CZ Shadow 2: CZ’s Dream Gun

Bob Campbell shooting the CZ Shadow 2 offhand

A sturdy, reliable handgun is essential for personal defense. Polymer-framed, striker-fired guns don’t get much love, but they defend life and limb on a daily basis. At one time, each firearm I could afford had to fill a certain role, or I could not give it houseroom.

Today, I am pleased to own a few dream gun handguns. The Springfield TRP, SIG P210, and Colt Competition 1911 are among these. I won’t say they are any more reliable than a Springfield Loaded Model, SIG P226, or Colt Series 70, but they shoot better and are nicer to handle and fire.

CZ 75 retro top, and CZ Shadow 2 bottom
Compared to the CZ 75 Retro, top, the Shadow 2 is a highly evolved handgun.

Some handguns are their own adventure just to get up and running correctly. Other handguns represent progression without progress. The CZ Shadow 2 9mm is a dream that I am not ready to wake up from. I have handled the type before but never owned this particular CZ. I didn’t know I would have room in the battery for competition-oriented 9mm, but we are.

Shadow 2 Features

The Shadow 2 is well represented in 3 Gun and open classes. Some shooters modify the pistol heavily. It takes a great deal of training and practice — this is real work — to be a top competitor. It is a challenging pursuit, both mentally and physically. I find that I don’t have to work as hard to shoot the Shadow 2 as well as I do any other handgun. The pistol is that good.

CZ handguns have a spotless reputation for reliability and durability, but this isn’t exactly a CZ 75, it is highly modified. Just the same, that reputation has carried over into the Shadow 2. The majority of 1970s service pistols used an aluminum frame for light weight. The SIG P226 and Beretta 92, as well as the CZ 75, are among these. (The CZ 75 Compact 9mm is available in steel and aluminum frame versions.)

The Shadow 2 is a steel-frame gun, and that means a lot of weight. The result is a pistol that kicks little, while maintaining the sight picture during a firing string. The pistol is a double-action first-shot design. It may be carried cocked and locked (hammer to the rear) with the safety on. With the hammer is in the down position, the safety cannot be applied.

However, unlike most CZ pistols, the safety may be applied with the hammer slightly to the rear in the ‘safe’ position. There is no decock mechanism. While heavy, perhaps too heavy for concealment, the Shadow 2 is a fine home defense piece. In that role, it would be best kept at ready, hammer down, and on a loaded chamber.

CZ Shadow 9mm semi-automatic handgun, right profile
The Shadow 2 9mm has proven to be an exceptional shooter.

The pistol features a heavy dustcover, perhaps monolithic is the term. A Picatinny rail allows mounting combat lights and lasers. This weight-forward bias really aids in fast shooting. At the other end of the frame, a beavertail tang with a slight upsweep makes for a solid grip and helps lower the bore axis.

The grips are aluminum, and while slim as possible, offer a great gripping service that favors abrasion over adhesion. Both the front strap and rear strap are nicely checkered. This is a pistol that is easy to hang onto. If you prefer the index finger on the trigger guard, the square trigger guard of the Shadow 2 is pleasing to use.

The pistol features an extended magazine release, competition skeletonized hammer, smooth double-action trigger, and nicely done magazine well. Loading a tapered magazine into a magazine well this size is intuitive.

square trigger guard on the CZ Shadow 2 versus the rounded guard on the CZ 75
Some folks like the square trigger guard of the Shadow 2 better than the round trigger of the original CZ 75.

A secret of the CZ 75’s limited muzzle flip and good accuracy is the slide design. The slide rides inside the frame instead of over the frame. The result is a lowered bore centerline. This also results in good contact from front to rear, between the slide and frame. This may also prevent buildup of powder ash and lead in the pistol as the slide frame interface is quite snug.

