I always had a distant relationship with CZ as I came up in the gun world. It always seemed like “that brand over there” that wasn’t relevant to me or my interests. In the circles that I followed, everyone buzzed about Glock, H&K, Sig, and S&W. The CZ P07 was just far from my mind, and something I honestly thought of as an evolved “commie gun.”
Well, I was wrong.
The CZ P07 represents the second generation of CZ’s polymer pistol options. Back in 2012, I actually handled one of the first generation models at my base’s exchange. It seemed too “modern” compared to what I expected to see from CZ’s offerings. I ended up picking up the FNS-9 instead.
I’m kind of glad I did since the new generation P07 offered a lot of improvements.
But before we get there, let’s talk a little about CZ and how we got to this point.
Bottom Line Up Front
This article is long, I get it.
I wanted to provide some background on CZ pistols and the evolution that led to the P07, as well as why my initial assumption of it being a “commie gun” was wrong. If you want to skip that part and go straight to the review, feel free by clicking here.
The bottom line is that I think the CZ P07 is a great option in the DA/SA polymer market. It’s accurate, comfortable, and built very durably. However, it also lags behind other common carry options when it comes to weight and size. While I think the P07 is a good option, definitely compare it side by side with other quality pistols to see how it fits your needs.
Česká Zbrojovka Uherský Brod
CZ is short for Česká zbrojovka roughly translates as Czech Armory. There actually used to be several Czech Armories producing weapons, so they were further identified by the towns that housed them.
In 1936, the Czechoslovakian government recognized the encroaching threat of Nazi Germany and directed its manufacturing plants away from the border.
The plant at Strakonice, within 60 km of the border, relocated further inland to the small town of Uherský Brod. Production of anti-aircraft machine guns and small arms began in 1937.
The Nazi’s still occupied the area during the war, however, and forced the factory to act as a depot for German small arms. After the war, production returned to a mixture of military and civilian arms.
Of course, being behind the Soviet Iron Curtain after the war didn’t help matters. The Warsaw Pact nations were required to produce arms in the same calibers and use common weapons for military purposes.
I suppose you could say the engineers at CZ have always been rebels. Under Soviet control, Warsaw Pact nations all used Tokarev and Makarov pistols, and nothing was chambered in the “Western” 9×19 Luger.
Cheaper than Dirt actually did a nice bit of history of what comes next, but I’ll hit the highlights for you.
CZ approached František Koucký, one of their former engineers, to work on a new project in 1969. They wanted a 9mm pistol that was new and innovative, but Soviet laws prevented CZ as a company from doin git. Since František was independent and not employed by CZ, he could design whatever he wanted.
Some folks out there think that František and his brother sought to make a clone of the Browning Hi-Power. To be fair, their design does borrow a lot of elements from John Browning’s pistol, but so did many other contemporary designs. I think it just shows how influential JMB was to the future.
František finished the design in 1975, and the CZ-75 was born. However, there was another problem. CZ intended to sell the pistol outside the Iron Curtain, which was a big problem under communist control, especially when it came to patents.
Once the pistol seeped through the other side of the curtain, other manufacturers took notice. Moreover, they realized that there was nothing stopping them from reverse engineering the design and producing their own model.
To date, here are some of the many clones produced by other countries and companies:
- Tangfolio’s entire Witness pistol series – Italian
- The IWI Jericho/Baby Eagle series – Israeli
- KRISS Sphinx SDP series – Swiss
- Canik S-120 / Tristar T-120 – Turkish
- Sarsilmaz K series – Turkish
The CZ-75 is a highly ergonomic design that has immediate appeal for pistol shooters. It was only later in my shooting career that I realized just how popular CZ pistols and clones were for competition.
Modernizing the Classic
After the Soviet Union collapsed, CZ could sell directly to the rest of the world. Of course, they were behind the curve because, by the 1990s, those previously-mentioned companies already had a market by selling essentially the same pistol.
CZ earned ISO 9001 certification in 1997 after making considerable investment in their design and manufacturing capabilities. They then set about improving their designs.
The CZ P01
Prior to the 2000s, CZ already had a fairly standard lineup of pistols in various sizes. The P01 represents the first big leap in design thinking.
