There are those who love CZ pistols and their clones, and there are other people who are wrong. Well, that isn’t really true, but it is fun to say. Anyhow, a common complaint about CZ pistols and their clones – some of which are very, very good – is working the slide.
CZ pistols are failry notorious for this. The slide rides inside the frame rails and bore axis is a bit on the low side. That’s great for minimizing felt recoil, but there’s less real estate to grab onto in order to rack it.
What would seem to be the done thing is to just pinch hard, which does work. However, some people don’t have the greatest hand strength and then there are people who just like figuring out a better way to do things.
Work smart not hard, as the saying goes.
Should you be curious about the best way to rack a CZ pistol (or the clones) here are a couple of tricks for dealing with the lack of grippable surface.
First is to change how you rack the slide.
Most people grip the slide serrations. It makes sense because that’s what they’re there for! However, the older designs of CZ pistols tend to have relatively small slide serrations in terms of width, depth and height; they’re small and very fine, which means they can be harder to get a good grip on.
On the CZ-75-pattern pistols (the full-size, the Compact, clones like the Tri-Star/Canik C100 and S120) there is a bevel toward the front of the slide, a design aspect inspired by the Browning Hi Power. Grip that instead.
The reason that works is that you have a bit more real estate to grab there, but also because you’re closer to the recoil spring, and therefore are moving the slide a shorter distance.
However, that trick doesn’t work for all CZ pistols nor for all clones, such as the EAA Witness, IWI Jericho/Magnum Research Baby Desert Eagle. What to do in this instance?
Another good trick — and this works for all semi-auto pistols — is to stop relying only pulling the slide to the rear. Instead, you want to push and pull simultaneously. The trick is to start pulling the slide serrations with the off hand and push with the hand that’s holding the grip.
This is similar the charging technique that is said to be used by the Israelis. (A few different trainers out there have some differing information, but the push-pull aspect appears to be a common thread.) They bring the pistol up to chin level with the slide pointed toward the target, grab the slide and punch the pistol forward. That racks the slide and presents in one fell swoop, at which point they commence firing.
I’ve tried both with actual CZ pistols and clones (and even a Baby Eagle) and both techniques make racking the slide easier.
What about you though? Any CZ or clone owners that have their own insights? General comments or observations? Let us know!
I own a full size CZ75B and it’s my favorite pistol. I’ve found that gripping the bevel, like you suggested, does make it a lot easier. Just watch yourself and keep your hand clear of the muzzle. Practice with an empty gun if it feels weird to you at first.
As a noob to CZ (SP-01 Tactical) I appreciate this post. I’ll try that out. Thx.
CZ75s are great pistols to shoot. The slide is only an issue for me with some gloves then I do the backwards push with the thumb squeezing on the side of the rear sight. Then, go back to shooting the sweetest shooting pistol I know of.
My Tanfoglio Witness has serrations on the front of the slide for an overhand grip. That’s thumb and index finger towards your body. Without overhand grip the rear sight WILL cut your hand on this model.
Works well and the only person cut was “instructor” at a club I visited for IPSC who insisted on showing me that the manual and I were wrong.
Done correctly overhand is easier for some people but you must twist your hand so if you slip your hand is not in front of the muzzle.
Now show us how to squeeze in those last 2 rounds in our Springer mags.
I had the same issue. I could get 22 rounds in the mag, but would get feeding issues, so I just loaded them to 20. There is a fix, though, just change to Wolff springs and followers. Yes I know, more $$, but worth it.
BTW, I use original 18rd Shadow mags with Taran Tactical +4 alloy bases. I have a Springer Precision alloy mag break also, and it’s awesome, especially considering the price.
“but also because you’re closer to the recoil spring, and therefore are moving the slide a shorter distance.”
Yeah, that got me too.
Maybe… maybe he means that if your hand is closer to the recoil spring then you are operating the “lever” that is the slide closer to the “fulcrum” that is the recoil spring?
No, that doesn’t make sense either.
Yeah, his CZ lovers vs those who are wrong made me roll my eyes. The recoil spring part secured that I should pay no further attention to anything he has to say.
ETA: oh, he also apparently invent the push/pull. Where you guys dig up this genius?
The laws of physics…shall not be infringed.
Internet Winner of the day….
