CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow 2 Part 2

CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow 2 Part 2

A unique design that translates well to a CO2 pistol

By Dennis Adler

Aside from Česká zbrojovka, the original Czechoslovakian manufacturer, the CZ-75 design has been duplicated by over 20 armsmakers worldwide, some with very familiar names. Regardless of whether it is called a Baby Desert Eagle II, a Jericho, or a Tanfoglio, they are all based on the Model CZ 75, including the European American Armory (EAA) Witness series, seven different models from TriStar Arms, nine from Eagle Imports, the Turkish-built Canik TP 9V2 and the handcrafted Swiss-built Sphinx SDP series. They all begin with the basics of the Česká zbrojovka (chess-ka za-brav-ka, design. Today the initials CZ are sufficient, just like Sig, which is the acronym for Shweizerische Industrie-Gesellschaft.

In about a 5-year span we have gone from the first ASG CZ 75 Model based on the early CZ 75 design and a couple of updates to the design, to the SP-01 Shadow in 2018 and the newer Shadow 2 version in 2020 (which is actually a late 2020, early 2021 model. The SP-01 pictured is upgraded with the Shadow Blue accessories.
Lest we think the Shadow Blue CO2 model I put together in 2018 was just a fancied up air pistol, here is a centerfire EAA Witness Limited Extreme competition model with the same blue accessories as the SP-01 Shadow Blue air pistol.
The CZ 75 design is used by IWI in manufacturing the Baby Desert Eagle II for Magnum Research, just one of many guns today that share CZ 75 constriction. No matter how different you make it look, the slide riding inside the frame is always a giveaway.

CZ has been in the arms-making business since 1936 producing a wide range of military and civilian weapons, including target pistols. Shooting IPSC matches has become one of the top three competition sports in the Czech Republic, and CZ pistols are the handguns of choice. CZ and CZ designed pistols, like the Tanfoglio Gold Custom, have won numerous world championship titles.

You have to give ASG and CZ a big hand for the attention to detail in the new CO2 model of the 2018 centerfire CZ Shadow 2 (left). All of the design upgrades and characteristics of the 9x19mm model have been faithfully reproduced on the new 2020 blowback action CO2 model.

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A shape like no other

If you know your European handgun designs, you can tell a CZ 75 at a glance no matter whose name is on it. This is one of the best DA/SA semi-autos ever designed, and that carries through to the ASG branded CO2 models. A CZ 75-based design is easily recognized by its shallow slide, which rides lower and inside the frame rails, rather than on the outside and over the frame like a 1911, as an example. The CZ design allows for a very tight slide-to-frame fit, not only for the cartridge-firing models but for the air pistols as well. Of course, before we go giving CZ all the credit for this unusual characteristic, they didn’t invent it, but rather adopted the design from another legendary handgun, the Sig P210, which was designed in 1947.

Here is the original design shown on a Sig P210 Legend model. Again you can see how low the slide rests on the frame and with the longer barrel and shorter frame the side rails riding inside the frame. Sig (not Sig Sauer) developed the unique design in 1947. The P210 became the standard issue Swiss military pistol.

The originl P210 was built by Swiss armsmaker SIG, which was founded in 1860. Today, SIG is now part of the Luke & Ortmeier Group that incudes independent firearms companies Mauser, J.P. Sauer, Sig-Sauer Inc., Sig-Sauer GmbH, and SAN Swiss Arms. Not quite as old as the Colt Model 1911 (109 years), the 73-year old P210 is still built today as a limited edition Sig Sauer branded model, the P210 Target, and there have been various models since the P210 was introduced. Even after nearly three-quarters of a century, the Sig is still regarded as one of the most accurate handguns in the world, and it is with this knowledge that guns using the P210 design, like the CZ 75 and all CZ 75-based handguns, have an inherent degree of accuracy that comes from their slide and frame design.

