Gun Review: CZ P-09 Duty

 courtesy Jeremy S.

By Jeremy S.

New this year from Ceska zbrojovka Uhersky Brod (aka CZUB, aka CZ) is the polymer-framed, hammer-fired, full-sized P-09 Duty; big brother of the P-07. Having owned and tinkered with many of CZ’s pistol offerings, I had a good enough idea what to expect from the company to know I wanted to get my hands on a P-09 as soon as I could. Really, who could refuse the ergos, the reliability, and the 19+1 capacity? Let me just put it right up front here: this is a very good gun at a very competitive price . . .

In The Box:

It’s 2013, or so I’ve been told, and apparently being competitive in the polymer pistol world these days means offering adjustable grip sizes. The P-09 delivers with Small, Medium, and Large interchangeable backstraps – one of the few main points other than size that differentiates it from the P-07. To further suit its owner’s preferences, the P-09’s Omega trigger system means the decocker can be easily swapped out for an included safety. While some hammer-fired guns have both or a single, combination control, I personally prefer the simplicity of this design. Either decock to carry the gun with the hammer down – good for a long, safely-heavy first trigger pull – or engage the safety and carry it cocked-and-locked (“condition 1”).

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Two 19-round magazines are included. Although the length is nearly the same as a standard CZ 75 mag, they hold two more rounds thanks to their double stack, rather than only staggered, design. CZ gets away with this because the polymer frame allows more room for a magazine while still being slim enough to fit comfortably in most hands. While a CZ 75 magazine will function perfectly well in a P-07, they’re just a hair too short to lock into the P-09. The P-09 mags will, however, fit and function in the P-07. Owner’s manual, factory test target, gun lock, slotted cleaning rod and cleaning brush are all in the plastic case as well.

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The P-09 employs nice target-style, 3-dot sights that take advantage of the full length of the slide for a long sight radius. I found the dots to be small, sharp and easy to see. The very sharply-cut notch (rear) and post (front) are easy to align accurately, too. Just the right amount of light on either side of that front post. The green-ish off-white-ish dots glow in the dark, meaning they must be charged from a light source just like the star stickers you had on your bedroom wall as a kid. Tritium replacements (plus fiber optics and other options) are available, if that’s your thing.

CZ’s Omega trigger is a good thing. My only gripe would be a bit of trigger takeup that’s hard to avoid in a gun like this that employs a lifter to disengage the firing pin block in the slide. Especially in double action, the trigger is noticeably smoother than any stock CZ 75 I’ve owned. The break is clean and consistent and the reset is solid. Double action pull – whether with the hammer fully down or in the slightly cocked position after using the decocker – measures in at 10 to 10.5 pounds. The pull is slightly shorter from the decocked position than it is from hammer fully down. In single action with the hammer back, the trigger is staged farther towards the rear of the trigger guard, but still has the same bit of takeup.

The pull is light, crisp and short after that, measuring in at about three pounds. The trigger itself is a cool new shape that I don’t believe I’ve seen in another CZ. It looks nifty, it’s comfortable, and it’s made of quality steel. A full-length picatinny accessory rail gives you plenty of real estate for mounting mission-critical items, and the oversized trigger guard leaves plenty of room so you can wear gloves on your deployments and be “operator as f**k.”

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The P-09 field strips just like every other CZ pistol: line up the line on the slide with the line on the frame, push/pull the slide lock out, then slide the slide off the front of the frame. Pop out the guide rod along with its captive recoil spring and lift out the barrel, and you’re done. The slide rides on two large metal inserts in the frame, which are much easier to see in my OD Green P-07.

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On the Range:

Man, is this a pleasant gun to shoot! The ergonomics are excellent, with a comfortable palm swell and grip diameter, great grip angle, a nice beavertail that allows for a very high grip without worry of hammer bite and a comfortable length of pull in both DA and SA. The polymer has a high quality, solid feel to it and the texture on the grip is near perfect for me. It really gives a feeling of complete controllability.

The beveled mag well and tapered magazines, which drop free easily, make quick mag changes a breeze. For some reason I find loading the P-07 magazines to full capacity to be almost impossible, but the P-09 mags took the full 19 rounds without damaging my thumbs. The gun points naturally, the sights are quick to acquire, and it shoots straight. Very straight, indeed:

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I’m not sure what accounts for that flyer from the 92.6 grain +P Magtech First Defense (holy fireballs from this ammo!), but even with that we’re looking at very tight 5-shot groups from 25 yards. The PMC Bronze 115 grain group is about three quarters of an inch (0.75”) center-to-center. For this test I put a cheapo ($14 shipped from Amazon) laser on the rail and rested the butt of the grip on the bench. I think I’ll do the same for any future reviews of accessory-railed pistols as a way of taking a decent portion of the human error out of things.

