By David Blanton
The CZ Tactical Sport is a very familiar model in Europe amongst those who participate in IPSC competitions. It’s a big heavy gun with a steel frame and a crisp single action trigger that is pretty easy to shoot fast and accurately. The CZ 75 Tactical Sport Orange is the dressed-up brother to the “bare bones” Tactical Sport model…which is the equivalent of comparing “just” a Corvette to a Corvette Z06.
The Tactical Sport Orange is the bigger brother in the venerated CZ 75 lineup. It shares the action with the original 75 series pistols without a firing pin block, but sports a wider grip to accommodate wider magazines. That means more capacity for the same grip length.
From the factory it comes with an ambidextrous manual safety and a very crisp, light, single action only trigger. Being bred for racing it comes with all the accoutrements you would want in a thoroughbred iron-sighted race gun – target sights, flared magwell, oversized controls, and aggressive checkering.
The CZ 75 Tactical Sport Orange shares a frame with their top-of-the line competition guns, the Czechmate.
The CZ 75 Tactical Sport 9mm features handsome aluminum grips in a striking orange, an adjustable metal trigger (as opposed to plastic on the base model), a flared aluminum mag well (again, plastic on the base model), a drilled and tapped frame featuring a thumb rest, and better checkering on the front and back straps. The whole package comes in a quality pistol case worthy of transporting a race gun like this.
The fit in the hand of the TSO is pretty good right out of the box. The grips are thin, but large-handed shooters will have an easier time gripping them than the smaller gripped CZ 75s.
The beavertail is nicely sculpted and the trigger guard undercut puts the gun — which already has a low bore hight — exactly where you’d want it to be in the hand. The beavertail and backstrap are a little narrower than on a widebody 1911 or 2011. As a result, if you’re shooting this beast in its available .40 S&W chambering, you can expect it to beat you up a little more than a 2011 might.
The aggressive checkering on the front and back straps is very much appreciated. The checkering on those pretty aluminum grips, though, is mostly ornamental.
The grip panels that ship with the gun, while gorgeous, are relatively thin and a little on the slippery side. This isn’t a gun that’s going to ride in a concealment holster against your skin, so concerns about them being “too aggressive” aren’t quite as prevalent as would be more for most guns.
The trigger is about as good as you can make a non-1911 trigger. There is a little bit of wiggle on the sear/hammer engagement – but not much in the way of slack. You can dial in more slack if you want via the adjustable trigger. This example breaks at just under 2 pounds and is very short with very little overtravel. The reset is somewhat weak but very short.
The adjustable sights are excellent – a fiber optic front with an adjustable rear. The face of the rear sight is serrated and black making it easy to ignore as you look through the notch to your front sight and the target.
The tall shoulders on the rear sight are great for cutting a target in half and rapidly acquiring the front sight. Now’s probably a good time to mention the fact that the 5.23” barrel provides an immense sight radius.
For most handgun-distance targets, if the fiber pipe is in the rear notch at all and held over the target generally you’re going to wind up with a solid hit – or very near.
As a result of those good sights and a competition trigger the CZ 75 Tactical Sport Orange gives you a gun with great accuracy. Warming up shooting 5-shot groups off hand at 20 yards I was able to print a near cloverleaf group with the occasional fliers. Not that impressive to bullseye folks I’m sure, but I’m a red dot shooter.
That’s not boasting of my marksmanship, it’s intended to underscore the point that this gun is easy to shoot. At the 50 yard line on C zone steel I went 8 for 10. Feeling saucy at 50 I was able to connect on the plate rack better than half the time. If you do your part – the gun will do it’s part.
The magazine well that comes with the gun is appropriate for the IPSC standard division box, but is probably a little undersized for USPSA. The magwell isn’t blended to the frame and would benefit from it (at least on this midi2019 example).
Magazines sometimes hang up as the mag catch presses in on them during insertion, but when reloading in haste you don’t notice it. With very little dry fire practice I was able to rip shot-to-shot reloads of sub 1.2 seconds on a 10-yard target.
The magazine release button is similar to the one on the Shadow 2. It’s adjustable in three different positions to accommodate your particular grip. The button is easily accessible without breaking your firing grip on the pistol. Pressing the release button almost rockets empty magazines from the pistol.
The magazines that come with the Tactical Sport Orange are quality typical of all of CZ magazines…mostly. They are 126mm long and clad in aluminum orange base pads that are suitable for IPSC competition.
In their base configuration they’ll accommodate 20 rounds of 9mm. With the addition of aftermarket 141mm baseplates, the magazines will take 21 rounds, suitable for USPSA competition. If you’re competing, you’re going to want that 140mm base pad.
The pistol’s thumb rest is a little undersized and pretty far forward for most shooters’ hands to get much of your thumb on it. Resting your thumb on the thumb stop puts it in contact with slide stop. Thankfully, the TSO comes with a couple of the Czechmate-style slide pins that frees up space on the frame. Running the pins and not the stop will not allow the slide to lock back.
Believe it or not, that’s a good thing for competition. I would probably recommend anyone considering running this pistol in competition use the provided pin in lieu of the slide stop.
Because of the thumb rest, you likely won’t be carrying the TSO in a Kydex holster. This type of gun will most often ride in a skeletonized race holster such as the Double Alpha Racer, Race Master, Alpha X, CR Speed WSM II, Safariland 014, or others that secure the gun by the trigger guard.
You can make Kydex work and accommodate the little thumb rest, but drawing a 5.23” gun to clear leather is going to be slower by a hair than just clearing the trigger guard. Obviously, there are plenty of concerns with skeletonized holsters, but in my testing using an Alpha X, it was easy to get used to the trigger lock and in very short order I would subconsciously disengage the trigger lock before performing reps.
The CZ 75 Tactical Sport Orange is the full, off-the-shelf competition package. It’s a three pound gun with a two pound trigger, an oversized magazine release, a generous magazine well, a 5.23” sight radius and target sights that’s fast and easy to aim, easy to shoot, easy to load, and easy to love.
Specifications: CZ Tactical Sport Orange
Caliber: 9×19 or .40 S&W
Capacity: Three 126 mm magazines – 20 rounds 9 or 16 rounds 40
Weight: 47.3 ounces
Barrel Length: 5.23”
Overall Length: 8.86”
Maximum Width: 1.77”
Trigger: 2 lbs
Sights: Fiber Optic Front / Adjustable Target Rear (black)
Controls: fully ambidextrous magazine release and slide stop. Grip Safety
MSRP: $1837 (about $1750 retail)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Reliability * * * * *
No issues. CZs have short throats so some reloads will choke it that won’t choke other guns, especially .40 S&W loaded long for 2011s.
Accuracy * * * * *
With its light, crisp trigger and long sight radius, hole-in-hole accuracy is certainly possible with this gun.
Ergonomics * * * * 1/2
The sculpt of the TSO is very comfortable, especially in 9mm. Being narrow across the back makes it less comfortable when shooting .40 S&W but given the pistol’s weight and low bore height, it’s ultra smooth in 9×19.
Overall * * * * 1/2
For the casual shooter willing to lay out the cash, the TSO is near perfect right out of the box. The competition shooter is going to want to put some more money into it. For my money, at this price point, I might consider potentially saving for a low-end 2011, but the the TSO doesn’t really disappoint.
All photos courtesy the author unless noted.