So ya wanna buy a 9mm handgun, eh, sport? Suffice to say, you’ve got a lot of choices. You might begin your search for, say, full-size autoloaders. Then narrow it down to action type, single or double. Factor in whatever aftermarket items you need or want, and finally look at how much you are willing to pay for the package. All that narrows the choices still more. If you insist on a single-action auto, or more specifically, if you insist on a gun you can carry cocked and locked with the same trigger pull for each and every shot, your choices in 9mm get pretty small. Two prominent choices are the Browning Hi-Power or one of its clones, and the CZ 75.
Lest we forget, several makers including Colt have issued 9mm versions of the1911 in various forms. Also, many of the DAO pistols will give you the same trigger pull every shot. Recently Gun Tests magazine tested the Charles Daly version of the Hi-Power against a Stoeger (Beretta) Cougar, and though they liked the Daly, it lost out to the Cougar because of its painful bite to the hand that feeds it, and because of a few other items Daly could have fixed, but didn’t. So they kept looking for better 9mms.
Here’s what they learned:
We had heard about the CZ 75 for many years. One of our group is good friends with the Colorado gunsmith Don Fisher, who has done extremely well in national-level IPSC competition with the CZ 75. Fisher went so far as to develop his own wildcat cartridge for the CZ 75, which made it “major” caliber, competing with the 45 ACP. The late Jeff Cooper also liked the CZ 75 but for its cartridge, Cooper preferring the 45, in which caliber the CZ is not made. And a certain editor of a magazine dedicated to testing guns indicated he might have a CZ 75 stashed somewhere. So if a gun has that level of fans, we thought it would be a good idea to run a CZ 75 through our mill—but not just any CZ 75. We chose the CZ 75 B SA ($576), the last two letters standing for Single Action. This CZ 75 has features of what ought to be intense interest to those who want to shoot in competition with “minor” caliber, and for home defenders alike, as you shall see.
We tested with four types of ammunition. They were Black Hills 147-grain JHP Subsonic, Winchester USA BEB 115-grain TC, Fiocchi 115-grain JHP, and with Independent 115-grain ball. Let’s see what we found.
CZ 75 B SA 9mm, $576
The CZ comes in a plastic box with a trick catch. Once you have figured out the catch (press on the box inside the handle) it’s easy to open. Before that, it’s almost pry-bar time to get this catch undone. The gun’s finish is called “polycoat,” which is a waterproof and corrosion-resistant polymer. It seems to be very durable, gives a non-glare, smooth black finish, and looks great. That’s the only finish available for this version of the CZ in either 9mm or 40 S&W, though other CZ 75s have glossy blued or satin-nickel options. The 40-caliber and all other finishes are extra-cost options. The factory website has details.
Our test gun came with two 16-round magazines, a (wonderful!) loading-assist tool, cleaning rod, bristle brush, snap caps, and a four-shot target facsimile fired at 25 meters that indicated a spread of less than 4 inches, and impact less than an inch from the aim point. There was also a three-year warranty card numbered to the gun in the box.
The grip panels were checkered black plastic. We’d probably put wood on it if we owned it, for cosmetic reasons. The front and back straps are entirely smooth. We’d have liked checkering, but the shape of the grip was essentially perfect for all our test crew, and no one complained about any lack of traction on the gun. The front of the trigger guard was flattened and serrated for those who like to put a finger there. The curve of the guard let the shooter get a very high grip on the handle. Perhaps best of all this gun’s features was the extended tang that kept the hammer from biting the web of the hand. Browning take note!
The trigger was flattened in the middle, and its position at the break was identical to that of a 1911. The DA version of this gun has a curved trigger that breaks somewhat farther back in its travel. The DA version, by the way, may be carried cocked and locked. Thus the DA feature is simply an added attraction, along with a bit less weight.
The CZ’s fixed sights were excellent. The sight picture was as good as it gets, the picture presenting three light-green dots to the shooter. The front sight is pinned to the slide, and presumably there are different-height options. We couldn’t find any on the website, but any competent gunsmith could install a higher or lower front blade as needed. We didn’t need it. Our gun shot precisely where we aimed it, at 15 yards. The rear sight was dovetailed to the slide. Its front edge was a bit too sharp, but not a dagger.
The gun was slick and smooth on all the places that would catch on holsters or hands. The ejection port was large and smooth-edged. The top of the gun had a prominent serrated rib between the sights. Workmanship throughout was superb.
The CZ 75 is not a lightweight. Where DA CZ’s have a cut in the slide sides, near the muzzle, the SA version has the full slide width extended to the muzzle. This adds weight but reduces muzzle flip. The SA version has an ambidextrous safety, and its magazine drops free when you punch the release button. IPSC and other action shooters will appreciate all those items. This is the first ambi safety one of our picky testers could tolerate. The safety levers are set forward far enough that they don’t interfere with the strong-hand knuckle. And it’s easy to keep the thumb on top of the safety lever as you fire, because the slide is above the thumb and doesn’t drag on that digit.
At the range we opened the ball with 147-grain Black Hills, which gave about 2.5-inch groups. With the Winchester BEB we got our best accuracy with the CZ, groups averaging 1.5 inches at 15 yards. By this time we knew the creepy trigger was hurting us. The trigger pull averaged 6.6 pounds, and varied from 5.5 pounds up to nearly 7.0. Clearly something was not right, and the gun’s groups showed it. We had the gun go off several times before we were quite ready, as the varying trigger gave us fits. So that is the first, and as it turned out, only thing we’d look into on this gun.
Report Card: There were zero failures of any sort with the hefty CZ 75 B SA. Our shooters liked the gun a lot, but all of us want to try the DA version of the CZ 75 before we’d commit to buying this one and doing the needed trigger job on it. While the DA version does not have an ambi safety, it’s lighter and has the extra option of a DA pull. We decided we’d try to test one of those in the near future. Meantime, we gave this gun a hearty B+ for its finer qualities. It’s a fine handgun, and action shooters will love it.