Firearms

CZ Perfection — Quality and History

CZ SP 01 semiautomatic handgun left profile 9mm

I have been a CZ 75 pistol fan since I first held and fired the pistol many years ago. My experience with the CZ began with the many clones of the pistol imported during the 1990s. The original CZ 75 9mm was conceived and designed behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia. Colonel Jeff Cooper wryly commended that it was an ‘embarrassment’ that such a fine pistol was manufactured behind the iron curtain.

CZ 75 Design

American-designed 9mm pistols of the era compared poorly indeed. The CZ 75 was designed in the ‘wonder nine’ era. The pistol is a contemporary of the SIG P220 and Beretta 92.

The CZ P-01, top, CZ 75 traditional compact, lower.
The CZ P-01, top, compared to a CZ 75 traditional compact, lower.

The CZ 75 was a fresh design owing little to any other handgun. The SIG was also a fresh design while the Beretta was basically a high-capacity Walther P38. The CZ is sometimes erroneously compared to the FN Hi-Power.

The CZ features an angled cam for lockup and is a locked-breech 9mm but there the resemblance ends. The CZ features a double-action first-shot trigger with an internal drawbar. The single-action trigger is sharp and tight, superior to the Hi-Power in terms of mechanical linkage and trigger press.

The CZ owes more to the Petter pistols than the Hi-Power. The CZ features reversed slide rails. The slide runs inside the frame. This results in a lower bore axis than most double-action first-shot pistols. Contact between the long bearing surfaces of the frame and slide is excellent.

A tradeoff is that the slide is more difficult to rack than some designs. The original safety may be applied when the hammer is cocked but not when the hammer is at rest. Clone guns often feature a different design that may be placed on safe when the hammer is down.

The safety may allow cocked-and-locked carry, but few shooters carry a CZ in this manner. The safety is intended to be applied when the pistol is in use and the soldier is moving. This is preferred over decocking the handgun again and going through a long, double-action shot.

Front view of the pistol showing the reversed slide rails
The CZ uses reversed slide rails riding inside the frame.

Institutional users did not like the safety system. They asked for a decocker option. CZ offers a decocker on modern pistols. The decock lever is located on the rear of the frame. This is easily used.

When actuated, the hammer falls to a half-cock notch. Unlike many handguns, the CZ half-cock notch is a safe carry option. For deliberate shots at longer range, the hammer may be cocked before firing.

The CZ is a robust design with no frills. The sights are good, reliability is a given, and the pistol features a 15-round magazine. The double-action trigger isn’t SIG smooth but smooth enough.

Rear half of the CZ 75 P-01 handgun
The CZ 75 P-01 features a well-shaped grip. The controls are easily manipulated.

The grip fits most hands well. The quality of the pistol is consistent. The single-action press is usually 5.0 pounds and smooth. The trigger is controllable and tractable. There is some backlash in the single-action trigger, but it is easily managed. Overall, the pistol is controllable and offers excellent practical accuracy.

As for slow fire accuracy, the pistol is as accurate as most service pistols and more so than some. It isn’t unusual for the pistol to exhibit a five-shot group of less than three inches at 25 yards. A trained shooter may be a formidable opponent well past 50 yards, when armed with the CZ 75.

The pistol’s controls are easily manipulated. A tapered magazine and a generous magazine well make for rapid speed loads. The pistol will digest plenty of 9mm NATO standard ammunition without complaint. Disassembly and maintenance are simple enough. In the scheme of things, service pistols are often re-designed into compact pistols. These are often intended for police or plainclothes use.

Modern CZ 75 semi automatic 9mm pistol with extended magazine base plate
This is an original CZ 75 – the modern CZ is an even better handgun.

Other CZ Pistols

The SIG P220 was modified into the SIG P225, an excellent handgun. CZ also manufactures a compact version of the CZ 75. This is well-balanced for concealment. When offered with an aluminum frame, the pistol is a superb carry gun. The CZ 75 compact gives up little in accuracy to the full-size pistol. Some find the compact shoots better for them.

The CZ P-01 is an even more formidable pistol. The P-01 9mm is a double-action first-shot 9mm with the same action as the CZ 75. The P-01 features a monolithic frame extending to the muzzle. The pistol features forward cocking serrations and a frame-mounted light rail.

This is a compact little beast with excellent heft and balance. The P-01’s grip fits most hands well. The P-01 is well suited for concealed carry but also capable as a service pistol. The P-01 wears a NATO inventory number.

The CZ P-01 handgun has been well accepted as a police and military pistol. I have owned several P-01 handguns. It is my favorite CZ by a margin. I find the pistol easier to handle than the full-size CZ and more accurate. There is no better service pistol.

