December 13, 2022
Introduced in 2021, CZ-USA’s extremely compact, polymer-frame, striker-fired 9mm P-10 M pistol was designed for comfortable concealed carry and for personal protection. It’s an attractive, ergonomic, and dependable handgun.
Ten years ago, when the initial S&W M&P Shield was introduced, the P-10 M would have been a significant power player in the everyday-carry market. Back then, a slim, lightweight, polymer-frame, striker-fired 9mm pistol was a game changer, and 7+1 or 8+1 capacity was entirely acceptable. However—and here I’m going to tell you right up front about one of its two disadvantages—CZ’s P-10 M faces an uphill battle because of its limited capacity. Here’s why.
When SIG Sauer’s 12-shot P365 9mm pistol was introduced just a few years ago, it revolutionized the concealed-carry scene by providing four or five shots more than similar-size, slim, lightweight, polymer-frame pistols by Smith & Wesson, Springfield, Glock, and so forth. It forced other manufacturers to up their game and reengineer their pistols to offer competitive capacities.
Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield Plus (13+1 rounds), Springfield’s Hellcat (13+1 rounds), and Glock’s G43X (10+1 rounds) were rapidly introduced. These, and others, basically match the size and feel of the original S&W M&P Shield 9mm, with its 8+1 capacity (when using the extended magazine) yet hold two to five additional rounds.
When assigned to cover CZ’s new P-10 M pistol, I figured it would be a similar type handgun. After all, CZ has a legacy of outstanding capacity in a given-size pistol. For example, the full-size CZ P-10 F pistol (a Glock G17-size handgun) holds 19+1 rounds. I was wrong. Sleek and small is the nature of the P-10 M. High ammo capacity is not one of its virtues.
Now, it’s worth pointing out here that there is a subcompact-type P-10 pistol with 12+1 capacity—the “S” model. However, it’s more than a quarter-inch fatter than the P-10 M and the Springfield Hellcat. It’s 0.16 inch wider than Glock’s G43X and S&W’s M&P Shield Plus. It’s a much beefier “compact” pistol, more like the old short-but-fat polymer pistols with true double-stack magazines.
Enough on that. Here’s what the CZ P-10 M does have going for it that should help it thrive on today’s market.
Foremost, the timing is great. These days, any gun in 9mm sells like shaved ice on a hot day in Hawaii. Add in excellent quality at a very reasonable price, and yep, the CZ P-10 M likely has a very bright future.
Additionally, the P-10 M looks great, and it feels great in the hand. Both are important characteristics. Plus, at least in my testing, it’s 100 percent reliable. That’s also a big deal.
Let’s dig in and unpack the CZ P-10 M’s features and characteristics.
At just one inch wide at its widest point, the little pistol is easy to conceal, and it’s comfortable to carry all day long. The 3.19-inch barrel is short enough to hide but long enough to get good performance out of the 9mm cartridge, particularly with self-defense ammo designed specifically for high performance in short barrels.
Its grip is pretty abbreviated. This is another characteristic that makes it easy to hide beneath a shirt. Long grips print exponentially worse through clothing. It’s long enough for a small hand to get all three support fingers on it, but barely. To my hand, broad and beefy from too many years hand-milking cows and changing sprinkler pipe as a teen, it feels short. I can get 2.5 fingers on—or let my little finger wrap beneath the magazine.
Frontstrap, backstrap, and each side panel of the grip have a nice texture created with raised square bumps. Front and back are considerably more aggressive than the sides. It’s an excellent arrangement that provides control during recoil and rapid-fire shooting yet won’t wear out the inside of your favorite Filson vest.
The trigger guard is squared up front (for shooters who like to wrap their support-hand index finger) and features subtle but useful serrations. Said guard is big enough to shoot with gloves on, too—a useful feature for those of us who live and work in the cooler climes. In a smart move, CZ designed the rear of the trigger guard to curve up so as to provide plenty of room to achieve a high, recoil-controlling grip.
A single-slot rail is molded into the bottom of the dustcover on the front end of the polymer frame. It doesn’t have a lot of real estate but enables shooters to attach a light or a laser if desired. It also makes the pistol a tad bulky around the lower portion of the front end. I had to search a bit to find one of my universal-fit, pocket-type holsters that would accept it. Candidly, I’m not sure if it’s a useful feature on a hideaway gun; most folks I know use a light on their primary home-defense pistol or duty gun but not on their deep-carry handgun.
A feature I like a lot is the reversible magazine release. It’s easy to swap from the left side to the right side of the pistol, making the handgun more user-friendly for the southpaws among us.
Up top, the steel slide is serrated front and rear and finished in a nice, non-glare nitride. Three-dot sights are dovetailed in fore and aft and are easily drifted right or left to marry point of impact with point of aim. Just loosen the small setscrew centered in one or the other and use a brass punch and light hammer to carefully tap the sight sideways in its dovetail.
On the right side, a generous ejection port allows empty cases plenty of room to exit, and a heavy-duty external extractor heaves them out with gusto. The extractor has a raised section on the front that serves as a loaded-chamber indicator when a cartridge is in the chamber.
