I like gun stores. I like being in them, browsing through them, and buying from them. Trust me, I do plenty of business outside of my workplace, just as my competition does with us. In a recent trip to look at some handguns, I saw a new guy working behind the counter. I was curious about his recommendations and told him I was looking for a full-size duty pistol chambered in 9mm. He showed me the usual Glocks, Springfield XDs, and Smith & Wesson M&Ps. When I mentioned that I was possibly looking for something in the double-action/single-action family, he walked me right past the CZ 75s and straight to the Beretta 92s. When I asked him about the CZs, he said, “Oh, you wouldn’t want one of those, nobody ever comes in asking about them anymore.”
The CZ 75 variants are among the most popular military and police duty pistols in the world. For some reason, in the United States, some in the firearms industry have a type of stray dog attitude toward the CZ 75 family. Despite their glowing reputation and sturdy design, many gun shoppers overlook them. They pass them up in favor of pistols with similar characteristics, such as the Beretta 92 or the Sig Sauer P226. What is the reason why the CZ never caught up to the popularity of other designs? It certainly isn’t the build quality. I’ve owned several variants over the years and I would bet my life on a properly maintained CZ 75—every time. So, if it is a reliable gun, why do you rarely see it in the hands of American law enforcement or military operators?
I feel that one reason is simply the looks. I never hear anyone say the CZ 75 is a particularly pretty gun. It looks very Eastern European with its unpleasant lines and oddly thin slide. Unfortunately, some shoppers put a large amount of stock into the looks department. Many buyers tout the looks of the Beretta 92, and in my opinion, they are correct. It is a beautiful gun, much easier on the eyes than the CZ.
Price is an understandable hurdle for many people. We all can’t afford to go out and spend two grand on a pristine 1911 or a fancy H&K. In the CZ’s case, it usually runs about the same price as every other duty pistol on the market, but there are certainly less expensive options. Ruger, Smith & Wesson, Taurus, and many other brands have larger selections at much lower prices. With a price tag that hovers near $500, your wallet may feel a bit light when leaving the gun store.
While almost no handgun is particularly difficult to clean and maintain, the all-metal construction and slightly older design of the CZ 75 does make it a little less idiot-proof than something like a Glock. You must take care to ensure you don’t lose the pins and tiny parts when you clean your CZ, since replacements could take days to arrive at your door.
The handgun industry as a whole made a universal move away from double-action/single action guns. While there are plenty of legendary guns still produced today with this system, most of the new factory duty pistols sold today are double-action only striker-fired designs. I asked a gunsmith I know why he thought this was happening. He said that most police departments won’t allow their officers to carry their single-action/double-action pistols cocked and locked anymore. You Jeff Cooper fans may know this as Condition 1. Most departments only allow them to carry in Condition 2, this means that the officer has a full magazine, a round chambered, and the hammer down. This configuration allows the first trigger pull to be long and heavy in the pistol’s double-action mode, and any subsequent shots will be in single action mode, with light and fast trigger pulls. This Condition 2 configuration, along with the smoother and heavier triggers of the double-action only striker fired pistols, such as Glocks, XDs, and M&Ps, supposedly cut down on negligent discharges, which police departments obviously try to avoid. Police officers are the largest cross-section of American society that carry guns on a daily basis, so the firearms industry tends to follow their lead.
For my personal use, I don’t have any problems with the CZ 75. It’s reliable, durable, safe, accurate, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone wear one out from overuse. Shoppers can keep overlooking them if they choose, but I like to take the time to admire that quality hunk of Czech steel.