CZ-75D Compact 9x19mm Pistol

By David Tong

CZ-75D Compact 9x19mm Pistol
CZ-75D Compact 9x19mm Pistol. Photo courtesy of CZ-USA.

In my continuing examination of semi-automatic pistols, it is nearly impossible to ignore the Czech Republic’s Model 75 lineup. Offered initially only in 9mm Parabellum for Western sales during the days when Czechoslovakia was still behind the Iron Curtain, the line has since expanded to include caliber .40 S&W pistols.

My Compact model test pistol varies from the original CZ-75 archetype by eliminating the thumb safety that allowed “cocked and locked” carry in favor of a simple, safer, SiG-Sauer like decocking lever located to the left rear of the frame with a hammer-intercept notch. The pistol is also shortened by nearly an inch in length and has a frame made of aluminum rather than steel, which reduces weight by at least ten ounces. All shots from the holster must be fired via the trigger-cocking method, with subsequent shots fired single action from the recoiling slide.

What is relatively unique about the CZ design is that the slide runs enclosed within the frame rails, as opposed to the much more prevalent overlap of the frame rails. The mechanism originates from the Frenchman, Charles Petter, who modified the tilt lock Browning design in the Modele 1935 French service pistol. That pistol was later adopted by SiG-Neuhausen in Switzerland for that country’s M1949 service pistol, better known in this country as the P-210.

Otherwise, the standard Browning short recoil tilting barrel with annular locking lugs is used. Unlocking is accomplished by a kidney-shaped hole in the barrel’s chamber base, which moves along a rearward track governed by the slide stop pin. The pistol’s basic specifications are as follows.

  • Length: 7.2”
  • Width: 1.4”
  • Height: 5.3”
  • Weight: 26 ounces with empty magazine
  • Sights: Iron, three dot, light rechargeable “night sights”
  • Trigger: DA, 10lbs; SA, 4.5 lbs. with noteworthy creep
  • Construction: Aluminum alloy frame with carbon steel balance of components
  • Finish: Matte black sprayed, rust resistive
  • Magazine capacity (9mm): 13 (standard) or 10 (Klinton)
  • MSRP: $523.00

The CX-75D has all of the ergonomic niceties that have enticed Western shooters for over 30 years. There is a machined and radiused cut for the web of one’s shooting hand, shortening the trigger pull length; vertical serrations on both front and rear frame straps; rubber grip panels with palm swells; very low bore center for a hammer-fired pistol for better recoil control; highly curved front strap and a grip length which accommodates most shooters hands well. It is short enough to be concealable, yet long enough for efficient full one-hand gripping without magazine floorplate extensions.

In addition, the pistol strips relatively easily and the trigger lockwork is removable as a complete module to ease detail stripping. The Compact does not have a manual safety; the trigger is always “live.”

There are a few demerits of the CZ design worth mentioning, though. Chief among them is a longer-than-most stroke double action with a creepy single action trigger that I am told improves with shooting. The slide stop must be removed to field strip the piece; it is held in place by a stiff spring and usually requires pushing the pistol onto a hard surface to press it out to the left. The slide racking serrations are smaller than average, making malfunction clearance a bit more difficult. Finally, due to the frame overlapping the slide, the overall width of the pistol makes it a less comfortable for concealed carry than most other designs.

Recoil with any 25+ ounce 9mm is light, unless one is shooting +P or +P+ ammunition. This would be the ammo preferred for self-defense purposes by most shooters, as they bring the cartridge to statistical equality with larger calibers, such as the.40 S&W and .45 ACP rounds.

A bit of informal shooting with Winchester USA (White Box) 115 grain FMJ and Winchester 115 grain +P+ ammunition and the three supplied 10 round magazines brought no surprises. Steel falling plates at 7 yards fell easily when hit squarely, helped by well-regulated sights that shot to the point of aim. I had one failure to completely chamber in 100 rounds, which indicates to me that the recoil spring could be a tad stronger to ensure feed reliability. I’d also like to see a steel recoil spring guide, as the thin plastic part does not inspire confidence.

I did not test the pistol beyond this range, as I don’t believe the Compact’s mission is precision fire; rather it is a reactive weapon used for so-called close quarters battle scenarios and in this role it seems adequate. While I still have reservations about the 9mm cartridge’s stopping power, especially as there is no real difference in price when purchasing +P ammunition compared to other rounds, I do believe that the 75D can be a handy and easy-to-hit-with short range companion in the urban jungle.

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Copyright 2009 by David Tong. All rights reserved.