The Shadow 2 slide may be more difficult to rack than some pistol slides. The slide is alive with bevels not found on the CZ 75. The treatment is very nicely done. A serrated rib runs between the sights. The front sight is a bright red fiber-optic while the rear is a well-designed adjustable type.

adjustable rear sight on a pistol
CZ’s durable, adjustable rear sight is a good addition to an accurate handgun.

I was a little surprised that the rear sight wasn’t a wedge type allowing cocking on a boot heel. Then again, this gun is for competition not combat. The rear face of the sight is line serrated. The edges of the sight are beveled. It looks sharp and offers a clear precise sight picture.

Barrel to slide fit is good. The guide rod is a full-length steel type. Two 17- and one 19-round magazines are supplied.

The double-action trigger is smooth. It may be staged but may be pulled straight through with good results as well. If you intend to use the double-action trigger, get plenty of dry fire practice. The single-action trigger is truly excellent. Take-up is modest, followed by a 4.0-pound compression and clean break.


CZ 75 triggers often display a modest backlash. This pistol has none of that. I took my time examining this handgun and spent several hundred repetitions in dry fire. A pistol weighing some 50 ounces loaded is a different piece to fire and use than most of what I am used to.

Range Testing

I began drawing and firing the pistol from a DeSantis Speed Scabbard. This holster is cut for the Walther PPQ .45 but fit the CZ Shadow 2 9mm well. I am not for mismatching holsters, but this was a happy circumstance. Drawing and firing to a fast double-action first-shot showed the pistol is capable of excellent first shot accuracy. I drew and fired at maximum speed and made a ragged, fist-sized hole with 20 rounds of 9mm. This is a fast gun on target, smooth handling, and super quick.

Next, I moved to 15 yards and began sighting the pistol in. I used a mix of 115-grain FMJ ammunition including Armscor, Fiocchi, and Ammo Inc. brands. All fed, chambered, fired, and ejected normally. In common with most pistols these days that are equipped with adjustable sights, the pistol arrived sighted ‘high.’ A few turns of the easy to access slot screw had the pistol sighted in.

Target showing early group size with the CZ Shadow 2
Accuracy came with acclimation.

Firing offhand or from the bench, all ammunition proved quite accurate. I made several cloverleaf groups with four shots touching and one out of the group by a small margin. I am no stranger to nice shooting pistols. This is the single most accurate 9mm I have fired. It shaded the Walther Q5 by a margin. I have fired it side by side with the SIG P210 and it has an accuracy edge over the P210.

Firing offhand, I enjoyed firing the pistol at man-sized targets and bulls-eye targets. I have never found a pistol so easy to use well on the first round. I cannot help but wonder how well I will use the Shadow 2 after more practice. And yes, it is my personal gun, not a loaner. I purchased it used, at a fair price. For reasons unknown, the previous owner sold it to one of my favorite shops. The performance certainly could not have been an issue.

Nitty Gritty

I elected to settle down in as solid a firing position as was possible and attempted to reach the limits of accuracy. In reality, I reached the limits of my personal performance. I have two friends who use this type of handgun in competition — one fairly stock and the other heavily enhanced. They have won quite a few contests, and each tells me they have never fired hollow point or defense loads in their competition guns.

Paper target showing group size after becoming acclimated to the CZ Shadow 2 pistol
The pistol is more accurate than the author can hold.

In truth, the most accurate loads in my larder are hollow point loads. I did have the Fiocchi 115-grain FMJ Shooting Dynamics, and added this to the Hornady American Gunner 124-grain, +P, and Federal 124-grain HST. I settled into the most stable position possible with the target 25 yards from the muzzle. I was steady as I am able, maintained sharp focus on the front sight, and pressed the trigger properly. The results in five-shot groups were gratifying.

All three loads sent five shots into groups of .8- to 1.2 inch. Invariably the best groups were tight, very tight, and I pulled a shot either from losing the sight picture or perhaps not pressing the trigger properly. Again, it is understandable that competitors often win a match by the smallest of margins. Concentration on the trigger and sight picture makes for superb accuracy. What’s next? I think I would like handloads and certainly a good 147-grain load.

