Photos by Mark Fingar
The English word “Pistol” is said to have originated from 15th-century Czech word píšt'ala. Firearm ownership has a long tradition in the Czech Republic and, in many respects, gun laws are less restrictive than elsewhere in the European Union (EU). Interestingly, firearms are available to citizens acquiring a shall-issue license.
Gun licenses are obtained in a manner similar to procuring a driving license. A proficiency exam must be passed and the applicant is required to have a medical exam, in addition to a clean criminal history record. Unlike most EU countries, the Czech Republic permits its citizens to carry concealed firearms for self-defense purposes. In fact, 246,715 of their 303,936 gun owners possess a valid concealed-carry permit. Additionally, the vast majority of Czech gun owners retain firearms for protection, with hunting and sport shooting being secondary.
Ceská Zbrojovka (CZ) translates to “Czech Armory.” CZ firearms have been available through importers and distributors in the United States since 1991. Most CZ-marked firearms are connected with Ceská Zbrojovka at Uherský Brod (CZ-UB), a manufacturing factory that’s been producing firearms since 1936.
In 1997, CZ-UB recognized a need to control its destiny in a market as big as the United States leading to the formation of CZ-USA. Originally based in Oakhurst, California, the headquarters and warehouse facility eventually moved to Kansas City, Kansas, in 1998 where it remains headquartered today. CZ’s products are imported into the U.S. exclusively by CZ-USA, a subsidiary of CZ-UB.
Enter the CZ P-10C
The Czech-manufactured CZ P-10C 9mm is a striker-fired semiautomatic initially reviewed by Guns & Ammo following a tour of CZ’s Uherský Brod factory in the fall of 2016. After that exclusive first-look, anticipation for the P-10C peaked and was well received by the American shooting public. After editors and contributors spent a year extensively testing and evaluating the pistol, it was voted for and received G&A’s 2017 Handgun of the Year award. It has continued to enjoy success undoubtedly due to this pistol seeking U.S. citizenship and production of its offspring.
The CZ P-10C is now a series of models produced in Kansas City. Several color options include Flat Dark Earth (FDE), Olive Drab (OD) and Urban Grey. Suppressor-ready models with extended, threaded barrels, optic-ready models are also available. For 2019, the lineup adds the subcompact CZ-USA P-10S Optics-Ready and the full-size CZ P-10F. According to citizenship laws, their birth within the boundaries of the United States now makes these P-10s Americans.
No doubt an exciting addition to the striker-fired market, the CZ P-10C felt good in my hands and was easy to shoot, but it is not perfect. The 15-plus-one capacity magazine is just average in today’s market, while the 19-plus-one magazine in the P-10F is preferred. White, three-dot sights are lackluster, and a sticky magazine release have been common complaints among owners. Unavailability of better sights and magazine extensions have simply prevented the P-10 from being a more popular pistol.
Fifteen rounds may be enough for many, but in a gun this size, it isn’t enough for me. I dislike three-dot sights. When the front — the important sight — is blackened with soot, it’s washed out by the brightness of the rear sight’s dots. Like many of you, I’ve perfected the technique of using a black marker to easily correct the dots at the rear and minimize the issue.
The “C” in “P-10 C” stands for “compact.” While I’ve liked the P-10C from day one, I was chomping at the bit for more. I imagined that a lot of others would like to see a longer sight radius and increased capacity, but no one seemed to be talking about these features. I was beginning to wonder if CZ even intended to produce a full-sized striker-fired pistol.
After several years of tedious, esoteric work, CZ unveiled additional variants of the P-10 series at their Kansas City-based headquarters. These new, American-made models include welcomed upgrades. Two changes are outwardly visible, while a third is internal.
The P-10F has a slide that measures just .6-inches longer than the compact “C” model yet appears much longer. Perhaps it’s an optical illusion given the four extra rounds that the full-size grip frame contains, which subsequently increased its length by a hair over half an inch when compared to the P-10C.
Examining the P-10S subcompact and the CZ P-10C side-by-side produced similar impressions. Markedly smaller than the P-10C, the P-10S is nearly an inch shorter in both slide length and grip. The grip is shorter than other subcompacts in this class as well, but CZ undercut the triggerguard in a way that still fits those with larger hands. With a capacity of 12 plus one, the “S” has a feel that lends itself toward two or three days of pistol training without producing discomfort.
CZ-USA-made P10s feature sights I can get behind, no pun intended. The new front sight is fixed. It’s not drift adjustable, but it can be swapped out. There is a tritium lamp inside for low-light use that’s surrounded by an orange ring that is not as quite as bright as the neon orange found on other sights, such as Trijicon’s HD models. The rear sight is almost perfect, being black and serrated. For me, it would be even better if it were black with tritium lamps inserted to aid in low-light shooting.
Important to note, the drift-adjustable rear sight won’t be compatible with previously-made Czech P-10 pistols because the U.S.-made P-10 models are optics-ready. A blank filler plate over the optic platform cut has caused the rear sight base to be set back and shortened. If you intend on ordering aftermarket sights, you’ll need to specify which version of the CZ P-10 you have. Notably, Trijicon is already producing its HD XR sight for the new P-10 models.
