The World’s Most Copied Pistol: CZ75

One pistol that really doesn’t seem to receive as much attention as it deserves, at least in the United States, is the CZ 75 9mm and its many, many variants.

The reason why this is unfortunate is because the CZ 75 is, without question, one of the world’s most successful pistol designs. It ranks up there with the 1911 and the Browning Hi-Power as being one of the most influential sidearms ever made.

In the four decades of the CZ 75’s existence, over one million have been produced, and that’s not counting the numerous clones of the weapon that exist from other manufacturers. Even if it’s not as common in the United States, across the rest of the world and particularly in Europe, it is one of the most popular pistols for civilians (where civilians can legally own pistols, at least), police forces, and military units.

The CZ75 is also the archetypal example of what is called the ‘Wonder Nine’ pistol: a 9mm semi-automatic handgun with a double stack ‘high capacity’ magazine and an all-steel frame. These kinds of pistols really took the market by storm in the 1970s and 1980s and remain popular today even in the face of striker fired designs.

Let’s outline and discuss the merits of the CZ75 pistol in greater detail, shall we?


Why The CZ75?

As was just mentioned, the CZ75 is a classic example of a Wonder 9 pistol. Other examples of Wonder 9 pistols that are very popular and still being produced today include the Beretta 92, Taurus 92, and SIG Sauer P226. Previous popular Smith & Wesson semi-autos that are no longer produced, such as the 5906, were also fine examples of a Wonder 9 pistol.

There are many benefits to the Wonder 9 pistol in general. Most notably, the long DA pistol also acts as a safety because it’s difficult to be depressed on its own. The weight from the all-steel frame also helps to tame recoil and make follow up shots faster (and more accurate). The single action trigger can be even lighter and crisper than the trigger on a modern striker fired pistol such as a Glock.

But when it comes to the CZ75 specifically, it presents a very unique advantage of its own. Most notably, it has a rail system that runs across the entire length of the slide (the rail being where the frame hooks onto the slide).

CZ claims that his increases both accuracy and durability. It’s hard to argue against that, since it’s not uncommon for CZ75s to have tens of thousands of rounds through them with absolutely no issues whatsoever.


History of the CZ75

How was the CZ75 pistol developed? In a nutshell, it was invented by the Koucky Brothers in Czechoslovakia (the Czech Republic today).

The Koucky brothers, who had previously primarily designed military rifles and machine guns, basically took John Browning’s incredibly successful Browning Hi-Power pistol and made some critical improvements.

Specifically, they took the linkless locking system of the Browning Hi-Power, and then improved the ergonomics, increased the magazine capacity, and turned it into a DA/SA autoloader rather than the single action design of the Hi-Power.

No, the CZ75 is not a ‘clone’ or DA/SA version of the Browning Hi-Power. The Koucky brothers were really just inspired by the Hi-Power and used it as the basis for developing their own gun.

In any case, the result was the most copied semi-auto pistol in history. Today, there are dozens upon dozens of different variants of the CZ75, both from CZ and from different manufacturers, and in a variety of different calibers.


Design of the CZ75

The CZ75 is a short recoil operated and locked breached double action/single action semi-automatic pistol.

Like the Hi-Power, the barrel and the slide of the weapon are locked together with locking lugs that have been milled into the barrel.

A unique aspect about the CZ75 is how the slide is designed to ride inside the rails of the frame, versus on the outside of the frame. This results in the slide being held very tight to the frame and help contribute to accuracy and reliability.

The CZ75 also features a manual safety and decocking lever, which are featured on the frame. The pistol can be carried cocked and locked, or with the hammer down and the safety engaged, so your first shot is single action.

In contrast to this, other Wonder 9s such as the Beretta 92FS or the SIG P226 cannot be carried cocked and locked, so you first shot has to be the long double action pull with those two pistols.

The CZ75 also has a firing pin block, so you can safely decock the weapon by pushing the safety lever down. However, this decocking lever did not always exist with the CZ75. In fact, the original CZ75 lacked the decocking feature entirely.

But starting in the early 90s, CZ began producing the CZ75B, which features a firing pin block. Today, all CZ75 pistols have a firing pin block and decocking lever.


Aftermarket Support

Worldwide, the CZ75 is easily one of the most popular pistols in existence. But in the United States? Not so much.

The most popular pistols here in the states would be the 1911 and Glock, with the Beretta 92, Springfield XD, Smith & Wesson M&P, and SIG P220-series being the closest runner ups.

That being said, the aftermarket support for the CZ75 is still rather strong. Spare magazines, internal upgrades, triggers, and holsters are cheap and easy to find. An improved trigger in particular is something that many CZ owners will go out of their way to find.

Some of the most affordable and highest quality aftermarket magazines for the CZ75 are made by Mec-Gar, who also produce magazines for a wide variety of other gun manufacturers as well.


Specs of the CZ75

Here are the basic specs of the basic model of the CZ75B:

Caliber: 9mm Luger
Capacity: 16+1 rounds (standard factory magazine)
Frame: Steel
Trigger: DA/SA
Grips: Plastic
Sights: Three Dot (fixed)
Barrel: Cold Hammer Forged
Weight: 2.2 Pounds
Length: 8.1 inches
Barrel Length: 4.6 inches
Width: 1.4 inches


Conclusion

The CZ75 is a solid duty pistol and is without question one of the highest quality sidearms in the world. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t have been copied as much as it has.

It’s heavy as a steel framed pistol, and while the DA/SA design may make it seem ‘outdated’ in contrast to pistols, it’s really just a matter of personal preference.

Available in a wide variety of models and configurations, the CZ75 is definitely a viable option for concealed carry (especially in a compact configuration), home defense, and as a sidearm to have by your side in an SHTF/disaster situation.

Alex Joseph is an avid bow hunter and father of two boys. Originally from Tacoma, Washington Alex now resides in California.

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