The SP-01 (top) is considerably beefier -- and taller -- than the standard CZ 75-B. The reconfigured grip on the SP-01 is kinder to short-fingered shooters in double-action mode.

Back in April 2003 we reviewed the then-new CZ P-01, a compact take on the company’s CZ 75. It featured an aluminum alloy frame, light rail and reconfigured (skinnier at the top) grip to address the problem of short-fingered shooters who may have problems reaching the 75’s trigger in double-action mode.

Recently, CZ-USA has come out with an interesting variant on the P-01. The new SP-01 is an all-steel, full-size number with a 4.7-inch barrel. With an unloaded weight of 41 ounces (the weight with a fully loaded 10-round magazine and an Insight Tactical Illuminator attached is nearly 51 ounces), the SP-01 is obviously a service — not a concealed carry — auto. As the company literature says, “[T]he SP-01 was designed as a military and law-enforcement duty sidearm.” In addition, the pistol has been used very successfully by CZ-sponsored shooters in IPSC matches.

One of the pleasures of shooting a 9mm as hefty as the SP-01 is controllability and a lack of recoil. True, it’s a lot of gun for a 9mm–a fact that works for it if you’re shooting and against it if you’re carrying it concealed.

The SP-01 shares the attributes of the compact P-01 — light rail, improved grip — with a feature of its own — namely, an extended beavertail.

The late Jeff Cooper had good things to say about the CZ 75 long before it became available in this country. One of the things he liked about it was that you could simply ignore the double-action feature and carry it cocked and locked. The SP-01 has ambidextrous “flip down” side safeties that are positive and accessible. And the magazine-release button is right where it ought to be — at the rear of the trigger guard, situated so that you can operate it without having to go through contortions.

We ran a pretty extensive menu of 9mm ammo through the SP-01; bullet weights ranged from 115 grains to 147 grains.

Firing from a sandbagged rest at 25 yards, five-shot groups averaged from 1.8 to 2.9 inches. That’s very respectable for any pistol, but the single-action trigger pull was rather gritty and creepy, breaking at about six pounds.

Now, six pounds is not an unsurmountable obstacle to accurate shooting, but an inconsistent let-off certainly is. In shooting our groups, we discounted several flyers that were called operator errors. If this gun were mine, I’d do something to smooth out that trigger. Otherwise, the pistol is pretty nice as it is (I’m a big CZ 75 fan anyway).

Throughout our shooting session, we experienced no malfunctions with the SP-01, despite the plethora of bullet types and weights we ran through the gun.

One feature of the SP-01 that is going to broaden its appeal (unless you’re living in a “no high-cap” state) is its 19+1 magazine capacity. Fully stoked, with a laser/light attached, the pistol would make a serious home defense tool or, in a less serious vein, a big, rugged 9mm for those who simply like to shoot a lot.

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