What is the role the CZ Shadow 2 will play in my life? Am I going to jump into competition? No. The Shadow 2 will continue as a range gun for the pure joy and fulfillment of shooting and shooting well. As a dedicated home defense pistol, the Shadow 2 would perform as well or better than any other 9mm I have deployed and there is promise there.

field stripped CZ Shadow 9mm semi-automatic pistol, right profile
Field stripping the pistol is simple enough.

With a 19-round magazine in place and a combat light mounted, you practically have the efficiency of a 9mm carbine but with more maneuverability. With a magazine full of hollow point loads and an Inforce light mounted, I cannot imagine a better setup for home defense.

I carry Government Model .45s without complaint, but I don’t think I will carry a pistol that is eight ounces heavier (loaded) than a steel-frame .45. Just the same, I tried the pistol in the DeSantis Speed Scabbard and found the set up comfortable and hip hugging. The draw is sharp. However, there is a huge difference between carrying the pistol an hour or two around the home and carrying it for extended periods. The Shadow 2 is going to see a lot of use. Perhaps, I will even mount an optic.

Specifications: CZ Shadow 2

Caliber: 9mm Luger
Capacity: 17+1 rounds
Barrel length: 4.89 inches
Overall length: 8.53 inches
Height: 5,75 inches from top of rear sight to bottom of the factory magazine
Weight: 46.5 ounces
MSRP: $1,349 blue or grey grip base model (about $1,200 retail)

muzzle view of the CZ Shadow 2 9mm handgun showing the slide-to-frame fit
A slide that runs inside the frame rails is part of the CZ’s secret for accuracy.

Final Thoughts

I work out moderately and walk once or twice a day. I was surprised after firing the pistol that my anterior muscles were aching. The pistol is heavy but not that heavy, and recoil wasn’t a factor. I think holding the pistol in a crush grip for every shot and carefully steadying the pistol caused this — it has never happened with a 1911 .45. I cannot stress enough that competition shooters are true athletes. The Shadow 2 simply stretched muscles I have not used often.

Have you fired the CZ Shadow 2? What was your impression? Have you ever considered using a competition pistol for home defense? Share your answers in the Comment section.

  • field stripped CZ Shadow 9mm semi-automatic pistol, right profile
  • CZ Shadow 9mm semi-automatic handgun with magazine for 9mm and .40 S&W
  • checkered rear strap
  • Bob Campbell shooting the CZ Shadow 2 offhand
  • the hammer is in the safe notch and safety on - CZ Shadow 2
  • adjustable rear sight on a pistol
  • Serrated face of the rear sight on a pistol
  • barrels pointed up, CZ Shadow 2 (left), and CZ 75 (right)
  • blue and black Shadow 2 9mm semi-auto handgun, left profile
  • CZ Shadow 2 Orange, 9mm semi-auto, left profile
  • muzzle view of the CZ Shadow 2 9mm handgun showing the slide-to-frame fit
  • Slide moved a few inches forward of the frame to demonstrate the fit on the CZ Shadow 2
  • undercut front sight on the CZ Shadow 2
  • Target showing early group size with the CZ Shadow 2
  • Paper target showing group size after becoming acclimated to the CZ Shadow 2 pistol
  • checkered grips and extended safety button on CZ Shadow 2
  • CZ Shadow 9mm semi-automatic handgun, right profile
  • CZ 75 retro top, and CZ Shadow 2 bottom

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 got my Shadow2 a couple of months ago and was impressed right out of the box. The pistol is heavy and a little difficult to rack the slide, but ok once you get used to it. The accuracy is impressive right from the get go. My collection includes Sigs, Springfields, Walther, Ruger and HK but am quickly growing to like the Shadow2 the best. It is a relatively expensive pistol , but definitely worth the investment, fit and finish is primo. If you like high quality handguns get one for yourself.

