By Todd Burgreen
Successful handgun designs constantly evolve. This is for a variety of reasons stemming mainly from market and technological impulses/pressures magnified by ever changing mission requirements of end users. The CZ 75 P 07 model is the poster child of this design modification creep. The P 07 traces its heritage in the CZ family tree back to the 1970s with the origination of the CZ 75. Let’s go over the CZ 75’s salient characteristics and history to better understand the P 07’s design. Developed in 1975 by the Koucky brothers – Josef and Frantisek – who worked for CZ, the CZ 75 was intended as a service pistol for the export market. It was chambered in 9mm, which was not a Soviet/Warsaw Pact caliber. The CZ 75 melds many features from weapons that preceded it, such as the Browning Hi-Power and SIG 210. The CZ 75 is a steel framed short recoil operated locked breech pistol ala Browning’s system with camming-cut below the barrel. The CZ 75’s barrel lock up is via lugs machined into the barrel interacting with the slide in front of the ejection port.
The CZ P 07 can be viewed as the updated polymer sibling of the classic CZ 75. The P 07 strives to maintain the classic grip shape of the CZ 75. While not an exact match, the P 07 comes very close to the CZ 75 grip ergonomics. There are other nuances to the CZ P 07 that further distinguish it from the CZ 75. The frame has been upgraded with a railed dust cover allowing for accessories such as lights and lasers. One of the features that attracted many to the CZ 75 was that you could carry it “cocked and locked” similar to the 1911 and Browning Hi-Power as well the hammer down. Unlike the CZ 75, the P 07 arrives with a de-cocking safety lever as its standard configuration. Of late, “cocked and locked” single action semiautomatic designs have fallen out of favor for various reasons. Thus, CZ’s decision in terms of standard trigger configuration i.e. de-cocking lever. However, CZ 75 aficionados should not despair because CZ’s new Omega trigger system is at the center of the P 07’s design features. The CZ Omega trigger system has fewer parts compared to the CZ 75 and in turn touts a better trigger pull. While long in travel as is typical of DA/SA handguns, the trigger pull is smooth in the Double Action mode with the Single Action featuring a light break with short reset. The other benefit of the CZ Omega trigger is the ability to switch the P 07 from the standard de-cocking safety to a safety set up similar to the CZ 75 allowing for Condition One “cocked and locked” carry. The work to do this seems simple enough for a layman to accomplish.
The CZ P 07’s beavertail frame is textured as are the grip panels allowing for positive grip even with wet slippery hands. CZ even included rough textured patches on the forward part of the frame that serve as “memory” spots for a shooter using the preferred thumbs forward grip. The P 07’s slide is thicker and less svelte than the CZ 75s. This is a result of being machined from bar stock allowing for a reduction of manufacturing costs. Many will find the thicker slide easier to gain a solid grip on when manipulating it. The P 07’s slide moves along rails embedded inside the polymer frame; to be clear here the slide moves within the frame versus more prevalent western designs of the slide fitting over the frame. Proponents point to benefits derived from this such as smoother cycling and finer tolerances translating into better accuracy potential. One drawback is the operator must be more conscience of grip placement when manually operating the slide. The P 07’s thicker slide makes this less of an issue.
The specific 9mm (.40 S&W available) CZ P 07 tested for this article featured a threaded barrel and elevated open sights to allow use over the top of a suppressor when installed. The dimensions of the CZ P 07 are similar to a more compact weapon versus a full size duty weapon. Barrel length is 4.5 inches when taking into account the protruding 1/2×28 threaded muzzle. Weight is 27 ounces with overall length at 8 inches. Capacity with the 9mm is 16+1 with two magazines shipped with the P 07. Frame and slide color is black with olive drab frame also available. The P 07 utilizes an external extractor. Like the CZ 75, the P 07 functions via a short recoil operated locked breech ala Browning’s design with camming-cut below the barrel. This serves to unlock and lower the barrel during the recoil cycle. CZ has slightly modified Browning’s design by moving the locking recess from the barrel; instead CZ utilizes a single locking lug milled above the barrel’s chamber using the slide’s large overhead ejection port as its locking recess. The front contour of the barrel lug cam slot has been cut square to direct counter-recoiling forces up and forward into the barrel itself to reduce stress on the lug. The elevated adjustable steel iron sights are three dot design – two on the rear sight and one on the front post. The elevated sights are quickly noticed aesthetically speaking. A user could resort back to normal height sights if desired or concerned about snagging. Many find aiming down the extended length of an installed suppressor very functional in terms of accuracy making extended sights superfluous.
