October 2010

Polymer-Frame DA/SA Pistols: FNH and CZ USA Compete

The FNH 9 and the CZ P07 are good performers, but only one is thoroughly modern. The other is a good pistol, but it could stand an upgrade in the take down sequence. Is one right for you?

The double-action first-shot self-loading pistol continues being popular because many shooters are uncomfortable with the requirement to keep a single-action pistol cocked and locked, hammer back, safety on. Others do not trust the lack of a manual safety in the double-action-only pistol. These shooters are more comfortable with a long first-shot double-action trigger press. The double-action first shot seems to offer the best of both worlds. This is a prime example of handling features taking advantage over range performance. The double-action-first-shot pistol will never win a combat competition, but many personal-defense shooters favor it. The long double-action trigger is a safety feature that requires 10 pounds or more of pressure to fire the handgun. If you need real precision, you have the option of a crisp single-action trigger press. The double-action-first-shot action transferred to the polymer-frame handgun offers light weight, low maintenance, and low expense, and two pistols like that we tested recently were the FNH-USA FNP-9 USG Flat Dark Earth (FDE) 9mm, $599, and the CZ-USA CZ P07 Duty No. 91186 9mm, $575. Each was individual enough that there were clear choices based on personal preference, but we were also struck by how similar these pistols are. The magazines, hammers and even many of the internal parts were similar in appearance.

Each handgun represented a different viewpoint. The FNH pistol is probably better suited as a holster gun for the Armed Services or as a home defender than for concealed carry, although it is light enough for concealed carry. The CZ may be better suited as a concealed carry handgun. Neither is a small pistol. The FNH is a result of the Armed Services requests for new pistol designs, although no contract test program or clear outline for specifications is forthcoming. No maker wishes to be left out of these competitions if they emerge. The pistol is available in 9mm, 40 S&W and 45 ACP. The CZ is an update in polymer of the proven CZ 75 design, with the new Omega action.

We tested each in 9mm Luger caliber. The 9mm is still an immensely popular handgun, and improvements in bullet technology and the availability of 9mm +P and +P+ loads make the caliber suitable for personal defense. Truth be told, in such light handguns the 9mm caliber is all the average shooter is probably willing to master.

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