Big differences between the SP-01 Shadow (and Shadow Blue) are clearly evident in the re-contoured backstrap and grip profile, the standard use of aluminum grip panels, larger slide serrations, redesigned ambidextrous thumb safeties, hammer shape and new fully adjustable (windage and elevation) rear sight.
A new triggerguard shape also creates a slightly deeper undercut for the shooting hand. You can also see the much larger and angle adjustable magazine release, the top of the new adjustable rear sight, and larger hammer spur. The reshaped backstrap contour also increases the effective length of the beavertail. The Shadow 2 sits more firmly in the hand overall.

The centerfire CZ 75 models are all short-recoil, locked-breech designs utilizing the Browning linkless cam locking system common among the majority of modern semi-autos. The .177 caliber models use a modified blowback action design with a separate recoil spring, guide rod and linkless barrel like the centerfire models. Although the gun can be initially field stripped it does not break down internally exactly like the centerfire models, and after the basic removal of the slide from the frame, it is not necessary to remove the recoil spring, guide rod and barrel, as the assembly of the barrel lug and interface with the guide rod and recoil is unique to the air pistol (some added disassembly is required).

The Shadow models allow basic field stripping; removal of the slide from the frame. That is as much as you need to do with this air pistol. The design of the barrel lug and interface with the recoil spring and guide rod make further disassembly difficult. The guide rod and recoil spring can be removed as shown but it is not necessary and much harder to reinsert than remove. That’s longhand for don’t.

The internal designs from the CZ 75 CO2 model to the SP-01 Shadow and Shadow 2 are a little different, just like the exteriors. All of the advantages of the SP-01, such as ambidextrous safeties, are carried forward into the Shadow 2 which adds the redesigned grip profile for a better hold, new slide serrations, reshaped safeties and hammer, new adjustable rear sights, adjustable magazine release, front strap checkering, re-contoured and slightly more undercut triggerguard, single notch accessory rail, adjustable trigger, and a hop-up system designed for the BB gun. This is one instance when version 2.0 (or just 2), looks like a big step up.

Here is where the CZ 75 (Sig P210) frame and slide design can be best understood. The frame rails for the slide (left arrow) are on the inside rather than on the outside like most semi-autos. The slide rail cuts are high up on the outside of the slide rather than on the lower inner edge. Everything is reversed. As a result, the slide fits lower into the frame, lowering the bore axis and creating a stronger fit of the slide and frame.
Here you can see the relationship of the slide to the frame with the rails on the inside. If you look at the front of a 1911, for example, it will be just the opposite and the slide sits higher on the frame.


Is a new model with new features always going to be a better gun overall? One question that immediately arises is velocity. The box that the gun comes in has the specs on the side label, and the number is a shockingly low 286 fps. The SP-01 Shadow used for the Shadow Blue update delivered an average velocity of 319 fps, a high of 324 fps, a low of 317 fps. While the average for the SP-01 was 319 fps, out of 10 shots through the chronograph, the gun exceeded 320 fps six times. So, is 285 fps a typo on the Shadow 2 box? Or could it be the rating for the European market? Since the box is also marked “For USA Only” it is a bit of a puzzlement. It can’t be 285 fps.

The single most identifying characteristic between the 9x19mm model and the CO2 model is the inscription on the slide, MADE IN CZECH REPUBLIC. The rest of the marking are duplicated on the air pistol including 9×19 and the CZ logo.

I am concluding Part 2 with a quick run through the chronograph using Umarex steel BBs to find the answer. The hop-up setting is being left at the factory default and the same with the trigger which, as it comes, has a terrific 0.31 inch take up in single action and an SA trigger press of just 2 pounds, 0.8 ounces; about as smooth as you could want for a target trigger. Average velocity for 10 rounds clocked 313 fps with a high of 322 fps and a low of 300 fps, so the Shadow 2 doesn’t quite deliver the same velocity as the SP-01, but with the sights as they were set from the factory, at 21 feet the total spread for three velocity tests (30 rounds) was 1.75 inches with multiple overlapping hits. With that may shots on the target I can only guesstimate a best 5-round group at 0.625 inches. It may be a few fps shy of the SP-01 but it is better than 285 fps and with all of the added features yet to be explored, this is a very promising beginning for the Shadow 2.

