There have always been arguments about personal weaponry Rapier versus court sword, dirk versus bowie knife, and so on. A generation ago, it was wheelguns versus pistols, with little consideration given to the 9mm. Real men shot big guns, and before there were any .40 or 10mm blasters, that meant a .44 wheelgun or a .45 auto.
Then the CZ-75 appeared on the scene. Well, appeared in a few places—as this was before the Iron Curtain had come down—so they were rare. As in, buy one in Canada, and then have it imported stateside. That made it expensive, and I’d heard of some spending a thousand pre-Reagan dollars to get one.
Why? The grip. Those of you who have had the pleasure of fondling a Browning Hi-Power with custom grips have some idea of the 75. The CZ-75 was (and is) so ergonomically erotic that those who wanted one were willing to overlook the “puny” 9mm cartridge it was chambered for. Even the great Jeff Cooper commented favorably on the grip; so attractive was its shape that when the Bren Ten project got underway, the late Colonel insisted on his new 10mm having the same shape, or as close as sculpting could make it.
Since then, time has moved on. Polymer became the new standard and, from the start, Glock led that trend. The G-17 has many strengths, but a sexy grip isn’t one of them. Many follow-on polymer pistols have arrived since then, but for many it seemed that replicating the CZ-75’s grip was low on everyone’s list.
Well, the Czechs who gave us the CZ-75 have now come out with a successor the CZ- P-07 Duty. The frame is polymer; the magazine, capacious, holding 16 rounds of 9mm despite having a compact grip—compact enough so that my pinkie finger rests on the magazine baseplate in a firing grip. As the magazine tube has the retainer lips bent out, and there is a generous baseplate-retaining sidewall, it would be a cinch for the magazine-extension aftermarket people to make additions that give you four, five, six more rounds. And as soon as enough CZ P-07 owners ask, those aftermarket crafters will make such a booster (as they already have for a slew of other magazines).
The polymer grips shape, while not an exact match to the CZ-75, is comfortable enough that I have to keep picking it up. Those interruptions interfere with my writing this article (something my editor has commented on several times now). The frame has been upgraded from the 75, having a rail for lights, lasers, combo illumination and even a bayonet, should you feel the need.
Also unlike the 75, the P-07 has a hammer-dropping safety only, one spring-loaded to return to the “Fire” position. One of the things Cooper liked about the 75 was that you could carry it cocked and locked, like the 1911, or hammer down and double-action like the early DA pistols. In the modern era the market has not found that option so appealing, so CZ went with what the majority of you want a hammer-dropping safety to a DA/SA trigger. The DA/SA trigger also has a re-strike capacity. If you find you get a click instead of a bang, you can re-whack the primer by stroking the trigger again. The old mechanisms gave you both, but at a price you have more parts, a complicated gunsmithing challenge for maintenance, and for trigger work. You wanted the trigger work, because while the old SA pull was okay, the old DA pull was stack-y and hard. One thing the frame does lack is an interchangeable backstrap. But as slim and comfortable as the frame shape is, I have to wonder how much of a problem that is.
The frame sides have non-slip grip panels molded into the polymer. Those, along with the ridges moulded front and back, keep your hand securely grasping the frame. I’m sure more than a few of you have noticed the rough patches up on the frame, just below the ejection port. Those are for your thumb. If you shoot in a thumbs-forward grip, the patches are a nonslip spot where they can get a purchase. Me, I shoot with my forward thumb down on the trigger guard, but the P-07 guard works just fine for me.
However, all is not lost CZ still cares about dinosaurs like me. When you buy your P-07, you’ll find an extra safety lever in the box. That’s your single-action conversion kit. The owners manual tells you how to swap them back and forth, and once you get a feel for how the parts fit, you’re golden. Despite the new safety giving you the cocked-and-locked carry option, it is still a DA re-strike trigger. So if you carry it with the single-action safety you can still re-whack a recalcitrant primer, should you wish.
The slide is a greatly evolved 75 slide, with the sculpted curves of the old changed to flat planes on the new. It’s machined from bar stock, so the manufacturing time and cost is less than that of the old 75 slide. The slide is still light for its size, leading to a fast-cycling action, and the shape of the grip and tang make 9mm recoil inconsequential. The extractor is external, and looks big enough to be used as a weapon on its own. On top we have iron sights, a dovetailed front and rear. The sight on the P-07 as it arrived is an adjustable, with three dots—one front, and two rear. There is another fixed sight in the box, with a white outline rear notch. If lines and dots don’t work for you, the sights are steel, and you can simply scrub the paint off and motor on.