Many find disfavor with the DA/SA trigger arrangement preferring to go with constant or “safe action” styles found on Glock or S&W M&Ps. CZ’s inclusion of the Omega trigger design on the P 07 makes the P 07 DA/SA trigger one of the nicest experienced and forces a re-evaluation of DA/SA opinions; especially if a user chooses to carry the P 07 in a Condition One status after converting over from the standard de-cocking configuration as it arrives in the box. The Omega flexibility is a great enhancement. Once the Omega trigger control is mastered, which takes surprisingly little orientation training, the CZ P 07 is very capable of firing multiple shot strings with the utmost accuracy.
The P 07’s shared lineage with the CZ 75’s in terms of design history and track record of proven performance grant the CZ P 07 instant credibility. The P 07’s modified profile such as the extended beavertail, threaded barrel, and textured grip wrapped around high capacity 16 rounds magazines makes it ideal for duty as a nightstand handgun, open carry, tactical response LE teams, or special military units. There are a surprising number of holster manufacturers making products for the P 07 such as Bianchi, Dale Fricke, Crossbreed, Fist, and Kramer. The CZ P 07 disassembles quickly similar to the CZ 75 via pulling the slide open aligning witness marks on the frame and slide and then rotating the takedown lever downward on the frame freeing the slide from the frame. The P 07 exhibited no evident tool marks and no lateral play in the slides fit to the frame or barrel to slide. The barrel locks up tight when in battery.
T&E was conducted at Echo Valley Training Center, a private range located near Winchester, VA, where many local and federal law enforcement tactical team members train. It is difficult to convey how many shooters at the range perked up when first exposed to the CZ P 07 threaded barrel variant. Many confessed ignorance that CZ USA even offered a package like the P 07 with beavertail, Omega trigger, and optional threaded barrel. Every time one of them got to handle and shoot the CZ P 07, a convert was obtained. Their duty weapons span the gamut, including custom tuned 1911 pistols, but all appreciate what the P 07 offers in terms of accuracy, reliability, handling, capacity, lethality and reasonable price. The threaded barrel on the P 07 indicates that it could be used in an offensive capacity versus strictly defensive in nature. It was decided to dedicate some time evaluating the P 07 using several drills experienced during training at Suarez International, Tactical Response, Graham Combat, and other schools. Drills included working around breaching facades, door entries, and other CQB activities typified by experiences encountered in shoot house environments. A premium is placed on a quick handling accurate handgun such as the CZ P 07 with multiple rounds fired in quick succession the norm to put a target down. The natural point-ability of the P 07 comes into its own in this realm. Reloading the P 07 during high volume drills exhibited no idiosyncrasies with the magazine release button easily accessed.
The P 07 impressively handled all ammunition brands, bullet types, and weights with equal aplomb. CZ ergonomics and handling characteristics are quickly appreciated and make a user understand why the P 07 and its predecessor the CZ 75 are so well thought of. The beavertail grip frame and overall balance of the P 07 made felt recoil negligible. The P 07’s slide reciprocated smoothly with the sights tracking smoothly in between shots fired. Black Hills, Federal, Hornady, and Winchester ammunition was used for range T&E. Loads fired spanned 115gr to 147gr with hollow points and FMJ bullet types utilized. Significantly, no malfunctions were experienced while test firing over 500 rounds during range visits used to evaluate the CZ P 07 for this article. It is not normal protocol to bench test handguns for accuracy due to reliability and quick engagement of targets being more paramount in a martial handgun. A weapon like the CZ P 07 should be fired as it is designed to be used – standing without support and while moving to get off the “X.” This is the true measure of accuracy combining trigger pull, grip, and sights. After a few runs orientating myself to the first round DA trigger pull, first round hits became the norm on the various Echo Valley Training Center steel targets, plate racks, and dueling trees. The P 07 did not disappoint regularly producing 2-4 inch groups at 25 yards when fired from standing unsupported positions.
