CZ SP-01 Tactical
The All Steel Beast
The CZ SP-01 Tactical… This has been a gun that I was really excited to get in for review and you can probably guess why. I didn’t do an initial impressions posting on the CZ SP-01 due to the fact that I knew I wanted to carry the pistol as soon as I possibly could. With that in mind my testing was sped up on it while other pistols were put on the back-burner. I can tell you straight away though, if you haven’t handled a CZ yet, you need to do yourself a favor and check one out.
UPDATE: Found at the end of the review
As is normal with my firearm reviews, we’ll dive into the general specs of the gun, what it comes with from the factory, and then I’ll get on with the meat of the review! The CZ SP-01 Tactical is a full-sized steel framed handgun. It comes from the factory with a listed capacity of 18, however, flush fit capacity is 16rds. Here are the general specs for the pistol:
Frame Material: Steel
Capacity: 18 (w/provided factory extended magazines)
Barrel Length: 4.6 inches
Overall Length: 8.2 inches
Height: 5.8 inches
Width: 1.5 inches (thickest area)
Weight: 40.5 ounces
In the box you get your regular paperwork, the obligatory gun lock, x2-18rd magazines, a cleaning brush/rod, and the gun. The gun comes equipped with Mepro TruDot night sights, a non-captured recoil assembly (plastic guide rod), and CZ’s famous rubber grips.
The first things we will hit on is reliability and shootability. The CZ SP-01- Tactical has been flawless since I got it and it has eaten everything from steel cased 115gr to brass cased 147gr 9mm. The only defensive loads I’ve had through it though have been 124gr and 147gr Federal HSTs of which it cycled fine.
A majority of range visits have been after I put in a couple of upgrades; although I don’t believe they made any difference in terms of reliability. What upgrades you might ask? Well, I added a stainless-steel guide rod, a CZC recoil spring (since the stock spring wouldn’t work with the new guide rod) and a 13lb hammer spring. The trigger difference with just lowering the weight of the hammer spring (or mainspring) was quite a bit and I haven’t had any issues with getting reliable primer ignition even with 3 year old ammunition.
When it comes to shooting the SP-01 Tactical, it really is top notch. The weight, the caliber, and the cherry on top being the low bore axis are a good combination. The pistol is super soft and super flat shooting. Even though it is chambered in 9mm, the felt recoil and muzzle flip from my experience is a lot less than comparable pistols.
When it comes to the ergonomics… the SP-01 Tactical is bar none the best feeling pistol in the hand. With it’s extremely thin back strap and high cut beaver tail, I’m able to get an extremely high, and extremely tight purchase on the gun. As a fun fact for you all, with the right grip combination, the grip measures approximately 1.1″ in width. For a double stack handgun, that’s pretty impressive in my opinion.
The pistol also comes with 3 1913 rail slots. The placement is spot-on as I’m able to use the Streamlight TLR-1, the Olight PL-Mini, and the Streamlight TLR-7 without any issues. However, I would recommend running a full sized light only due to the shadow the rail casts with the smaller lights.
Beyond the ergonomics, the pistol has a real nice balance to it. The height/length ratio is as close to 1:1 that you can get. In turn the pistol doesn’t really feel like it weighs 40.5 ounces when you’re shooting it. That said, you’ll probably end up noticing that weight if you aren’t running a stiff enough belt, paired with a good holster.
The only real gripe that I have is with the right side’s decocker. There’s a nice ledge on the left side that isn’t there on the right side, but on the right side it isn’t there. This may be a turn-off for the left handed shooters out there.
With the SP-01 Tactical having become my primary carry gun, I have gotten a good feel of how it carries.
I have carried it IWB and OWB and it is important to note that this is not a gun that you carry with a $10 Wal-Mart belt. Soft shell holsters can prove to be problematic as well due to the weight of the gun. It does conceal very well for a full sized pistol but the weight might be too much for some.