That’s what I thought when I read that.
The reason that works is that you have a bit more real estate to grab there, but also because you’re closer to the recoil spring, and therefore are moving the slide a shorter distance.
If you’re moving the slide far enough to cycle the round, that’s the distance you’re moving the slide, regardless of where you hold the slide.
I was going to write some clever, sarcastic comment about your hands or ammo being so massive that their gravity warped space, lengthening the slide. But even then, the total distance for the slide to travel would not be dependent on hand location.
If your hand/pistol system were rotating fast enough around an external axis, then different parts of the slide would move different distances when you rack it, assuming tidal forces wouldn’t rip you and the gun to shreds first. But it’s all relative… (-;
“…assuming tidal forces wouldn’t rip you and the gun to shreds first.”
Well, isn’t “spaghettification” really your biggest problem at that point?
Yeah I am not a fan of the skinny slide on CZs. I really like my CZ SP01 but use it as a range gun. For SD purposes as far as hammer fired pistols I use a SIG or HK. and it has nothing to do with grip strength.
Another reason to go over the top with any simiauto is it will help quickly clear a stove pipe. But whatever way you go, practice till you are smooth.
Cocking the hammer reduces the total force required to rack the slide on pistols with external hammers. A short stroke, prerack reduces the initial force required to fully rack the slide of the partially cocked striker fired pistols like the Glock.
My GF thinks my Pre-B CZ-75 is the sweetest pistol on the planet (so do I), and we use an overhand grip to rack the slide. This puts the thumb and knuckle at the rear of the slide, and as you rack it forces the grip to tighten. This works every time.
That’s range stuff. In the real world I would DA the first round and use the slide release on a reload. No racking required.
No doubt I’ll be criticized for this technique, yet it violates no gun safety rules, and it works every time.
Same here, though I personally have not had any issue with racking the slide at all on my SP-01 Shadow or my wife’s P-01. She had trouble racking it when it was stock, so I balanced new springs and put all-new Cajun internals (disco, 85C trigger, flat race hammer, floating trigger pin, lowered lifter, longer firing pin, etc.) and polished everything (rails, trigger bar, sear, sear cage, etc.). Her springs are: reduced power firing pin spring/lifter spring/trigger spring, 11# hammer spring, 11# recoil spring. Trigger pull is about 4#s. Smooth as butter and much easier for her to rack and shoot now.
The trigger reach is long on my gun
Change the disconnecter, hammer and trigger out. With a little finesse, you can set it where you want (you may need to modify or replace the trigger bar) and get a reset as short or long as you want.
I think this is an overblown issue. When I first started shooting CZs I didn’t even think about. Still don’t. Shoot the gun, dry fire and you will adapt without realizing it. That said, I find that I push and pull at the same time.
Push and pull at the same time is the way to go on all pistols. It is a technique that will work on every gun out there, including a lot of small compacts that have nasty strong recoil springs.
I don’t like the two ways people screw this up. The first is that they don’t turn their bodies to keep the gun down range. Some will be shooting and then sweep the entire firing line when they load, reload, or unload. The second is that people will muzzle their forearm is their elbow is lower than their wrist. I also didn’t like her overhand grip that left the thumb floating. Pinching palm and thumb against the fingers is a lot stronger than finger against just the palm.
The way I teach people without the strength is to extend their arms in an isosceles-like stance with the gun down at a 45 degree angle. They can then rotate their shoulders so their grip side pushed forward and their slide side pulls back. Besides eliminating my two nits above, it changes the muscle groups involved to the whole torso. For those into hand-to-hand, this is similar to a knife disarm overpowering the attacker’s wrist.
Thank you Tim. Well said. Too much entitlement and new age crying. Figure it out people or buy something else
“This is similar the charging technique that is said to be used by the Israelis.”
I like Israel and all, but, I prefer the techniques that are said to be used by the Americans. The country that’s gone 15-1-1 in 240 years, back to back World War champs, first with the nuke, first to drop the bomb, first to the moon, first in line to fight and WIN WW3, and first and ONLY to write the Second Amendment!!!!!
I would think that encouraging new or weak shooters to grab near the muzzle for purchase when racking is a bad idea. It takes all of 20lbs *directed along the right direction* to cycle nearly any semi-auto; if you can’t even do that, you’re not going to be able to aim the thing or hold onto it during recoil.
