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[Hands-on Review] CZ 97 B: A Classic .45 ACP

Like that classic .45 ACP but make it a CZ? We have the lowdown on the CZ 97 B, a sweet old-school pistol that shoots like a dream.

While .45 ACP and the 1911 will forever be the most classic combo, there are a host of .45 ACP guns out there that deserve love and respect too.

1911 and .45 ACP…like PB&J.

Finding the best one might be a matter of personal perspective, but I think we have a real contender in the CZ 97 B.

CZ-97B
CZ-97B

How does it compare to other options, will this near quarter-century-old design keep up in the modern market place, can a bit of Czechnology improve upon the perfection that is the .45 ACP?

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You got questions, we have answers.

We’re going to answer all those questions and more. By the end of this review, I’m pretty sure you’ll find yourself considering the 97 B as a future member of your gun safe.

But let’s find out.

Table of Contents

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Features & Specs

Chambered in .45 ACP, using 10-round staggered single feed magazines, the 97 B has a screw-in barrel bushing, high-vis fiber optic front sight, a loaded chamber indicator, DA/SA trigger, and manual safety.

CZ 97 B (1)
CZ 97 B field stripped

Unloaded the 97 B comes in slightly heavier than a standard 1911. Breaking down its measurements, it weighs 41.3-ounces and features an overall length of 8.3-inches.

While width-wise, it’s 1.4-inches thick.

The barrel measures in at 4.65-inches.

Cold hammer-forged barrel, thin aluminum grips, steel frame…all for a street price of around $700.

750
at GunPrime

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

CZ 97 B
$750 at GunPrime

Prices accurate at time of writing

History

Introduced in 1997, the 97 B is basically the CZ 75 B scaled up to be in .45 ACP for the American market.

That’s…basically the whole story. There is some context to consider, though.

In 1997 the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban was still in effect, limiting magazines to 10-rounds.

While the debate for 9mm vs. .45 ACP will continue to rage, one aspect that can’t be denied is 9mm loses its advantage when lower-capacity mags are at play.

Combined with the fact that, at the time, .45 ACP was far more dominant than 9mm in the American market, it makes sense for CZ to try something made just for us.

And this really is made just for us.

Finding a CZ 97 B outside of the USA is pretty rare. Even in the U.S., it’s not the most common of firearms.

But it is in production and you can find them in stock when you look hard enough.

Range Report

Honestly, the 97 B is exactly what you would expect a CZ 75 B to be if it was beefed up to .45 ACP. 

It’s incredibly soft shooting, the recoil impulse is long and smooth. The trigger, while heavy in DA, is crisp in SA and feels great.

Shooting the 97 B is hard to describe in ways since it’s really unlike almost anything else on the market.

If you’ve shot a 75 B and 1911, the 97 B is like taking the best of both worlds and perfectly combining them.

Other non-1911 .45 ACP guns on the market really don’t compare. 

The steel frame makes the 97 B heavy, and the 10-round magazine adds even more heft to the package.

However, that also allows it to absolutely eat recoil. .45 ACP has never felt so comfortable to shoot as in this gun.

CZ 97 B (10)
Controls are simple and nice to use

If you have small hands though, you’re going to have a bad time.

A basically double-stacked .45 ACP magazine means the grip is thick…even with the thin grip panels.

I have XL hands and the magazine release is very difficult for me to reach. I have to rotate the gun in my hand or use my weak hand to hit the release.

Surprisingly, the safety is easy to use and well placed. 

While the trigger is DA/SA, since it doesn’t have a decocker of any kind it’s really not meant to be shot in DA.

CZ 97 B (15)

The DA pull is ridiculously heavy and long. Since you’ll really only ever use it if you had a light primer strike, it’s not something to worry about, though.

Should you be keen to get a decocker, the 97 does come in the 97 BD version that drops the safety for a decocker.

The SA trigger is much shorter, smoother, and lighter — but it’s still nothing like a 1911 trigger.

Double-action is about an 11-pound pull and single-action comes in at a little over 5.5-pounds on my gauge

This can be improved massively with an aftermarket trigger if you want.

Sights and sight picture are simply awesome. The fiber optic front sight stands out and is picked up by your eye with ease.

The rear sight feels a little large, but aids in acquiring the sight picture and getting on target quickly.

Magazines are capped at 10 rounds sadly and that is a function of the design. While it made sense in 1997 with the AWB limiting us to 10 rounds, now it feels like a real handicap. 

Who Is It For?

Everyone.

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this for concealed carry, but if you want a home defense pistol this will serve you well.

