There are pistols so overlooked it boggles the mind. The Czech CZ pistols (Ceska Zbrojovka Uhersky Brod) have appeal to professionals the world over.
The CZ 75 is among the most imitated pistols in the world. At present few clones have equaled the reliability and build quality of the original.
From its introduction, those with an eye for mechanical excellence have appreciated the CZ 75. I think, those referring to the pistol as a double action Browning Hi Power are mistaken. The CZ owes more to the Petter pistols than the Browning. Few pistols today do not use the Browning locked breech system. The trigger linkage and design of the CZ 75 are superior to the Browning Hi Power—and I am a Hi Power fan.
I am also pragmatic concerning service pistols. The CZ 75 is perhaps the best service 9mm in the world, and if not, it is certainly among the top two or three. Of all the CZ pistols, I prefer the CZ P-01. The P-01 differs in a number of ways from the CZ 75 while maintaining the core advantages that make the CZ 75 such a great pistol.
The P-01 uses the same short recoil operation as the CZ 75. The pistol is also a double-action first-shot-type. The P-01 uses an aluminum frame for light weight. The pistol also features a handy frame decocker. The original pistol uses a safety that allows cocked and locked carry and is what is called a selective double action.
The CZ 75 in its original, and still current rendition, requires the hammer be manually lowered to make the pistol safe. The new design was required by the Czech National Police. Most agencies the world over will prefer the decocker-type action. During testing of the P-01, the pistol was fired thousands of times without failure. Dry fire and decocking the pistol thousands of times was executed without any type of failure. The CZ P-01 was also subjected to rigorous safety testing without failure or accidental discharge. Heat and cold testing was also undertaken. When the test was completed, the CZ P-01 emerged as one of the most reliable handguns on the planet.
The Czech National Police wanted a shortened and lightened version of the CZ 75, and the new pistol delivered. The result is one of the best balanced handguns ever made. The balance and heft of the new pistol was superior to the CZ 75—according to most. The frame is a monolithic design that extends to the muzzle.
The P-01 features a frame rail for mounting combat lights and laser devices. Like the original CZ 75, the P-01 pistol uses a double-action trigger system. The first shot is a long press that both cocks and drops the hammer. The pistol fires, and the slide cocks the hammer for subsequent single-action fire. The double-action trigger is smooth in operation, and the single-action trigger breaks at 4.5 pounds clean.
The P-01 retains an important design feature of the CZ 75 handgun. The slide rides inside the frame. This means more contact between the long bearing surfaces for enhanced accuracy. This also means that the slide rides lower in the frame than most double action pistols. The result is less leverage for the muzzle to rise. Less muzzle flip means greater control. The shorter grip of the P-01 fits most hands well, yet retains a 14 round magazine.
The new-in-the-box example we tested was lubricated and inspected. The magazines were loaded with Winchester’s USA Forged steel cased 9mm FMJ loads. These loads burn clean, function well, and are a good resource for affordable training. I drew the pistol from a DM Bullard inside the waistband holster, my preferred carry rig, during most of the testing.
The pistol’s well shaped grip offers a sharp draw. Drawing and firing at man-sized silhouette targets at 5, 7, and 10 yards, the pistol gave excellent results. First shot hit probability is enhanced by a smooth trigger, and the pistol’s excellent sights are easily acquired in high speed drills. Control in rapid fire was good. The controls are well laid out for rapid manipulation and magazine changes are sharp and efficient. With a combination of good control, ideal balance, and good combat accuracy, it would be hard to recommend a better 9mm pistol for all around use.
CZ claims the P-01 by virtue of its monolithic construction is more accurate than the original CZ 75. After much experience with both, I tend to agree. I fired the CZ P-01 for accuracy, firing two 5-shot groups with each load and found the pistol more than accurate enough for any foreseeable need. In short, this pistol is good enough to ride with.
Accuracy Testing, 5-shot Groups, 25 Yards
|Fiocchi 124-grain Extrema||2.25 inches|
|Fiocchi 147-grain JHP||2.6 inches|
|Hornady 115-grain FTX Critical Defense||2.5 inches|
|Hornady 135-grain FlexLok +P||2.4 inches|
|Winchester 115-grain FMJ steel case||3.25 inches|
|Winchester 124-grain PDX +P||2.2 inches|
The P-01 is not only my favorite CZ pistol, but the single 9mm I carry most often. The pistol is rugged, ergonomic, accurate, and most of all reliable. This just may be the best buy on the market in a service grade 9mm handgun.
Do you have a favorite CZ pistol? Share it in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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