jacket with a lead core and a streamlined polymer tip inserted into a hollow cavity in its nose to resist deformation and initiate rapid expansion. The sleek aerodynamic shape coupled with short a bearing surface between boattail and ogive reduces barrel friction which helps the cartridge attain its startlingly high velocity. As a result the bullet is still tavelling at 1332 fps and packing 67 ft/lb of energy at 200 metres. For comparison, the .22 WMR with a 40gn bullet starting out at 1900fps has dropped off to only 1138 fps at 200 metres, but still hits a lot harder – 95 ft/lb against 64 ft/lb.
When the .17 HMR was introduced in 2002 it was the first new rimfire cartridge since the ill-fated 5mm Remington was announced in 1969. Every manufacturer of rimfire rifles pounced on the “sizzling seventeen” and a multitude of utilitarian bolt-actions, autoloaders and leverguns appeared carrying such brand names as Mossberg, Ruger, Savage and Marlin. Two lever-actions, the Winchester 9422 and Henry were superb hunting rifles that proved the equal of many bolt-actions where accuracy was concerned. The first high-quality bolt-action rifle was Anschutz, but discerning small game hunters later came to prefer the Czech-made CZ 452 American because the rifle handled and felt like a centerfire and was built strong enough to last a lifetime of hard use.