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

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

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By Dennis Adler

The new ASG CZ-75 SP-01 will be available with a fitted Level 1 Strike Systems injection molded paddle holster. This combination is a great training aid for learning holster safety, pistol retention, and proper drawing techniques with triggerguard locking holsters.

The CZ-75 SP-01 is a robust pistol with a redistributed weight and balance different from the original CZ-75 model. The SP-01 design offers faster handling with its large ambidextrous thumb safeties, larger slide release and easier to activate left-side magazine release. The integrated 1913 Picatinny accessory rail changes the balance of the gun in the hand (this is more beneficial with the 9mm model for recoil) but still offers the same overall advantage of the well established CZ-75 design; a heavily buttressed triggerguard and large, hand-filling grips, shallow slide, well styled sights (improved with the red fiber optic front on the Shadow) and a low bore axis. The SP-01 Shadow .177 caliber BB model is ideal for defensive pistol skill development and pistol training right down to its 9mm sized drop free self-contained CO2 BB magazine. In comparison, the air pistol vs. the 9mm SP-01 semi-auto, comes in with one less round capacity (18 in 9mm, 17 in .177 caliber), both have metal frames, rubberized grips, a DA/SA trigger system, similarly designed sights, barrel lengths (the 9mm barrel is 4.6 inches, the .177 smoothbore barrel 4.25 inches) and so close in overall weight and dimensions that the air pistol works with the same holsters as the centerfire model.

Loading the CZ-75 series magazines is a minor chore as the magazine design has the extended SP-01 base pad. This has to first be removed by pressing in on a locking button with the small hex head tool included with the gun. The base pad slides forward and clicks into the second detent. Repeat the process and slide it off exposing the seating screw which is removed with the large hex head tool provided. Load the CO2 and reverse the process. You’ll want several CZ magazines to load and have ready.

Trigger pull and operation

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Trigger pull on the standard CZ-75 CO2 model averaged 8 pounds, 3.2 ounces fired double action and a feathery 2 pounds, 7.2 ounces single action. This is the same superb single action only trigger you find on the Tanfoglio Limited and Gold Custom .177 caliber models, which are also based on the CZ-75 platform. In comparison, trigger pull on the 9mm SP-01 Shadow II averages 8 pounds 7.5 ounces double action and 2 pounds 11.5 ounces single action. The CO2 model weighs in with a double action trigger press of 8 pounds, 14.5 ounces, so just a little heavier, and 2 pounds, 4.5 ounces single action, just a little lighter. The new SP-01 Shadow CO2 model falls right in the middle but with just a little heavier stacking to stage the hammer compared to the CZ-75 air pistol. On single action the trigger on the new SP-01 feels tighter and more precise, so considering only the first round is fired double action (if you have de-cocked the pistol after chambering the first BB), the overall advantage is the single action trigger on the SP-01 for a smooth pull and clean break shot after shot that is light, but not too light.

The follower on the CZ mags does not lock down so you’ll need to keep it and the compressed spring below the loading port. The port is well sized and you can load 17 steel BBs pretty quick with a speed loader. Interestingly, the 9mm centerfire version of this gun has a magazine with an 18 round capacity. Unfortunately the new Shadow uses the same 17-round BB mags as the standard CZ-75. Good news if you have a CZ-75 CO2 model and spare magazines.

Shots downrange

Looking back at the CZ-75 review from 2016, the average velocity with Umarex steel BBs measured 310 fps, and just about every group fired (in 10 round strings) struck inside the 10 ring on the target. My best 10-round group hit in the 10 and X rings measuring 1.5 inches, with a best five measuring 0.5 inches. That’s the baseline for the new SP-01 to meet or beat.

The ASG Strike Systems holster is identical to Level 1 duty holsters for the 9mm CZ SP-01 Shadow. The trigger finger is used to press in on the release paddle before drawing the gun. This retracts the triggerguard lock in the holster allowing the pistol to be removed. A Level 1 holster is a secure and safe way to carry a handgun.

For all the great features of the CZ design, the CO2 magazines are not that great to load. The magazine follower does not lock down, which means you need a sturdy thumb nail to hold the follower and compressed spring under the loading port. The magazine base plate has to be removed to load CO2 and it has two pinhole detents that have to be individually pressed in with the small hex head wrench to remove it. The seating screw must then be removed, the CO2 inserted, the screw replaced and tightened down to pierce the CO2. Last, the base pad has to be slipped back onto the bottom groove of the magazine; one click, press in the pin, second click, and press in the pin again. Then push the base pad the rest of the way until it clicks into place.

One of the good things about a pistol with ambidextrous safeties like the SP-01 Shadow is that it works well right handed…
…or left handed. I try to keep up with shooting both left and right handed. Weak hand shooting is a technique everyone should practice for those “just in case” moments.

The CZ delivers a decent amount of recoil with its blowback action and there is more than ample energy coming back into the grips, almost equal to a .22 caliber pistol. The CP-01 does, however, eat up CO2 quickly and on average you get to reload the 17-round magazine three times. Suffice to say, you’ll want several magazines for the CZ.

The rear combat-style sight is a separate piece that is screwed down into the slide with a small hex head screw (and uses the same tool for pushing the pin in when removing the magazine base pad; this corresponds to a No. 40 Chapman hex head fitting). The sight can be completely removed opening up the possibility of refitting the gun with a better rear sight. As for windage adjustments the screw keeps the sight fairly centered, which, unfortunately on this test gun, consistently aimed shots low and left. For all intents, it is a fixed sight.

On the draw I engage the release paddle and begin to remove the SP-01…
…the gun clears the holster lock and is brought up to meet the support hand for a two-handed hold.
At 5 frames per second, the camera still missed the transition three times in my drawing sequence, but here is the final position with the gun ready to fire. 

The new CZ model, using Umarex .177 caliber steel BBs and Sig Sauer 12 gr. CO2, clocked an average velocity of 309 fps with a high of 317 fps, a low of 306 fps and standard deviation of only 3 FPS for 10 consecutive shots. Using a Weaver stance and two-handed hold the gun was drawn from the ASG Strike S holster and 10 consecutive rounds were fired from 21 feet for each test target.

I was hoping for a result equal to or better than the standard CZ-75 CO2 model but the SP-01 test gun had a slight issue with the rear sight and the gun was hitting about 2-inches low and left. Correcting my aim, I only managed a best 10 rounds at 2.5 inches with a best five measuring 0.875 inches. Not quite the equal of the standard CZ’s accuracy. The SA trigger pull is actually better; the issue right now is in adjusting the rear sight, which I will address next week.

Unfortunately, while the red fiber optic front sight is easy to see, the overall sight alignment, at least with this test gun, was low and left by about 2 inches at 21 feet. I compensated by adjusting my POA high and right and punched 10 shots into a wider than expected 2.5 inches with a best five measuring 0.875 inches. Not quite the equal of the standard CZ’s accuracy and no threat to the CZ-75 based Tanfoglio Limited Custom. But as a tactical trainer, it certainly stacks up well against other tactical-style models. However, unlike its 9mm counterpart, this first test of the CZ-75 SP-01 CO2 model does not look like a target pistol.

Next week some minor sight adjustments to the rear sight and a final match up with the standard CZ-75 and Tanfoglio Limited Custom CO2 models.

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