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Old August 16, 2010, 10:48 PM   #1
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The review I hate to post: CZ-75 Compact 40

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.
"The dogs may bark but the caravan moves on"
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Old August 17, 2010, 07:42 AM   #2
Katsumi Liquer
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Thanks for the review. From your description of the initial condition of the gun, it appears you got a CZ that was manufactured on a Friday, but I'm glad you got almost all of the bugs worked out.

I am curious as to how the gun was marked "USED" even though it was never fired. Did the previous owner perhaps acquire it purely as a display piece?
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Old August 17, 2010, 07:45 AM   #3
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That is the first time I've heard of many issues with a CZ also.
Glad you got it taken care of.
Even the best of manufactured goods has problems occasionally.
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Old August 17, 2010, 09:24 AM   #4
cougar gt-e
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Yikes! Yeah that gun was done on a Friday just before break time. Or first thing Monday before the coffee kicked in.

You sure do know your CZ's and it sounds like your "tinkering" is more like highly skilled labor. Good write up too.

Please update us on the reply from CZ, it interests me to know what they say.

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Old August 17, 2010, 10:20 AM   #5
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Early this year I bought a new CZ 75B and had endless problems. The main reason I bought it in the first place was because of it's reputation for quality. I returned it twice to the factory and the problems were never fixed. One problem was that dismounting the slide from the frame was nearly impossible. After the second return from the factory I called them on the phone and was told to tap if off using a rubber mallet. That was the last straw. I sold the pistol and bought an EAA Witness Match and it works flawlessly.
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Old August 17, 2010, 11:42 AM   #6
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I am curious as to how the gun was marked "USED" even though it was never fired. Did the previous owner perhaps acquire it purely as a display piece?
I suspect someone bought it, pulled the trigger once and had it hang and put it up for sale where I found it on the consignment shelf. In retrospect I should have been suspicious and examined it more closely but most of the time I find a used CZ for sale it's because someone thought it was too heavy to carry.
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Old August 17, 2010, 02:22 PM   #7
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That's really a shame. I suppose even my beloved CZ can let a POS roll off their line now and then.

I've been fortunate that my 3 CZ's have functioned reliably since day 1 and I will continue to buy more CZ's.

I'm glad you were able to work everything out in the end.
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Old August 17, 2010, 06:48 PM   #8
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Very interesting. I'm a CZ fanboy based on my one CZ experience, a CZ 75B SA that I bought new earlier this year and that has functioned as reliably as a Swiss watch. Before I bought that gun I did a ton of research on CZ, tried out a 75, and compared it with other brands and types (Browning Hi-Power, Beretta 92FS). Eventually, I decided that CZ made an outstanding product, both in terms of design and in terms of quality. The gun that I purchased has functioned perfectly and it made me a true believer.

But, obviously, even the best of them produce lemons now and then. Yours certainly is one of them. I'm sorry to hear about this but it's also an education in that I'm reminded that no one's perfect and things may seem to be, at times, too good to be true.
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Old August 17, 2010, 09:03 PM   #9
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Just returned a Ruger single action because of quality control issue. IMO lemons should not make it out of the factory.
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Old August 18, 2010, 01:38 AM   #10
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I know this site has become a de facto CZ fan site of late, but I can't get on board at this point. The CZ 75 was near the top of my to-buy list until I actually shot one. I shot one with around 2,500 rounds through it, and I thought the trigger was awful. The gun was accurate, but it was no fun to shoot with that trigger.

I got my hands on a CZ 75 Compact a couple of days ago, hoping for an experience very different from the first one. Same miserable trigger -- plus four failures to feed in 150 rounds (both FMJ and JHP), which is not something I experienced on the first CZ. The trigger might be something that can be cleaned up nicely, but I'm not crazy about buying a new gun with such a bad out-of-the-box feel.

I only got to look inside the first CZ I shot, but I thought the internal metalwork was a little rough, too. It's accurate and it's probably quite durable, but it's definitely less refined than other offerings.
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Old August 18, 2010, 02:12 AM   #11
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My brother had/has feeding problems with his CZ 40 compact, mainly with 160g, I think he said the 180g were ok, not sure of brand but they were FMJs.

I guess that's why he got it NIB from Cabelas for between $300 and $400. I'm sure it was Sub $400, I'll have to ask him. That's the only reason he bought it because of the price, and he knew I liked my CZ75B 9mm, and he did a lot of research about all the positive things he heard.

The only thing I don't like about my CZ75B is I feel it's a little to heavy to carry long term.
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Last edited by Elvishead; August 18, 2010 at 02:18 AM.
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Old August 18, 2010, 02:37 AM   #12
chris in va
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and I’m sure CZ would have made it right had I done so,
My experience, unfortunately...has been the opposite with CZ. Sent my 75BD back, not fixed "no issues found". I eventually solved the problem.

Sent my 527 mags back, sent me new ones with the same problem. CZ refused to accept the fix I discovered.

All they've really done is just install new parts and hope it works.

And yes, the CZ handgun triggers are atrocious, at least the DA/SA versions.

One last thing, hose out the guts every now and then with Powder Blast. You won't believe what runs out the bottom. The clockwork is fairly complex and grit can really wreak havoc with it. Take the grips off first though.
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Old August 18, 2010, 08:52 AM   #13
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Katsumi: In many places it's customary (if not legally required) that any firearm previously purchased at retail be listed as "used" regardless of whether it was ever actually fired by the original purchaser or not.

IMO, this is probably due to the terms in many warranties limiting recourse for repair of defects to "the original purchaser". While this might not become an actual "issue" if the product's registration card was never filled out and sent to the manufacturer/importer, many dealers regard it as being unethical to list any firearm as being "NIB" unless they got it directly from a manufacturer, distributor or jobber.
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