Not long ago I tested the CZ P-01, a DA/SA semi-automatic pistol with a decocking action in 9mm. This is the compact alloy frame version of the CZ 75 pistol, with an improved alloy frame, M3 rail and checkered rubber grips. The CZ-P-01 is the NATO SPEC pistol adopted by the Czech National Police, which excelled the U.S. Army 15,000 round MRBF (Mean Rounds Between Failure) test. The P-01 is the only NATO SPEC pistol available to the public.
I did not fire 15,000 rounds for this article, but my +P load test had a 0-percent failure rate after depleting my 9mm stocks.
I did stack up a lot of compelling arguments as to why we like CZ 75s and why the P-01 is one of the best variations of the CZ 75.
All of the parts of the P-01 are interchangeable with the P-06, which is a P-01 in a .40 S&W version. This is a testament to the manufacturing consistency, as no fitting is required to make a complete caliber change. Although my P-01 turned out to be the most spartan handgun I have handled in a while, it had features that made it a better choice in a firefight than most of the guns I own.
I also tested the CZ 75 Kadet Adapter, which turns most guns in the CZ-USA model line into a .22 LR trainer. It wasn’t necessarily designed for this model CZ 75 Compact, but only because the magazines are a little long for the grips. If someone hadn’t pointed this out, I wouldn’t have known. This product allowed me to shoot boxes upon boxes of .22 LR bullets, and I strongly recommend that it be part of the law enforcement training package.
The CZ 75 is one of the most recognized and used service pistols in the world. Built by Ceska Zbrojovka, it is distributed in the United States by CZ-USA. The CZ 75 design has its roots in a company that has been in the small arms industry since 1936. When the CZ-75 design made it to the United States in the mid 1970s, competitive shooters snatched them up, adding to the pistol’s mystique. I snatched one up years later, and used it in police academy.
The P-01 has a short recoil operated handgun with a cam action that tilts the barrel down when it unlocks. The feed ramp is integral with the cam and the barrel barely tilts to unlock the action, compared to many other pistol designs. This is a reliable design. Less movement, less wear.
Several design attributes make all CZ 75s inherently accurate. The cam action of the locking mechanism allows the barrel lugs to mate with the recesses in the slide with little variance, positioning the barrel in relation to the sights consistently. The frame rails are on the outside of the slide and run nearly its entire length. While some tilt barrel designs have to allow a lot of pivot area at the front of the barrel to ensure reliability, the CZ 75 doesn’t need a lot of barrel play, which explains why this kind of gun dominated pistol competitions for many years.
The fact that the rails ride outside the slide gives the P-01 a little more “meat” where one would like a working gun to be durable. The contour at the web of the hand makes it virtually impossible to suffer “slide bite” at the web or the thumbs. Even short thumbs like mine can access the slide release and the magazine release, which, incidentally, is reversible.
The downside of a slide that is surrounded by frame is when users like me do misfire drills. I reach over the top, close to the body. There is less slide to pinch with the fingers; it’s worse with meatier fingers. It takes practice.
This gun’s utility rail differs from the original design and adds to the aesthetically pleasing lines. The best part of the CZ 75 design is something that was likely part deliberate, part luck. Almost anyone who shoots one, fits one — large or small. Most owners will tell you, “It just fits my hand.” It has a lot to do with the grip angle and the beavertail. It also has to do with the beveled area surrounding the trigger. This is the most compelling reason why we like CZ 75s.