It’s also a great option for handgun .45 ACP hunting and makes for an amazing plinker.

Super Redhawk Toklat
Sure, .45 ACP can’t take elk like this .454 Casull can — but it can take smaller game and predators

I wouldn’t call it the best thing ever, but even with the outdated magazine design — the 97 B is simply so good that it lives on because of just how nice it is to shoot and use.

Because it comes with 10-round magazines and it is on the California roster, I hugely recommend it for anyone in California looking for a .45 ACP non-1911.

10-rounds is better than a standard 1911 and .45 ACP delivers a lot of punch on a target, great for when you’re capacity limited.

I Wish, I Wish…

If I could pick one gun to get a modern 2.0 redesign, it would be a very close call but I think the 97 would be near the top of my list. 

Sadly, the 10-round magazine really holds the system back when you compare it to guns like the FN FNX-45 with a 15-round magazine, the Walther PPQ with a 12-round mag, or even the Glock 21 with a 13-round magazine.

Sig Sauer P220 Condition 4
Sig Sauer P220

Granted, there are a number of non-1911 guns with 10 or less round magazines, like HK 45 or the Sig Sauer P220, but when you know that more is possible — it’s hard to settle for less.

I also feel that with some clever design CZ could reduce the weight and size of the grip a little. Maybe extend the magazine release to make it easier to thumb. 

And add some modern features like a more flared magwell and the ability to mount optics.

Basically, it’s a ‘90s gun and it shows. That doesn’t make it bad, it just makes it ripe for a second coming.

TMNT
Getting ready for the range with your hipster 97 B

That said…I don’t think CZ will do it. And since this is what we got, I enjoy it for what it is. A great .45 ACP gun.

By The Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

I’ve fed my 97 B everything from super cheap steel cased .45 ACP to Federal HST $$$ defensive ammo. I’ve never had any malfunction of any kind.

Ergonomics: 4/5

I have big hands so for me this feels pretty good, but it’s at my outer limit. This is the nature of the beast when it comes to .45 ACP though so…ya.

Customization: 5/5

Because it’s basically just a large 75 B, the 97 has some great aftermarket parts for it. If you want, trick it out through shops like Cajun Gun Works.

Value: 4/5

If you love the CZ platform or just really like steel-framed guns, this will really scratch an itch for you. But it can’t be ignored that compared to some of the more modern non-1911 .45 ACP guns out there — this is a bit dated.

That said, it still comes in at a very respectable price point for a steel-framed full-sized .45 ACP pistol.

750
at GunPrime

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

CZ 97 B
$750 at GunPrime

Prices accurate at time of writing

Overall: 5/5

Conclusion

Out of all of the guns in my safe, my CZ 97 B is one of the most fun to just take out shooting. 

Sharing it with friends at the range, as long as I can talk them into taking a spin with something so big, it never fails to bring a smile and convert another shooter to the cult of CZ.

750
at GunPrime

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

CZ 97 B
$750 at GunPrime

Prices accurate at time of writing

It’s not the newest design or the highest capacity, but it’s still a favorite while still being a gun that I would absolutely trust my life to.

What is your favorite non-1911 .45 ACP gun? If there was a gun you could pick for a 2.0 redesign, what would it be? Let us know in the comments! For more of our picks in .45 ACP, take a look at the Best .45 ACP Pistols (That Aren’t 1911s)!

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16 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    DUTCH in Atlanta

    I have two CZ pistols, a CZ 75 SP-01 Tactical 9mm and a CZ 83 Nickel .380 ACP. Both are the finest shooting and accurate pistols I own; and I have several others for comparison.

    May 22, 2022 5:23 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    edward coury

    make a sig p220 carry all steel

    April 13, 2022 4:56 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    EODGhost

    I bought one back in 1999, Love it. I did have to replace the Slide release. I think the early models were made from too soft a metal. The replacement was noticeably better made and still going strong.

    February 16, 2022 3:34 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Krush

    I would like to see the Sig P227 in a reincarnated 2.0 version where they make it into a Legion style pistol and get the extended mag right.

    December 14, 2021 8:52 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Anthony Perkins

    Are veterans considered under the military category or is it only active duty?

