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CZ P-09 Duty Review

by Eric R. Poole   |  September 26th, 2012 26

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The CZ Duty series is the most underrated line of 9mm and .40-caliber pistols to be found. In the summer of 2009, I began an extensive evaluation of the P-07 Duty that spanned six months. Though it was buried in mud, crushed on gravel and dropped from various angles and heights onto concrete (primed case in the chamber, of course), the safety systems never failed and the pistol continued to produce sub-three-inch groups from 25 yards—even after firing thousands of rounds.

Based on the short-recoil, locked-breech design principles of John Browning’s linkless cam locking system, the new P-09 Duty represents yet another evolution of the company’s duty pistols that goes back to the CZ 75 (a non-1911 that even Jeff Cooper praised).

Specifically, the Duty line is most closely related to the CZ-75B models with its added firing-pin block, a passive safety system. Like the CZ 75, the P-09 can be fired in either single- or double-action modes and features a frame-mounted decocker installed (the pistol comes with an ambidextrous manual safety conversion also).

The slide rides inside the frame rails rather than outside. Though some shooters do not care for the reduced surface area with which to manipulate the slide, this slide-to-frame fit is unusually tight and enables a very efficient barrel lockup, providing exceptional accuracy.

As of this writing, there’s only one example of the P-09 inside the U.S. When I opened the box I found a letter from the ATF confirming that this new model had scored enough points to be imported for sale as a “sporting” pistol. Just as I’d become married to it, CZ asked me to bring it to an industry shooting event.

I was fond of the way it carried and had even drifted the sights to just the way I like them, so it saddened me a little to see gunwriter Jim Tarr have his way with it—irreverently slamming multiple 20-round mag dumps through its cold-hammer-forged barrel. During a break in the action, Patrick Sweeney said, “It’d be one helluva pistol for 3-Gun.” And with 19+1 rounds of 9mm on tap and a long sight radius, he’s right.

Though CZ-USA intends to import a .40-caliber option, with today’s ammo technology, I have no problem with 9mm performance. Shooting 9mm permits longer strings of fire, faster follow-up shots and better hit percentages. On the other hand, if CZ ever expects to win a bid for an LE contract, .40 is a must.

If not working as an armed professional, you’ll likely consider the P-09 for home defense, competition or target practice. I suppose you could dress around one for concealed carry, but you’ll need to wear something like a sport coat since the extended magazine would print under any Polynesian shirt.

The P-09 features rear serrations in the slide and on the controls, a contoured rest for your thumbs molded into both sides of the frame and a square-front, high-cut triggerguard that sets up a two-hand high grip. Wrap your hands around the frame of any Duty, and the bore axis sinks deeply into your hand. The double-action pull is a smooth 12 pounds, and the single-action pull breaks at just around five pounds.

Included with each P-09 is a set of three interchangeable backstraps. It seems manufacturers have to offer this level of user interchangeability to be competitive, but don’t disregard the backstraps as a gimmick. Take the time to practice with each size and you’ll find one in particular that will improve control and handling for you.

The significant difference between the P-09 and its predecessor is the added barrel length and longer grip frame due to increased magazine capacity. The new P-09 has a considerably larger profile, but it’s unusually well balanced when presented to a target. The P-09 Duty fills my hands like few other full-size, high-capacity pistols. When I’ve got my hands shoved high into the beavertail, the grip extends a half inch below my palm. Apparently, that’s what it takes to accommodate a 19-round magazine loaded with 10 ounces of defensive ammunition.

The long sight radius—coupled with luminous green-dot front—aids precise aiming. Due to federal restrictions, imported pistols are generally retrofitted in the U.S. with tritium-filled vials if a customer wants night sights. Though not quite as powerful, the factory-applied green luminous paint does glow, doesn’t present an environmental hazard and keeps down the overall cost of the pistol by nearly $100.

This P-09 features a decocker-only lever, which safely lowers a cocked hammer and sets up the pistol for a double-action trigger pull. (The P-07 Duty is available with either a decocker or a safety lever that permits cocked-and-locked carry, so I expect that the P-09 will become available in either configuration eventually.)

You can operate the P-09 with either hand, but it’s not completely ambidextrous. The magazine release arrives favoring the right-handed shooter but is reversible. However, other controls—the hammer and decocking/safety lever—are operable from both sides.

The frame extends out to the muzzle and includes a five-lug, 2.7-inch Picatinny rail that will accept most lights and/or lasers. If you expect to use the P-09 as your go-to nightstand gun, the justification for a rail is obvious.

I’ve shot the P-09 extensively. I’ve neglected it, thrashed it and carried it. It doesn’t quit, and accuracy doesn’t dissipate. And you can actually afford to own and shoot it plenty.

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