Mounting a suppressor to the CZ P 07’s threaded barrel was an obvious decision in order to evaluate the handgun to its full potential. A Yankee Hill Machine (YHM) Cobra M2 suppressor was utilized for this. The YHM Cobra M2 was affixed by simply removing the barrel’s thread protector and screwing on the Cobra M2. The YHM Cobra M2’s overall length is 8 inches with a diameter of 1.3 inches and weighs only 11.5 ounces while offering a -35db noise reduction. Initial range time consisted of testing the Cobra M2 to verify established accuracy and reliability parameters of the CZ P 07 were not compromised. YHM’s Nielsen system allows the suppressor to be adapted to most semiautomatic handguns for flawless functioning. The Nielsen piston design allows one suppressor to fit on almost any type of pistol by simply purchasing the correct adaptor. The Cobra M2 utilizes stainless steel components to minimize wear of the threads and the Nielsen device. Cobra M2 sound suppressors are constructed using Sound Tech’s patented baffle design. The Cobra M2’s baffle stack is not only optimized for a sound reduction, but also being designed to come apart allowing for cleaning.
147gr 9mm loads are typically subsonic and the obvious choice for use with a suppressor. This is one of the reasons why 9mm handguns are favorite candidates to suppress. The 147gr 9mm’s ability to reliably function the CZ P 07’s slide, while still being subsonic, is another important advantage offered by suppressing a 9mm handgun. However, the YHM Cobra M2 proved effective at taming the muzzle blast of even 115gr and 124gr +P supersonic loads. All loads could be comfortably fired without the use of ear protection with the YHM Cobra M2 suppressor installed even in an indoor environment. A variety of 147gr 9mm loads were tested with the CZ P 07 including Winchester PDX, Hornady TAP, Federal Hydra-Shok/Tactical brands and Engel Ballistic Research (EBR). The EBR brand may surprise some readers as it is not that familiar to the public. EBR comes into its own with sub-sonic ammunition for rifles including the 5.56, 7.62×39, 7.62×51, .300WinMag, 338Lapua, and pistol calibers such as 9mm, .40 S&W and .44Magnum.
It does not take a drastic imagination leap to visualize what roles the CZ P 07 would fill with the YHM Cobra M2 suppressor mounted. Anything from sentry removal, canine or other, or CQB operations indoors come to mind. The added weight of the YHM suppressor did not prove a hindrance to weapon manipulation and the 16 round magazines are much appreciated minimizing the likelihood of needing to change magazines during a typical engagement that the P 07 would be the primary weapon. The extended sights that the P 07 comes equipped with proved an asset in “seeing” over the YHM suppressor. As stated previously, even if not so equipped, the P 07 would have performed fine in the sub-10 yard arena with solid hits possible on the steel man targets set up for testing using point shooting techniques or simply sighting down the extended length of the mounted YHM suppressor. As a side note, while the elevated suppressor iron sights have their place, if the weapon is not dedicated to suppressor use the sights make holster selection problematic. Further offensive role enhancement with the CZ P 07 could be achieved by mounting an infrared laser target designator such as the Insight Technology LAM 1000/ILWLP on its integral rail combined with an operator using night vision goggles. This obviously is a very specialized application relegated to operations associated with Tier 1 units.
The key point with the CZ P 07 is that it is eminently adaptable to individual, department, or unit needs albeit mission or budgetary based. Everything from the homeowner with a light/laser combo to an elite military team with night vision and infrared target designator and suppressor mounted will find the CZ P 07 a handgun worthy of consideration. The CZ P 07 arrives ready to go right out of the box, especially with the CZ threaded factory barrel. Kudos to CZ for including the right features for maximizing performance without turning it into a finicky or fussy competition gun. The buyer is gaining a lot of value for the listed CZ P 07 purchase price of around $500. The CZ P 07 is a potent package in any of its possible forms due to its accuracy, reliability, and capacity – all of this combines into increased lethality.
SITES OF INTEREST
PO Box 171073
Kansas City, KS 66117
Engel Ballistic Research, Inc.
Echo Valley Training Center
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V17N3 (September 2013)|