Last year, around January, I was talking about entering the fourth year on this blog. While last year didn’t really go according to plan, for a lot of reasons unrelated to shooting, one of the things I mentioned was my interesting in purchasing a CZ pistol. At the time, I was looking primarily at the P-01 and the P-09.
I ended up not purchasing a pistol at all. In fact, once I left California, the only shooting related stuff I managed to do was finish the Minuteman Rifle, and attend a four day training course at Max Velocity Tactical.
In August of last year, I realized it was time to get my carry permit. The most obvious choice for what to carry was what I already had on hand. The Beretta wasn’t practical to conceal, and my 1911 has had feeding issues for years, that left me with my FNS-9. However, I quickly realized it wasn’t exactly an ideal carry pistol. The grip, with it’s 17 rounds, was ever slightly too long, and the pyramid-shaped grip texture was just a little too rough. I set out to consider my next pistol.
Up until very recently, I always assumed that the pistol I would carry on my load bearing gear for a class would be different than the one I would want to carry inside the waistband while out and about.I’m always willing to reconsider my positions, though. While at the MVT training, my “battle buddy” who I worked with over the course of four days shared a little bit of philosophy with me.
Aaron (not his real name) was a retired prior enlisted USMC Force Recon Lt Col. Since his retirement, he has worked in the private contracting world, in and out of a lot of rough places and bad situations. He takes classes like that one routinely as part of his job, and he was the only one out there for those four days that outshot me in the drills. I suppose having your employer pay for your ammunition and class fees has its perks. As things tend to do, a conversation broke out about gear, and why people made the choices that they did. Aaron was carrying a Sig P320 Compact on his belt throughout the course. I forgot how it came up, but he ended up saying something along the lines of, “Pistols are sidearms that you really don’t want to have to fall back on. 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.
Had I asked the internet about what to buy for my “one pistol,” the answer would have 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.
That second requirement ruled out a lot of common options like the P-320, VP9, PPQ, M&P, and others (the APX certainly has my attention, but there is no compact version yet). 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 is pretty much identical to what I was already carrying, save for being DA/SA, and I would have the same issues with its grip size and texture. The PX4 didn’t come in until later as a dark horse. It has a great reputation as a carry weapon, but I’m not confident in its rotating barrel configuration. I’ve heard stories (granted…they are internet stories) of it having jamming issues, and it wouldn’t work if I ever get a 9mm suppressor down the line. The HKs are…well…HK. Fantastic reputations for reliability, but not so great for tunability. The CZs all have great reputations for tunability, accuracy, and reliability (though not as much as HK). I couldn’t find the P-01 or PCR in stock anywhere.
I would have been willing to wait on them, but my local range happened to have a P-07 available for rent. I checked it out for an hour, and just found it immensely shootable. The double action was light and smooth, and the single action was crisp and predictable. Once I happened to come across a great deal on one, I was sold.
The CZ P-07
The P-07 is CZ’s second generation of its compact polymer DA/SA model. The first was the P-07 Duty, which was released in 2009. It was meant to be CZ’s entry into the polymer-framed pistol market, and included a few new mechanisms that the prior CZ 75 models lacked, like the ability for the end user to swap between a decocker or safety for cocked and locked carry. The first generation was well received, but wasn’t without its growing pains. CZ took the lessons from the P-07 duty and built them into it’s full-sized brother, the P-09. Those changes included swappable backstraps on the grip, revised frame construction and material, and a few mechanical changes. The P-09 was an immediate hit, and CZ went back to update the compact version to a second generation.
My P-07 came well packaged in a black hard sided case. It included three backstraps. The small size was already installed. The case also included two 15 round magazines. Interestingly, these appear to be the same magazines used in the CZ P-10c. I looked into it, and it is true that P-10c magazines work just fine in the P-07, but mags designed for the P-07 do not work in the P-10c. I would guess that CZ will phase out the dedicated P-07 magazine in favor of the more universal option.
There is, of course, the included manual and warranty cards. There is also a printout showing the target impacts used when zeroing the sights.
