Anyone who has been paying attention knows that I am a big fan of the CZ pistols. I own several and although I like to do a little mild trigger-work on them I generally consider them excellent right out of the box. My fondness for CZ makes it hard to write this review, but at the same time I feel ethically compelled to let others know when disappointment happens so here we go.
The tag attached to the gun read “CZ-75 Compact .40 S&W, USED, Never-Fired”
. The gun was pristine and the price was GREAT so I didn’t even do my usual inspection, I just bought it and took it home.
After a cleanup, inspection, and re-lube I took the gun and 200 assorted .40 rounds to the range where frustration ran rampant. First, the magazines were hard to seat. Inserting them took some effort and removal actually required me to tug them out of the mag-well. Then the trigger was absolutely HORRIBLE. It was gritty and operated with a “ratcheting” feeling. I swear the double action pull was about 50 lb and once pulled the trigger tended to hang to the rear and then casually
ease its way back forward. Every magazine had multiple failures to feed and this happened across all the types of .40 ammo I had with me (several types of factory and reloads). The point of impact seemed consistent (though it was hard to tell with the terrible trigger) but it was consistently low and WAY to the right.
At somewhere around 30 rounds I was grinding my teeth so I gave up and put the gun away for later examination. To say I was shocked and disappointed would be an understatement.
Rarely have I had a firearm exhibit so many issues right out of the box and I’ve NEVER had a CZ give me trouble before.
This is the point at which most folks would pack it up and send the gun back to CZ, and I’m sure CZ would have made it right had I done so, but I’m a tinkerer with a fair amount of gunsmithing and CZ experience and, to be honest, I really wanted to see for myself what the heck was screwing this gun up so badly, so I dug into it myself.
The Magazines –
In the past I’ve found that overtightened grip screws will squeeze rubber CZ grips in, hanging up the mags. Loosening the screws helped but there was some rubber flash on the inside of the grips that I eventually had to sand off. Once that was done I never had another magazine related issue. (Note, the factory mags, and the two additional ones I purchased are the Generation II mags with the fat butt plate). They work fine but I wish the butt plate were smaller.
The Trigger –
This was a combination of several issues. First the sides of the trigger bar (part #7 in the manual diagram)
were simply grinding against the sides of the frame, increasing the pull weight and binding up so the trigger didn’t want to return forward. I removed the trigger assembly and tweaked the sides of the trigger bar in just a tiny hair narrower with a vice, then polished, re-blued, and re-installed. WARNING: The actual trigger in a CZ is held in with a spiked roll-pin. You need to have the right tools (and some experience) to correctly remove and re-install this part without damage.
Secondly I discovered that the hammer spring strut had “chatter marks” and was as rough as a rat-tail file. This was the source of a lot of resistance as well as the “ratcheting”. I smoothed down the strut and re-blued it. Thirdly, the hammer spring is, in my opinion, significantly heavier than it needs to be but the other fixes improved things enough that I decided to just leave the hammer spring alone for now.
Point of Impact –
With the trigger improved I was able to test the POI. Yup, slightly low and WAY to the right. Oh look, the rear sight was knocked way over. A little bit of drifting back and the POI was now centered (if still a touch low).
Failure to feed –
This was a BEAR! After several rounds of experimentation and a lot of frustration I finally resorted to the (for me) absolute extreme of changing the feed ramp geometry just slightly as it entered the chamber. This was necessary to eliminate a high point that was causing all the binding and marking up my brass as well. I then polished everything back up and the gun started functioning reliably with multiple types of ammo.
Additionally I decided that the stock (17 lb) flat recoil spring was simply not strong enough. I purchased a “calibration pack” (18, 20, 22 lb springs and “extra power” firing pin springs) from Wolff and eventually settled on the 20lb spring. As a bonus, the replacement firing pin spring eliminated all “primer wipe marks” even on my hotter .40 loads. WARNING: The firing pin in a CZ is held in with a roll-pin and has a very specific orientation. You need to have the right tools (and some experience) to correctly remove and re-install this part without damage.
The ramp geometry alteration took the gun from non-functional to functional, the addition of the stronger recoil spring took the gun into SOLIDLY FUNCTIONAL territory. HOWEVER
, the heavier coiled Wolff recoil spring was wreaking havoc on the stupid polymer guide rod so I also purchased an aftermarket Stainess Steel guide rod from Steve Bedair
(excellent service by the way).
Well it was a lot of work and some extra cash and I’ve sent quite a letter to CZ detailing the experience, but I do now have a solid and fun little pistol that has been functioning reliably for just over 300 rounds now shooting a mix of premium factory, hot handloads, and mild target loads. In general I would still highly recommend CZ products but given the experience I would suggest that the CZ-75 Compact 40 be approached with caution
Oh and it still shoots just a little low.