by Bob Campbell,
There are pistols chat are so overlooked it is surprising. The Czech CZ pistols ( Ceska Zbrojovka Uhersky Brod) have appeal to professionals the world over. The CZ 75 is among the most imitated pistols in the world. Ac present no clones have equaled the reliability and build quality of the original.
From its introduction,· the CZ 75 has been appreciated by those with an eye for mechanical excellence. The pistol is sometimes referred to as a double-action Browning High Power. I think chat chose chat refer to the pistol as a double-action High Power pistol are mistaken. The CZ owes more to the Petter pistols than the Browning. Few pistols today do not use the Browning locked breech system. The trigger linkage and design of the CZ 75 are superior to the Browning High Power-and I am a High Power fan.
I am also pragmatic concerning service pistols. The CZ 75 is perhaps the best service 9mm in the world, and if not, then among the top two or three. Of all the CZ pistols I prefer the CZ PO 1. The PO1 differs in a number of ways from the CZ 75 while maintaining the core advantages that make the CZ 75 such a great pistol. The PO 1 was a result of requests for a compact pistol for police use. The European standard calls for a lighter 9mm and this genre includes the SIG P225 and Glock 19mm. They are good service pistols but also ideal for all around home defense and concealed carry.
The PO 1 uses the same short recoil operation as the CZ 75. The pistol is also a double-action first shot type. The PO 1 uses an aluminum frame for light weight. The pistol also features a handy frame decocker. The original pistol uses a safety that allows cocked and locked carry and is what is called a selective double-action. The CZ 75 in its original and still current rendition requires the hammer be manually lowered to make the pistol safe. The new design was required by the Czech National Police.
Most agencies the world over will prefer the decocker type action. During testing of the PO 1 the pistol was fired thousands of times without failure. Dry fire and decocking the pistol thousands of times was executed without any type of failure. The CZ PO 1 also subjected to rigorous safety testing without failure or accidental discharge. Heat and cold testing was also undertaken. When the test was completed the CZ P01 emerged as one of the most reliable handguns on the planet.
The Czech National Police wanted a shortened and lightened version of the CZ75 and the new pistol delivered. The result is one of the best balanced handguns ever made. The Balance and heft of the new pistol was superior, most felt, to the CZ 75. The frame is a monolithic design that extends to the muzzle. The P01 features a frame rail for mounting combat lights and laser devices. Like the original CZ 75, the P01 pistol uses a double-action trigger system. The first shot is a long press that both cocks and drops the hammer. The pistol fires and the slide cocks the hammer for subsequent single-action fire. The double-action trigger is smooth in operation and single-action trigger breaks at 4.5 pounds clean. The P01 retains an important design feature of the CZ 74 handgun.
The slide rides inside the frame. This means no more contact between the long bearing surfaces for enhanced accuracy. This also means that the slide rides lower in the frame than most double action pistols. The result is less leverage for the muzzle to rise. Less muzzle flip means greater control. The shorter grip of the P01 fits most hands well yet retains a 14 round magazine.
Using the CZ P01 is fairly simple: The slide is locked to the rear and a loaded magazine inserted into the magazine well; the slide lock is released or the rear of the slide tugged and released and the slide runs forward, loading the pistol; the decocker is pressed which safely lowers the hammer to a preset ready position. le is important not to manually lower the hammer by pressing the trigger and controlling the hammer. This is less safe and also may not properly engage the firing pin block. The firing pin block or drop safety keeps the firing pin locked until the trigger is fully pressed to the rear.
The trigger is pressed through a long trigger press of about 12 pounds. This long press both cocks and drops the hammer, hence the double-action.
After the pistol fires the slide recoils and cocks the hammer for subsequent shoes. The trigger is pressed to release the hammer from its cocked position requiring 5.5 pounds in the pistol reseed. Since the trigger does only one thing-drops the hammer-the trigger action is termed single-action. If the pistol is decocked the hammer falls and the pistol will revert to double-action fire.
This system allows good safety with a smooch double-action first shoe trigger for close range work but allows excellent accuracy with the single-action option. The hammer may be cocked for a deliberate single-action trigger press if the target is at longer handgun range.
The pistol illustrated has been fired extensively and proven completely reliable with no failures to feed during the course of firing over 2,000 9mm cartridges. The pistol has never failed to feed, chamber, fire or eject.
The pistol has also proven accurate with a wide variety of ammunition. A note on accuracy–when firing from a solid bench rest firing position over a sandbag with plenty of time to fire the author may demonstrate a group that will place five shots into less than three inches at a long 25 yards. A trained shooter or competitor may demonstrate this type of accuracy. A shooter that is beginning/proficient, where most young and trained shooters fall, may demonstrate a group of four inches off the bench rest at 15 yards. This is interesting but combat shooting and control is what really matters. A shooter that is able to place ten rounds into four inches offhand at ten yards is capable. Bench rest accuracy is a means of testing both the handgun and the ammunition but not the best gauge of combat accuracy.
For this review I fired a good quantity of Black Hills Ammunition 115-grain FMJ remanufactured ammunition. This is an affordable and high quality training resource. I drew the pistol from a DM Bullard inside the waistband holster, my preferred carry rig, during most of the testing. The pistol’s well shaped grip offers a sharp draw.
Drawing and firing at man-sized silhouette targets at 5, 7, and 10 yards, the pistol gave excellent results. First shot hit probability is enhanced by a smooth trigger and the pistol’s excellent sights are easily acquired in high speed drills. Control in rapid fire is good. The controls are well laid out for rapid manipulation and magazine changes are sharp and efficient. With a combination of good control, the ideal balance, and good combat accuracy it would be hard to recommend a better 9mm pistol for all around use.
CZ fans-and I am among them-claim the PO 1 by virtue of its monolithic construction is more accurate than the original CZ 75. After much experience with both types I tend to agree. I fired the CZ PO 1 for accuracy, firing two five shot groups with each load and found the pistol more than accurate enough for any foreseeable need. Be certain to choose a quality hollow point bullet for personal defense use.
The PO 1 is not only my favorite CZ pistol but the single 9mm I carry most often. The pistol is rugged, ergonomic, accurate and most of all reliable. This just may be the best buy on the market in a service grade 9mm handgun.