CZ’s 600 Alpha is a carbine built for rough-and-tumble duty, delivering top-shelf accuracy and ergonomic performance…even in the 7.62x39mm chamber

by Bob Campbell

There is a saying that specialization is for insects. Human beings should be more flexible. The go anywhere, do anything class of rifle reflects this. I like the term “emergency rifle” more than the overworked term “survival rifle.” It all depends on what you are trying to survive.

I recently put aside a couple of emergency rifles in favor of the rifle that is the subject of this review. The .357 Magnum lever action and 9mm carbine are fine for close-range work and for many other uses. In terms of accuracy and long-range potential, neither is very close to this bolt action .30-caliber rifle. Yet the CZ 600 Alpha is affordable and offers light recoil. I have used CZ firearms for many years with excellent results. I trust the individual firearms and I trust the brand. The latest CZ is a model of light weight, rugged performance, and surprising accuracy.

CZ’s 600 Alpha is a first-class bolt-action rifle with a great deal of versatility.

The CZ 600 Alpha is a modified controlled-feed bolt action rifle with a removable magazine. The Alpha is available in a range of calibers, including .223 Remington, .224 Valkyrie, 7.62x39mm, .308 Winchester, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, .30-06 Springfield, and .300 Winchester Magnum. Mine was the first available in my area, and I was lucky to find an 18-inch barrel carbine chambered in 7.62x39mm. This rifle seems a nice blend of old-world style and modern features. It is light enough to qualify as a truck gun but powerful enough for deer-sized game or wild hogs. It would do fine for coyote and other pests and is a formidable rifle for area defense. At 6.6 pounds as issued before mounting an optic, the Alpha is light enough and swings on target quickly. The receiver is a strong design. The bolt handle features a 60-degree throw. The action is very smooth. Using the proper technique, keeping the palm open and quickly slapping the bolt up and back and then slamming the bolt home — being careful not to short-cycle the action — the Alpha is a very fast bolt action rifle. The magazine holds five 7.62x39mm cartridges. You may also load the magazine from the top quite easily.

An important advantage is that the trigger may be adjusted without removing the stock.

A high spot of the Alpha is its adjustable trigger. Trigger compression may be set from 1.3 to 3 lbs. The rifle’s trigger clicks as the adjustments are made (according to the wife…I cannot quite hear them!). The trigger may be adjusted without removing the stock. I played with different weights but finally set compression at just over 2.0 pounds. This is a clean crisp trigger action.

A cross-bolt safety is located just behind the receiver or just behind the trigger guard, depending on perspective. From below, press the bolt up for safe or press the bolt down for fire. To remove the bolt, press a plunger on the receiver. The bolt may be removed with the safety on. Overall, it is a well thought-out rifle with a great deal of innovative engineering behind it.

The 7.62x39mm or, as Cooper labeled it, the .30 Soviet, doesn’t get a lot of respect in the game field or for firing at targets over 100 yards. This is because the usual platform is famed for indifferent accuracy. An Arsenal or a Krebs rifle may be a different tale, but the average AK is made to sell cheaply. Many will group three shots into 4.0 inches at 100 yards. Some are a little better and some are worse. As it turns out, the ammunition isn’t that inaccurate when fired in a well-designed and executed bolt-action rifle.

CZ’s push and click magazine is easy to handle. Note the push button magazine release.

The Alpha is light enough for carry without becoming tiresome and the caliber doesn’t kick much. In common with the 30-30 Winchester centerfire, the 7.62x39mm has enough power for medium game, including deer and hog. The difficulty is shot placement. Poor sights limit shot placement. A good set of sights or a superior optic makes a great deal of difference.

As a direct comparison to the .30-30, things get interesting. The 7.62x39mm cartridge exhibits about the same to a little better velocity with a 123-grain loading as the .30-30 with a 150-grain load. If you follow the great Sam Fadala’s advice for loading the .30-30 WCF with a 125-grain Spire Point bullet, it far exceeds the 7.62x39mm. You cannot use a spire point bullet in the lever-action tubular magazine. Sam loaded one in the chamber and one in the magazine. But that’s another story.