In 2001, CZ utilized its new manufacturing capabilities to produce a lighter and more modern design. The CZ P01 used a new aluminum alloy for the frame, incorporated a 1913 rail on the dust cover, and had much tighter manufacturing tolerances. In 2003, it passed all of the stringent Czech National Police requirements and also earned a NATO stock designation.
If you’re interested, the requirements for the pistol to pass included:
- 4000 dry firings
- 3000 De-cockings
- Field stripping 1350 times without showing wear or damage
- Complete disassembly 150 times (all the way down to springs and pins)
- 100% interchangeability of parts between randomly selected pistols
- Drop testing at 1.5 meters 154 times with the pistol loaded and hammer cocked
- Drop testing from 3 meters with the pistol loaded and hammer cocked
- Must fire after being frozen for 24 hours at –35C (-36F).
- Must fire after being heated for 24 hours at 70C (126F)
There was also a requirement for mud and sand while also being stripped of oil.
In all, the Czech Police required service life of 15,000 rounds of +P ammunition. The expected reliability requirement is 99.8% for adoption. A .2% failure rate equates to 20 stoppages in 10,000 rounds or 500 Mean Rounds Between Failure (MRBF).
According to since-deleted press releases, the P01 reached 7 stoppages per 15,000 rounds for a failure rate of .05%, or a MRBF of 2142.
For comparison, the Army’s MRBF requirement for the modular handgun program won by the P320 was a MRBF of 5000, which the P320 far exceeded.
CZ 75-D PCR and SP-01
After succeeded with the P01, CZ applied what it learned to more designs.
The pre-existing CZ 75 Compact gained the same lighter alloy frame of the P01 in a more concealable format.They called it the PCR (Police Czech Republic). It’s a purpose-built pistol for year-round carry, open or concealed, and follows the same lines as the classic CZ-75 series.
The SP-01 is a larger and heavier pistol built around competition shooting. It’s also a viable defensive duty pistol, if not a little large.
Enter the Polymer Series
2009 saw the release of the CZ P07 Duty. This was the first of CZ’s polymer pistol series and featured several new innovations.
CZs goal appeared to be take the lessons learned from the P01 and PCR pistols to produce a modern polymer duty pistol with more reliability and functionality. To support that, they designed an all new trigger system, dubbed the Omega Trigger.
They also included changeable back straps for the grip, simplified the internal workings of the pistol, and made the wear components beefier.
The Omega Trigger system allows the user to easily swap between a decocker or safety function. If you’re like me and prefer to carry DA/SA pistols with the hammer down for a double action first shot, then you can do that. If, on the other hand, you prefer cocked-and-locked carry like traditional CZ-75s, then you can do that to.
The original P07 Duty series wasn’t without some teething issues. There were cosmetic issues with “frame bulge” that caused the internals to bow out a bit in some circumstances, though it never seemed to cause malfunctions. There were also some mag release problems that CZ addressed.
CZ took those lessons and developed the larger P09 pistol, with a 19+1 capacity, longer barrel, mechanical improvements, and reformulation of the polymer. It was a hit. In 2014, CZ went back and applied those same adjustments to the P07 series. I call the redesigned P07 the Series 2.
You can tell the Series 1 and Series 2 apart by the presence of forward slide serrations on the front of the Series 2 slide. Don’t rely on the engraved “P07” or “P07 Duty” to tell the difference, since distributors could order them with either.
And that gets me to my actual review of the pistol.
The CZ P07 Pistol
Let’s start with the basics. I’m reviewing a CZ P07 purchased in March 2018. It’s a Series 2 example, with the forward slide serrations and the other production improvements.
These are the basic specs, per CZ:
|Magazine Capacity||15 + 1|
|Trigger Mechanism||Omega DA/SA|
|Barrel||Cold Hammer Forged, 3.75 inches|
|Overall Length||7.2 inches|
|Overall Height||5.3 inches|
|Spec||CZ P07||Glock 19||P30||M&P 2.0c (4")||P320c||FN 509 Midsize|
From a pure specification standpoint, the CZ P07 doesn’t really win at anything here. It’s the heaviest and widest of them all. From this table, you’ll certainly see why the Glock 19 and M&P 2.0 are so popular for carry.
