ASG CZ SP-01 Shadow Blue part 5

ASG CZ SP-01 Shadow Blue Part 5 Part 4 Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

A battle of equals

By Dennis Adler

Railing against the establishment, or at least the number one optics rail competition CO2 pistol, the Tanfoglio Gold Custom, the fully outfitted Shadow Blue looks like a solid contender.

A battle among equals is the best comparison and no two blowback action CO2 pistols are better matched than the CZ75-based Tanfoglio Gold Custom and the fully equipped CZ75 SP-01 Shadow Blue. There is one obvious advantage to the Tanfoglio; it comes this way right out of the box. The disadvantage is that it has to stay this way! The Shadow begins as a traditional blowback action DA/SA semi-auto that embodies almost every desirable feature one could ask for in a CO2 pistol. What it lacks is a windage and elevation adjustable rear sight that would make it an ideal target pistol instead of a straightforward counterpart to a 9mm duty pistol.

The means of mounting the rails on the Tanfoglio and CZ75 SP-01 Shadow are quite different as are the rail designs. Both accommodate any Mil.-Std. 1913 or Weaver mount scope or reflex sight base. The Tanfoglio has a length advantage over the Shadow not only with its ported muzzle break but a longer 5-inch barrel compared to the CZ’s 4.25 inch barrel.

And then the blues start playing

Depending upon your budget you can get fairly well invested in the SP-01 Shadow Blue, or orange or red, if you like, as all three competition colors are offered for the anodized alloy Shadow accessories. I prefer blue. If you add up the money, the fully equipped Shadow will set you back about $279 plus tax and shipping for everything you see here except the optics. An equally equipped Tanfoglio Gold Custom, which has been around for awhile, sells for about $75 plus sales tax and shipping. In this respect, they are equals. But the Tanfoglio serves only one purpose, has only one look, the Shadow has many capabilities from a basic hands-on CZ75 training gun to a customized, optics-equipped target pistol. There is even an available SAO Shadow Blue target trigger for the Shadow if you want to make it exactly like a Gold Custom which uses the competition SAO trigger design based on the 9mm model. But you give up the DA/SA capability for the SP-01 as a training gun, and the SA trigger pull on the Shadow is almost equal to the Gold Custom.

Award for most impressive looking CO2 pistol goes to the Shadow Blue with any scope on the optics rail. The expensive competition bred Styrka S3 Series Red Dot fits nicely on top even though it costs more than the entire gun and all its accessories combined.

Let’s begin with trigger pull. The Tanfoglio has always averaged around 2 pounds 7.2 ounces and as low as 2 pounds 3.9 ounces. The SA trigger pull on the Shadow is an average of 2 pounds, 0.4 ounces with a 0.375 inch take up, compared to the Tanfoglio SAO trigger’s 0.375 inch take up, so again pretty much equals. There is a difference in the feel of triggers and moreover in trigger shape; the SP-01’s traditional CZ crescent-shape vs. the more vertical Tanfoglio SAO target trigger. How much will this affect accuracy? Depends on the person pulling the trigger, the internal quality of the individual airgun’s firing mechanism, and of course, shooting .177 caliber steel BBs through a smoothbore barrel.

Dollar for dollar, it is hard to beat a Walther MRS or any of the Walther-based designs like the CenterPoint 32mm reflex sight, which looks and handles identically. This is an excellent choice for the Shadow Blue and delivered superb accuracy with both CZ-based air pistols.

In terms of size and weight, the SP-01 (empty with magazine inserted) and the optics rail mounted, weighs 43.0 ounces. The Tanfoglio Gold Custom (empty with magazine inserted) and the optics rail, weighs 48.1 ounces. In overall length the Tanfoglio, with its ported muzzle break, stretches 10.0 inches, the Shadow 8.125 inches. The two guns have equivalent grip sizes and height to the top of the optics rail and grip widths of 1.125 inches, respectively.

Velocity and accuracy with optics

Optics won’t change velocity but how close are these two CZ-based CO2 models in fps? The Shadow clocks an average of 319 fps. The Tanfoglio has consistently sent .177 caliber steel BBs downrange at an average of 328 fps. The Tanfoglio gains a small advantage with its longer 5-inch barrel vs. the CZ’s internal smoothbore barrel length of 4.25 inches.

This Walther MRS reflex sight has been mounted on the Gold Custom for a couple of years and was perfectly sighted in for the gun. I took it off to put on the Shadow and reset the windage and elevation for that gun. It is a little time consuming to switch optics between guns especially with different height optics rails. Elevation has to be reset and sometimes even windage. This is a great shot to show how the optics rail is attached to the Gold Custom versus the accessory rail mounting system on the SP-01. The big difference is that the Tanfoglio is a dedicated target pistol, while the Shadow can be easily switched back to a tactical pistol for various training regimens. It is more money but offers capabilities beyond competitive target shooting practice alone.

Weight and balance are about as even as possible for two similar handguns with optics (especially with the same optic) so it will come down to trigger pull and the shooting skill, the latter as variable as the wind. What is great about both CZ-based models is that they are ambidextrous so right and left-handed shooters go to the range with no handicap.

The Shadow Blue and the pricey red dot team delivered a best 10 round total from 21 feet measuring 0.81 inches with a best 5-shot group at 0.56 inches.

