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CZ P01 Review [Is it worth the hype?]

Today we’re doing a hands on review of the CZ 75 P01 9mm pistol.

There will forever exist the argument between which pistol caliber is “best”. Be it the stout .45 ACP (“Two World Wars!”), the caliber that military and law enforcement just can’t quit in the 9mm Luger, or the quick-to-fame and equally quick-to-fade .40 S&W, the debate behind which caliber is the right one, and why, will never cease. This can make researching handguns a daunting task, especially for a first timer.

But wait there’s more…After you decide on a caliber, you must then wade through the ocean of opinions regarding exactly which pistol is the right pistol. And there are some very strong opinions out there which seem to come from factions within the firearms community.

You’ll have your Glock perfectionists touting the reliability and simplicity of the Glock platform. There are also your Sig elitists, with a sub-faction residing within made up of specifically Sig P365 truthers. Among the many factions you will also find your CZ fanboys (and fangirls), also referred as hipsters, that swear by the revered CZ-75 and its derivatives. 

It’s interesting that CZ enthusiasts are commonly labeled as the hipsters of the firearms community considering CZ-75 fandom has been around since, well, 1975 when it was first introduced by Czech firearms manufacturer Česká zbrojovka.

Czech police using CZ pistols
Czech Police with the CZ P01

Since its introduction as one of the first “wonder-nines”, it has become infamous as the most copied handgun design in the world and its derivatives being among the most used pistols in the world. One such derivative is the venerable P01, a compact railed version of the CZ-75, which would go on to become the sidearm of choice for the Czech police force in 2002 (replacing the older CZ-75) and eventually lay claim as the most issued handgun in the world, being used in some capacity by upwards of 60 countries military and law enforcement agencies. 

Why the CZ P01?

CZ P01 on glass table with red dot sight

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Of all the flavors of 9mm duty pistol that have that were birthed out of the “wonder-nine” craze of the 1970s and ‘80s, including the Beretta 92 (M9 for the military minded out there), the Glock, Sig P226, etc., the CZ-75 became ubiquitous for its slide-under-rail construction and operation. Every other pistol operated with the slide moving along the rails on the outside of the frame, while the CZ-75’s frame rails were, and still are, internal.

Bore Height

This resulted in the bore-axis of the pistol sitting significantly lower in the hand and more in line with the wrist. By bringing the bore height down so much the distance between the centerline of the bore and the wrist (the hinge point that will be most affected by the pistol’s recoil) is shortened, thus reducing the rotational force (moment) and subsequent muzzle flip that is experienced during firing. The design instantly began being copied throughout the Eastern Bloc, and the CZ-75 was finally adopted by the Czech police force in 1989. 

CZ slide running inside of the frame
Notice the slide riding inside of the frame

Reliable & Proven

Fast-forward to the early 2000s. The CZ-75 is battle-proven for nearly three decades, it has been cloned dozens of times, and now multiple derivatives offered by CZ. Enter the P-01. Designed and introduced in 2001, hence -01, it was adopted by the Czech police force in 2002 and earned the honor as one of the few pistols in the world to get NATO approval and be given a NATO Stock Number (NSN). This is no small feat.

Here is a taste of the requirements:

  • 4000 dry firings with zero failures
  • 3000 de-cockings with zero failures
  • Operator level disassembly 1350 times without ware or damage to components
  • Complete disassembly and reassembly 150 times
  • 100% interchangeability, any number of pistols randomly selected, disassembled, parts mixed and reassembled with no failures of any kind including loss of accuracy
  • Exceed 15,000 rounds of +P ammunition
  • Exceed 30,000 rounds with 9mm ball ammunition
  • 99.8% reliability (0.2% failure rate)

The CZ P-01 went on to achieve a 0.05% failure rate, and successfully met numerous other safety and environmental requirements.

The NSN earned by the CZ P-01
The NSN earned by the P-01

What Does the CZ P01 Bring to the Table?

The CZ P01 is a very aesthetically appealing pistol, in my opinion, but it is more than just its good looks. The P-01 is just as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside. CZ puts out quality, plain and simple, and you can feel that quality when you hold the P-01. The alloy frame, tight tolerances, and butter smooth action allow you to appreciate the workmanship just a little more than when you hold one of the various popular polymers.

