First Look: ASG’s CZ-75 SP-01 Shadow Blowback Action Pistol
By Dennis Adler
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.