I am in no way qualified to review a handgun. I have only been shooting seriously for a short while. My pool of comparison is extremely limited. My shooting skill is well below average compared with the average serious shooter. If you want gun advice from a legitimate source, try Paul Harrell. If you would like to see reviews about this particular genre of handgun, try this guy. If you think guns should be reviewed by redneck bubbas who you’re vaguely suspicious about, you can try these guys among many others. Hipsters more your thing? Fudds? What about… fuck it, I don’t even know what you’d call him.
Anyway, you should not take any of my judgments as being informed or coming from a place of experience or expertise. I will endeavor to not make any, since as I just said, they’re not worth the paper they’re printed on. However, TPTB always need filler material so here’s some. Some of you other gun nuts need to step up, it can’t all be on Animal or Vhyrus.
The gun looks like this:
Official stats are here (this is also what the gun looked like when I bought it.)
I have made the following modifications to the gun:
- Swapped the magazine release for left-handed operation
- Replaced the grips with a set from lokgrips.com. I liked them so much, I had them make a custom right panel for the swag.
Current round count 10,149
Total stoppages: Four (two failures to extract, two failures to eject)
Ammunition fired: Wolf and Tula 115gr steel cased, Winchester USA Forged 115gr steel case, Federal Champion 115gr aluminum cased, CCI Blazer 115gr, 124gr, and 147gr brass cased, Target Sports Ammunition 124gr brass cased, Minute Man Munitions 115gr and 124gr brass cased remanufactured, Federal HST 124gr, Underwood Xtreme Defender 68gr, 68gr +P, 90gr and 90gr+P. No issues noticed with any of the ammo fired. N.B.: the TSA ammo (which I’ve read is rebranded Sellier Bellot) is utterly filthy — cleaning the gun after 500 rounds of it looks like I’ve shot 2500 rounds of the “cheap, crappy” Russian stuff. And yes, I have gone 2500 rounds without cleaning. I am a bad gun owner (see first sentence).
Parts breakages: None. I have heard that the trigger return spring is going to break sometime in the next 5000 rounds or so, but it hasn’t happened yet.
So, why did I drop $1100 on a gun?
Well, when I got to NYS, my collection was down to one firearm due to an extended period of unemployment back in the early 21st century. I wanted to get into shooting, and I wanted to not completely suck at it. This means I needed to practice, and one of the things that I know about myself is I am much more likely to stick with something if it’s enjoyable. So I did a lot of research into what pistols people enjoyed shooting, and when this model came on the market, there was a total flood of reviews absolutely raving about it. I have always preferred double-action pistols since I have made far too many bone-headed mistakes to ever consider carrying in condition 1 (yes, this is not a carry gun but still I’d like there to be come cross-training benefit). When I made the initial purchase decision, I hadn’t made it through the waitlist on any gun clubs, so I didn’t have any preference for a particular practical shooting sport, and if I had known that the first club I’d get into was an IDPA one, I’d probably gone with something different, since this wasn’t legal in that sport. However, everything worked out in the end and I’m really satisfied with how this runs.
So, how does it run?
Is there anything you don’t like about it?
Well, yeah. Three things.
The grips: The factory grips are preeeety. But they’re not all that grippy. When I purchased this gun, I hadn’t yet gotten into a club, so my actual shooting was every weekend dropping $45 for an hour of range time and a hundred rounds of ammo and working my way through the NRA/Winchester program that I remembered from my Boy Scout days (I was a terrible rifle shot. Still am.) Prior to that I was using my Ruger Standard and when I switched the drop in precision was noticeable at the end of a session. The CZ is chonky and supporting it takes a lot of hand muscles. Or it did until I put the Lok Bogies on it. There was an immediate improvement from day one as holding it still became effortless.
