Concealed Carry

CZ 75: Decocker or Safety Version?

two cz 75 pistols

When folks choose a double-action first-shot pistol, the majority of the handguns available have a decocker option for lowering the hammer.

Some, such as the SIG, have the decocker only, others, such as the Beretta, feature a safety that operates as a decocker.

A few, primarily CZ types, have a manual safety or a decocker, but not both.

The CZ Omega offers the option of changing out the levers for a manual safety or decocker. So, what is a decocker?

This is a lever that lowers the hammer to the hammer-down position without firing the pistol or manually lowering the hammer.

The hammer need not be touched during the operation.

A properly-designed decocker lowers the hammer just a notch before contact with the firing pin.

The SIG design is located on the frame in front of the trigger guard, the Beretta on the slide, the CZ high on the rear of the frame.

There are two variants. One operates as a decocker only. This is the SIG type and the type used by CZ 75 D type pistols.

The Beretta and the Walther PPK operate as a decocker and  safety. The Beretta 92G is a decocker-only version. 

Beretta 92
The Beretta safety/decocker is shown in the on safe position. The 92G is spring-loaded and cannot be placed on safe, it is a decocker only. 

Decocker History

The original type was designed for use on the Walther PPK. It was later used in the Walther P38.

A very few single-action pistols, including the Radom Vis 35, have a decocker. The Beretta type may be actuated as you load the pistol.

With the safety lever on, insert a magazine and rack the slide. The hammer rides down safely. The safety must be disengaged before firing.

It is reasonable to carry the Beretta or any other double-action pistol with the safety off, as the long double-action first-shot trigger is a good safety feature on its own.

Some folks have trouble quickly operating the slide-mounted safety.

Due to the design of the Beretta decocker, it would be nearly impossible for the pistol to fire as it is decocked. The same goes for the SIG.

Not so for some designs — many years ago I decocked a European pistol and it fired.

I thought I had made a mistake, but the decocked pistol fired again on the second try!

I use muzzle discipline and keep the pistol pointed in a safe direction so the only problem was a round in the dirt at the range.

The firing-pin block kept the firing pin locked as the pistol was decocked, in theory.

In this case, a small piece of brass had gotten under the firing-pin block and deactivated it, so the pistol fired.

The SIG hammer stops short of the firing when decocked. The Beretta has a block over the firing pin as the safety is rotated.

So, this could never occur with these pistols. With the pistol I was testing, it happened.

Another concern — never, never lower the hammer manually on a decocker-type pistol.

If you do, you may not allow the firing-pin block to engage! Use the decocker as designed. 

SIG P229 with Red Dot Sight with decocker
SIG’s P-series features a deocking lever in front of the grip panel, left side. This is a very handy device to use. 

Using a Decocker

When the Beretta 92 was introduced, it featured a slide-lock safety. These types and the original CZ 75 are termed selective double-action.

They may be used as a double-action first-shot pistol or carried with the hammer to the rear and safety on.

The true purpose of this safety, I believe, was to allow safely moving in tactical movement after the first double-action shot was fired.

You have the advantage of never having to decock on the move in a battle, but you can make the pistol safe with the application of the safety.

If needed, flick the safety off and you are ready for an accurate single-action shot. Italian police and military asked for a decocker version.

The older type Beretta design survives in the Taurus 92.

This pistol has a combination slide-lock safety which in modern versions combines the decocker function.

Many years ago, I used a Taurus 92 as a trainer for students, as I could teach double-action first-shot, decocking and on-safe carry all in one pistol.

I found some students, used to the 1911, decocked the pistol during a firing string not meaning to, as this decocker fell under the thumb too easily.

The SIG and Beretta 92G type do not exhibit this problem.

Students tend to ride the thumb on the SIG slide lock, often causing it to fail to lock open on the last shot.

To each is own and thoroughly learn the pistol!

CZ 75 with manual safety
Close up of the CZ 75 B safety lever. 