I had to show someone once, with a fish scale, exactly how much force is needed to do this; suddenly they realized they were pulling the frame & slide apart (vertically) at least as hard as they were pulling it to the rear. No wonder it was a Herculean effort and hard to hang on to.
On my Tactical Sport the big rear fixed sight is handy for racking the slide.
Thank you for this insightful article. For almost 30 years my family has struggled with CZ pistols. All this time we never understood that their slide size is different than a 1911. Or a Glock. Groundbreaking science on this site, for sure.
Until I saw this, I didn’t even know it was an issue…
I had my first CZ clone for years before I found out this is an issue. I think my hand slipped one time when I was racking the slide after cleaning and my fingers had oil on them. It wasn’t pleasant, but I survived.
Insert mag come over the top and run the slide like any other semi auto.
CZ 75b SA with wood grips and a grip tape mod on the front of the pistol grip
I was taught grab serrations at the rear with left hand push the pistol down. Mostly though I just hit the slide release.
I have the baby Jericho…. easiest way to rack it is to have a bunch of priests blowing rams horns while circling the gun.
Altenatively grabbing the whole top of the slid with your hand while making sure not to get pinched at the ejection port when it comes back into battery. Thumb and forefinger towards hammer.
Before buying my 75 SA the wise owner of my LGS handed me his unloaded 75 BD to make sure I was comfortable with the reduced rear rippled real estate.
No problem for me, but he had had some customers over the years where the “left thumb forward on the starboard ridges and right hand as a lobster claw pushing forward” had problems with the manual of arms. I guess they bought .380’s.
Still the smoothest slide to frame merger in my safe and holster. Never a rattle or vibration.
on all others, there is somewhat less purchase for racking. do not let that dissuade you from shooting one.
When the CZ 75 hit the market at about the time as the Ruger P- series and the Glocks, I was considering the addition of a 9mm semiauto to my inventory. I looked them all over carefully.
I dismissed the Glock first because it was uncomfortable in my hands and I didn’t care for the trigger safety. It seemed toylike in comparison to the metal framed pistols.
The USA-made Ruger had acquired a reputation for dependability by that time. It was solid but rather bulky. (It should have got the military contract IMO.)
I was aware of Col. Coopers endorsement of the CZ so I paid it particular attention. It seemed sturdy enough and fit my hands much better than the others. The painted finish seemed crude and I was not sold on the DA/SA trigger. I didn’t remark the shorter slide height or notice any significant difficulty in racking the slide.
Never did like the Beretta. (I remain a 1911 aficionado.)
I ended up with a BHP. It fits like the CZ and runs like my familiar 1911s. It has proven an excellent pistol.
Later, I added a 3rd Gen S&W 9mm. I have now become accustomed to the trigger system and find it a good choice for EDC.
If I were in the market for another carry gun the CZ 75 D would be a top contender.
Another tip: pull the hammer back before push/pulling the slide. This is also useful on 10mm pistols with heavy recoil springs.
With my CZ-75B I like the pinch the slide serrations between my thumb and curled index finger, with the thumb pointed backwards toward my shoulder. One has to be extra careful to the rotate the body and not flip the gun, and to avoid muzzling the slide hand and forearm.
The stock spring on my CZ seems to be quite soft compared to my Springfield XD, where the spring seems to be geared for +P++ ammo. I used to get a few stovepipes with the XD shooting basic range ammo, until I switched to a spring that was a couple pounds lighter. It is STILL difficult to rack.
I spent some time with my wife, who has lost some arm and hand strength in recent years, helping her figure out how the rack the XD. The serrations are much larger, but not as aggressive as the CZ. The only method that worked for her, was an overhand palm squeeze on the serrations with the thumb pointed forward towards the muzzle. Then outstretch both arms, lock the elbows, and rotate the shoulders to rack; push and pull. This takes the arm strength out of the picture.
I never had problem racking the slide of my Tanfoglio Witness Stock. Not even with heavier Wolfe spring. The grooves are much wider and deeper than on CZ.
