CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow 2 Part 5

CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow 2 Part 5

CZ vs. CZ – Looking for the top gun

By Dennis Adler

There are only a few CO2 pistol lines that explore a series of original models, the Umarex Glock series, for example with the Glock 19, Glock 17 Third Gen, Gen4 and G19X (Gen5-based), and now the ASG CZ 75 line with the CZ 75, SP-01 Shadow and Shadow 2, which like the Glocks, delineate a progression in model improvements. More commonly a new gun replaces its predecessor, but with the ASG CZ line we have the opportunity to compare three generations of design first hand.

ASG has three different CZ models but they are the same guns inside with the same magazines and CO2 systems. What separates them is aesthetics of design and minor differences in handling. Will better sights and a slightly different trigger for the Shadow 2 contribute to the better performance?
Three different triggerguard shapes, three different hammers and two different trigger designs are noteworthy changes between models along with slide profiles; the general handling of each is similar, and the most effort thus far has gone into the Shadow 2. It is one big step up in design from the SP-01.

Triggers and triggerguards

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Looking at all three ASG CZ 75 models the changes in designs over the years are sweeping from the original shape of the frame and slide to the changes in triggerguard shape and addition of serrations, to the final evolution of the Shadow 2 trigger which is less curved than its predecessors; the bold crescent-shaped trigger was a design trait of all CZ models, so this is noteworthy, too, as is the bold change in the backstrap and beavertail designs between the SP-01 Shadow and Shadow 2. The current evolution of the CZ design both as a centerfire pistol and a CO2 model is a better handling pistol that is more closely associated with target pistols than duty pistols. To that end, CZ still sells an updated version of the CZ 75 B and the SP-01 Shadow, now designated as the Shadow 1 series, as well as the full competition CZ 75 TS Czechmate, (similar to the Tanfoglio Gold Custom). The next gun I would like to see duplicated by ASG would obviously be the CZ 75 TS Czechmate with the optics bridge and muzzle break, as used in IPSC Open Division competition.

Subtle changes to the centerfire guns are duplicated with the CO2 models, such as the change from the famous crescent shaped CZ 75 trigger used on the CZ 75 and SP-01, to the slightly straighter trigger shoe seen on the Shadow 2. This slightly alters the trigger pull, which is a hair better than its predecessors, but the CZ 75 and SP-01 Shadow also have very light and smooth triggers. The Shadow 2 trigger is more like a target trigger.

Three on air

With the CZ 75 trio offered in 2020 by ASG you have three different designs, three different sighting setups from fixed traditional note rear and blade front to combat style and red fiber optic front, to windage and elevation adjustable competition rear.

All three guns use the same magazines and basic internal CO2 firing systems and average velocity runs in the 310 fps to 320 fps range. With the same fundamental CZ design for al three guns, it all comes down to the accuracy of the individual pistols based on their design features (and, of course, the skill of the person shooting them). And here we have the opportunity to compare all three.

Sights are a bigger difference in accuracy, or so you would think, but the fixed standard CZ sights on the original CZ 75 model (left) are good enough at 21 feet that the gun can shoot tight groups with a little POA adjustment. The SP-01 Shadow (middle) has fixed combat sights with the red fiber optic front but is not that different in handling or accuracy from the CZ 75. The only real difference between these three CO2 pistols is the adjustable rear sight on the Shadow 2 which gives the gun a slight accuracy advantage.

Downrange accuracy

I’m going to do this in order, starting with the CZ 75 which has been on the market longest. In comparison with a standard CZ-75B, the 4.5mm air pistol vs. the 9mm semi-auto, comes in with the same capacity (16+1 in 9mm, 17 in 4.5mm), both have metal frames, plastic grips, a DA/SA trigger system, fixed sights (the CZ has white dot sights, the airgun’s are flat black with a serrated front ramp), the 9mm’s barrel is 4.6 inches in length, the smoothbore airgun barrel is 4.25 inches, the weight is a modest  1.95 ounces lighter, at 33.25 ounces vs. 35.2 for the 9mm. Overall length is the same at 8.1 inches, and the airgun’s height is slightly greater than the CZ-75B at 5.76 inches with the CZ-75 SP-01 magazine base. The standard CZ-75 is 5.4 inches in height. The airgun’s width is 1.25 inches, a minuscule 0.15 inches narrower than a 9mm.

A very consistent shooter, the original ASG CZ 75 will keep 10 rounds inside the 10 ring at 21 feet and put a few into the bullseye. It is a very predictable and reliable blowback action air pistol.

The average velocity measured 310 fps and my best 10-round group hit in the 10 and X rings measuring 1.5 inches, with a best five measuring 0.93 inches. The best 5-shot group I ever had with the old CZ 75 was 0.5 inches.

The 9mm SP-01 has an overall weight 41.1 ounces, overall length of 8.15 inches, height of 5.79 inches and width if 1.46 inches. The CO2 model weighs in at 38.0 ounces with an overall length of 8.15 inches, height of 5.79 inches, and width of 1.5 inches (to the outer edges of the ambidextrous thumb safeties). With Umarex .177 caliber steel BBs the SP-01 Shadow clocked an average velocity of 319 fps, a high of 324 fps, a low of 317 fps, and a standard deviation of just 2 fps over 10 rounds. This SP-01 Shadow test gun has a heavier but smoother double action pull of 9 pounds, 15 ounces, and a slick single action trigger press of just 1 pound, 15.4 ounces average. All the CZ CO2 models deliver a pretty decent kick when the slide comes back and it slams closed with an equal amount of energy. Since the rear sight is a fixed dovetail mount, not adjustable for elevation or windage you have to compensate when aiming, like the CZ 75, if the gun shoots high or low, etc. This test gun shot just “slightly” below POA. The trigger pull being as smooth as it is on this gun made consistent shots around the 10-ring, but not center punching the red, for a best 10 shot target with a spread of 1.50 inches and best five rounds in an overlapping string measuring 0.75 inches. 

The SP-01 Shadow models have all had a tendency to shoot low and left (this is the third gun I have tested and they have all been about the same), but they do group shots tightly if you get on a run with a corrected POA. Here I have six out of 10 in one almost overlapping string through the 10 ring.

Now comes the new Shadow 2, which has been dialed in for elevation and windage. I ended up with 10 shots in 1.625 inches with four overlapping in the bullseye, one cutting the edge, three in the 10 also overlapping. The bullseye shots had a spread of 0.68 inches. Not a spectacular group overall but the most bullseye hits of the three guns.

Adjustable sights work. The Shadow 2 handles just a little better than the SP-01 Shadow and CZ 75 but it is really the rear sight that makes the most difference.
Another target with the Shadow 2 again put multiple shots in the bullseye, only here I had a pair go a little high to mess up an otherwise good group. I have to say it is me and not the gun because I have had more consistent bullseyes with the Shadow 2 than the other two CZ models. As for velocity, they are almost identical. If you like the latest design then this is the one for you.

At the end of the tests it is evident that the CZ models all are very close in performance, the Shadow 2 just a little better because of the sights, but the guns are mostly equal, best defined by design changes, but still limited to the internal operation of their CO2 designs, smoothbore barrels, and the CO2 BB magazines. All good guns. It is just a matter of design preference. You can have a classic or the latest competition design, but still the same CZ CO2 model at heart.

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