[Review] CZ-75: Checking Out a Czech Classic

What’s better than a classic, steel framed American pistol?

How about a steel framed Czech pistol?

CZ 75 Slide
Looks pretty sharp right?

Of course, I am talking about the CZ-75.

The venerable CZ-75 is a classic design that still serves in many militaries around the world…and its a great addition to any firearm collection.

Today, we’re going to take a long look at what makes the CZ-75 so popular and so special.

Most importantly, we are also going to cover why the CZ-75 and it’s subsequent designs are some of the most underrated firearms on the market.

Table of Contents

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History of the CZ-75

The Koucky Brothers…that name ring a bell?

CZ 75 Profile
The Koucky brother’s baby…the CZ-75

When I say John Browning, you know who I’m talking about.  The same goes for Eugene Stoner, Mikhail Kalashnikov, and Samuel Colt.  Gun guys and gals recognize these names and the guns associated with them.

The Koucky Brothers, not so much.  They are, however, very prolific gun designers.

They designed semi-automatic rifles, machine guns, and an impressive line of bolt actions rifles.

And of course the CZ-75.

549
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The CZ-75 is the most well known of the brother’s designs.  What’s interesting is that with the CZ-75 the brothers were given complete and total freedom to design the pistol.

 This luxury was rare back then, and its still something that most gun designers don’t get unless they have their own shop…which usually means they don’t have the money to do everything they want.

This freedom led to the most copied pistol of all time.

Unfortunately, due to the soul crushing weight of the Soviet Union, the Koucky brothers’ CZ-75 was under a ‘secret’ patent.  This meant no one in Czechoslovakia could patent the pistol, but there was no patent protection abroad.

Soviet Russia Pikachu
Soviet Russia is a rough place

Anyone could build the handgun and sell it without tossing a dime to the Koucky brothers.  This led to a variety of companies cloning the design.  Companies in Italy and Turkey still make CZ-75 clones to this day.

What is interesting is the most well respected CZ-75s are still built and sold by CZ.  It’s odd that a gun born behind a wall of Communism exemplifies one of the tenets of Capitalism…if you build the best one, people will come (and buy it).

Design of the CZ-75

So what’s kept the handgun so prevalent for so long?

It’s the design.

Some kind of magic was imbued on the CZ-75 when it was designed.  The pistol is remarkably comfortable in the hands of almost all who hold it.

The CZ-75’s grip is one of the most comfortable on the market.  It’s thin…like the Koucky brothers knew that comfort was important.  Plus the CZ-75’s controls are all within easy reach of the operator’s thumb.

The most distinguished feature is the fact the slides rides inside the frame rails.  Traditionally the slide will ride on the outside of the frame rails on a semi-automatic handgun.

This design lowers the bore of the handgun.  It arguably also contributes to tighter lock up, which contributes to greater accuracy.

CZ 75 Internals
The CZ-75 is a double action / single action design, with a Browning linkless cam locking system and is short recoil operated.

At the time this pistol was cutting edge.

In 1975 the ‘wonder nine’ fascination hadn’t started just yet, but here the CZ-75 is.  It’s 16 round magazines, DA/SA design, and the fact it was chambered in 9mm puts it in the same ranks as all those other nines you’ve probably thought about buying in 9mm.

Safety on the CZ-75

The safety on the CZ-75 is interesting…and one I can appreciate.

CZ 75 Safety
CZ-75 Safety

I genuinely prefer a decocker over a manual safety on my DA/SA guns.  The CZ-75 has a manual thumb safety, mounted on the frame.

The safety will not engage when the hammer is down and the weapon is in double action mode.  The safety will engage once the handgun is in single action.  This allows for safe ‘locked and cocked carry.

There is also a half cock position to allow safe decocking of the handgun.

The Modern CZ-75

The modern CZ-75 has changed a lot since 1975.

Modern models of the CZ-75 are technically the CZ-75B.  The B stands for block, which means firing pin block.

CZ 75B Designation
CZ-75B Designation

This makes the gun drop safe, and safer in general.  My specific model is the CZ-75B Omega.

The Omega designation refers to the simplified trigger system.  Omega trigger is smoother and easier to upgrade.

While writing this article I discovered CZ has discontinued the Omega trigger in the CZ-75B series.  It’s still in use in other CZ firearms.

My CZ-75 is also finished with something called polycoat.  Apparently back in the day the standard CZ-75 had a terrible and weak enamel finish.

CZ 75 finish
CZ-75 polycoat finish

The polycoat is a baked on polymer finish that seems to be pretty strong.  I don’t baby a gun I own unless it’s an antique.

I toss them in range bags and I go shoot.  With that in mind, there isn’t a single gouge or any minor scratches in the finish.  There are also stainless steel, and two-tone models available.