I shot one series of tests with the high-priced Styrka S3, which I was able to sight in with Umarex Precision steel BBs in half a dozen shots. I fired 10-shot groups using a 10-meter target at 21 feet rather than throwing steel into a big red center dot on a Shoot-N-C. It’s a smaller bullseye, too. My best 10-shot group measured 0.81 inches with a best five at 0.56 inches with three overlapping split in the 8 ring at 9 o’clock.

Using the Walther MRS (same as a CenterPoint 32mm reflex sight), which was already sighted in for the Tanfoglio Gold Custom, I needed five shots to readjust POA, after which the MRS delivered 10 rounds into 0.935 inches with the Shadow Blue. The best 5-shot group covered 0.56 inches.


A reflex sight like the Walther MRS or CenterPoint 32mm is fairly inexpensive compared to a competition red dot like the Styrka S3, C-More STS, or other red dot sights, but can deliver equal accuracy with CO2 pistols. Mounting the MRS on the Shadow Blue got me 10 shots grouped into 0.935 inches with the best 5-shots measuring 0.56 inches; almost head-to-head with professional grade optics.

To keep everything both even and more affordable, I didn’t shoot the Tanfoglio with the Styrka S3 and switched the MRS back to the Gold Custom. I pulled everything left (because I didn’t reset the windage and elevation!) but my groups were tight placing a best 10 rounds at 0.685 inches with a best five-shot spread over 0.437 inches. The Gold Custom is still the gold standard, but the Shadow Blue with equal equipment can give it a run for its money and then switch back to a tactical training gun. I guess that’s something.

At the end of the day, and it literally was the end of the day, the MRS back on its usual host allowed the Tanfoglio to deliver a tie-breaking best group measuring 0.685 inches and a best 5-round group of 0.437 inches. I did not readjust the sight from the Shadow so my rounds were all hitting left of POA but packing in tight.

7 thoughts on “ASG CZ SP-01 Shadow Blue part 5

  1. Both are very accurate smooth bores. I think the longer barrel maybe a factor favoring the Tanfoglio . I like the fact that theCZ can be defanged to a standard pistol . For$75 The Tanfoglio is cheaper , but that is a typo. Nice shooting.

  2. I really like this ASG CZ-75 SP-01 Shadow pistol especially with the colored accessories, but I’m very hesitant to buy one. Although there are only six customer reviews at Pyramyd Air that are almost all negative (compared to an unknown, unreported number of satisfactory purchases).

    The reported problems are:
    1. BBs shooting out of the magazine when the follower is released. Was a 6 mm airsoft magazine shipped in the box instead of a 0.177 caliber magazine? One reviewer stated they paid for the 10 for 10 test and still received a defective magazine.
    2. Plastic BBs (airsoft BBs?) included in the box with the steel BB pistol. Was a 6 mm airsoft magazine also in the box instead of the required 0.177 caliber magazine?
    3. One reviewer commented, “Does not function. Does not cycle reliably and go back into battery.”

    Those were the most severe problems reported. A lesser problem reported was paint finish coming off when the stickers on the gun were removed.

    Until I see some evidence that ASG has fixed these problems, I must regard this CZ-75 SP-01 Shadow pistol as one to avoided as the plague.

    • I can answer most of those questions, however, my test gun came directly from ASG and had no unusual extras or anything relating to Airsoft plastic BBs in the package. I have experienced no issues with three different magazines, one from ASG two from Pyramyd Air. I have used this gun a lot and there is zero finish wear and they don’t paint them, so it can’t peel off. If can rub thin, but not yet and this one has been in and out of several holsters for articles. I didn’t have any stickers on mine, but if you have one, be slow, careful and, did I say careful, when removing it. It won’t pull the finish off but the gum backing will leave a sticky residue. Don’t try and rub it off. Use Scotch tape or a small piece of duct tape (stickier than the gum backing) and press it on and pull it off a little at a time until all the gum residue is lifted off the finish. As for BBs shooting out of the magazine when the follower is released, they sure do, if you let it slam up. Don’t let it slam up, release and slide it up carefully. If it slips off your thumbnail and flies closed odds are pretty good the top BB is going to be expelled. I have had this happen a number of times with the CZ and other magazines without a locking follower and a heavy spring. Overall, it is a very good air psitol in my experience.


      • I realize 6 negative reviews may be a very small percentage compared to the number of satisfied customers who have not commented on their purchase. However I do find it credible that one or more of the 6 reviewers received 6 mm airsoft magazines instead of 0.177 caliber magazines because something like that happened to me.

        Awhile back I purchased from Pyramyd Air an accessory magazine for a Swiss Arms 1911 0.177 caliber steel BB pistol. The package was labelled as being a 0.177 caliber magazine, but when I loaded it with steel BBs, the BBs shot out of the top of the magazine no matter how slowly I let the follower. Upon measuring the port at the top of the magazine, I discovered that it is indeed a 6 mm port for airsoft BBs. Somehow, an airsoft magazine had been placed into the package for a 0.177 caliber magazine.

        With 0.177 caliber BB magazines, I’ve not observed the BBs shooting out the top when the follower springs up too fast. I’ll take your word for it that it’s possible, but I haven’t seen it happen.

  3. Dennis,

    Off-topic, but I was rereading your three-part series on the ASG CZ SP-09 DT FDE (quite a mouthful, glad I only had to type it!).

    I have read how to remove the annoying “safety button for the safety lever.” But it dawned on me the safety on the air pistol needs to be pushed down for “Safe” and pushed up for “Fire.” The firearm is not like that, is it?

    How would that affect the usefulness of that air pistol as a training substitute for the firearm?

    Could ASG be asked if they have a method to reverse that?


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