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Old September 12, 2002, 09:37 PM   #1
Stephen A. Camp
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Join Date: April 16, 1999
Posts: 2,570
Range Report: CZ83...

Hello. I bought one of these a year or two ago and while I've shot it some, I just don't shoot .380 ACP all that much. Finally decide it was time to really see what the thing might be capable of.

The Pistol: The CZ83 is most often seen in .380, but I think some examples are around in 9x18 Makarov. If memory serves, the pistol was also offered in .32 ACP, but I could be wrong on that.

Like the larger CZ pistols, this is a conventional DA/SA pistol that allows for "cocked and locked" carry should that be desired. The generous tang prevented the spur hammer from biting me, despite my somewhat large hands. The DA pull is long, but extremely smooth and quite light. The trigger is not grooved. This was surprisingly good. The SA pull is light, but like the CZ75, the hammer's pushed back very slightly in the SA pull before it falls. This precludes the crisp "glass rod" break most often seen on tuned 1911s. This does not mean that the SA pull's hard to use; it isn't. It is a straight blow back as are most .380 pistols.

Sights are fixed and the same as those on the CZ75/85 B pistols, i.e., very usable and easy to see at speed. They're the 3 Dot variety and have the "glow in the dark" paint. I'd be happy with plain black-on-black.

This picture shows the sights, ambidextrous, frame-mounted thumb safeties, but does not show the ambidextrous magazine release located at the rear of the trigger guard.

Original-capacity magazines in .380 were 13 rnd, but my gun came with two 10 rnd mags that were easy to load and appeared quite well-made. This pistol also has the hooked trigger guard that's checkered on front rather than the older, rounded one. (I prefer the rounded.) Stocks are black, partially checkered plastic secured with one Phillips head screw on each side. (I think these screws look "cheap" and would much prefer slotted or hex head given my druthers.) The pistol has an external slide release.

The slide release is not ambidextrous and well-positioned.

Ammunition: There is a wide selection of ammunition around for .380. I used one FMJ round in the test with the rest being JHPs. Ammunition used:

Fiocchi 95 gr FMJ
PMC 90 gr JHP
Federal Classic 90 gr JHP
Federal 90 gr Hydrashok JHP
Winchester 95 gr "Deep Penetrator" JHP
Corbon 90 gr JHP +P

I do not have any personally chronographed figures for any .380 loads, but the Corbon is rated at 1050 ft/sec with the others a bit shy of 1000 ft/sec. Rounds were ejected to the right about 18 ft or so.

Shooting: Ten-shot groups were fired with the above loads at 10 yards, standing w/2-hand hold in slow-fire, single-action and the same for the 25 yard test.

Sights were dead-on. Top left: Fiocchi ball, Bottom Left: PMC JHP, Top Right: Federal JHP, Bottom Right: Winchester JHP, Middle: Corbon JHP, Top Middle: Federal Hydrashok.

The gun "shoots." The PMC shot the tightest group with the rest about equivalent. For what it's worth, I've not been able to get PMC's JHP to expand in any informal expansion tests.

Since many folks use Federal's 90 gr Hydrashock as their defensive load in this caliber, I opted to use it for the 25 yard target.

I think it is plenty accurate enough for defensive purposes. I did have one malfunction with this load, but none with any of the others. One round failed to fully chamber. Test your defensive ammo regardless of your pistol choice. I found this surprising as chambering rounds off full magazines was "slick" and without hesitation with any of the rounds tested. The Hydrashock round that hung up was the 4th round.

The following group was fired as quickly as I could get on target using the Corbon +P 90 gr JHP at 10 yards. It consists of 5 "controlled pairs." Since this gun does allow for cocked and locked, I fired only the first round double-action. It is the low one!

Recoil is not "sharp" as has been reported by some, but I suspect this is with the smaller .380 pistols.

Observations: The CZ83 is easy to shoot and shoot well. While it is large for caliber compared to many of the smaller and more potent 9mm & 40 caliber pistols, it does have enough bbl to take advantage of what velocity the .380 has. Though NOT on my short-list of preferred defensive rounds, I'd likely use the 90 gr Federal Classic JHP for this purpose of the ones tested. This round's "worked" in various informal expansion tests, at least to my satisfaction. I've not "tested" the Winchester round. I might also test it and the Remington 102 gr Golden Saber for this caliber if serious about it.

Metal fit and finish was quite satisfactory and the blue was even.

If interested in a .380 ACP pistol, even though it doesn't have the almost mandatory decocker, I suggest looking long and hard at this pistol.

Comparison to Makarov: This is likely the one to be made by many folks. For those interested, a range report on the Mak can be found via the link below.

The CZ has the lighter trigger pulls in both SA and DA.
The CZ has cocked and locked capability; the Mak does not.
Out of the box, the CZ has better sights.
Neither pistol has an internal firing pin safety. The CZ's is retained via the traditional firing pin retaining plate.
The Makarov is a bit more powerful.
Magazines for the Mak are much less expensive.
CZ magazine holds 10 in current form; Maks hold 8.
No magazine disconnect in either pistol.
The CZ comes with more visible sights than the Makarov, but the latter pistol can be bought under $200 while the CZ's costs around $300. Better sights can be put on the Makarov should the owner desire and the cost difference becomes negligible.

While I find the CZ83 more "refined" than the Makarov, I do like the feel of the Makarov better when fitted with Pearce grips.

Some of the above is subjective and based on a small number of pistols, 1 of each. The picture below shows the CZ and Makarov together for size comparison.

Stephen A. Camp is offline  
Old September 12, 2002, 11:13 PM   #2
Eric Larsen
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Join Date: December 5, 2001
Location: Bountiful....Ut.
Posts: 3,226
Excellent review...great gun. I agree with all of it. I have had both the .380 and Mak calibered guns. One of the best guns Ive owned..for function and feel. Nice shooting also....but just like you said..and you nailed it!
"This gun "shoots." "
Shoot well
If they dont know you have a gun.....then I did alright!

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice......Rush
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Old September 13, 2002, 02:45 AM   #3
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Join Date: November 12, 2001
Location: Bay Area, CA
Posts: 210
Thanks for the review...

Once again, thanks for the review.

Empire Arms had Izzy surplus CZ-83's for $200 a few months back, and I kick myself for not snapping one up when they were cheap.

I would have figured that the Makarov grip angle would make you prefer the CZ-83, but I guess those Pearce grips are pretty good.

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Old September 13, 2002, 02:52 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: December 11, 1999
Posts: 276
Thanks a lot for the review, you just helped me make up my mind about buying one of these.

anand is offline  
Old September 14, 2002, 06:53 PM   #5
Eric Larsen
Senior Member
Join Date: December 5, 2001
Location: Bountiful....Ut.
Posts: 3,226
Heres a fairly good article on the CZ83...Shoot well
If they dont know you have a gun.....then I did alright!

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice......Rush
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Old September 14, 2002, 10:27 PM   #6
Dave R
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Join Date: January 7, 2000
Location: Idaho
Posts: 6,073
Great review. Very informative.

I shoot 102gr. Golden Sabres from a PPK clone (FEG). I did some expansion testing with wet phone books. The GS expanded nicely after being shot through 1-3 layer of denim. Over 4 layers and it failed to expand. By way of comparison, 9mm rounds expanded up to 6 layers of denim. 6 layers and over the 9mm failed to expand. "Wound channels" for the .380 and the 9mm were more similar than I would have thought, when both rounds expand. When they don't expand, the 9mm give noticeably more penetation. Maybe 3-4" more.
I am Pro-Rights (on gun issues).
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