  2. While I have never been a fan of the 9mm because I believed the standard loads are marginal threat-stoppers at best, I have always considered CZ firearms to be some of the finest available! As a result, I used mostly 10mm for duty with an occasional 45 ACP 1911. But then, I was introduced to the CZ 75 SP-01 Tactical. The pistol impressed me so much that I decided to give the 9mm cartridge a second and closer look!! I came to the conclusion that the CZ 75 SP-01, if loaded with the correct 9mm load, would make for an ideal home-defense weapon/cartridge combination! So I added a Streamlight TLR-1 HL weapon light, replaced the polymer recoil guide rod with a Stainless Steel version and installed a heavier weight recoil spring to protect the weapon from the added pressure of +P Gold Dot 124 grain hollow point ammunition that I use. Superb home-defense at its best!!

  3. I don’t own a cz shadow 2 but I do own a sp01 which is a great gun itself the trigger is probably better on the shadow but I never tried it . The trigger on my sp01 is not bad at all out the box

  4. I don’t own a cz shadow 2 but I do own a sp01 which is a great gun itself the trigger is probably better on the shadow but I never tried it . The trigger on my sp01 is not bad at all out the box

  5. I bought one four years ago. The trigger on mine is decent, but not great. Recoil is fairly mild. Accuracy is good. I think 9mm is too weak for hunting or serious field carry. Its size and weight effectively limits it to two roles – range use and home defense. With other options to chose from, mine is pretty much a safe queen.

  6. I have owned my CZ Shadow 2 when they first came out years ago. This was long before CZ offered an optics cut on the CZ’s. So I had their custom shop cut the slide and fitted my CZ with a Delta Point Pro red dot. I actually prefer the Trijicon SRO, but am not anxious to deal with custom gunsmithing to change the mount to an SRO.

    I mainly shoot my Glocks at the range, in training and in competition. Mostly my Model 45 or sometimes my 34. When I first fire my CZ Shadow 2, I have to be careful about the trigger. I am so accustomed to my Glock triggers that the first time I fire the CZ, it’s almost always a surprise. Talk about a surprise trigger break, the CZ is it. My Glocks have a Volkswagon trigger – or maybe a Yugo trigger – while the CZ trigger is a Porsche 911. Man is that trigger smooth and fast. I would say that it is as good as a 1911 trigger job.

    The CZ Shadow 2 is a fun gun to shoot – and it’s a tack driver, as the saying goes. The recoil is very light – because the gun is so heavy. It is so heavy that it is very hard to hold, aim and fire the CZ in your support hand only. That’s where Glocks shine – very light firearms.

    I don’t think you would want to use the CZ either as a duty weapon or a concealed carry gun. Firstly, the trigger is too light. Secondly the gun is too heavy. So the CZ really does not fit either of those assignments. But as a competition firearm in IDPA, or USPSA, this gun really shines. I carry my old ugly Glock 45 to shoot USPSA matches and my fellow competitors bring their shiny, pretty, CZ Shadow 2s with fancy colorful grips. I am embarrassed to draw my firearm. And the guys and gals with their CZs always win – so I may as well not have have drawn my firearm to begin with. Maybe Glock shooters should get a handicap?

  7. While I am no pro, I fell in love with CZ handguns 20 years ago, when I first started any shooting.I have a few pre war and combloc CZs that are dead on shooters. The quality shows through, the steel and machining were done with pride. I have fired a few 75s and wish I could afford one of these.
    With all the bills of living, I don’t think I will ever be able to afford one without depleting my meager collection, but I can dream.

  8. I have a CZ-75 with the Kadet kit to also shoot .22 lr. It’s one of the most accurate firearms that I have. It’s a great shooter and I think the tI bought the entire kit for something like $400. I’ve shot it in center fire/rim fire night at a club and it’s extremely accurate.

  9. CZ slides are hard to rack as it is. These pictures, with the exception of the blue and orange models, show a slide with no rear serrations. No wonder you commented that, “ The Shadow 2 slide may be more difficult to rack than some pistol slides.”.

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