Other Options 

The striker-fired pistol is simpler and so is the double-action-only hammer-fired pistol.

Perhaps the single-action is as well. But the double-action first-shot pistol is favored by many.

Handling and a perceived advantage in safety is appreciated by these shooters.

The double-action first-shot offers a degree of safety when the pistol is carried or at home ready.

A quality example with a smooth double-action first shot is useful for personal defense at close range.

The single-action trigger makes for accurate fire at longer range.

For most of us, considering the training time we really have compared to what we want, the decocker version of the pistol is best.

The problem with the DA first-shot pistol with a safety and no decocker — the CZ 75 B — is that the pistol’s hammer must be lowered manually.

This requires extreme care to avoid an accidental discharge. The manual of arms is different and must be learned for each pistol.

When lowering the hammer in this case, be certain you have a firm grip on the hammer with the thumb.

Some like to have the opposing thumb under the hammer.

Press the trigger to allow the hammer to begin moving down and then release the trigger, allowing the hammer to come to rest. 

Whether you choose a decocker-type pistol or a pistol with a manual safety only, learn the manual of arms of each thoroughly.

Safety and smart gunhandling demand it. 

What type on pistol do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (10)

  1. I bought a model 39 Smith brand new in 1971. It has a decocker style safety. When you put it on safe; the shaft in the slide is very robust and moves to block the firing pin when the hammer goes down. Never had a problem with it. Yes the trigger pull is long on the first and a lot of free travel on subsequent shots. I have a 1911 and a High Power.
    LEARN what is in your hand and there won’t be any problem

  2. I have a CZ 75D with the decocker. Very easy to use and eliminates the need for a safety because you have a long trigger pull when its fully decocked. I prefer this over manually decocking a gun, always makes me nervous.

  3. I have a BDA (Browning design) made by Beretta. It has a de-cocker. Is this feature only on the BDAs made by Beretta (presuming that not all BDAs were manufactured by Beretta)?

  4. I much prefer a decocker on a DA/SA handgun. I can charge it and and decock it, then know that it is more safe to carry than any other type of action and yet will fire on the first trigger pull with no need to fumble with a mechanical safety.

  5. I have a coupla SIGSs as well as HK USP Compact .40 that employs the Safety/De-cocker function on the same lever. Safety Lever Down is Safety Off, pushing lever further down decocks the weapon, and this is the gun I carry daily

    .The HK USP is available in, I believe, in 9 variants including law enforcement models where 1st DA trigger pull and subsequent trigger pulls are all the same. They also offer DAO and Safety/Decocker lever for southpaws by changing out

    Thanx for your informative article

  6. I’ve noticed a fair number of people don’t like the decocker style since it allows for the hammer to fall on a live round. (while blocking it from contacting the firing pin)

  7. I have a HK USP v1 with the combination safety/decocker. The control lever is intuitive and easy to reach.

  8. I carry the Canik clone of the CZ 75 compact, with a safety, not a decocker. I like this particular gun because it has a true 3-position hammer. All the way down, true half cock, and full cock, And the safety works on all three positions. My hands are a bit too small for a good grip on a DA first shot with a double stack gun. With this one, I use the half cock position with the safety engaged. It is still a decently long trigger travel, but I can reach the trigger correctly.
    For decocking I grab the hammer with my left thumb and forefinger (while pointing in a safe direction) and pull the trigger till it releases, then let go the trigger and slowly put the hammer down. I do this especially with auto-loaders, since the shape of the frame does not allow a safe grip on the hammer with my thumb on my firing hand. I have had the hammer slip on me too many times in dry fire practice to trust one handed decocking.

  9. My CZ 97bd may very well be my favorite firearm to date. Every .45 I own has a decocker and I prefer it over a manual safety. The CZ 97bd lowers the hammer just above the firing pin and the weight of the trigger is slightly higher than the single action, yet considerably lower than the double action. This middle ground in weight gives a good compromise between safety and keeping the first shot accurate and quick.

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