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Review: CZ P-01

By Dan Smith - genitron.com
September, 2005

The CZ P-01 is the latest variation of the CZ 75 pistol made by this Czechoslovakian manufacturer. CZ has been producing this famous line of pistols since 1977, and in 2003 they introduced this newest model to the US. At first glance the P-01 could be mistaken for the CZ-75 Compact model, but there are a few significant differences.

First, they made metallurgical improvements to the hammer, barrel and slide in order to meet stringent requirements for use by the Czech National Police. Additionally, the frame is made from aluminum alloy rather than the steel frame used in traditional CZ 75 models. Finally, an accessory rail was added to the bottom of the frame to support a tactical light or laser sight. Also standard on this model are black checkered rubber grips, a black polycoat finish and a frame mounted decocking lever.

My initial interest in this gun was as a candidate for concealed carry. I had read articles that compared P-01's size to the Bersa 380, stating that is was a high capacity 9mm pistol hardly bigger than the Bersa. And while point measurements for height, width and length between the two may be similar, when I finally placed the two side-by-side, the CZ-P01 was noticeably bulkier than the Bersa. That being said, the P-01 is still a compact hi-cap design whose size and safety features make it more than adequate as a concealed carry weapon.

Specifications -
Caliber: 9mm Parabellum
Action: recoil operated semi-automatic
Length: 7 in
Width: 1.375 in (includes slide lever)
Height: 5.25 in (to the top of the rear sight)
Magazine Capacity: 10, 14 rounds
Barrel Length: 3.9 in
Rifling: 6-grooves, 1:9.8 in RH twist
Trigger: double-action
Sights: White 3-dot, rear dovetailed, drift adjustable
Weight without magazine: 24.9 oz
Weight with empty magazine: 27.4 oz
Weight loaded (1+13 rd magazine): 33.3 oz

Features -
Accessory rail.
Reversible magazine release.
Aluminum alloy frame.
Hammer forged barrel for accuracy and durability.
Frame mounted decocking lever.
Checkered rubber grips.
Chemical resistant matte black polycoat finish.
Straight serrated "frontstrap". Curved serrated "backstrap".

Design Notes -
For all that has been said about the P-01, it is still for the most part based on the original CZ 75 design. So much so, that when I received my new P-01, the accompanying service manual was the standard CZ 75 manual, with absolutely no mention of the P-01 on any page.

The improvements to the P-01 therefore were more in engineering than in design; improved metallurgy, tighter manufacturing tolerances and weight reduction (alloy frame versus steel). Perhaps this is because the traditional CZ 75 design is so well done that it simply can't be improved upon. The P-01 is an elegant double-action pistol with great grip ergonomics, smooth trigger pull and well placed decocking lever.

The CZ 75 slide design is unique such that the slide rails ride internally to the frame rather than rapped externally over the frame. Because of this, the slide itself is slimmer and has less mass than conventional slide designs. This helps give the P-01 its compact profile.

The caliber -
The 9 mm Parabellum cartridge was created in 1902 by Georg Luger, who also sired the Parabellum pistol. This is a world standard, used and manufactured nearly everywhere.

Often called the "9 mm Luger", this name never was an official designation and results from a marketing ploy. The American A. F. Stoeger company was sole importer between the wars and registered the Luger name in 1923. The Luger name stuck to the 9 mm cartridge over the years and became a standard market-driven designation.

The following data set is based on standard factory loaded cartridges fired from a 4" barrel, listed by weight, brand, type and muzzle velocity. This is only a very small sample of what is available.

115 grain Fiocchi FMJ : 1250 Feet Per Second
123 grain Lapua JHP : 1165 Feet Per Second
124 grain Federal FMJ : 1110 Feet Per Second
125 grain Ultramax FMJ : 1100 Feet Per Second

Handgun Observations -
The matte black polycoat finish gives the gun the look of quality. The rubber grips are very comfortable and insure non-slip contact with the gun. The slide is tight and trim with virtually no rattle when shaken, although I got a slight rattle from the magazine housing after inserting loaded magazine.

There is no separate takedown lever on the gun. Instead, the slide lock lever provides this function. To take down the gun, the slide lock lever must be pushed completely out of the frame, which can't be done without using some kind of hard point tool to press against the lever's pivot pin. In the field you can use the the bottom front edge of an empty magazine to perform this task.

This gun was introduced to the US during the "ban era" and as such, came with 10-round magazines. These magazines have a plastic plug on their base, which in my opinion gives the gun a cheap, hollow look when seen from the bottom. I have since acquired all metal hi-cap magazines.

A +1 round can easily be placed in the chamber through the open breech. The slide is then released before inserting a loaded magazine. The decock lever does not have a safety position. When pressed, it simply drops the hammer to its half-cock position, and resets the trigger to double-action mode.

The low-profile design of the slide reduces the serrated grip area. Some complain that this makes racking the slide difficult. It is further aggravated by the gun's stiffer recoil spring which compensates for the slide's lighter mass. It does indeed require a strong grip in order to rack the slide, but nothing a little practice can't overcome.

Shooting -
The gun is very comfortable in the hand. Recoil is easy to manage. Double-action trigger pull is reasonable, and single-action pull is light, with only about a quarter inch of take-up before a smooth break

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