Due to the slide length and mass plus the length of the grip and the general ergos and effective beavertail, the P-09 shoots very softly and controllably. Low muzzle flip and low felt recoil meant keeping track of the front sight was easy, and I could stay on target even during rapid-fire shooting. You could certainly shoot as many hundreds and hundreds of rounds as you wanted in a single session and not get worn out by the P-09. Of course, the downside of this (and the 19-round capacity) is that blowing through massive amounts of ammunition is far too easy.

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The CZ’s controls are just where they should be. My only gripe is that, despite being large, they’re quite flush (same as the P-07). I don’t find them as easy to activate with the sweep of a thumb as I do on, for instance, my SP-01 where the controls have a definite “pad” on them. The P-09’s setup may actually be better for regular holster duty, and after a couple hundred rounds I stopped noticing it. I think it just requires a little more inward pressure – as opposed to pushing straight down – than I’m otherwise used to.

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Speaking of hundreds of rounds, I experienced no stoppages of any sort with the P-09. Same goes for my P-07 during the time I owned it and, apparently, since the time I sold it to a good friend. A few brands of hollow points, a couple brands of reloads, three or four brands of factory ammo… not a hitch. I haven’t come to expect anything else from the various CZ’s I have owned, and the P-09 hasn’t disappointed. It really has the feel of an unstoppable “Duty” gun and I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to rely on it. Fit, finish, and perceived quality all get high marks.

Conclusion:

If we all just arrived here from outer space with no preconceived notions or brand loyalties, I think we’d expect CZ’s P-07 and P-09 to be significantly more popular and well-known than they are. At a typical street price of $450 to $495 or so, the P-09 is a lot of gun for the money. It’s second-to-none for reliability and accuracy (at least in the duty/self-defense guns under $1k segment), and is one of the most ergonomic and easy-to-shoot pistols on the market. I certainly think it’s good looking, too. With its 19+1 round capacity and the accessory rail, this pistol would be an excellent choice for home defense.

With the long sight radius, quality trigger, and great accuracy, this pistol would be an excellent choice for competition such as IDPA, IPSC, 3-Gun, etc. Unless you’re constitutionally opposed to a DA/SA system, whether with a decocker or a safety, or are just afraid of hammer-fired guns in general, I would highly suggest checking out the Duty offerings from CZ before going with the admittedly more popular polymer guns from the likes of S&W, Glock, Springfield, FNH, etc. The P-09 is a lot of quality at a relatively low price.

 

Specifications:

Length: 8.1″

Barrel Length: 4.53″

Height: 5.79″

Width: 1.46″

Weight: 1.71 lbs aka 27.35 oz (empty, no mag)

Caliber: 9mm (9×19) or .40 S&W

Capacity: 19+1 (9mm), 16+1 (.40 S&W)

Sights: 3-dot, glow in the dark (dots must be charged from a light source)

Trigger Pull Weight: 10 to 10.5 lbs. DA, 3 lbs. SA

MSRP: $514 (typical street price ~$449-495)

 

Ratings (out of 5 stars):

Accuracy: * * * * *
Sub-1” groups at 25 yards from a sub-$500 duty gun is excellent accuracy indeed. In addition to actual, mechanical accuracy the gun is also very easy to shoot accurately off hand.

Ergonomics: * * * * *
I’m certainly not in the minority when I say I love CZ ergonomics. Adding adjustable backstraps sweetens the deal. Grip shape, grip angle, grip texture, beavertail, controls placement, trigger shape and placement, etc etc… it’s all excellent.

Reliability: * * * * *
Second-to-none. There’s an amusing P-07 torture test starting at page 6 of this Guns & Ammo mag PDF.

Customize This: * * *
So it isn’t a Glock, but there’s a good amount of aftermarket support for CZ. Custom gunsmithing and parts from Cajun Gun Works (David there is awesome) and CZ Custom. Aftermarket sights. Various holster options (the list there is growing). The big accessory rail. It certainly needs no work to be reliable, accurate, and controllable though.

Utility: * * * *
Top choice for home defense, competition, fun at the range, actual police and military service/duty use (the Brazilian defense forces recently chose the P-07 to be its new sidearm), or tactical operations. One star off because its full-size size makes it difficult to carry concealed.

Overall: * * * * *
I think it’s better than most or all of its competitors regardless of price, yet it’s better at hundreds of dollars less (or under half the price in the example of some similar H&K’s, etc). No gun is everything to everyone, but you may just want to check out the P-09 (and -07) before pulling the trigger on something else.

…and just for fun, here’s a little sneak peak of something silly happening in my garage…

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