August 10, 2022

Bob Campbell shooting the CZ 712 12 gauge shotgun at an outdoor range

The CZ 712 shotgun is one of the most versatile and proven-reliable shotguns in the world. The CZ 712 is available in different versions for personal defense, small game hunting, sporting clays, or 3-gun competition. The CZ 712 illustrated is intended for use as a truck gun, a rough and ready shotgun for home defense or area defense, and as a go-anywhere do-anything shotgun. It excels in this niche.

And while other shotguns in the 712 line may edge the 712 Utility out in a certain chore, the 712 Utility is surprisingly capable at any task thrown at it. The CZ 712 is inexpensive and affordable. I don’t like to use the word cheap, but in comparison to some shotguns that don’t perform a bit better, it is downright bargain-priced.

CZ 712 shotgun 12 gauge black synthetic stock and forearm, right profile
The CZ 712 is a genuine go-anywhere do-anything shotgun.

CZ 712 Features

The CZ 712 shotgun has been imported for almost 20 years, although this is my first experience with the shotgun. The CZ 712 is marketed by the Czech Republic-based CZ.

The 712 is contract manufactured by Huglu in Turkey. The 712 has been detail improved since its introduction. Just the same, the basic advantages of a gas operation based on Benelli’s designs are present in each variation. All share a four-shell magazine located under the barrel. There are target models with a 30-inch barrel — what we used to call a Long Tom — and a version with a fully-adjustable stock.

The CZ 712 Utility features a 20-inch barrel. The barrel features a low riding vent rib with a white dot front bead sight. The stock is black synthetic with very nice pebbling around the stock and forend where the shooter will benefit from added abrasion. This stock design and treatment are among the best features of the CZ 712.

The stock features a rubber recoil pad. The finish is dull matte black. There are spacers supplied that allow the shooter to adjust stock camber. The shotgun features a cross-bolt safety in the rear of the trigger guard. The trigger and safety are polished steel in contrast to an all-black receiver and bolt.

The barrel is threaded for choke tubes. I was impressed; the shotgun is supplied with five choke tubes. These choke tubes include full, improved modified, modified, improved cylinder, and cylinder choke. One choke is in the barrel as issued, four others, and a choke tube wrench, ride in a plastic case.

CZ 712 shotgun 12 gauge black synthetic stock and forearm, left profile
The CZ 712 is well made of good material, functional, and reliable.

The shotgun arrived partially unassembled. The barrel is simply pressed into the receiver as you hold the bolt slightly to the rear. The barrel is then attached to the magazine tube by a nut.

The forend is placed in line with the magazine tube and a nicely scalloped knob is screwed in place. The trigger action is crisp, and the controls operate in a positive manner. My impressions of the shotgun are of a quality shotgun that should prove to be a good addition to the battery.

The operation of the shotgun must be understood if the CZ 712 Utility is kept at home ready. Be certain the chamber is empty before pulling the trigger! The loading port is generous. The shell elevator is cut out and the shotgun is easily loaded.

Several boxes of 12 gauge shotshells
After a modest break-in, the shotgun proved reliable with a wide range of shells.

Rack the bolt to load a shell. If the bolt is cocked, the shotgun will not feed from the magazine when the bolt is racked. The shotgun must be uncocked to feed.

As the shotgun fires, it feeds shells from the magazine. If you keep the shotgun at home ready with the chamber empty, the bolt must be uncocked to feed from the magazine. Otherwise, you will have to pull the trigger before racking the bolt to load the chamber. This is the Benelli system and the Remington 11-87 system. Be certain to be thoroughly familiar with the action before deploying it for personal defense.

Range Time

I collected a few shells from NSI, RIO, Federal, Hornady, and Jet. These were mostly buckshot in both #00 and #4 but also #7 ½ shot. Among the buckshot loads were Federal’s lead-free #00, Hornady Critical Defense #00, JET, and NSI #00, and Rio #4 buckshot. I began the evaluation with Federal’s # 7 ½ birdshot loads.

black silhouette target torn to shreds from shotshells
Shotguns take a toll on any target!

I experienced several failures to fully cycle in the first magazine. I gave up on birdshot and moved to the least expensive buckshot loads. The shotgun hit the road running and never failed to feed, cycle, or eject after the initial short cycles.

The 712 Utility handles well. The 20-inch barrel is nearly ideal for fast-moving action. The low riding vent rib and simple bead make for real speed. I tested the shotgun with both open cylinder and full choke tubes at 15 yards. Buckshot is less affected by choke tubes while the difference in birdshot was more pronounced. Hornady’s Critical Defense loading gave excellent results landing a cohesive pattern on target.

After firing 30 double-ought buckshot and 10 #4 buckshot loads, I attempted to fire the birdshot loads again. This time, the birdshot ran well functioning properly and locking the bolt back on the last shot. I fired 20 birdshot loads with excellent results.

Final Thoughts

Count on a modest break-in period with the CZ 712 before it functions with light loads. It is more difficult to describe a shotgun’s performance than a rifle. There is no small group at 100 yards. Handling is everything. The CZ 712 Utility handles as well as any shotgun and is a very versatile and useful shotgun. I find it more useful than most. The CZ 712 Utility is a bargain and one I recommend highly.

The Mossberg 500 and Remington 870 top many shooters’ list for quality budget tactical shotguns, but the CZ 712 is proving itself on the range and in the hands of shooters. Have you ever fired the CZ 712? How did it perform for you? How does the CZ 712 rank compared to a Mossberg, Remington, or Benelli? Share your answers in the comment section.

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