The slide: This is a competition gun. So they did everything they could to reduce reciprocating mass and lower the center of gravity in the gun. The slide is acutely trapezoidal in cross section, and since CZ75 type guns have the slide riding inside the frame the absolute dimensions on the slide which are exposed/grippable are pretty small. These two things (a small amount of surface area coupled with a steep pitch) mean if you’re not on the cocking serrations, you better have been working on your hand strength if you’re going to pinch hard enough to get a grip. Fortunately, the cocking serrations are huge and aggressive. The recoil spring is pretty stiff (I guess to run it faster?) so this adds to the problem. I don’t have a problem racking the slide with authoritah, but trying to gently/slowly/press check (lol) is difficult.
The slide stop/disassembly: disassembling this next to a 1911 will show that this is really just a slightly modified/improved version of John Moses Browning’s design (at least above the trigger). However, unlike a 1911 where you can remove the slide stop by pressing it with your finger, in the CZ’s case you need to press really hard. The recommended tool is a magazine baseplate, and it does work, but I wish it was as easy as on a 1911. Also, they put the alignment marking for the takedown on the opposite side from where you pop the slide stop out. I guess you’re supposed to hold the slide in position, then reach around behind it and eject the stop. I’d rather it be on the same side so I could see both parts of the disassembly process simultaneously.
OK, so what do you like about it in particular?
The sights. I love the chopped blackout back/fiber optic front combination. For whatever reason I don’t have the problem here as with other skinny front sights of figuring out if it’s centered horizontally or not. I’m assuming that’s because the fiber is set within a larger mounting so I get the advantage of a very precise dot along with something blocking out most of the daylight in the sight picture. And the cutaway keeps most of my vision unobstructed, meaning this is far and away the fastest-acquiring pistol I own.
The frame: The front- and backstraps are 25lpi and sharp. And they are pretty flat, which helps me (I have difficulty with oval-gripped guns). I have pretty average hands (size 9 – 9.5 glove) and the frame itself is thin enough that I need to bulk it up some with grips, which is vastly better and easier than the opposite problem (I’m looking at you, M9). I’ve got a palm swell on the palm side with a flat on the support side and it works great (and looks sharp too.) Both hands just fit naturally around the gun when picking it up.
The response: The trigger goes off in the same way that the clutch engages on a BMW Z3 — exactly where/when you expect it to. The reset is short enough that it’s possible to bump-fire the gun (which I have done accidentally) but it also means that when the loa of John Wick descends upon you transcendent episodes of gunplay happen. Also because of all the engineering that went into this, it immediately returns to the point of aim after a shot. On those occasions when I’ve accidentally double-tapped, I wound up with two holes in the target nearly touching. The DA pull is smooth, and I’ve never had any difficulty alpha-ing my first shot. I know some people claim that DA/SA is a problem, but honestly training the “problem” away (at least with this gun) took all of a box of ammo.
Now about that 2-shot drill. Because this is a competition gun, everything that could impede the trigger was eliminated, so there is no decocker on this. You’ll have to manually lower the hammer to put it back in DA. I have never ND’d this in a match and I will never admit to having done so while doing “first shot, second shot, lower the hammer” twenty-five times in a row. But I can totally see how that might happen. Also, I have had a range officer become belligerently angry with me for lowering the hammer via the grab-the-hammer-with-one-hand-pull-the-trigger-with-the-other technique prior to beginning a course of fire even though it explicitly say in the rules that I need to do so. Then again, this particular RO is the kind of guy who was probably attracted to the position because it gives him an excuse to be belligerently angry with people. For the same reason that there is no decocker, there is no firing pin block. This gun is not drop safe if you happen to be a large guy who might contemplate carrying a three pound (unloaded) 5″ barreled pistol for personal protection.
Even though (again) this is a competition gun, I keep it in my nightstand safe. When not on the way to the range, it wears an Olight Valkyrie and there are a couple of (wonderfully inexpensive) magazines loaded with HSTs next to it (there is no difference in point of impact at 10 yards with HSTs compared with 115gr FMJs, and that’s longer than the longest possible shot inside my house). I (for obvious reasons) shoot this under pressure more often than any other firearm so it will be my preferred weapon on my way to the shotgun locked in the closet.