That said, all of these pistols are pretty darn close to one another in specs, and all make good carry options. But given the strength of the field, I want to talk a little bit about why I chose the P07.
Why I chose the P07 for CCW
Set the clock back to August 2017. An unfortunate incident while walking with family on some some nearby wooded trails made it abundantly clear that it was time to get a carry permit.
But that story is for another day.
The obvious choice was carrying what I already owned. Of the three pistols in the safe at the time, my Beretta 92A1 was too large to practically conceal and my 1911 has feeding issues with JHP ammunition.
That left me with my FNS-9.
The FNS-9 has been a fantastic pistol for me since buying in 2012, and scratched that striker-fired 9mm itch pretty well. However, I quickly realized it wasn’t an ideal concealed carry pistol.
The FNS has a 17 round capacity, which made the grip slightly too long and it readily printed through my shirts. The pyramid-shaped grip texture was also just a little too rough for IWB carry.
Up until fall of that year, I always assumed the pistol on my load bearing gear for a class would be different than the one I would carry for CCW purposes.
But I’m always willing to reconsider my positions.
Training at MVT
While at the MVT HEAT 1 class in October 2017, my “battle buddy” over the course of four days shared a little bit of philosophy with me.
During a lunch break, a conversation broke out about pistols. My battle buddy carried a Sig P320 Compact on his belt. He was a retired USMC Force Recon Lt Col turned private security contractor all over the world.
I forgot how it came up, but he ended up saying something along the lines of, “Pistols are your backup. You really don’t want to have to fall back on them. If the difference in capability of a full sized and a compact isn’t that much, then it just makes more sense to carry the compact all the time.”
I suddenly felt a little sheepish about the Beretta 92A1 hanging off my belt.
In any case, that was a long way to say that I’ve come to believe in the idea of the “one” pistol. It’s the pistol that you carry concealed, carry openly on your gear, compete with, and practice with.
I returned from that class with my mind made up to find my “one pistol.”
Had I asked the internet, the answer would have been certainly been a Glock 19. To be fair, it’s not a terrible answer. The Glock is reliable, has a track record, and is used for exactly this purpose all around the world.
However, I chose not to go that route for two reasons.
First, I’ve never really warmed up to Glocks. The grip angle, trigger feel, and other elements were things that I just never enjoyed. Sure, I could get past it if I needed to, but I just didn’t want to.
Second, I wanted a hammer fired gun in DA/SA. It’s just a personal preference. This requirement ruled out a lot of common options like the P320, VP9, PPQ, M&P, and others.
The remaining options came down to the HK P30, HK P2000, FN FNX-9, Beretta PX4, and three choices from CZ: the P-07, P-01, and 75D PCR.
I ruled out the FNX because it shares the same issues with its grip size and texture as my FNS.
The PX4 didn’t come in until later as a dark horse. It has a great reputation as a carry weapon, but the rotating barrel wouldn’t work if I ever wanted to suppress it.
The HKs have fantastic reputations for reliability, but not so great for tunability when it comes to tinkering.
The CZs all have great reputations, though not as “solid” as HK. But I couldn’t find the P-01 or PCR in stock anywhere. I would have waited on them if it weren’t for my range having a P07 for rent.
I checked it out for an hour, and found it immensely shootable. The double action was light and smooth, and the single action was crisp and predictable.
When I came across a great deal on one a few days later, I was sold.
CZ P07 First Impressions
My P07 came well packaged in a black hard sided case. It included three backstraps, with the smallest already mounted on the pistol.
The case also included two 15 round magazines. I noticed that the included mags had orange followers, unlike a lot of the pictures I’d seen in the past. It turns out that the P07 and P10c share the same magazine, which is a bonus.
However, the old-style P07 mags will not fit into a P10c. I would guess that CZ will phase out the dedicated P07 magazine in favor of the more universal option.
There was, of course, the included manual and warranty cards. There is also a printout showing the target impacts used when zeroing the sights.