Double-action/Single-action

The P01 is a hammer fired double-action/single-action (DA/SA) pistol meaning that the first trigger pull will be a longer pull as the mechanism cocks the hammer during the firing motion, but subsequent shots will have a much shorter and lighter trigger pull as the hammer is already cocked by the cycling of the slide upon each shot.

CZ 75 P01 with magazine and pistol

Omega Trigger System

CZ also offers multiple versions of the P01. You have the original P-01 that comes in decocker configuration, the Omega model (represented by the Greek letter Omega on the pistol’s slide) that provides the user the capability to convert the pistol from decocker to manual safety allowing for “cocked and locked” single-action carry if desired, and a tactical model that comes suppressor ready with a threaded barrel and suppressor height night sights. There is even an all steel frame decocker model that is a bit harder to find and weighs 7.7 oz. more than the original alloy framed P01 model.

Size & Weight

The compact aluminum frame of the P01 reduced weight by 7.1 oz when compared to the CZ-75 B and by a whopping 12.6 oz. when compared to the SP-01, the bigger brother of the P01, while still maintaining strict accuracy standards set by the Czech police.

The P-01 shaves off just under 1 in. in overall length, as well as 0.37 in. and 0.76 in. when compared to the CZ-75 B and the SP01, respectively. But the P01 is designed as a compact pistol, after all. So how does it compare to the direct competitors in its class?

CZ P01 pistol

Comparison with Competition


CZ P-01CZ P-10 CGlock 19S&W M&P9C 2.0H&K VP9FN 509MSig P365XL
Weight (oz)28.12621.162725.5626.520.7
Height (in)5.035.25.0455.415.24.8
Width (in)1.381.261.261.31.321.351.1
Overall Length (in)7.27.37.287.257.347.46.6
Barrel Length (in)3.754.024.0244.0943.7
Capacity15+115+115+115+115+115+112+1

The P-01 compares favorably against other pistols in its class when it comes to size, but this is where that age old saying, “there is no free lunch”, comes into play. The P01 was designed to be a compact pistol that feels and handles like a full-size pistol, and CZ accomplished this largely in part due to its alloy frame.

This P01’s aluminum frame inherently makes it heavier than many of its direct competitors, the vast majority of which utilize polymer frames. It’s not an incredibly large difference, but it is noticeable. Take for instance the Glock 19, the most popular carry piston in the U.S. for several years. The P-01 is very close in overall size to the Glock 19, and even bests it in some dimensions. However, the P-01 is around 7 oz. heavier due to its alloy frame.

This is the general theme when comparing the P01 to the other compacts on the market that sport the same capacity, even other CZ offerings of the polymer variety.  

Glock 19 vs CZ P01 size comparison
Size comparison with Glock 19

Capacity with a flush fitting double-stacked magazine on the CZ P-01 is a comfortable 15+1. This rings true for the Glock 19 and the majority of other compacts in the class. The exception being the relatively new-to-market Sig P365 XL. The P365XL technically qualifies as a compact but falls more into a middle-ground between compact and micro-compact pistols. It is lighter and smaller than the P01 in all dimensions but is not a true double-stack and sacrifices magazine capacity at 12+1 instead of the P-01’s 15+1. Remember no free lunch? 

CZ 75 P01 with ammo and magazine and holster
Standard loadout with 15+1 capacity

The P-01 also takes advantage of magazine compatibility with other CZ models, such as the SP-01, which avails the P01 to magazine options with up to 17 and 19 round capacities. 

Trigger & Accuracy

As previously mentioned, the CZ P-01 is a hammer fired DA/SA pistol. This sets it apart from much of its competition in the compact pistol market considering almost all of the modern compact wonder nines are striker fired.

Striker fired pistols have the advantage of being a bit easier to train on since every single trigger pull, from the first round to the last, will be exactly the same. Of course, the DA/SA mechanism of the P01 requires a longer, heavier initial pull on the first shot with every subsequent shot having the shorter single action pull. However, DA/SA triggers have the advantage of a generally smoother trigger pull while also tending to have a very light and crisp single action pull.

