CZ 83 380 ACP

Despite its age, the CZ is the only pistol not to suffer any type of stoppage. It was reliable, well made, and perhaps even overbuilt.

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When shooters look for a personal-defense firearm, they are sometimes swayed by reports of what are basically range pistols, those with a light trigger, no safety, and a heavy frame. But a practical personal-defense pistol is easy to carry, might have a heavier trigger than a Bullseye gun, and it might be quickly shoved into the waistband or pocket without tearing fabric or skin. Also, a practical pistol might be carried in the hand as you travel to a vehicle or placed safely at home ready. The handier practical pistol may be more desirable than a big, heavy pistol that homes every round into the X-ring at 25 yards.

Here’s the CZ (right) compared to a SIG P250 9mm. The smaller-cartridge guns are compact and offer a neat package. The 380 Auto is essentially a 9mm Short, which allows for a smaller frame.

We recently tested a trio of practical medium-sized 380 ACP handguns that offer light recoil, good accuracy, and generous magazine capacity, the last characteristic being an advantage over old-style double-action-first-shot 380 pistols, such as the Walther PPK or SIG P232.

We tested the Tisas Fatih, a straight-up clone of the Beretta 84 Cheetah. The second modern test gun is the Bersa Thunder Plus, a high-capacity version of the long serving Bersa Thunder 380. Because there are not a lot of affordable high-capacity 380 ACP pistols around, we also obtained a used CZ 83 in 380 ACP. The Model 83 has gotten very good grades in the past.

We tested the pistols with five types of 380 ACP ammunition, but we fired the accuracy portion with the hollow points.

All three are simple blowback-action handguns. Each has a double-action first-shot trigger. After the first shot, the slide recoils and cocks the hammer for subsequent single-action shots. Two of the pistols are selective double-action pistols with manual safeties, allowing cocked-and-locked carry, and the other is a decocker-type with a manual safety.

For test ammo, we used Remington and Aguila loads of the 95-grain FMJ type, Fiocchi’s 90-grain XTP, Hornady’s 90-grain XTP, and the SIG 90-grain V-Crown. We fired 45 rounds in each pistol in combat firing off hand. We used the three hollow-point loads in accuracy testing.

Let’s look at the differences in performance.

Gun Tests Grade: A

$330

Here, the CZ is in single-action mode. Note the large extractor (top arrow), ambidextrous safety (left arrow), and ambidextrous magazine release (right arrow).

Along with the Beretta 84 Cheetah, the CZ 83 was among the first high-capacity 380 Auto pistols. We find the workmanship on the used CZ pistol to be good, despite wear and cosmetic problems. The pistol is all steel. The plastic grip had checkering, but there was no checkering on the front or rear strap. As a result, the surface could get slippery with sweat or in cold weather, but the pistol did not present any control issues during our firing test. A military-grade feature is the trigger guard, which was so large it would easily accommodate gloved hands. The rear sight was drift adjustable. While the front sight is pinned in and changeable, we were at a loss to find replacement blades. Thankfully, it was properly sighted.

ActionSemi-auto, blow back; double action first shot
Overall Length6.8 in.
Overall Height5.0 in.
Maximum Width1.4 in.
Weight Unloaded28.8 oz.
Weight Loaded32.0 oz.
Barrel Length3.8 in.
BarrelSteel
Magazine Capacity12 rounds
SlideSteel
FrameSteel
Frame Front Strap Height2.25 in.
Frame Back Strap Height3.0 in.
GripsPlastic
Grip Thickness (max)1.25 in.
Grip Circumference (max)5.5 in.
Front SightWhite bar on post, fixed
Rear SightRear notch blade in dovetail
Trigger Pull Weight Double Action10.0 lbs.
Trigger Pull Weight Single Action5.5 lbs.
Trigger Span Single Action2.4 in.
SafetyManual
Telephone(913) 321-1811
WarrantyNone
WebsiteCZ-USA.com
Made InCzechoslovakia
Disassembly of the CZ is simple enough. The military-grade CZ pistol offers impressive performance. We liked the CZ’s all-business performance. CZ magazines are robust and reliable.

The pistol featured an ambidextrous magazine release and an ambi safety as well. The safety may only be placed in the Safe position if the hammer is cocked. The magazines were easy to load save for sharp edges on one. We obtained two magazines. While each worked well, the original CZ magazine held 12 rounds. An unmarked aftermarket magazine held 13 cartridges, and the floorplate edges were uncomfortably sharp.

The pistol gave good results on the combat course. The double-action trigger was smooth enough for center hits to 10 yards or so. In single-action fire, the pistol was downright docile. After all, the steel frame made for the heaviest gun of the test program. The pistol was pleasant to fire, a pleasant diversion from the 45 ACP and 357 Magnum cartridges we often test, as one rater noted.

The CZ’s sights are not huge, but they are useful and properly regulated. While the pistol is military grade, there is a very nicely grooved top section between the sights.

Takedown is like the Walther PPK. Push the trigger guard downward and then run the slide to the rear and up and off the barrel. Nothing difficult there, just different.

The pistol was the only one of the three that never failed to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. The CZ 83 380 was accurate enough with a 2.4-inch 15-yard group as the best effort.