    December 1, 2021 5:56 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    k jack

    To suggest putting a semi-auto into the hands of someone who hasn't had the training is poorly thought out. To put a GLOCK into the same hands is stupid. The 4 Rules must be followed religiously, especially keeping your hands off the trigger with a Glock...AND EVEN MORE if you're keeping it with one in the pipe. There is a HUGE difference between a newcomer and someone who has lived with guns all their lives. For the newcomer, a quality revolver, such as a 6-shot S&W or a Ruger, in .38 is the best solution. And remember--in case you haven't had the experience to find out--discharging a .357 in the dark or low-light conditions can blind you momentarily. A .36 6-shot is the answer for the beginner who probably has little interest in training. An exposed hammer semi-auto next. A striker-fired semi-auto next, with a safety. A Glock....LAST 'effing place. And remember--newcomers probably won't train because if they cared, they'd already have a gun....and trained with it.

    November 21, 2021 1:12 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Riggs

    I have one & I love it. I got a +1 magazine extension and another in the camber & it's a 12 shot .45. Add a Streamlight & it's a perfect bedside home defense weapon.

    October 21, 2021 6:42 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Lorenzo

    Reading these comments, I feel pretty good about buying a 97B this morning. Mostly a 1911 guy and have some polymer guns too, but I've never owned a DA/SA pistol that wasn't a revolver. If this CZ shoots like you guys say it does I get the feeling I'll love it.

    August 10, 2021 1:13 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Doug G

    I love my 97BD. I usually shoot IDPA with a 9mm SP-01 CZ, or my EDC gun a CZ P-01, but the first time I shot the 97 in a match I achieved my best score with a couple zero down stages. It is a big gun, I call it "the Pig", but I can shoot it in SSP with a Barney mag or CDP against 1911's. Mine came with night sights, for some reason, but they are better than CZ's regular tiny 3 dot sights. I don't get to shoot it much thru the year but couple times I've brought it out I've shot well with the only problem being me knocking off the mag base and dumping my ammo during a reload. Those center pins could be a little longer and more pronounced.

    May 13, 2021 8:30 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Grumpy 49

    Have a Colt 1911, EAA Witness, and a KAHR CW45. After spending a rainy afternoon working on it with a set of Swiss Files, like my Colt best. As to the Witness or the CW45, for an out-of-box gun, don't sell the CW45 short. It even works with several of my 1911 mags.

    May 12, 2021 2:38 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Corn Pop Ken

    Clarification: Only the older production of 97B is on the California roster. However, CZ made a couple of changes to the gun, such as the front fiber optic site & grips (I don't know if there were any mechanical mods) & didn't go through the recertification process (which in this state, is probably mind-numbingly arduous & illogical, like the rest of our regulations).

    As a political prisoner in CA, I found & bought a new, older production CA approved 97B. Not to sound argumentative, but my hands aren't XL -- normal-sized for a guy just under 6'. Filled my grip just right, controls were easy to work.

    Shooting this gun is fantastic, & it somehow seems to aim itself because I couldn't be that accurate.

    I was not a CZ enthusiast before buying the 97B, but now I am. As far as I'm concerned, there are no drawbacks to this gun. I didn't expect a gun with an MSRP of under $800 to be so competitive with the best .45s. And the CZ isn't... Because it is the best (IMHO).

    May 11, 2021 8:20 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Doug G

      "Shooting this gun is fantastic, & it somehow seems to aim itself because I couldn't be that accurate."
      I say this all the time! The gun shoots better than I know how. My 97BD would be my IDPA competition gun but I can't afford to train and shoot .45 ACP. So, I've taken to using a CZ SP-01, which still challenges me every match, unlike the 97.
      Glad to know I'm not the only one who experienced this phenomenon. LOL

      May 13, 2021 8:38 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    guest

    I'm pleasantly surprised to learn the 97B functioned with ammunition other than factory new 230gr FMJ roundnose. 20+ years ago, these guns were widely known to be very nearly as finicky about ammunition as a GI 1911. The short steep feedramp and a magazine that holds the top round a bit lower than optimum for feeding were widely regarded as the reason. Some individual guns could be made to feed hollowpoints by altering the feed lips to hold the top round a bit higher and careful polishing of the feedramp and some could not, depending on individual tolerances. It sounds like the Czechs have figured out that Americans like modern ammunition and made some changes accordingly--or you got a good one by the luck of the draw.

    April 9, 2021 7:54 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Rob

    My opinion the best non 1911 are the Glock .45 A.C.P.s I have three, a 21, a 30, and a 36. All shoot fantastic. The guns are probably more accurate than I am. I am nearly 81 years young and shoot fist sized groups with all three at seven yards. Six yards is the longest shot line in my house. Therefore, I feel pretty confident I can hit what needs hit.

    April 9, 2021 5:59 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      lepke

      have 36 funnestglock there is

      April 4, 2022 4:46 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jack Hauser

    There goes my stimulus check.

    March 8, 2021 1:00 pm
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