13 thoughts on “CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow 2 Part 2”

  1. Glad to see the velocity exceeds 300 fps, making it a serious air pistol. Appears to be a nicely put together pistol with features that serious airgun shooters will appreciate, especially adjustable sights

  2. Why on earth can’t we have this kind of airguns with 5fpe and one magazine shot count with hard blowback?
    With the current restrictions on guns all over the world I strongly believe that they would sell enormously and I rest my case.

    • I have to agree that higher power blowback replicas should be offered. That would allow longer distance and reactive target shooting.. with gun restrictions and decreased ammunition availability, especially 22 rimfire, this makes more sense now. The last 15-20 shots are usually useless , hitting low and failing to cycle the slide and lock back. Maybe adjustable valves to let shooters decide.

    • Because these designs are airsoft guns first and foremost.
      The slides are already being beaten pretty hard using CO2 and running at BB velocities. They wouldn’t survive long at the power levels you want. They already don’t last.

      • I agree with you regarding their weakness. So I would take the existing blowback action with the 5 fpe and a shot count of two magazines. Even better for me. The idea of the adjustable valve as expressed by Lawman67 above seems like the best solution.
        Pitty that even Baikal with the steel frame MP 654 made the MP658 blowback so anemic

        • You can’t hammer 5FPE out of these, that’s what I am saying.
          The gun wouldn’t survive it.

          You would need a new design that was for that kind of power to start with. These pot metal guns can’t take that kind of beating.

        • I apologize for calling it pot metal, but it sure wears like it on my co2 guns.
          The slide and hammer on my M9 A3 are wearing very quickly. Likely do to my son loving the full auto.

          I understand pricing these products at a level that is attractive, but if there was a normal version for $100-150 and a high power version made of steel or a much harder aluminum alloy for $300, I would buy it just for that.

          The higher power version shouldn’t seal on the face of the cart. Have a tube for the cart and seal it at the back end with a proper oring. The same magazines bored out bit with a proper pressure tube inserted would be a cheap way to improve the design. Lot’s of little stuff like that would greatly improve the durability of these guns with limited added cost. In addition it would offer the possibility of mixing and matching the parts as the user desires.

          My dream is to build an auto-revolver pellet pistol like I described. The slide blowing back being used to move the cylinder to the next chamber.

  3. Can the rear sight be removed from the slide? It looks like it can be removed. According to Stampede Airsoft, ASG appears to have discontinued the rail accessory for the CZ SP-01 Shadow series of pistols. Is there another rail accessory that could be mounted on the slide using the dovetail groove in which the rear sight is mounted?

    • It appears the rear sight could be completely driven out of the dovetail. Since this is a test gun that will be going back I am not at liberty to start taking it apart, but being drift adjustable with two locking screws it probably could be replaced.

      As for the accessory rail bridge mount, you might have to look around the internet if Stampede is showing it out of stock or no longer available. I doubt ASG has discontinued it, as this is one of the better accessories for the SP-01. Your last question is a tough one. You would have to find a rail that mounts in the rear sight dovetail like was done by Umarex for the Beretta 92FS models some years back. Would be an interesting project.

  4. I would like to go backwards and see a standard CZ 85, ambi safety, round trigger guard, rear sight from this pistol, and standard grips and standard mag flat with grip frame

  5. Pyramid should increase their build your own. Put the ambi safety and adjustable rear sight on the 75. Should be able to mix and fit. When I was a kid if I found a time machine , would have pushed the lever forward to the future. Now , pull back and 70s. Cheap gas, great guns, Olds442, Cassettes and the simple fun times. Getting old

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