by David Tong
David schools us on this tongue twister, the CZ 75 B Handgun aka Česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod in this review.
U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- The Czech nation has a long and proud reputation for quality arms manufacture. Indeed, the British army used both the BREN (“BRnoENfield”) light machine gun as their main section suppressive fire infantry weapon during WWII.
After Czechoslovakia was forced to succumb to the influence of the Soviet Union in 1948 and absorbed into the Warsaw Pact, the arms development continued. Two brothers, Josef and František Koucký, were involved in many designs after WWII, and included among them is the “CZ-75,” which debuted, unsurprisingly, in 1975.
Due to American import laws and the lack of Czech intellectual property protection, this high-capacity 15-shot “Wondernine” handguns was not only unavailable here, they were also copied by other countries without penalty. The Swiss “Sphinx” and the Turks (various manufacturers) possibly built the preponderance of these for the worldwide market, while our own “Springfield Armory” commercial entity offered the “P9” for a bit under a decade and it became the darling of competition shooters in IPSC.
The pistol was originally a full-sized service handgun of conventional Browning short recoil tilt-lock design made completely of carbon steel. It uses the annular locking lugs with corresponding recesses in the interior top of the slide to provide mechanical delay during recoil, while the fixed lug below has a kidney-shaped hole that uses the slide stop pin to govern the timing of the unlocking.
Some other sources suggest that this is similar to the Browning Hi-Power, however, a cursory examination denies this, as the Hi-Power has a fixed cam lug that is transversely pressed into the frame that governs the unlocking and locking cycle. The Hi-Power’s slide stop pin serves only to locate the rear of the recoil spring guide and is retained by a spring-loaded ball bearing within said guide.
The CZ 75 B Handgun also differed from the single-action-only Hi-Power in that it is equipped with a double- and single- action trigger mechanism, with a manual thumb safety that operates in the ergonomically-correct same fashion as both the M1911 and Hi-Power do. This allows for “Condition One” cocked-and-locked carry if one does not want to use the long and heavy trigger D.A. stroke which can reduce first round hit probability.
The “problem” with the CZ-75 is that it didn’t have any domestic or international sales potential until after the end of the Cold War. The Warsaw Pact still insisted on its 9X18 Makarov caliber for service pistols, and the 75 was chambered only in 9X19 at that time.
Specifications for standard military model CZ 75 B Handgun.
- Length: 8.1”
- Width: 1.3”
- Height: 5.4”
- Weight: 2.5lbs empty
- Trigger Pull: Double-action, 12lbs. Single-action, 5.5lbs.
- Sights: 3-dot with phosphorescent green paint. The front sight is pinned, rear sight drift-adjustable for windage. Aftermarket Trijicon tritium night sights available.
- Magazine Capacity: 10, 15, or 17 rounds in 9X19 Parabellum depending on state law
- Importer: CZ-USA
As one can glean from the above specs, the “Czech 75,” big and heavy as it is, still has much to be recommended. The late Jeff Cooper once opined that it was his first choice as a 9mm service pistol, though he loathed the cartridge’s performance forty years ago.
In my personal experience, it remains one of the most ergonomic high-capacity pistols extant. Unlike many of the high-cap 9s, the pistol’s front frame strap has a tighter radius, making it easier for those with smaller hands to grasp it firmly. The pistol’s raised rear lower grip frame shape also makes it point a bit better than the Hi-Power in my hands. Moreover, the grip angle also mimicked the most prevalent design, namely that of the 1911. All told, it makes for a very comfortable to use shape.
Add to this the very convenient locations of the left-rear mounted thumb safety with its generous thumb-shelf, and the slide stop lever and magazine button in similar familiar locations, little wonder American shooters took to the design so readily.
The pistol, due to its smallish caliber, low bore axis for a hammer-fired design, and relatively high weight, is very soft-shooting and accurate rapid-fire strings are pretty- easy to accomplish. It all “adds up” nicely.
Two other interesting things about the 75s design include a slide that runs inside the frame, while the conventional norm is one that rides outside of the frame rails, as well as a semi-unitized fire control system that incorporates the sear and spring, hammer and strut, located with a single spring roll pin as well as the thumb safety pivot pin.
The original 75 was replaced by the CZ 75 B Handgun in the early 1990s and remains the currently offered most common variant. This update included the now de rigeur firing pin safety plunger required in the US for most pistols, as well as the squared and serrated trigger guard for which I have little use.
The CZ 75 B Handgun remains a very good pistol, but the 75’s fine single-action trigger pull disappeared in the B-model and turned rather creepy. I understand that there are several fine gunsmiths who can make the trigger very good indeed, by re-cutting the sear and hammer engagement points so that they are not undercut. The only other demerit with the piece is that the long double-action first shot means that it’s quite a stretch for the average sized hand’s index finger to use anything but the first pad.
Made from precision investment castings for both frame and slide, with a forged barrel, one German IPSC competitor commented that his personal pistol fired 150,000 rounds of ammunition with only a barrel change to replenish accuracy, so there is good quality indeed in an all-steel pistol with good heat treatment whose recoil-absorbing design structures largely preclude cracking of either frame or slide under lots of use.
CZ-USA offers a wealth of other models, including Compact, decocker-only (no manual safety, just a hammer dropper), full stainless steel, aluminum-framed to lighten weight, fully-ambidextrous controls (CZ-85), and other calibers including the .40 S&W and .45ACP (“CZ-97”).
One special mention is the “Omega” version, that eliminates the unitized fire control in favor of having separately housed components, and it is said that the single-action trigger pull is thus much easier to tune and a bit better out of the box.
These days, a new 9mm CZ 75 B Handgun with two magazines and cleaning brush inside its plastic case can be had at a street price generally under $600 (2017). This compares rather favorably with many of the polymer-framed, striker fired pistols on the market. It is one of a handful of NATO-approved service pistols that must all be chambered in 9mm for duty use.