Back right view of CZ P01 hand gun

Trigger Pull

The average striker fired pistol has a 4-5 lb. trigger pull and often aren’t incredibly smooth. Some are smoother than others, but there tends to be a little gritty feeling either in the take-up or at the break until the trigger is broken in. Hammer fired pistols, like the P01, have varying double-action trigger weights depending on the model (some are very high such as the Beretta M-9’s 12 lb. double action), while their single-action pulls tend to hover around the 3 lb. range or even lower. 

The stock CZ P01 on average has around a 9 lb. double-action trigger pull and a 4 lb., or lighter, single action pull. The double action is pretty long and has some stacking, but the single action hits a pretty immediate wall, and has a very pleasant, crisp break. The reset on the stock trigger is short but leaves some room for improvement.

This is where a company called Cajun Gun Works (CGW) comes in. CGW has become notorious for their work on CZ pistols and being able to turn a great gun into a near-perfect one (“Cajunizing”). I sent a P-01 off to CGW to have the Pro-Carry Package applied, and what was returned to me was nothing short of a masterpiece. The long 9 lb. double action was polished into an incredibly smooth 7 lb. 3 oz. The trigger pull was so smooth that it didn’t even feel 7 lb. heavy. The single action wasn’t lightened very much (not a great idea to have a hair trigger on a defensive weapon), but the break was like glass and the reset was immediate.

CZ P01 Trigger Pull after modifications
Trigger Pull on CZ P01 after being “cajunized” (Left: Double action; Right: Single Action)

After 1,000 rounds of shooting the trigger did break-in and lighten up to 6 lb. 10 oz. double action and 2 lb. 10 oz. single action. Outside of a pistol built for competition, I believe you would be hard pressed to find a better feeling DA/SA trigger.

Barrel Length & Quality

Naturally, a pistol needs a quality barrel to perform well and be accurate. Like most pistols, CZ builds the P-01 with a high quality, cold hammer forged barrel. Even though the CZ P01 has a shorter barrel than many compacts at only 3.75 in. as opposed to around 4 in., this barrel, accompanied by a nice single-action trigger (even before it gets “Cajunized”), makes for a very accurate pistol. 

CZ 75 P01 front Right side of the pistol with flashlight and red dot sight
The cold-hammer forged barrel is the engine to this muscle car

CZ shoots every pistol before it leaves the factory and provides a digitalized version of the target so that you can see how well it grouped. This P-01 shot a 1.96 in., five shot group at 82 ft. (25 meters) with 115 gr. Sellier & Bellot (S&B) ball ammunition. That is exceptional accuracy, and better than any shooter that will end up firing this weapon.

Combined with a CGW trigger job, this CZ P01 was able to print a 1 in., five shot group at 36 ft. (12 yards) with the same 115 gr., S&B ball ammo. Yes, it was from a rested position, but I couldn’t be happier with the result. 

Digitized target provided by CZ (left) and range target after the CGW trigger job (right)
Digitized target provided by CZ (left) and range target after the CGW trigger job (right)

Personal Experience

I’ve gotten to spend some quality time with the P-01 and put it through its paces. I’ve put around 2,000 rounds down range at this point, used it in a couple of local IDPA competitions, added it to my EDC rotation, and relied on it as a primary home defense option. 

CZ P01 with flashlight and Trijicon red dot sight

Range Time

Shooting the CZ P01 at the range was a delight. Even without the CGW package, the pistol was easy to print decent groups with at realistic ranges (7 – 15 yd.). The weight of the allow frame really controls the “snap” that you feel in many lightweight, polymer 9mm pistols of similar size.

The stock sights are easy enough to pick-up, but Novak style sights should be standard on this pistol. You can also really appreciate the low bore-axis on this pistol…it is almost a cheat code.

CZ P01 stock iron sights with a trijicon red dot sight added

While shooting the P-01 side by side with a Glock 19, the reduction in muzzle flip and ease of returning to target becomes very apparent. After I got the P01 “Cajunized”, installed a threaded barrel and muzzle brake, and had the slide milled for a red dot the experience went from a delight to pure ecstasy. It truly becomes a pistol that it is hard to miss with.

And at 2,000 rounds I have not had a single malfunction, which comes as no surprise considering its pedigree of reliability. If you’re looking for a 9mm range toy, the P-01 can certainly fill that role.

