Back in 2009, Patrick Sweeney and I were wandering around a shooting event when Angus Hobdell from CZ-USA pulled us aside to show us a “cool new pistol.” That pistol turned out to be the then-new polymer-frame P-07. Not only was it a sharp-looking gun, Hobdell, himself a professional shooter, was excited by how nice of a trigger it had and how well it shot.
All three of us were and are inveterate competitors and very snobby about trigger pulls, so Angus’ praise really meant something. “This is with factory springs,” he told us.
Considering that the factory trigger pull on the P-07 was better than some competition triggers I’ve felt, thanks to the then-new Omega Trigger System, Angus’ comments were on par.
Big enough for a duty gun, yet small enough to be concealed under the right garments, that first P-07 held an amazing 16 rounds of 9mm. As nice as that was, I yearned for more. Well, the new CZ-USA P-09 just hit the streets, and it carries 19+1 rounds of 9mm. And it’s available on a Flat Dark Earth frame. Color me excited. For those who prefer a larger bullet, the P-09 is also available in .40 caliber holding 15+1.
The P-09 is virtually the same pistol as the P-07 but enlarged in all the dimensions that make a difference. The barrel and slide assembly is about three-quarters of an inch longer, giving you a longer sight radius. The grip is .7 inch longer than the P-07, which means that instead of 16 rounds, CZ managed to reliably squeeze an impressive 19 rounds of 9mm into the magwell.
Whether comparing the P-09 in 9mm or .40, there are not many pistols out there that can hold this many without an extended magazine.
A polymer-framed pistol with an external hammer is a bit of an anomaly in this striker-fired era, but in some ways it is a more robust design. Unlike striker-fired guns, if you pull the double-action trigger on the P-09 and the gun doesn’t go off due to a stubborn primer, you can simply pull the trigger again. Try doing that with most striker-fired guns.
Everything in the guts of the P-09, from the trigger to the hammer, is steel, which means you’ll get a consistent and crisp pull.
As mentioned before, a pistol lives or dies in the eyes of the public based in large part on its trigger pull, and the P-09 features the Omega Trigger System referenced earlier. Whatever CZ engineers did to develop this trigger, they have a winner. It consistently provides a light, smooth pull.
Trigger pull on my sample was 9 pounds in double action and just under 3 1/2 pounds in single action. This was not a hand-picked “gunwriter’s special”; every P-07 and P-09 I’ve ever shot had a very similar result. The trigger itself is steel and has a smooth contoured face.
A lot of double-action autos (such as the Beretta 92/96) feature a long reach to the trigger for that first double-action pull, but the distance from the CZ backstrap to its trigger for a double-action pull is only about an eighth of an inch farther than what you’ll get on a Glock 17 for every pull.
Never forget appearance when it comes to the success of a design either. While everyone’s tastes are different, the P-09 is a sharp-looking pistol. Due to its size, it’s more suited to open carry or bedside-table duty. With a full-length Picatinny rail under the frame, it will accept any size pistol light or laser currently on the market.
Like the company’s landmark design, the CZ 75, the slide of the P-09 rides inside the rails of the frame rather than over the top of them like on a 1911. This helps contribute to the low bore axis of the pistol.
I actually got some grief from another gunwriter inexperienced with handguns for “burning through ammo” with the first prototype P-09 we got our hands on. The fact of the matter is that you’ll need to shoot a handgun both slow and fast to learn everything there is to know about it. Pushing the limits will tell you where those limits are. Provided you are paying attention and know what to look for, shooting fast will show you how well the pistol is balanced, if the trigger has a strong-enough reset, how quickly you can reacquire the sights and so forth. After I was done, I knew CZ had a winner in the P-09.
The slide-to-frame fit on my sample was very tight, in part due to the rail design. The barrel locked up so tightly that I couldn’t move it when it was in battery, not even after putting several hundred rounds through the gun. Unsurprisingly, the P-09 was very accurate in both chamberings.
Due to the slide-inside-frame design, there is less of the slide to grab hold of when you need to cycle it by hand. The angled cuts at the front of the slide reduce its profile as well, so the engineers at CZ were almost forced to put forward cocking serrations on the P-09 and the recently updated P-07. I like the looks of forward cocking serrations, and I usually work the slide from the front anyway, so it was a win-win for me.
Like the new P-07, the P-09 has interchangeable backstraps so you can tune the grip to your hand. They’re quick and easy for any user to remove and replace. I have medium-size hands and prefer the medium backstrap. The texturing isn’t overly aggressive.
It has large, smooth areas on the right where it rests against my palm. The grip has a lot of smooth areas as well, but not to such an extent that it was moving in my hand while shooting.
This pistol comes with low-profile, three-dot metallic sights. If you’re familiar with the P-07, you might recall that CZ used to install plastic sights. These metal low-pro sights are one of the new features of both the updated P-07 and new P-09s. (The new FDE P-09 will carry tritium-filled night sights standard.)
If the “white” dots in the photos look a little green to you, that’s because they are. The paint making up the dots is photoluminescent, which means if you take the pistol from direct sunlight (or blast it with a flashlight) and go into a dark room, the dots glow like night sights for a few minutes.
The front sight is dovetailed in but in a manner some handgunners may not have seen before. The dovetail is cut in from the front of the slide, and the front sight has a set screw to keep it in place.
As shipped from the factory, the pistol is a DA/SA with an ambidextrous frame-mounted polymer decocker. However, CZ also provides the parts to switch out the decocker for a manual safety so the pistol can be carried with the hammer cocked and locked. That said, the manual safety does not protrude from the frame any farther than the decocker, and that isn’t much at all.
There are those people to whom the 9mm will never be good for anything. To them, any defensive handgun should be chambered in a caliber that starts with “4.” You can’t reason with those people — I know, because I used to be one of them.
As I have aged, however, I have gained new wisdom — that, and ammo manufacturers are making better and better loads for the 9mm. The first police department in the country to field the new Hornady 135-grain 9mm+P Critical Duty has so far had four officer-involved shootings with that load, and they all definitively stopped the subject with a single shot.
This is a big gun, and most people wouldn’t even think about trying to conceal it. That said, if you’ve got the right build, a good holster and a quality belt and dress around the gun, you’ll discover that you can carry surprisingly large pistols. For those who can’t (or won’t) attempt using the P-09 for concealed carry, it works great for open carry and competition shooting and especially as a home defense gun. Its full-size Picatinny rail is ready and waiting for a pistol light or laser.
Interestingly, I just reviewed a $3,700 custom 9mm 1911 for another article and ended up comparing it with the P-09, which has a suggested retail of $514. The 1911 doesn’t come out ahead. That 9mm 1911 only holds 10+1 rounds. For that extra $3,186, I’d much rather depend on the CZ P-09. I could buy several thousand rounds of ammunition and half a dozen spare magazines with the savings.
The old saying that you pay for what you get is generally true. When you look at the modest price tag of the P-09, you get more than you pay for. I’d put the P-09 — in 9mm or .40 — up against any handgun on the market, striker fired or not.