Ok, well, everyone already said all of that, how has the gun fared over the ten thousand rounds?
Honestly, I notice no mechanical difference in the gun since the day I bought it. The magazines and magazine well require cleaning more often than anything else to drop free, though flicking the wrist 45 degrees while reaching for the new magazine flings any recalcitrant mags out and also puts the gun in position for the preferred reload on my club’s indoor range.
The finish: Scuttlebutt is that CZ is pretty poor with their finishes. Supposedly, the reason this gun is (or at least was) most commonly produced in “Urban Gray” is because most of the black frames were cosmetically unsaleable and were overcoated with the gray to salvage them (and it is true that the gray frames do have the black finish underneath). In this particular example, the finish has held up very well, with just some discoloration at the muzzle end.
You will notice almost zero holster wear on the finish, especially compared with pictures from my M9 that I’ve posted earlier. I doubt that this coating is any harder than Bruniton, so I’m guessing the relatively pristine condition is because while I do wear this in Kydex, it’s on a drop-offset rig that keeps it away from and isolated from my body, while the Beretta in an IDPA/concealed carry rig is tight up against me so there’s lots more movement/wear. This theory has some support in the fact that where my forearm would brush against the rear sight has rusted.
And I don’t know if it is related, but the paint marking the “fire” position on the outside safety is also flaking off.
As for internal signs of wear, they are in my mind remarkably absent. Regardless of their cosmetic finishes, whatever finish Ceska Zbrojovka puts on their steel to protect it is good stuff. And their fitment is obviously good enough to make sure parts are only moving in the direction they’re supposed to. For example, there are annular wear marks on the barrel that I am presuming are from impacts during locking/unlocking, but no linear marks indicating that it’s rubbing against the slide.
And even where you know there is steel-on-steel friction, the locking lugs, not a whole lot of wear.
Remember how I was talking about fitment? check this out: the contact surfaces are still nice and polished, and the non-contact surfaces show no signs of wear.
One of the odd/excessive/gilding the lily “features” of the gun is it comes with silicone buffers to help cushion recoil. Obviously these are going to be consumable parts so they give you a handful of spares with the gun. However, I’m still using the first one and while there is definitely wear, I’d guess it’s no more than halfway through its useful life.
I don’t actually have a borescope to let you see what the condition of the barrel is internally, but it still shoots straight. One of my main disappointments with the ‘vid response is that it wound up shutting down my bulleye league before we got to the “centerfire open sight” night, because I was hoping to see how well this thing performed in that format. The weight really dampens whatever unavoidable twitchiness there is when standing unsupported. Here’s a couple of targets from the last time I went to the range. I use AP-2s because they are standardized and used for the NRA/Winchester program above, but more importantly because you can print them off on an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper.
That target was shot close and fast. I moved the frame back twenty feet and tried to shoot fast but dammit, it just takes longer to even find the black dot at that distance under those lighting conditions. Still, considering the target was designed to be shot at 15 feet, I can’t be too unhappy.
So, is this gun worth the price tag? Well, there are a couple of different ways of looking at that. This gun is the best one I have. It shoots faster and more precisely than my IDPA gun that I’ve done more work on, but even with the Langdon parts I spent less than half on that gun than on this one (I did buy the M9 used, but even assuming new gun prices, that would total at less than 2/3 the price). But the other way of looking at is that the more you shoot it, the less the price of the gun is a factor in your shooting habit. At this point in its life cycle, the amortized cost of this gun is less than $0.11 per shot fired. Even in the pre-stupid days, that’s less than the cost of ammo to make it go bang.
Would I recommend this gun? Without hesitation. If you like shooting, and shooting a lot, this is probably worth it to you. If that’s not your niche, you probably don’t have any need for it, so then it becomes a matter of how much money are you wanting to spend on entertainment, because shooting this this is all sorts of entertaining.