by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

ASG SP-01-pistol
ASG’s CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow BB pistol is large and heavy. The guns they are shipping have red fiberoptic sights in front, like those found on the firearm.

This report covers:

  • Rich history!
  • So what?
  • Anywhere?
  • The BB pistol
  • Adjustable rear sight
  • Front sight
  • Full blowback
  • Single action and double action
  • All controls are real
  • Grips
  • Summary

I recently started exploring using airguns as stand-ins for certain self-defense firearms. This has now taken a turn, and today I will start reviewing one that I am serious about — the ASG CZ75 SP-01 Shadow BB pistol. I will get to the description in a bit, but before I do, let’s first look at the prototype firearm — the CZ75.

Rich history!

There are a few sidearms that stand out from the crowd. The M1911 is one, and the P08 Luger is another. And today’s pistol, the CZ75, is right there with them. We start by recognizing that the 9X19mm cartridge that we know better as the 9mm Luger, is the most popular handgun cartridge in today’s world. Nearly everything else is compared to it, and most successful semiautomatic pistols are chambered for it.

In the 1970s the world was stunned by the launch and growth of the “wonder nines” — 9mm pistols with an unbelievable capacity for ammunition. Perhaps the Browning Hi Power pistol that was launched in 1935 was the first of these. It was high power because it held 13 rounds in a staggered stack magazine. That was twice the number of rounds other pistols carried.

The “wonder nine” pistols of the ‘70s carried this to the extreme, holding over 20 rounds in some cases. The CZ 75 holds anywhere from 12 to 26 rounds, depending on the specific model and magazine. I could now go into a huge amount of history, but I’m not going to. I will cut right to the chase. Around the world both military and law enforcement agencies have used some version of the CZ 75 since its inception in 1975. It is a design that is known everywhere. It makes sense that ASG would bring out a BB pistol to celebrate the success and rich history of the gun. But that’s not why I am reviewing it today.

I am reviewing this pistol because Bob Li, of Action Sport Games (ASG), told me about his personal CZ 75. In fact, he raved about it all throughout the show! You guys call me the Great Enabler, but the same thing happens to me when I get around other gun guys. And Bob’s enthusiasm was infectious.

I told you this in Part 5 of the 2018 SHOT Show report. I also showed you a picture of the gun.

I saw the BB pistol I’m reviewing in the ASG booth, and it was a pip, but Bob’s description of the CZ 75 went far beyond that. It went so far that before I returned to Texas I vowed to get a CZ 75 firearm for myself and test it in conjunction with the test of this BB pistol. And that is exactly what I did.

I shopped for the best deal on a CZ 75 SP-01 so I’d have something close to compare with the BB pistol, but in the process I mentioned by search to Johnny Hill of Weatherford Pawn — my FFL dealer of choice. He told me of a special sale that Sarco was running in which I could buy a used 9mm CZ 75 for just $250, instead of the $550 and more I would have to pay for a new gun. Well, I jumped at that, and so did my gun buddy, Otho. These were guns that were turned in by an Israeli security company when they purchased new sidearms. They were all in very good or better condition, though I have to admit that mine had not been cleaned since it was last fired.

ASG-SP-01-pistol-with-CZ-75
The BB pistol (top) looks more realistic than the CZ 75 firearm. It’s also 11.5 ounces heavier.

So what?

I’m telling you this because I will be testing the firearm alongside the BB pistol in this series. You heard me right — I will test a firearm at the same time I’m testing its lookalike BB pistol! And it doesn’t end there!

ASG also sent me a Kydex quick draw paddle holster with the pistol, and I intend using it for this training. I’m not just going to shoot these two guns together, I’m going to practice with them both and try to describe to you how it feels to have a lookalike BB pistol I can shoot anywhere to train for my firearm.

Anywhere?

Now you know why I wrote about the Dust Devil BBs on Tuesday. Yes, I can test anywhere, because Dust Devils make it safe to shoot BB guns against hard reactionary targets — the very kind you need to shoot for real practice with a defense weapon.

The BB pistol

I have so much more to say about this training concept, but this day is about the BB pistol, so let’s begin our look. The SP-01 Shadow is a top of the line variation of the CZ 75, and the BB pistol is no exception. It’s quite large, at an overall length of 8.2 inches and an unloaded weight of 41 oz. The firearm it copies weighs 46.5 oz. But this BB pistol actually weighs more than the unloaded weight of my lightweight CZ 75 firearm that comes in at 29.5 oz.

The designers went out of their way to give as much realism as possible, so some things on this pistol need explaining (or ‘splainin’, as Ricky Ricardo would say). Most of it revolves around the magazine that also houses the CO2 cartridge.

It’s a stick mag that, in a huge twist of irony, holds the same number of BBs as the firearm magazine holds 9mm cartridges. Seventeen BBs fit into the mag, and they are loaded at the base of the follower slot. That’s not obvious until you read the manual.

ASG-SP-01-pistol mag
The SP-01 mag loads through a tiny enlargement at the bottom of the follower slot (arrow) The floorplate comes off when a button is pressed (two arrows) clearing the way to install the CO2 cartridge

The mag floorplate is removed by pressing in a small button for access to the CO2 cartridge cap. The cap is screwed in place by a large Allen wrench provided with the gun. Once the floorplate is back on you cannot see where the CO2 goes in.

Adjustable rear sight

The rear sight adjusts for windage. This is similar to the firearm it copies.

Front sight

As mentioned above, the front sight is a red fiberoptic. That is identical to the 9mm firearm front sight. How the makers get away with that on a firearm that sells for $1,200 is a mystery to me!

Full blowback

More realism is felt when you fire. The heavy metal slide is blown all the way back for a good feeling of recoil.

Single action and double action

You carry the firearm with 17 rounds in the mag and one in the chamber. It has a double action trigger for the first shot. After that it’s single action until all 18 rounds are gone. Then the slide locks open, telling you to reload. Both trigger pulls are light and smooth. Same for the BB pistol, except for the round in the chamber.

All controls are real

Everything on this pistol works as it should. The slide release doubles as the takedown pin and the pistol comes apart easier than my firearm. The slide and frame even have the takedown marks for disassembly. The safety is ambidextrous, and wide enough for the thumb to ride on during firing. The magazine release is a button on the left side of the frame that works smoothly and the magazine is a drop-free type. This is a handgun for quick tactical work.

Grips

The grips are molded soft rubber with diamonds that really grip the hand. I wish my firearm grip was as well contoured, but it is a concealed piece and something was given up for a thin profile.

Summary

If you are looking for realism in a BB gun, look at this one closely. It costs more because it delivers more.

That’s all for today, but know that I am bursting at the seams to keep quiet, because I have fired the firearm already. When we get to the accuracy report I will show you both handguns! Until them, stay tuned!