The barrel is 3.75 inches long. A shorter barrel is obviously going to have an effect on muzzle velocity, but you can’t get something for nothing You want a compact pistol, you have to accept a shorter barrel. Despite its length, the barrel does not lack for accuracy. And the current generation of 9mm bullets are designed to expand even at the velocities you’ll get from a compact gun like this one.
The magazines are clearly made with tubes proportioned for the .40 S&W, and have small grooves pressed in them for proper stacking of 9mm ammo. This promises a .40 version of the P-07 sometime in the future. The magazines have all the hallmarks of being made by Mec-Gar, a choice I can heartily applaud. Mec-Gar is an OEM mag supplier for many handgun makers. I’ve never had a Mec-Gar-made magazine fail on me—or even be the least bit cranky. I’m not sure you can hurt these mags short of using a ball-peen hammer on them, and they load smoothly to full capacity.
I had my first chance to shoot the P-07 at the recent SHOT show in Orlando, Florida. I met the CZ Team shooter and USPSA Grandmaster Angus Hobdell at the range, and proceeded to put a few boxes of ammo through the new CZ. The recoil was mild, to say the least. Part of the low felt recoil is the grip shape—but also the extended tang over the web of your hand soaks up recoil. Would that more pistol designers kept that in mind With standard 9mm ammo, the grip shape, tang and polymer frame flex made shooting the P-07 a snap. It didn’t take long to consume all the ammo we’d brought, for a grand total of zero malfunctions. Not that I expected any at all.
The trigger is smooth and easy to use, even in double action. For those of you worrying about having your scores negatively affected by the traditional double action of the P-07, I can only point to the results of USPSA and IPSC competition. Angus has placed at the top of the heap in Production Division in both Nationals and World Shoots, using the older trigger design that is not as good as the new one. He placed fifth at the World Shot XV in Bali, and won the shootoffs in Production, using the older trigger. The new trigger promises to be even better.
Of course, shooting a few boxes in the relative warmth of Florida is one thing, and grinding out a carton of assorted ammo in the frigid Great Lakes is something else. So once my P-07 arrived, I hauled it off for the usual abuse. One thing I have to say about polymer compared to steel; at single-digit temperatures polymer doesn’t stick to your skin like steel does. It also hurts less in recoil as frostbite sets in. Even with +P ammo, the P-07 was not the least bit of a chore to shoot. Recoil is trifling, and the P-07 just snarfed up everything I had brought along to feed it. The +P stuff was sharp, but not bad, and the CZ rolled right along with my sub-Minor Bullseye reloads. The 100-yard gongs found that mid-winter frigid weather brought no respite from being thwacked, but I’ll have to wait until spring to find the empties. While the empties are pitched vigorously out of the way, they are not abused (at least the few I dug through the snow for) and not hurled so far that finding them requires a map and a metal detector.
So we have a really cool, adaptable and comfortable 9mm hi-cap pistol.
What’s it for? How about daily carry for those wanting capacity, comfort and durability. No one yet has ever complained about the reliability or durability of any CZ pistol; I don’t expect that this one will break that pattern. Shipping with hi-cap magazines (where allowed), the P-07 holds 16+1 in the pistol, and another 16 on your belt. If you need more than 33 rounds of 9mm, you really ought to re-think either your load-out or your location. As for climate, CZ has an enviable reputation there also. CZ has always made their pistols with steel that is harder than sin and highly resistant to corrosion. I suspect that the P-07 in a sweaty environment will be like a Labrador retriever in mud; not the least bit bothered.
As a competition tool, the P-07 shows promise but lacks a few refinements. First, the short sight radius is going to put you at a disadvantage against those who are packing five-inch guns. Of course, if you are shooting a match with the handgun you actually carry, your practice will be a lot more relevant than the guy who is shooting a full-sized tuned-and-stroked pistol that goes back into the gun safe at home.
With its Enfield-style rifling (as opposed to polygonal), the P-07 will have no problem with lead bullets or plated-bullet reloads. You will be able to practice at even lower cost, further improving your skill. CZ-USA is aware that shooters want lots of magazines, and offers a slew of extras, so you need not worry about coming up short with ”only” the two that come with the pistol; more can be had. So, we have a stylish, rugged, durable, reliable, hi-cap 9mm pistol that is soft on recoil and hits where you’re aiming.
What more do you want?