WTF, a blatant attempt to try to diminish perfection because you have to learn a new motor skill. Has this blog reverted to this? The slide inside the frame is what all semi-auto’s should be and not be limited to CZ, some obscure Sigs and all the clones of CZ. It’s a much superior design. I know that sounds like heresy. But consider this, if 99% of all semi-auto’s were designed like the CZ system and Browning invented his system today you’d have the same whiners complaining about it. Like anything else in life people tend to be terrified by change, instead of enjoying it and excited about learning a new skillset.
“The reason that works is that you have a bit more real estate to grab there, but also because you’re closer to the recoil spring, and therefore are moving the slide a shorter distance.” That’s blatantly absurd.
.40 S&W and SAO CZ75s don’t have that front bit milled out on the slide (makes finding good molded leather a PITA too).
I find that just cocking the hammer first makes it so my wife can rack the slide quite easily. Works on 1911s and SIG P229s and Baretta 92s as well.
This is why I always recommend Hammer Fired DA/SA pistols for people that complain about having difficulty racking a slide (particularly women).
The only time you should be racking the slide is after cleaning, right? Mine always stay loaded & when I fire the last shot the slide is locked back, insert new mag & release slide lock & repeat.
Doesn’t seem so hard. A gun is of no used if its not locked & loaded.
I us a product called Ezee Racker on this and any of my other pistols that are difficult for me to rack the slide.
Check it out at ezeeracker.com
Never have a problem racking my CZ75C and I’ve always used the push/pull technique on any semi I’ve ever used. My only complaint about the CZ is the magazine release spring which is way too stiff for an easy thumb release, at least on mine (not sure if this is common on all CZ75’s).
I own a CZ75B SA and had a SP-01that I sold because I found out that DA is just not for me. Anyway, I understand where ppl are coming from with the slide. Especially when new its a pain in the ass to rack. It’s heavy and does not always cooperate but after you put 400+ rounds down range she seems to loosen up.. The 75B to me is a joy to shoot. The felt recoil is next to nothing bc it’s a heavy firearm which in turn id a factor many folks complain about. I just can control the firearm well so my follow up shots are quicker and grouping well. In spite of some critics, IMHO the CZ75B SA is my idea of a perfect 9mm striker.
New springs very stiff and very hard to rack. Keep slide locked back a few days and rack slide to break springs in. Cock hammer, put safety on. Pinch slide at muzzle end with overhand grip, also push down. Use push/pull method. ( I also have heel of hand slightly covering the front of the slide at muzzle so slide doesn’t slip in grip. Don’t do this if you dont like the safety aspects) Stock recoil spring is 16, med loads use 14, light use 12. The prob is cant get a grip on slide so some kind of slide racker knobs would help Full coverage big serrations would help- but gun makers dont do this,curse them. . Using adhesive rubber sheet strips on critical areas would help Some companies make this product for stairs etc for nonslip purposes. Could use a plastic tube against the muzzle and push against some surface to rack slide. Also, some co. makes a blocky cube contoured to fit, that does the same thing. This cz type design is a problem and if you can manage with it. Many cannot and will not deal with it. And , rightly so. My clone is a witness steel 45 with forward serrations and the square slide. Also , have SAR CM9 with square slide, nice rear serrations, and can be racked very easily. I can recommend this SAR, some other SAR may be hard to rack. This model has ext. hammer and da/sa which is what I insist on for self.
I’m a couple years late to the party but just got a P01 compact as a first gun with some guidance of friends. Tested the slide in store; no issues. I’m signed up for classes and arranged to meet said friends for shooting and all is good. Except for 1 thing.
I’ve been practicing pulling the slide, and setting it, and decicking. Just getting used to the gun and after a while, my thumb has gotten sore from pinching the serraded grips on the slide. Over the top or a pinch from behind. Not sure if it’s something I’m doing wrong or I’m just screwing around with it too much. Maybe I just need to build up some callous?
Or maybe some good shooting gloves would make it shred your fingers less?
I have a cz-75bd, I would consider myself a experienced gun owner. When I load a round into the chamber I have two issues which may be related to one another. First, occasionally the round does not fully load and i have to hit the back of the slide for it to do so. Secondly, I notice when ejecting the magazine the top round has been pulled forward in the mag. Both of the these issues are reduced especially the first issue when I use a Mec-Gar magazine, which leads me to believe it could be spring related. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thank you!