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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.