Understandably, CZ doesn’t ship a variety of dot mounting plates with these new guns. Nobody wants costs to rise for parts they might never use, and CZ recognizes this. But it does include red-dot sight plates to accept the two most popular mini red-dot sights currently available: the Trijicon RMR and Leupold DeltaPoint Pro. CZ indicates that other optic plates are being developed. For nearly $40, the cost of adding a red dot to the P-10S is a bargain when considering the cost to mill a slide.
No optic compatible pistol destined for serious-use is complete without co-witnessed iron sights. Thankfully, CZ offers high profile sights to allow shooters to co-witness their backup sights with an optic’s dot. I would venture to suggest that these sights are also sufficient for use with suppressor-ready models.
CZ-USA also made sure that P-10 models retained all other features that earned the model its success. The crisp trigger remains, as do the good ergonomics and three interchangeable backstraps. Triggers on all three of G&A’s test guns were clean, which made the process of accuracy testing easier. I noticed there’s even a tactile and audible reset if you care about those details in a trigger.
Now common to all U.S. and Czech made P-10s is a reversible magazine release. This allows the CZ P-10 to remain lefty-friendly while avoiding the difficulties of stiffness and break-in that plagued the original Czech Republic manufactured P-10 C. Promoted as “quick” and “easy to change,” my experience was the opposite. I consider myself mechanically inclined, but I could not figure out how to change the direction of the release button after multiple failed attempts. Forced to resort to the manual, I found no mention of a reversible release. An internet search generally yields something, but it too refused to provide any instruction on how to change its direction. So, I left it alone in hopes that CZ-USA will eventually add to the owner’s manual and/or post a video.
I carried the CZ P-10C on my side, as holster fitment has not changed. If you have a Kydex holster for a C model already, the new S model will fit with room to spare. I took a heat gun to one of my P-10C holsters and pushed the full-size gun right thru the bottom. Being able to shoot from a holster with each of the three versions proved convenient. Notably, they are all mostly compatible with Glock holsters of similar-sized guns.
My idea of combat accuracy was spot on with all three guns. Plinking a Challenge Targets’ steel TDI torso at 25 yards was simple. The new orange sight really stood out against a snowy blanket backdrop. It offered crisp and clean edges, and no visual detractors on the rear sight made for fast and accurate shooting. I even took the subcompact model out to 50 yards on that same target and hit it six out of six times.
All models share good ergonomics. Generous texturing and a slightly undercut triggerguard aid the shooter in getting high beneath the backstrap and closer to the slide’s axis of recoil. The recoil impulse of smaller guns is typically something I don’t enjoy, but the P-10F, S and C all felt the same.
Maintaining accuracy during rapid-fire shots normally requires them to be slower in succession as the size of a handgun gets smaller. Not with these guns. Six-round recoil-management drills were simple and unaltered in speed between shooting full-sized and subcompact models. This success is due to an extremely low bore axis, which is a universal trait common to all CZ pistols.
Ambidextrous controls, full-length dust covers, and accessory rail cuts are standard on all three models. For more than looks, the front and rear serrations on the slide are unobtrusive and functional. Having interchangeable backstraps is also a plus. During my evaluation, I did feel the need to change them and settled on the larger backstrap to fill my palm.
To change the backstrap, there is a split pin to drive out. A quick check of the not-so-helpful owner’s manual simply shows the pin being pushed out. There’s no pin size noted, and it looks small. I tried a 1⁄16-inch punch; it drove into and split the pin. A 3⁄32 punch further destroyed the pin before I managed to punch it out with a 1⁄8-inch punch. In the name of research, I tried another gun and started with the 3⁄32 punch. Halfway out, the punch split the pin again and I needed to use the 1⁄8-inch punch to finish it. On the third gun, I went straight to the 1⁄8-inch punch, gouged out some of the plastic and was barely able to remove the punch after it went through. However, this punch did remove the pin. If CZ-USA is reading this, the process of switching backstraps should not be this complicated. It certainly should not risk damaging the pistols polymer frame. We’d love to see the proper tool included.
For all accuracy testing I used the full-size P-10 F. Having the ability to mount a red dot, I installed a Trijicon RMR RM06 with a 3.25 minute-of-angle (MOA) dot. After a quick zero, I found that accuracy testing was never so easy, even in the cold, miserable conditions I had to endure.
There’s a lot to be said for being able to get your favorite pistol in different sizes. As a police officer, I understand that training time can be limited, so having the ability to use a full-size gun such as the P-10F for range work and carrying a smaller version of the same pistol, such as the P-10C or P-10S, means that you don’t have to learn two different platforms. With the P-10F, P-10C and P-10S, we get similar features including fit, feel and function.
I’ll admit that CZ threw me off by offering a compact model in the CZ P-10C before the full-size P-10F variant, but I understand the mid-sized carry pistol category is, and has been, extremely popular. I think tritium inserts in the rear sights would go a long way in putting this pistol on law enforcement’s radar as a potential duty gun. The current variety of options with frame colors, sizes, barrel lengths and sights will keep this excellent-handling pistol series in the public’s attention.