First Look: ASG’s CZ-75 SP-01 Shadow Blowback Action Pistol

First Look: ASG’s CZ-75 SP-01 Shadow Blowback Action Pistol

Stepping up the Česká zbrojovka game Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

By Dennis Adler

The first new gun of 2018 to appear in Airgun Experience is the much anticipated ASG CZ-75 SP-01 Shadow. This new blowback action model is based on the earlier CZ-75 CO2 model but fully upgraded to combine features from the CZ-75 Shadow and 2018 CZ-75 Shadow II.

No modern handguns have seen more variations from more manufacturers than the Colt Model 1911 and CZ-75, two truly distinctive designs that, no matter whose name is on the frame or slide, still look and function pretty much like the originals. Over the years Colt has made many variations of the original 1911 patented design, and so has Česká zbrojovka to its original 1975 CZ-75 platform.

For blowback action CO2 models this is where it began in 2015 with the ASG CZ-75, a mix of the original style CZ-75 with rounded triggerguard, long spur hammer, and single thumb safety paired with the later CZ-75 SP-01 extended capacity magazine with deeper base pad. The blowback action model with self-contained 17-round CO2 BB magazine was an instant winner with CO2 semi-auto enthusiasts.

In the remarkably short time since its introduction the CZ-75 design has been duplicated by more than 20 international armsmakers including IMI’s Baby Desert Eagle and Jericho, Italian armsmaker Tanfoglio’s Limited Custom and Gold Custom, the EAA (European American Armory) Witness series and multiple models sold under the TriStar Arms name. There is the Turkish-built Canik TP 9V2, and one of the more expensive CZ-75 variations in the world, the precision-built Swiss Sphinx SDP. ASG’s .177 caliber blowback action CZ-75 is also licensed by Česká zbrojovka, so the company has all the bases covered from airguns for plinking and handgun training to multiple caliber centerfire models for police, military and competition shooting. In USPSA Production Division, CZ pistols are now used by twice as many top-level competitors as any other maker.

Evolutionary designs from CZ begin with the 9mm Shadow at top, which had a windage adjustable rear sight and red fiber optic front sight with the SP-01 triggerguard design and hammer. The latest CZ models, the SP-01 Shadow CO2 version (center) has the improved frame design with dustcover accessory rail, the same sights as the earlier Shadow, new rubberized Shadow grips, and the larger ambidextrous thumb safeties and slide release of the latest SP-01 Shadow II. The 2018 SP-01 Shadow II has a fully adjustable competition rear sight. Interestingly, this is similar to the rear sight on the 9mm Tanfoglio Limited Custom and CO2 model.

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For competitive shooting, the latest centerfire Shadow II introduced this year, has a higher beavertail and undercut triggerguard so the shooter’s hand is able to be as close to the bore axis as possible. With a contoured slide, the majority of the reciprocating mass is also centered on the bore, equating to less muzzle flip. The ASG model incorporates most of these same features in the new CO2 SP-01 blowback action Shadow.

The differences between the early CO2 CZ-75 design and latest CZ SP-01 Shadow are quite evident when seen together. The new frame has a completely different contour and integrated 1913 Picatinny rail and the later SP-01 triggerguard design. The pistol also has completely different sights, hammer, elongated ambidextrous thumb safeties and a larger slide release.

The Shadow knows…

If you know your European handgun designs, you can tell a CZ-75 at a glance no matter what name is on it. This is one of the finest double action single action semi-auto designs of all time, right up there with the Sig P210 and Browning Hi-Power.

The CZ-75 is unique in appearance and operation because of the low profile slide design with rails that run on the inside of the frame, rather than over the outside, like a 1911 for example. With the slide rails on the inside of the frame the slide can be both narrower and lower, and keep the sights closer to the bore axis.

The hammer design on the new Shadow model is SP-01 based like the first model Shadow. The CO2 version has the checkered rubberized grips with ambidextrous thumb rest contours, and checkered backstrap.

The SP-01 Shadow is the very latest CO2 model added to the Česká zbrojovka airgun line by ASG. This new blowback action version is based on the original centerfire CZ-75 Shadow model introduced in 2011 and variations of the Shadow through the SP-01 Shadow (built by the CZ Custom Shop) and the latest SP-01 Shadow II models.

The larger thumb safety and slide release are faster to operate and the SP-01 Shadow’s safeties are ambidextrous. In this view it is also easy to see the integrated thumb rest in the Shadow’s checkered rubberized grips.

The centerfire CZ-75 SP-01 was the first full size handgun (4.6 inch barrel) from CZ to feature the improved manufacturing technology and ergonomics of the NATO-approved CZ-75 Compact P-01 model. Featuring an integral 1913 accessory rail on the dustcover, rubber grip panels, and CZ’s corrosion resistant black polycoat finish, the SP-01 expanded the CZ-75 (SA/DA) platform. The centerfire SP-01 Shadow incorporates the improved grip geometry of the compact P-01, utilizing an extended beavertail to protect the shooter’s strong hand, as well as allowing for a deeper and more secure grip. The newer grip geometry, checkering in key areas on the front and backstraps, and redistribution of mass provided by the accessory rail noticeably decreases the perceived recoil from previous models and allows for more rapid target acquisition and transition. These same changes have been incorporated into the new Shadow SP-01 CO2 model, including ambidextrous thumb safeties and integrated thumb rests in the rubberized grips, which makes this version far better suited to left-handed shooters than the standard CZ-75 CO2 model.

What these two CO2 models share is an excellent blowback action based on the centerfire pistol’s short-recoil operated, locked-breech design. Here you can also see the right hand thumb safety on the Shadow and new frame design. Both have 4.25 inch smoothbore steel barrels. The CZ-75’s is chrome plated while the Shadow’s is matte finished. Both have slightly recessed .177 caliber barrels surrounded by 9mm muzzle openings.

Inner workings

Both the centerfire and CO2 CZ-75 models use a short-recoil, locked-breech design common among the majority of modern semi-autos. The .177 caliber pistol uses a modified blowback action but with a separate recoil spring, guide rod and linkless barrel just like the centerfire model. Operating the same as the CZ-75 blowback action air pistol, the Shadow’s slide locks back on an empty magazine and the large, serrated magazine release button on the frame, and larger slide release lever, make for quick reloads. The new blowback action Shadow SP-01 also adds the dustcover accessory rail, competition hammer, fiber optic front and windage adjustable rear sight, bringing another level of distinction and quality to the CZ-75 lineage.

Watch for an update on the availability of this new model from Pyramyd Air.

In Part 2 we will see how the new Shadow measures up and takes down compared to the centerfire CZ-75.

2 thoughts on “First Look: ASG’s CZ-75 SP-01 Shadow Blowback Action Pistol”

  1. nice upgrade. Makes you wonder why Browning never upgraded the High Power ,and now discontinued it. Not every shooter wants or need polymer , dao or striker fired pistols. The only flaw to me , is the oversized magazine floor plate. I took theplate off the Sig X 5 226 mag. Thispistol, like the Sig, has the ambi safety ,and adjustable sights . Where oh where is a Colt Gold Cup?

  2. Comparing this pistol to the other versions, I see two left hand problems . The first , no big deal , is the slide serrations only partial , for rt hand use. The other is the large mag release , which will be uncomfortable for left hand use , and probably cause mag release while shooting.

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