I excitedly pulled the pistol out of the case, cleared it, and set of testing the trigger. 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 enough, did not feel as distinct as the one I rented. It felt a little more like a rolling break than a distinct wall like I’ve come to expect from my Beretta.
This wasn’t really a surprise. 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. 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.
One of of the signature features of a CZ is that the slide rides inside of the frame. The legendary accuracy and recoil characteristics of CZs are at least partly attributed to arrangement. Because of this, the P-07’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 feels more like traditional checkering, while the sides feel closer to skateboard grip tape (though not quite as rough…just closer to it). There are also stippled portions above the trigger guard on each side of the frame. I assume these are for resting fingers and finding reference points.
I’ve definitely read some complaints about the grips side panels getting irritating after a long period of carry. However, I don’t know those folks’ backgrounds, or what they expect. From my brief time carrying the P-07, I find it much more comfortable than the aggressive pyramid texture on the FNS-9.
Speaking of carry, I will be toting the P-07 in a Vedder Holsters LightTuck. I have been carrying my FNS in one of their RapidTuck holsters, and find it very well made and comfortable. It seems a lot of good holster makers have popped up in the last few years, Vedder just happens to be my go-to these days.
The P-07 is not fully ambidextrous. The decocker is, but that’s it. The slide stop/release is only on the left side, and the magazine release is reversible. My FNS is fully ambidextrous, which was a selling point for me at the time, but the more I shot it I realized I didn’t value those features. I usually release the slide with a slingshot maneuver, and I sometimes found that my grip on the firing hand would be dangerously close to pressing the magazine release from the palm side (a common complaint on the compact model, actually).
Before taking it out for a test drive, I swapped out the small grip panel for the medium. I quickly found that this was not the quick and easy job. On some guns with modular back panels, I just have to release the panel by inserting a punch or some other narrow device into a hole that moves a catch out of the way. With the P-07, I have to remove the pin that is holding the mainspring in place (seen at the lower rear corner of the grip in the above photo).
I know from installing a ‘D’ spring in my Beretta that moving those pins are a pain in the behind. It took a bit of cursing, and a couple breaks to go find the spring and cap that had flown across the room, but I got the panel installed. I have zero concerns that the backstrap will go anywhere on this one, though I’m probably a whole less inclined to experiment.
The First 100 Rounds
The first chance I had, I took the P-07 out to the range. It was the same range, and even the same lane, that I had rented one before. I loaded up two 15 round mags and had at it. The first mag was done all 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 I have not had this good a start with any other pistol I’ve ever shot. That one little guy up at the top right was from losing focus during a double action shot.
I then 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.
I kept the MantisX on during this period to get feedback on my trigger pulls. In short, they were pretty good. I was giving a bit too much finger at first, which was pushing the pistol to the left (you can see it on the left trace below). Once I got that figured out, things started going very well.
I finished off the session by attempting Dot Torture. I’ve never done this particular test before, but I know it is deceptively simple. Each dot requires a different method of fire. The goal is to keep all shots (typically 4-5) within each circle at a given range. Once you can do that, move the target further back. The starting point is 3 yards. I was pretty happy with myself until I hit the weak hand shooting portion. I’m going to need some practice there. I also blew two of the double action shots (one on dot 3, which went low and is touching the top of dot 6, and one on dot 9 which ended up inside of dot 6).
After getting home from the first hundred shots, I noticed that the trigger has already begun smoothing out. The double action already feels lighter than my D-sprung Beretta, which is about 8-9 lbs. The single action break is still more of a roll than a wall, but it is predictable and I found I didn’t have trouble staging it.
So far, I am very happy with this pistol. I went over 2000 rounds without malfunction on the FNS before I considered it “qualified” to be carried. Whether or not I apply the same standard here remains to be seen. I am aware that the trigger return spring is a known weak point, and folks expect to replace them ever 10,000 trigger pulls. Cajun Gun Works (CGW) makes their own higher quality version that has been reported to be much better, and has gone past 70,000 cycles in some places.
I look forward to seeing what I can do here, but the CZ looks like a winner. I have no intention of picking up another pistol at least until one of two conditions: I learn to master this one to the point of cleaning a dot drill at 10 yards, or I find that the pistol is unreliable.