Fit & Finish
The machining on the CZ P07 is very nice. In fact, I cannot find any machining marks inside the slide at all, which is more than I can say for my FNS.
Also, the metal portions of the CZ P07 are downright beefy. The slide and barrel appear thick and strong. I would bet they last a long long time.
The slide is a deep flat black, the result of a high-quality nitrided finish. After a year of use, I’m seeing a little bit of wear on the barrel itself, but still less than what I see on my well-used Beretta.
The pistol feels good in the hand, though nowhere near as good as a CZ-75.
CZ P07 Trigger
Given how much I was impressed by the one that I rented, I was excited to pull my very own P07 out of the box and test the trigger. It left me a little disappointed.
It did not feel at all like the one I rented two weeks before.
The double action was heavier, with lots of grit. The single action, while light, did not feel as distinct as the one I rented. It felt a little more like a rolling break than a predictable wall like I’ve come to expect from my Beretta.
This wasn’t really a surprise, though.
I did my homework ahead of time and already knew that it takes a few hundred rounds to “wear in” the stamped steel components of the CZ trigger. The one I rented at the range has thousands and thousands of rounds on it.
Parts and smithing services are available that dramatically improve the feel of the trigger, and they are less than half the cost of sending my Beretta off to Wilson Combat.
Putting those concerns aside, I mounted my MantisX to the pic rail and started squeezing off shots in dry fire mode.
The MantisX, if you don’t know, use accelerometers to measure movement of the pistol before, during, and after the trigger squeeze and then provides feedback. It’s a useful training tool when I can’t be at a range to see an actual score on paper. To my surprise, I was averaging 94 points on each trigger pull- including double action. That was out of the box. To compare, that is about the same average I generate in single action on my Beretta that I’ve been shooting for years. My double action scores hover around 90.
In short, despite the my initial impressions on the trigger, my actual performance with it seems to be pretty darn good.
Slide Geometry, Frame, & Texture
One of of the signature features of a CZ pistol is that the slide rides inside of the frame. The legendary accuracy and recoil characteristics of CZs are at least partly attributed to this arrangement.
Because of this, the P07’s slide is not very tall at all and doesn’t leave much real estate to grab. To help, CZ has machined very nice serrations both at both the front and rear of the slide. While playing with it, I thought it would be more difficult to manipulate. But, in use, I haven’t had any problems with racking or quickly clearing induced malfunctions.
The frame of the pistol is well stippled. The front of the grip feels more like traditional checkering, while the sides feel closer to skateboard grip tape. It’s less aggressive than the M&P 2.0 texture, for sure.
There are also stippled portions on each side above the trigger guard. These are great indexing and resting the trigger finger.
Some folks complain about the grip’s side panels being irritating after long periods of carry. After carrying it for a year, I agree that it’s certainly a little uncomfortable against bare skin, but not nearly as bad as the texture on my FNS.
Out of the box, the CZ P07 has a decocker installed. It’s an ambidextrous low-profile polymer lever mounted to the frame. To be honest, I didn’t like the way this looked when I first saw it. It’s downright utilitarian, though. The levers are nice and out of the way when I don’t need them and there’s a minimal snag hazard risk.
CZ also included a safety lever that you can swap out on your own. This turns the pistol in a cocked-and-locked for carry format.
The same low shape that I think works well as a decocker doesn’t work as nicely as a safety. I would rather the safety lever be a little more sculpted for that purpose.
CZ included a set of night sights out of the box. But this aren’t the same tritium-powered night sights you’ve come to expect when you hear the phrase.
Instead, these sights are treated with with luminescent paint that glows in the dark after light exposure. Just a few seconds from a bright flashlight is all it takes to have them glow for hours. It works, but I really do think this feels like a bit of a “cheap out” option.
I suppose it makes sense if CZ is trying to target a specific price point. As with Glocks, I suspect replacing the sights of the P07 is a common aftermarket task.
The P07’s First 100 Rounds
At the soonest opportunity, I took the P07 out to the range. It was the same range, and even the same lane, that I had rented one before.
The first 15-round magazine was all from single action, the second all double action.
The first few shots were right through the 10 ring at 7 yards. To my great surprise, the double action shots were even more accurate on average than my single action shots.