Interestingly, there is no slide release lever. The slide does lock back on an empty magazine, but to release it after inserting a fresh, loaded magazine, the slide must be pulled back and let go manually. It’s a sorta nice feature, giving the pistol a minimalist feel.
Functionally, the P-10 M is a tilting-breech design with a square-shouldered barrel hood that locks up into battery in the top of the ejection port. It’s traditional, it’s proven, and it works.
A skeletonized appearance distinguishes the trigger. It has several geometric cuts and a significant middle lever that serves as a safety. It’s robust and reliable. However, my sample has a heavy pull weight.
This is the other of the two disadvantages I mentioned earlier. After a good quarter-inch of stiff take-up, the trigger hits a wall. Increased pressure is required to make the pistol fire. So far so good. However, it takes eight pounds, 12 ounces of pressure, according to my Lyman trigger scale.
I understand the concept behind super-heavy triggers on self-defense pistols. Under extreme stress, the sympathetic grip response we thought we got rid of when we were toddlers kicks back in, and when we grip something hard with one hand, the other involuntarily clenches also. (You know how much fun it is to watch a baby reach for a toy, both hands open, and close both hands as he or she grips the toy with one hand? Yep, that’s sympathetic grip response.)
A lot of shots have been fired accidentally, when a frightened homeowner or police officer involuntarily clenches down on their handgun as they grab a child protectively or grip something with their non-gun hand. Really heavy triggers nearly eliminate the issue.
I’m all for a crisp five- or six-pound trigger on your fighting handgun. But I think eight-plus pounds is too much.
Moving on. The P-10 M’s magazine is a compact hybrid affair, mostly single-stack but with a bit of additional width in the lower two-thirds that boosts capacity a tad. The body of the magazine is made of steel; the baseplate is impact-resistant polymer.
In all, it’s a svelte, great-feeling little gun. As I holstered the P-10 M to get a feel for how it carries, my only reservation was the “limited” capacity. And as I headed to the range to do accuracy testing, my only reservation was the heavy trigger.
With the P-10 M sandbagged at the benchrest, I fired a series of three consecutive five-shot groups and averaged the result with each type of test ammo. As expected, the heavy trigger was a challenge, but I got used to it and shot the pistol better than I expected.
Point of impact trended left, which I easily corrected with a small horizontal adjustment of the rear sight. Elevation was perfect, putting bullets one to two inches above point of aim at 25 yards.
For the most part, the P-10 M is a 2-inch gun at 25 yards. That’s darned good. Usually, I’d test short concealed-carry guns at 15 yards. The fact that this one provided quite-good averages at 25 is a testament to its quality.
About 60 shots into my testing, I began noticing some soreness in my little finger. I was shooting with it wrapped beneath the magazine, and recoil was beginning to hurt. I changed my grip, keeping my little finger on the frame, and all was well.
Clinical testing accomplished, I stepped away from the bench and shot casually for a while, working the CZ P-10 M out in rapid-fire, in one-handed slow fire, and shooting it weak-hand only.
I was pleasantly surprised how consistently I was able to shoot it with my left hand.
Throughout my testing, the pistol ran with stellar reliability. I tested ammo loaded with bullets ranging from 115 grains up to 147 grains, with several different nose profiles. All fed, fired, and ejected perfectly.
At home, I decided to field-strip the P-10 M to wipe down the internals and see how easy it is to work on. CZ-USA’s website suggests that all you have to do is “remove the take-down pin from the frame, and the slide will come right off.”
Without a slide-lock lever or visible mechanical takedown elements, I was a bit nonplussed at first. But sure enough, just use a small brass punch or dowel or whatnot, push the takedown pin through from the right to the left side, and the slide comes right off. You do have to squeeze the trigger to release the slide to come forward off the end of the frame.
Remove the guide rod and its captive recoil spring and lift the barrel out. Done.
Reassembly is just as simple. Replace the barrel, thumb the guide rod and spring assembly into place, and reinstall the slide. Align the camming slot with the takedown pinhole and push the pin back into place.
With the pistol disassembled, I examined its insides and found it was surprisingly clean for having been shot as much as it was. After wiping down what residue I could find, I put the pistol back together and came away impressed.
The suggested retail price is $499, and that’s an excellent value for a very nice handgun. Does the low price make up for the lack of magazine capacity and the heavy trigger? That’s up to you, and what you expect from your concealed-carry sidearm.
Those two “cons” aside, every other characteristic of this small pistol landed in the “pro” column. “It’s a reliable, good-shooting pistol that you can depend on.
CZ P-10 M Specifications
- Manufacturer: CZ-USA; cz-usa.com
- Type: Striker-fired autoloader
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Magazine Capacity: 7 rounds
- Barrel: 3.19 in.
- Overall Length: 6.31 in.
- Width: 1.00 in.
- Height: 4.30 in.
- Weight, Empty: 20.1 oz.
- Grips: Integral to polymer frame
- Finish: Black nitride
- Sights: Three-dot, drift-adjustable square-notch rear and post front
- Trigger: 8.75-lb. pull (as tested)
- Safety: Trigger safety lever
- MSRP: $499