A handgun derived from the CZ P-01was the SP-101 or CZ 75 Tactical. I find this gun to be a fine holster gun or a great range and competition gun. With a steel frame and a 40-ounce weight, it isn’t a concealed carry gun. The SP-01 is a great shooter. This is among the mildest shooting 9mm handguns and a joy to fire.

CZ 75 D handgun with Hi Viz sights and blue-orange grips
This is the author’s favorite carry CZ, a CZ 75D compact. Note the Hi Viz sights.

Running a combat course gives you great confidence. The SP-01 is a soft shooter. With 19 cartridges in the magazine, the SP-01 makes for a brilliantly effective home defender.

I like the P-01 better as it gives up little, if anything, to the SP-01 in accuracy, is easier to carry, and offers good balance. Just the same, why not own both?

Another CZ that is perhaps my favorite CZ for concealed carry is the CZ 75D. This pistol features an aluminum frame and frame-mounted decock lever. After adding Hi-Viz sights, the pistol’s hit probability is increased.

This is simply a superb handgun. These CZ pistols are among the best buys in the handgun world. If you don’t own a CZ 75, now is the time to jump in and “adopt” one of the best shooting 9mm handguns available.

The CZ 75 family of guns have a well-earned reputation for quality and reliability. The only question left, is which one is your favorite? Share your answer in the comment section.

  • CZ 75 decocker version, top, and standard safety type, lower.
  • CZ 75 pistol in a black cordura Falco holster
  • CZ 75 handgun in a suede leather IWB Galco Sto-N-Go holster
  • Front view of the pistol showing the reversed slide rails
  • CZ SP 01 semiautomatic handgun left profile 9mm
  • CZ 75 D handgun with Hi Viz sights and blue-orange grips
  • Top down view of the CZ 75 D pistol
  • Modern CZ 75 semi automatic 9mm pistol with extended magazine base plate
  • Decock lever on the CZ P-01 lever
  • Rear half of the CZ 75 P-01 handgun
  • The CZ P-01, top, CZ 75 traditional compact, lower.

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
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 (9)

  1. I own CZ SP-01 Tactical, CZ P-01 and CZ 97BD all are with decocker. Excellent guns without any problems.

  2. Really love my CZ-97BD. It has been smooth, accurate and reliable. It has also been discontinued. Glad I bought it when I did. Here in the Lone Star state, it makes for a good open carry option in it’s High Noon holster though it’s a tad large for concealing under a shirt. It’s my current favorite .45.

  3. Picked up a P-01 in 9mm. two years ago for a carry piece. What an amazing gun. I agree the trigger pull is a little much in dual but it is a minor complaint with the gun. I’m surprised the author didn’t mention the Kadett ll .22LR conversion that’s available, make those range trips a little more economical. I love the decocker feature rather than the standard safety on other CZ 75 models

  4. Know how you feel. Sold both my 91’s for around 1,200.00. One was set up with a Willams trigger. Had orginial scope mts. and bipods. Still kicking myself..

  5. I have always loved the CZ75 and have had one for many years. A great shooter, it feels good in the hand, but always felt a little “full” for my short fingers. A couple years back I got a set of G10 grips and sanded and filed them down paper thin. it made all the difference; the gun fits me perfectly now and is a pleasure to shoot.

  6. Great pistol! I purchased my original CZ 75 at the Heidelberg Rod and Gun club in the late 1980’s while stationed in Germany for the U.S. Army. I had a gun smith put a adjustable rear sight on it and it has been my favorite and most accurate pistol since. I have fired both factory ammunition and reloads through it – it had been incredibly reliable with everything I have put through it. i have purchased several other pistons since them, but I still consider it my best.

  7. 5-7 years ago I bought a CZ75B that was described as an Israeli Police Trade-In from one of the large internet retailers. It is well worn from hard use and was full of reddish-tan dirt. I really like this piece because it has honest character. It is a favorite. It was about 1/2 price of new.

  8. Ended up with a clone (EAA Witness) in .45 ACP. The real CZs were not available when I got my clone, but if my clone is the “almost as good” copy, then the CZ’s only shortcoming was that it wasn’t available when I wanted one. Still, I like my EAA clone and plan to keep it.

  9. I like those hi-viz sights on your pistol. With regard to the CZ-75, I acquired my first one in the 1980s before they were being legally imported. It was an original unobtainium early production pistol with a nicely blued finish. I managed this feat by trading my HK91 to an NCO who had brought it back from Lebanon. In hindsight, that was the worst trade I ever made, but at the time the HKs were readily available, while the CZs were virtually nonexistent. Today I have neither of them, but I do have a small stack of later variants and clones to comfort me in my distress.

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