While the final target was nothing to write home about, I will say that no other pistol has performed that well for me right out of the box.
That one little guy up at the top right was from losing focus during a double action shot, so don’t hold it against the gun.
Next, I took an Appleseed 100 meter target and stuck it out at 25 yards to see what I could do. It wasn’t impressive by any means, but all shots did land on the target. I then brought it back to 10 yards and finished off the first box of ammo, chewing out the middle of the target in the process.
To round out the first session, I took a crack at dot torture. The pistol did well, though I need to spend more time on with the double action.
By the conclusion of the first 100-round range session, the trigger was already smoothing out.
One Year Later
So here we are. As of this writing, it’s been 14 months since those first 100 rounds. How do I feel about it now?
My thoughts haven’t changed that much. It’s a really good all-around pistol. It conceals well, provided you are comfortable concealing a Glock 19-sized weapon, but also doesn’t look out of place riding in a duty holster, either.
I have not kept track of round count or dry fires to this point, but I would estimate 2000 squeezes of the trigger between live and dry fire.
The trigger has continued to smooth out, and I’m sure it will keep doing so with time. But I am planning to send it off to Cajun Gun Works to do their magic.
For the record, I’ve recorded three consistent trigger pull weights.
When the hammer is all the way down, as in you pull the trigger and the hammer falls without the weapon cycling, the double action is 12 lbs.
At “half cock” after using the decocker, the trigger pull is 9 lbs. This is where my pistol sits while I carry it or when its in my bedside safe
In single action mode, the trigger is just over 3 lbs.
In some of the other long term reviews I’ve seen with 10,000+ rounds, the trigger weights continue to drop down down to 6 lbs and 2 lbs.
I did have two malfunctions during a single range session early on. To be honest, I didn’t investigate them any further than a tap-rack drill. Both malfunctions were from the same box of generic ammunition my range sells for too high a price.
I’ve had zero malfunctions in the 12 months since then using known quality ammunition.
I am planning some modifications on this pistol. As part of a whole package, I’m going to send it off to Cajun Gun Works to have them do their magic on the action and trigger. At the same time, I’m having them install Dawson Precision sights, with black rears and a fiber optic front.
I want to have the slide milled for a miniature red dot, but haven’t settled on which one yet. I wanted to do the ACRO, but Primary Machine informed me that there isn’t enough room on the slide to install the ACRO and keep the rear sight.
Bummer. RMR or SRO it is, I guess.
I am aware that the trigger return spring is a known weak point on this pistol, and folks expect to replace them every 10,000 trigger pulls. Cajun Gun Works makes their own higher quality version reported to be much better, and has gone past 70,000 cycles in some places.
With all of this said, would I suggest you buy a P07 for yourself? As of this writing, I have zero plans to replace this gun as my “one pistol.” It’s served me very well for the last year, and I think it’s only getting better with time.
So do I think this pistol is right for you?
Well, that depends. The biggest drawback to the CZ P07 is the aftermarket support for things like sights, holsters, and replacement parts. It doesn’t have nearly the options that you get with a Glock, HK, S&W, or Sig pistol. To be fair, it’s significantly better than it was a year ago as word has gotten around, but it’s still not on the same level.
The primary reason you would be looking at this pistol is if you’re in the market for a very durable DA/SA polymer 9mm for hard use. Given its Glock-19 size, it works really well for that role.
But so do two other pistols worth your attention: the Beretta PX4 Compact and HK P30. Both have their quirks that may or may not work for you, such as the slightly taller height of the P30 or the slide-mounted decocker/safety of the PX4, but they are both quality options.
At the end of the day, you really need go out and test what works for you.
The CZ really shines when you want to tinker. It’s simple enough to disassemble, and there is a bit of a cult following of people very knowledgeable about improving CZ pistols.
So, the bottom line: The CZ P07 is a great duty pistol for real life, and if you’re in the market for a DA/SA polymer gun, it’s worth taking a look at. On paper, though, it loses out to a lot of other common quality pistols like Glock, Sig, and S&W. It’s really going to come down to how it fits and performs for you.