Our Team Said: We could not find anything wrong with the CZ pistol. While it did not have grip-strap checkering, it did not need this feature, per our test results. Still, we hesitate to promote the Model 83 because the CZ has been out of production for almost 10 years. Spare parts and magazines are getting difficult to obtain at a fair price, but there are plenty around, and it is a good pistol.

380 ACP Range Data

Fiocchi XTP 90-grain HP 380XTP25Tisas FaithCZ Model 83Bersa 380 Thunder Plus
Average Velocity933 fps945 fps921 fps
Muzzle Energy174 ft.-lbs.178 ft.-lbs.169 ft.-lbs.
Small Group2.45 in.2.6 in.2.5 in.
Average Group2.9 in.2.95 in.3.0 in.
Hornady Critical Defense 90-grain FTX 90080Tisas FaithCZ Model 83Bersa 380 Thunder Plus
Average Velocity922 fps930 fps927 fps
Energy170 ft.-lbs.173 ft.-lbs.172 ft.-lbs.
Small Group2.0 in.2.4 in.2.5 in.
Average Group2.4 in.2.9 in.2.9 in.
SIG V-Crown 90-grain JHPTisas FaithCZ Model 83Bersa 380 Thunder Plus
Average Velocity899 fps917 fps904 fps
Muzzle Energy161 ft.-lbs.168 ft.-lbs.163 ft.-lbs.
Small Group2.3 in.2.6 in.2.5 in.
Average Group2.7 in.3.1 in.3.0 in.
All groups were fired at 15 yards from a braced benchrest position using an MTM K Zone pistol rest. We used a Competition Electronics Pro Chrony to measure velocity. The first chronograph screen was 10 feet from the muzzles of the firearms.

Value Guide: 380 ACP Semi-Auto Pistols

Gun NameIssueGradeComments
Glock 42 UI4250201 380 ACP, $360Nov. 2020A-Best Buy. The Glock 42 handled well and offered the best accuracy of the test.
Colt Government Model MK IV Series 80 380 ACP, $400Nov. 2020A-Because of the Glock’s availability as a current product, we would pick the Glock before the Colt MK IV.
Ruger LCP II No. 3792 380 ACP, $300Nov. 2020BThe Ruger LCP II is reliable, reasonably accurate for short-range use, and not difficult to control.
NAA Guardian 380 ACP, $350Nov. 2020C-This NAA was well made, and its fit and polish were good. Accuracy was poor even for a pocket pistol.
S&W M&P 380 Shield EZ 180023 380 ACP, $384Aug. 2018AThe Shield is EZ-ily among the most useful and attractive 380 ACP pistols we have tested.
Springfield 911 Bi-Tone PG9109S 380 ACP, $559Aug. 2018AThe Springfield 911 is suited to carrying hammer down instead of cocked and locked.
Walther PPK/S 4796006 380 ACP, $700Aug. 2018CNot reliable with a modern load designed to maximize the cartridge. We would not buy the Walther PPK/S.
Rock Island Armory Baby Rock 51912 380 ACP, $356Aug. 2016ACombat shooting with the Baby Rock gave good results. Accuracy was excellent for a pistol this size.
Ruger LCP 3701 380 ACP, $229Aug. 2016B+We would pay more for the LCP Custom, which has better sights and trigger.
Remington RM380 Micro 96454 380 ACP, $341Aug. 2016B-Heavy stacking of the trigger led to poor accuracy. The RM380’s sight regulation was also badly off.
Ruger LCP-C Custom No. 3740 380 ACP, $419Oct. 2015AThe Ruger’s sights and trigger are great improvements over previous versions of the LCP.
Taurus Curve 180CRVL #1-180031L 380 ACP, $380Oct. 2015CThe bottom line is that a pistol without sights isn’t useful, in our opinion. Pass on the Curve.
Kimber Micro Carry Advocate 380 ACP, $796Sept. 2015AThe Kimber was well finished and demonstrated excellent reliability and accuracy.
Browning Black Label 1911-380 051904492 380 ACP, $620Sept. 2015BThe Browning is a reliable handgun with familiar operation. Less accurate than the smaller Kimber.
Glock 42 380 ACP Subcompact Slimline, $480Nov. 2014BWith a Viridian green laser on it, we’d bump up the Glock 42’s grade to an A- and probably buy it.
Kahr CW 380 No. 3833 380 ACP, $419Nov. 2014BWe didn’t like the Kahr’s sights, the short grip, or the long DAO trigger pull.
Colt Mustang XSP Pocketlite O6790 380 ACP, $649Nov. 2014C+The XSP costs a lot of money, and there are many pistols that work better for less money.
SIG Sauer P238 238-380-NBS12 380 ACP, $710Nov. 2014CIts controls should have produced a 1911-like feel, but the P238’s inconsistent trigger pull affected accuracy.
Ruger LCP-CT 380 ACP, $559Jan. 2014A-Ramp-up time was nil, but firing the LCP-CT pistol without using the laser was a feat.
S&W Bodyguard 380 109380 380 ACP, $419Sept. 2013BThe Bodyguard had the best integrated laser sight of all the models tested, easy to turn on.
Ruger LCP 380 ACP, $379Jul. 2013B+The LCP performed with any ammo we loaded into it. The sights are minimal.

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