Down Range: October 2013


In the August 2013 issue, Ray Ordorica compared two full-size 9mm pistols, a surplus CZ 75 (about $350) and a new Tokarev M70A, made in Serbia by Zastava (about $330). The CZ, designed in 1975 and with more than a million having been built, is one of very few DA/SA pistols that can be carried cocked and locked. The CZ is big and stout enough that even the hottest 9mm ammo with the heaviest bullets would hardly kick enough to disturb the composure of the weakest-handed shooter. The new Tokarev M70A was beaten badly in the test by the battered CZ 75. Ray and his team ended up liking the CZ 75 despite its cosmetics, and as it was, the Idaho testers gave it a solid B+ grade. And that’s only the beginning of the story.

After the test, our Product Coordination Editor FFL took the CZ 75 to a Houston-area gun shop called Full Armor Firearms [(832) 486-9086] and asked owner James Hillin to address the biggest areas needing improvement, namely, fixing the front sight and refinishing the pistol. Over the years, James has supplied a variety of firearms to the magazine through FFL-to-FFL transfers with Kevin, most notably a Kel-Tec PMR-30 tested in the November 2011 issue when supplies of that handgun were incredibly tight..

Prior to a recent test of low-capacity AK-47s, we consulted with James about the prospects and costs of getting the rifles’ magazine wells widened and altered to accept standard-capacity AK magazines.

Full Armor’s work on the CZ 75 is impressive. The steel frame and slide have been polished and richly reblued, erasing almost all of the scratches on the pistol. The stainless areas have been polished as well, removing almost all of the blemishes on the trigger shoe, hammer spur, and chamber that detracted from its cosmetics. Full Armor also reshaped the front sight and painted in a single white bar, which is much easier to use than the previous treatment. Also, they added new rubber grips that feel tacky to the hand and offer superb grip. The all-in price for this treatment was $175.

As Ray said, “Newer isn’t always better. There’s lots of fight left in the CZ 75.” For more information, log on to


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