The little pistol that could

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...


The alloy frame has a matte black polycoat finish, consistent with the gun’s utilitarian philosophy. This is a working gun. It wasn’t deigned to be showcased, it was meant to be fired. I did not expect to see this, but the inside of the frame is unfinished. It didn’t affect the operation or utility of the gun, especially since the hardness of the alloy rivals a steel frame. However, I felt like I my gun was “undressed” when field stripped. I would have coated the inside.

Extras

Other reasons why we like the CZ 75 include things that have improved over the years, while retaining the basic design. My P-01 has a beveled magazine well where I insert double stacked magazines. These magazines are tapered and I can find the mag well anytime, anywhere. The magazines literally shot out of the well when I hit the mag release. This is one of two guns I have shot where I do not need to rotate my grip to drop the magazine — this says a lot for a gun that is suitable for duty or off duty.

My P-01 has an alloy frame and steel slide and a frame mounted decocker. CZ-USA carries several different versions, which have different variants of the basic action. I like the ones with the frame-mounted SA/DA safety that allow it to be carried, cocked and locked the best. The one on the P-01 has a DA/SA decocker and a firing pin safety, that is ideal for law enforcement. In my tests, I found it easy to make safe and operate, even with a gloved hand.

I liked the rubber grips and the smooth face of the trigger. It is also readily apparent that the design soaks up recoil, despite the alloy frame. The axis of the bore is close to the hand, and the gun is top-heavy from the steel in the slide.

The decocker is easily found with the shooting thumb, even in repeated drills which end in decocoking and reholstering. It was a little sharp after a day of shooting. I would have radiused the edges a little more.

The decocker drops the hammer to the safety notch position, where the hammer hovers over — but never touches — the firing pin. This gives the trigger a long takeup and a fairly short throw, because it fires from half cock position. This gun was good for rapid-fire shooting, and my tests showed that the gun could not be fooled into dropping the firing pin without a deliberate trigger pull.

This gun liked +P loads. I used Hornady, Winchester and Remington cartridges. I am generally satisfied when the gun can do sub 4-inch groups. P-01 was above average, turning in several sub 3-inch groups, and even let me a have a couple groups where the holes were touching. Regardless, the P-01 gave consistent accuracy, even against the 9mm I routinely carry.

The CZ 75 Kadet Adapter gave similar groups with similar point of aim, but I shot it at 7 to 15 yards rapid fire. The Kadet Adapter has adjustable sights, but they offer the same sight picture as the CZ 75 Compact.

Field research

I went to the range with a brick (500 rounds) of .22 LR bullets and mixed it up between 9mm and .22 LR. I didn’t finish the brick, but I walked away smiling. After all, I buy .22 LR cartridges a case at a time. The advantage of using the Kadet Adapter is obvious: trigger time. One can shoot a cheaper, lighter recoil bullet using the same frame and trigger pull. If I were training troops, I would do dozens of run throughs of a learning activity with a sub caliber, then qualify with the combat caliber.

The P-01 slide release has to be pushed from the opposite side while the gun is pushed slightly out of battery for disassembly. Most users have to be shown how to do this the first time. The same users complain about the fact that when they take “their gun” apart, the disassembly stuff stays with the frame. This part is easily replaced, costs next to nothing and adds to the simplicity of the design — another reason why we like CZ 75s.

Actually, the P-01 is quite simple for armorers and gunsmiths. Having done routine maintenance on a fleet of firearms before, I can understand why this gun was picked for an entire Czech national police agency.

The P-01 reinforced why I like CZ 75s. If a combat situation requires me to have a handgun suitable for fighting my way to my carbine, a P-01 improves my odds.

 

Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer who teaches at Hartnell College in Salinas, Calif.

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