Trijicon red dot sight on CZ P01 Pistol
Trijicon red dot sight on CZ P01 Pistol

Concealed Carry

This was the real test for the CZ P01. When it comes to a compact pistol one of the immediate uses in mind for it will be concealed carry. It is quite comfortable, and with the right holster you can legitimately forget it is there for a while, even while carrying appendix.

You do notice the weight, though. With a loaded 15 round magazine the weapon is pushing 37 oz., and that’s not including other accessories you might also carry on the pistol such as a red dot and/or a weapon light. Again, with the right holster, you can distribute that weight across your belt effectively.  

CZ P01 with a concealed carry holster
Having the right holster is everything

And I know some of you are out there saying how you carry a full size 1911 everyday, but the fact remains that it is just more pleasant to carry a lighter pistol. But for its size and capacity the P01 is a comfortable enough carry for several hours and hardly prints depending on what you’re wearing. It is also a pistol that you know you can trust your life to and will work when you need it to. That certainly goes a long way. 

Concealed Carrying the CZ P01 in waistband
Yes, it’s bulky clothing, but the pistol does well with regards to printing

Home Defense

This is where a pistol like the CZ P-01 thrives. As we’ve mentioned numerous times, it was designed to be a service pistol. The trials that it was put through were conducted with serious duty usage in mind, not just concealed carry. Again, you can trust without a shadow of a doubt that it will go bang every time you pull the trigger.

Furthermore, it has a railed frame to accept any of the numerous weapon lights on the market. Combine this with a set of night sights and its 15+1 round capacity and the P01 makes for a highly effective, and high quality, nightstand gun. 

CZ P01 laying on a table right side showing
Not a nightstand, but you get the picture

Sečteno a podtrženo (The Bottom Line)

Now let’s get down to brass tax. After all, what really matters is whether the CZ P-01 is worth your time and money. 

Aftermarket Support

It took some time, but the aftermarket caught up to supporting the CZ P01. There is a variety of holster, grip, and sight options that will complete whatever look you’re trying to cultivate.

CZ P01 grip options, Lok (left) and CZ Custom (right)
A taste of the variety of grip options, Lok (left) and CZ Custom (right)

Price

The CZ 75 P01 has an MSRP of $779 but can often be found for in the wild for less. It is quite common to see them run for $630, and at the time of this article they can be found for just under $600 with enough searching.

This is going to be on-par with the other high quality compact 9mm pistols that you would be willing to trust your life to. The latest generation Glock 19 can be found for $500-600, and the Sig P365XL and S&W M&P both go for right around $600, as well. 

Pros

  • Proven history of reliability, approved by NATO and used by the most militaries and law enforcement agencies in the world
  • Comparable size and capacity with other pistols in its class
  • Competitive price
  • Impressive accuracy
  • Durable alloy frame
  • Integral rail 
  • Multiple models available, including a suppressor-ready version
  • Good overall stock trigger, great single action pull
  • Good aftermarket support
  • Low bore axis leading to noticeably reduced muzzle flip
  • Variety of realistic uses
CZ 75 P01

Cons

  • Heavier than other pistols in its compact class
  • Fully loaded weight can be taxing after long hours of concealed carry
  • Stock double action trigger pull can take some getting used to
  • No optics ready option, must be sent off to be milled for a red dot

The Verdict…Is It Worth Your Money?

In short, yes, absolutely. The CZ P01 is a very high quality 9mm option that can fill several roles and do the job better than most. Few pistols have the track record that the P01 can boast, and its alloy frame and DA/SA trigger break the mold of the run-of-the-mill compact 9mm pistol…which is a breath of fresh air.

There are few pistols that I have enjoyed shooting more than the CZ P-01, and that short list just so happens to be made up of other CZ pistols. You would be better off having a CZ P01 in your rotation. 

CZ 75 P01 Pistol side profile view of left sitting on a fence in the woods
How can you not want one?

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John Mcgrath
John Mcgrath
11 months ago

I purchased a CZ 75 from a local gun shop. It fits my hand like a glove. I wear it on the hip using a BlackHawk holster. The felt recoil is negligible. The gun seems to like all the factory ammo I ‘ve have fired in it. I really enjoy the pistol. The CZ is a nice little gun. My only regret is that I should have purchased this classic years ago. Thank you CZ.

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