At one time, Cor Bon offered a 7.62x39mm loading with a 150-grain bullet that equaled the .30-30 even when fired in a 16-inch barrel (compared to the .30-30 performance with a 20-inch barrel). I have no experience with the current Cor Bon company. I certainly hope their loads, including a DPX version, reach the same bar. The 7.62x39mm must stand on its own merits.

To load the rifle, simply press a cartridge into the ejection port.

I mounted to it a SIG Buckmasters rifle scope. This rifle scope is affordable but offers very good performance. Testing for alignment, I found the combination good. The rifle was sighted first at 25 yards and then incrementally at 50 and 100 yards.

During the initial evaluation, I found the rifle to be very smooth. Be certain to bring the bolt fully to the rear and eject the cartridge, and then drive the bolt home. Don’t short-cycle the action. The detachable box magazine is handy and the ability to load from the top of the receiver a nice feature. I fired the rifle for groups at 100 yards and fired off hand at various small targets to a range of 150 yards. If sighted for 100 yards, drop at 150 yards will be just short of 5 inches for most loads and around 10 inches at 200 yards. This isn’t the flattest shooting or most powerful cartridge, but it is useful to 150 yards and offer the virtues of light recoil and affordability. Burner ammunition — including steel cased loads — provided good accuracy and even the least accurate are useful for training. Here are some of my results, firing three-shot groups at 100 yards from a solid bench rest (velocity recorded at fifteen feet):

Load / Velocity / Group Size

  • Hornady Black 123-gr. / 2366 fps / 0.8 in.
  • Federal 123-gr. Fusion / 2401 fps / 1.0 in.
  • Federal 123-gr. American Eagle / 2390 fps / 1.3 in.
  • Wolf 122-gr. HP / 2379 fps / 1.9 in.
  • Tula 122-gr. FMJ / 2289 fps / 2.65 in.
Even inexpensive ammunition provided good accuracy.

Having fired a good number of AK type rifles from a bench rest, I can attest that very few will group three shots into three inches at 100 yards. The CZ Alpha is also more accurate than all but a very few .30-30 rifles as a comparison. Here we have a lightweight rifle that is reliable, smooth handling, and quite accurate. I have not explored tightening the groups using the lightest trigger action or even using the highest magnification value of the Buckmaster. In short, the accuracy values illustrated are very easy to come by.

I have been going over my rifle portfolio and culling the herd a bit. A single example of each type that I can use to the best of my ability will fill each role. No, I am not in financial distress but am relieving a lot of clutter and the Pretty Girl and I are traveling more. I may even be shooting more and shooting better! This is a capable emergency rifle and light hunter that makes for a great recreational rifle as well. The Alpha is a good buy and a reliable piece from a respected maker.

CZ 600 Alpha Specifications

  • Action: bolt-action, 60-degree lift
  • Barrel Length: 18 in., threaded muzzle
  • Caliber: 7.62x39mm
  • Magazine: detachable box, 5-round capacity
  • Overall Length: 43 in.
  • Overall Weight: 6.6 lbs.
  • Trigger: adjustable
  • Stock: synthetic

What I Like

  • Light weight
  • Accuracy
  • Reliability
  • Smooth operation

What I Don’t Like

  • The 7.63×39 is not my favorite cartridge. Maybe I will trade up to the .308 Winchester, but then I am having a great deal of fun with this rifle.

What I Would Change

  • If you had asked me a week into the evaluation, I would have said I didn’t like the safety. After giving it an honest go for a few weeks, I find the safety ideal for a rough-and-ready, do anything rifle.

Compare To

  • The Alpha beats the inexpensive package guns from Savage, Remington, and most other makers hands down. The only close competitor is the Ruger American. The Ruger is comparable in reliability but not nearly as smooth. The Ruger stock must be removed to adjust the trigger. The Alpha has the edge.

Bob Campbell holds a degree in Criminal Justice and has authored over 10,000 articles and fourteen books for major publishers. Campbell has served as a peace officer and security professional, has taught the handgun professionally and is a competitive shooter. He is currently teaching his grandchildren not to be snowflakes.

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