I cannot think of any area that has dug into my skin a lot while carrying it, but I can see the swept beaver-tail being a point of discomfort for some. Mag wise I have stopped carrying with the factory 18rd magazines, but you will read about that at the end.
2019 Update: I haven’t been carrying the SP-01 Tactical as of late. I switched over to appendix carry since I wrote this article and I haven’t taken the time to figure out which appendix holster I’d like to use with this gun.
I can safely say though that for appendix carry, the beaver tail is going to end up causing some discomfort if you have any semblance of a belly just because of how much it protrudes.
The CZ SP-01 Tactical is one of those handguns that makes your collection that much better. It is a phenomenal shooter, its easy on the eyes, and I would say an excellent pistol to start people off with. As far as carrying though, if you aren’t a seasoned carrier, or have the proper equipment (a solid gun belt and a solid holster) you will probably encounter some issues. These issues come accompanied with lessons though that are largely beneficial.
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August 2018: There has been an issue circulating about the SP-01 Tactical’s magazines. When smacking the mag in, the base plate has been noted to go flying off, and in general a lot of people have laughed it off claiming people were force inducing it.
I love my SP-01 Tactical, I love everything about it, but… there is an issue with the base plates on the 18rd factory mags and I’m not sure what it is. I decided to find out if I would encounter the issue with an empty magazine; to my surprise it happened the first time I smacked the mag in.
I apologize for the image quality (I pulled the picture off of my Instagram), but I believe CZ definitely has something that they need to figure out on the factory mags. Fortunately, the MecGar mags aren’t too expensive.
I know some of you out there are history buffs, so let’s go over the history of the CZ 75 SP-01 Tactical, which is a 3rd Generation pistol.
To get things started we will go over how the CZ 75 came to be. The CZ 75 to some extent was the offspring of one world renowned pistol…and one that fell off the face of the Earth. These two handguns were the Browning HiPower and the Sig Sauer P210 (which started life as the Modele 1935A).
Aesthetically with the CZ 75 you can see some of the styling cues that are present with the Browning HiPower, however, there is no part compatibility between the two. The Browning HiPower was on the market until 2018 and the Sig P210 I believe just recently made a come back. The HiPower was approximately $900 new and I’m not sure what the P210 is going for at the moment.
Aesthetics aside the CZ 75 series utilizes the internal slide rails of the Sig P210 which greatly decreases the height of the bore axis. What it takes from the Browning HiPower is something that many of the world’s greatest pistols have copied; a linkless locking cam.
The origin of the 75 series is an interesting one. It was designed in Czechoslovakia during the Soviet regime during the year 1975 and began production in 1976. The designers you ask? Two brothers named Josef and František Kouký.
Frantisek had actually retired from CZUB (Česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod) in the year 1969, but was enticed to come back to work for CZUB because him and his brother were given complete freedom of designing a handgun. As the Czechs always did, they broke what their overlords wanted, and made one requirement. The pistol had to be chambered in 9×19 parabellum (9mm Luger) since it was primarily meant for export. At the time the caliber the communists were using was 7.62×25 Tokarev. The design plans, however, had to be kept secret due to the fact that CZUB couldn’t file for patents. Eventually these plans leaked out and due to the lack of a patent other companies began copying the design.
Today the CZ 75 is the world’s most copied design. The Israeli’s liked it so much they based the Jericho’s design on it. The Turk’s copied it and have put the design to use in their military as well. The Italian’s were able to copy it the best though as they were the original importers. Several American companies also tried their hand at bringing a clone to market, companies such as Colt, Springfield, and Armalite.
The CZ 75 SP-01 Tactical, as its stamped on the slide, is just the next generation for the CZ 75. They added a full length dust shroud with rail slots. Aside from that and the hole in the slide for the guide rod, the platform is all the same. Compared to the CZ 75, the SP-01 Tactical is a softer and flatter shooter, this is largely due to the weight added by the dust shroud.