On the Range

This is where the CZ-75 shines.  It’s one of the softest shooting guns I’ve ever handled.  

I teach a lot of new shooters, and most of these shooters have never fired a handgun.  I always start with a .22LR handgun.  The first centerfire handgun my students will ever touch is the CZ-75.

Recoil and muzzle rise is minimal when shooting standard 9mm rounds.  The inherent design of the gun and the all metal construction are both responsible for low recoil and muzzle rise.

The thin and ergonomic grip is perfect for almost any hand size and the manual safety will often make new shooters more comfortable…Glock triggers are scary to newbies.

CZ offers a number of different sight configurations for shooters.  This includes night sights, adjustable target sights, and the standard luminescent 3 dot sights.

This system has the standard sights and they are functional enough…they aren’t fancy but don’t need to be.  They catch the eye, are easy to line up, and let me punch holes in paper where I want them.

There is a lot of air in between the rear sight posts and the front sight, which can throw new shooters off.  I do wish they were a little bigger, but they’re easy enough to adjust to.

CZ 75 sight picture
CZ-75 sight picture

Accuracy is always subjective to the shooter.  Mechanically you’ll never outshoot this gun.  Due to its ergonomics, the CZ-75 is very easy to shoot.

However, the double action trigger is quite long and heavy.  It’s certainly far from impressive, especially compared to some of CZ competition built models.

The single action is a different beast altogether.   It’s very smooth, with a short take up, and a clean break.  There is no discernible wall before the break, which leads to increased trigger control.

Shooting the CZ 75
Shooting the CZ-75

The downside is the reset is a bit longer than I like in single action.  The trigger doesn’t reset until it is almost fully released.  This thing feels like miles of reset compared to a 1911 or my favorite, the Walther PPQ.

I will say this longer reset is good for new shooters who need to practice trigger control.

Reliability is another positive factor.  Eastern European firearms all seem to share a very high level of reliability and the CZ-75 is no different.  It seems to soldier through every single round I put through it.

This includes crappy steel cased ammunition I purchase in bulk to torture guns.

It digests and eats it all.

CZ 75 Mags
The CZ-75 is one of the more omnivorous guns out there.

CZ-75 Aftermarket

The CZ-75 isn’t as famed as the 1911 or the Glock in the United States.  However, due to its massive overseas success, there is a pretty broad aftermarket for the gun.  There are a variety of holsters, magazines, and internal upgrades one can make to ‘improve’ their handgun.

If you want to upgrade that is, its not necessary.

I’ve personally used Cajun Gun Works on my CZ P09, specifically the short reset kit and I love it, and Cajun Gun works.

I’ve also heard fantastic things about CZ Custom.

Magazine wise there are options.  CZ obviously produces a wide variety of magazines, including the standard 16 rounders.

They also produce a nice, but expensive 26 round magazine.  Mec-Gar produces some of the highest quality non-OEM magazines, and they are also the most affordable.

I don’t conceal and carry this gun, but concealed carry holsters are widely available.  Galco ($73.56), Alien Gear, Tagua, and more produce holsters for the CZ-75 firearm.

78
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

It’s a big gun, and more power to anyone who wants to carry it…it’s just a little heavy for me, personally.

By The Numbers

Accuracy 4 / 5

While mechanically this handgun is extremely accurate and was my choice to pass numerous NRA qualifications…it has one flaw.  The sights are small, and the air between the rear and front sight posts makes mistakes easy.

Ergonomics 4 / 5

It loses a point for that very long and very heavy double-action trigger.

Reliability 5 / 5

The ultimate test for any handgun is to throw cheap steel case through the gun in some substantial numbers.  

29
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

That’s been the bulk of the ammo fired through this gun and it never hit any major issues.

Customization 3 / 5

As a rail-less handgun you will be limited to what you can do to customize the gun.  You can customize the internals with either Cajun Gunworks, or CZ Custom parts.  If you don’t want to dig into the internals you can swap the grips out and that’s about it.

Looks 5 / 5

This is somewhat subjective, but an all metal pistols always looks good to me.  The polycoat finish is very evenly applied, and super strong.  Even after a few years of hard use it still looks new.

Value 5 / 5

I picked my CZ-75 B up for right under 500 dollars.  For roughly the same price as a Glock you are getting a well made, all metal pistol.  It’s also reliable, and easy to shoot for beginners.  

Overall 5 / 5

Conclusion

The CZ-75 is still a solid and well-built pistol. It still serves with numerous security and police forces to this day. Sure, it lacks a rail on the standard models but it’s ergonomic, tough, and dependable. For that, we can’t recommend it enough.

549
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

What about you folks? Do you Czech yourself on occasion? Have any questions about the CZ-75? Check out our review on the CZ SP-01 variant.

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