Way back at the turn of the 21st century, Shooting Times ran a series of articles about great guns of the 20th century. In his article titled “The Auto Pistol of The Century,” Technical Editor Dick Metcalf not surprisingly named the grand old Model 1911 as the most influential design.
What may have surprised some readers in that report was Metcalf’s discussion of the CZ75 being the most underrated auto pistol of the century. He pointed out that the CZ75 in its various iterations is an indisputable classic outside the United States. It has been globally accepted partly because it has proven to be considerably more reliable and durable under rugged, long-term duty conditions than other double-action auto pistol designs. Plus it is known for the consistency of its high level of accuracy.
One new CZ75 readers should consider is the Compact version in .40 S&W that CZ-USA (Dept. ST, P.O. Box 171073, Kansas City, KS 66117; 800-955-4486; www.cz-usa.com) has just unveiled. ST received one of the first production samples of the new Compact .40, and I rushed out to the range and put it through a shooting review. I found the pistol to be accurate and comfortable to shoot.
As has been written in Shooting Times many times before, the basic CZ75 mechanism is based on the same recoil-operated system as the Model 1911 but without the 1911’s swiveling barrel link. The CZ utilizes an integral barrel underlug that contains a kidney-shaped cutout for the shaft of the slide stop. This setup provides the same range of motion as the Model 1911’s swivel link but reduces the number of operating barrel parts from three to one. And as everybody knows, when it comes to machinery of any type, including handguns, the fewer the moving parts the better in terms of reliability.
.40 S&W Semiautomatic Pistol
|Operation:||Recoil-operated DA/SA autoloader|
|Barrel Length:||3.9 inches|
|Overall Length:||7.2 inches|
|Weight, empty||37.8 ounces|
|Safety:||Manual trigger and slide locking safety lever, passive firing pin safety|
|Sights:||fixed three-dot system|
|Magazine Capacity:||10 rounds|
Probably the most distinctive feature of the CZ is the way that the slide sits inside the frame rails instead of the frame rails being enclosed by the slide as on the 1911 design. Having the slide inside the frame rails gives the slide a slimmer profile and allows the slide and frame rails to be joined all the way from the rear to the front of the gun, which helps make the CZ extremely solid.
The double-action CZ’s stirrup-linkage trigger mechanism is enclosed within the frame, which also adds to the pistol’s solid strength. The trigger’s drawbar stirrup passes around both sides of the magazine, and one result of this setup is that the drawbar can be made of thicker, stronger metal. The review pistol’s double-action trigger pull was too heavy for my RCBS Trigger Pull Gauge to measure (my gauge goes up to eight pounds), but the gun’s single-action trigger pull consistently measured 5.75 pounds.
With a barrel length of 3.9 inches, the new .40 S&W CZ75 Compact falls in-between the standard full-length models with 4.7-inch barrels and the CZ 2075 RAMI (introduced last year) with its 3.0-inch barrel. The .40-caliber Compact has a steel frame, and the frame’s dustcover features an M3 rail that accepts tactical lights and lasers. (I installed a SureFire X200 light on the review gun, and it is one bright tactical light!) The CZ75 Compact comes with one 10-round double-stacked magazine, rubber grips, and fixed three-white-dot sight system.
It has an ambidextrous thumb safety, a Commander-style hammer, a squared and serrated trigger guard, a beavertail-like rear grip frame extension, and front and rear slide serrations. The slide stop lever and magazine release button are conventionally located on the left-hand side of the pistol. The .40-caliber CZ Compact weighs 37.8 ounces unloaded, and it measures 1.4 inches wide
and 7.2 inches long. The suggested retail price is $594.
Reliable, Controllable & Accurate
When the time came for me to put the CZ75 Compact through a shooting evaluation, I rounded up 10 .40 S&W factory loads ranging in bullet weight from 130 to 200 grains. I fired five five-round strings with each of the 10 loads for accuracy (in single-action mode), and then I fired a total of 50 more rounds on a swinging steel-plate target to simulate a defensive shooting situation. In all that shooting I did not have a single malfunction. In fact, I encountered no problems whatsoever with the CZ75.
The magazine loaded easily, the slide went into battery every single time with every single round, and recoil of all loads was easily manageable. I think the extremely comfortable shootability of the pistol is a testament to the CZ’s ergonomic grip shape and the pistol’s great overall balance. It seemed fairly heavy when I first picked it up, but I hardly noticed the weight while shooting more than 300 rounds in a single afternoon.
As for the CZ’s accuracy, well, the charted results speak for themselves. I am by no means a world-class shooter, but I was very pleased with the results. From a Caldwell Rock shooting rest atop my weathered but stable shooting bench, I fired some really good groups. Overall average accuracy at 25 yards for all 10 factory loads was a very respectable 2.33 inches.
Throughout my test-firing there were no bullet-nose hang-ups on the feedramp, ejection of fired cases was positive, and accuracy was as good as I am capable of shooting with any top-of-the-line off-the-shelf duty-type pistol.
|Shooting CZ’s .40 S&W CZ75 Compact|
|Factory Load||Muzzle Velocity (fps)||Standard Deviation (fps)||25-yard Accuracy (inches)|
|Magtech First Defense 130-gr. SCHP||1150||22||2.00|
|Hornady 155-gr. TAP||1143||18||2.00|
|Magtech Guardian Gold 155-gr. JHP||1102||6||2.50|
|Speer Lawman 155-gr. TMJ||1032||11||2.00|
|Black Hills 165-gr. JHP EXP||1070||12||2.50|
|Federal Premium 165-gr. Hydra-Shok||944||10||2.50|
|Hornady 180-gr. XTP||970||13||2.50|
|Magtech 180-gr. JHP||959||25||2.50|
|Remington 180-gr. Golden Saber||965||10||2.50|
|Winchester Personal Protection 180-gr. SXT||955||18||2.25|
CZ-USA’s catalog describes the CZ75 as “quite possibly the perfect pistol.” I wouldn’t go quite that far because nothing in this life is perfect. However, as far as double-action production-grade semiautomatic pistols go, I don’t think you can go wrong with the new CZ75 Compact. No malfunctions, extremely comfortable to shoot, and very good accuracy–the CZ75 Compact has it all. But don’t take my word for it; check one out for yourself. I think you’ll be impressed, too.