CZ pistols are known for excellent ergonomics, great reliability and accuracy, and some smart features. Most of them aren’t terrifically expensive, so you can get a darn good gun for almost any purpose for not too much in purchase price.
They’re also fairly unique, in that most CZ pistols are hammer-fired DA/SA semi-autos. Though they’ve branched out into poly-striker guns in recent years, CZ has largely stuck to the older, tried and true operating system.
CZ pistols have won national and international pistol competitions, have served as police and military duty pistols around the world. They make some awfully good concealed carry guns.
While one could rattle off a Top 10 or Top 6 or 7 pretty easily, here are my three favorites. You might disagree with them, you may have your own favorites and that’s perfectly fine. In fact, sound off in the comments about them! But here we go:
CZ 75D PCR Compact
The CZ 75D PCR is arguably one of the best DA/SA pistols for concealed carry, and served as the official service pistol of the Czech Republic for a time. (PCR stands for “Police Czech Republic.”)
It’s essentially an improved CZ 75 Compact with an alloy frame rather than steel (bringing unloaded weight down to around 28 ounces instead of 32 ounces) and a de-cocking lever instead of a manual safety.
The CZ 75D has a 3.7-inch barrel, holding 14+1 of 9mm. The overall dimensions are broadly similar to a GLOCK 19, standing 7.24 inches long by 5.03 inches tall by 1.38 inches wide at the controls. However, the width is misleading; while the grips/controls bring the width to nearly 1.4 inches, it’s only about 1 inch wide across the frame and has about a half-inch of beavertail at the end of the frame, so it’s sleeker than the numbers suggest.
The 75D PCR and the P01 (same gun with a railed frame) have CZ’s trademark ergonomics, making them fantastically comfortable and easy to shoot, but feature a decocking lever where the thumb safety would be. Unlike the decocker/safety of a Beretta or the decocking lever of Sig Sauer pistols, it’s easily operated with the shooting hand thumb, which makes them some of the easiest pistols of the type to operate. The trigger is very decent, with minimal stacking in the DA pull and not too much creep in SA mode.
MSRP is just over $600, but you can find them for $575-ish from many dealers. Sure, it’s an older operating system, but darned if it isn’t a very solid CCW pistol for the price paid.
However, even I understand that polymer has its benefits too, which is why my second is the CZ P10C.
The CZ P10C was created for the XM17 trials. Like every other gun created to get a crack at the contract, it’s a polymer-frame striker-fired pistol, but when it was obvious CZ wasn’t in the running, they thought they’d release it anyway…and it’s slowly but surely getting more fans in the civilian realm.
Basically, it’s like a GLOCK 19, with a 4-inch barrel and 15+1 capacity, with similar dimensions. A number of people have tipped it as a GLOCK killer, and frankly it’s got a heck of a lot going for it. It has a lot of the typical striker gun features, like ambidextrous controls, swappable backstrap panels and a railed frame for a laser/light.
What sets the P10C apart from the pack are a few of the details. It has CZ’s grip angle and ergonomics, along with a deep frame backstrap giving the shooter a naturally high, tight grip. The trigger is one of the better go pedals on striker pistols, with a light, crisp break and short, audible and tactile reset, close to the PPQ in terms of quality. If I had any criticisms, it would be that the grip stippling is aggressive, but better too rough than too slippery. After all, it’s made to be a duty weapon.
The price is nice at $499 MSRP (more like $460 retail) so they’re very competitively priced.
Lastly, we’re going upscale.
The CZC A01-LD is one of CZ’s competition pistols, and it’s almost without peer in quality. Granted, it’s solely the province only of well-heeled or sponsored professionals, with a price tag of $2,247.
They’re made by the CZ USA Custom Shop (that’s why it’s CZC), and while they certainly aren’t for the casual shooter, it is – as far as I am concerned – the finest double-action semi-automatic pistol made. If they get any better, I don’t know how.
The AO1-LD is built for serious shooting, with a solid, full-length frame and match-grade bull barrel to tame recoil. The back and front of the grip housing have 25 LPI checkering for the utmost in grippiness. Target sights (fiber optic front, black steel rear ramp) are standard, and it ships with two 19+1 magazines as it’s made for use with CZ P-09 mags.
The trigger is simply sublime. The double-action press is about 8 lbs, with no creep or stacking; smooth as a baby’s butt covered in olive oil. The single-action press is as crisp as a glass wafer breaking, which happens at about 3.5 lbs. and with impossibly little travel.
It’s hard to capture the difference in words between a Wilson Combat or Les Baer pistol and a decent factory 1911 pistol made by, say, Colt or Springfield Armory. I can tell you about it, waxing lyrical about clearances, tolerances, hand-fitting and the like, but it’s difficult to appreciate the difference until you’ve held one in your hand.
That’s much the same difference between the standard CZ 75, which is still an excellent pistol, and the A01-LD. I’ve been lucky enough to handle some properly fine handguns, shotguns and rifles. The A01-LD is about as good as handguns get.
Obviously, this is a short list. Honorable mentions for the standard CZ 75, the CZ 75BD – the de-cocker model of the CZ 75 – the CZ P07 – a polymer-frame DA/SA compact with their Omega trigger system – the CZ 75 Shadow, and the P-09, the P-07’s bigger brother, and the CZ P-10F, the full-size version of the P-10C.
Like this list? Hate it? Convinced designated hitters are good for the game? (You’re wrong.) Sound off in the comments.