I started shooting IDPA a little over three and a half years ago and just like most shooters, new to the sport, I started shooting in the SSP division. My gun of choice was a Smith and Wesson M&P Pro 9mm, a very common pistol in the SSP division. My M&P Pro shot flawless, was always accurate, has a decent trigger and zero malfunctions. The biggest problem I had with my M&P was they are everywhere. Whenever I went to a big state match or even a small local match, no matter which way I looked, I would find another shooter with an M&P in their holster. It is bad enough everyone has to wear the same dorky vests in IDPA, I do not need to have matching guns too. There is absolutely nothing wrong with matching guns and it really says something for the firearm that Smith and Wesson produced, but I wanted to be different and try something new so my quest for a new competition gun began. My desire to find that perfect pistol lead me to the CZ 75 Shadow SA.
When I began my search I knew there were a few things that I absolutely wanted. First, I was definite that I wanted to stick with a 9mm. My reloading press was already set up for 9mm and at this point in time I did not want to make a caliber change. Second, and most importantly, I needed to fuel my fascination with single action only semi-autos. To meet this criteria I put myself right into the ESP division, and to be totally honest, I do not think I will ever look back. After careful consideration I had my choices narrowed down to three different guns; an STI Eagle, an STI Trojan and the CZ. I have had the chance to handle a few STI Trojans, but really wanted to go with a double stack mag, so the Trojan was out. The Eagle was very appealing, but no local shops carried them and the $2000 price tag for a gun you have never handled would scare anyone. My father had purchased a stock CZ 75 and I had the chance to put a few rounds down range with it. Right away, the CZ ergonomics and I just clicked, it felt like the gun belonged in my hand. This was a DA/SA gun and the trigger was a little rough, but the accuracy was very impressive. So I had made up my mind, I was on the market for a CZ 75 SA. After doing some research I found that the Shadow line from CZ Custom was exactly what I was looking for and after a quick phone call to CZ Custom my new CZ 75 Shadow SA was being shipped to a local FFL.
When I received the call from my local FFL letting me know that my new Shadow had arrived I could not have been more excited and even left work a little early to go pick it up. After removing the new Shadow from the box I was very impressed. The Shadow comes with the CZ 85 Combat style slide without a firing pin block. By doing this the trigger pull is improved drastically, still not perfect, but a big improvement over a stock CZ 75. CZ Custom advertises the trigger pull between 3.5lbs to 3.8lbs and according to my trigger scale my Shadow was coming in on the high side just under 4.0lbs. CZ Custom also installs a lighter recoil spring and main spring along with a fiber optic front sight and a fixed rear sight. The Shadow has also been fit with a wider safety that is very easy to manipulate. Their MSRP is $979, but they seem to always have them on sale for $850. For what you get this is really an excellent deal and CZ Custom is great to deal with. Every time I have called I have spoken to Stewart and he is always very helpful and more than willing to answer any questions that I have.
As I said before the ergonomics of the CZ are perfect for me and the gun feels like it belongs in my hand, which seems to be the case with a lot of shooters. One thing that I noticed right away was the effect the steel frame had on recoil, especially with my bunny fart loads. Between the extra weight of the frame and the low bore axis the recoil of 9mm is almost nonexistent with the CZ. This will most certainly keep you on target for a quicker follow up shot. The CZ also runs the slide on the inside of the frame opposed to most firearms which run the slide on the outside of the frame. This allows you to get a much higher grip with your support hand and makes the gun easier to control. You will notice, especially if you are making the switch from a polymer frame, that it is very easy to overrun your target when transitioning from target to target. The extra mass makes the gun a little harder to stop during the transition, but this does not take too long to get used to. When I made the switch to the single action I was a little concerned about having to manipulate the safety, but with the CZ this was not a worry at all. The wide safety that comes stock on the Shadow is in the perfect location to turn off when you push out of your draw and after a little practice it will become second nature. One of my favorite features of the CZ is the slide stop, the size and location has dropped a very noticeable amount of time off of my reloads. After you seat your fresh mag, the slide stop is right where it should be to hit with your support hand before you reapply your grip with ease. As for accuracy this thing is a tack driver, with IDPA you never stretch out much past 25 yards, but even at this distance you can make the same hole shot after shot.
No gun ever comes out of the box perfect, so to get the Shadow to run the way I wanted it to I had to make a few modifications. First off, the Shadow SA comes with CZ plastic grips and they just do not feel right, actually they are god awful, especially if it is a hot, sweaty day. I switched to a set of CZ rubber grips and this gave a much more positive grip on the firearm and got away from the cheap plastic feel. To add a little extra weight to the nose, I ditched the plastic guide rod for a stainless steel one and did notice a slight difference. One complaint I had with the Shadow was the trigger, although better than a stock 75, it was still a little heavy and had a slightly squishy break. I opted for a lighter main spring and to be safe added an extended firing pin for a little added insurance. This dropped the weight closer to 3.5lbs, but the break still did not feel right. Next, I swapped out the hammer for a competition hammer from CZ Custom and this made a huge difference. After installing the hammer I am now at a sub 3.0lb trigger pull with a very crisp break. In my opinion, this may be the best semi-auto trigger that I have ever felt. After the trigger was finally tuned to my liking I added the IDPA legal magwell from CZ Custom to help knock some time off of my reloads. I am not sure if the magwell helped shave any time off my reloads, but it looks cool as hell so maybe I will get some much needed style points. The shape of the magwell does require the use of larger capacity CZ SP01 mags with CZ custom base plates. After a few modifications I could not have asked for a better gun.
I have just finished my second season with my CZ 75 Shadow SA and have an estimated 30,000 rounds through it. The gun has run flawless with less than a handful of malfunctions and every malfunction has really been my own fault. I let it get too dirty after about fifteen hundred rounds without cleaning which was careless on my behalf, so it began to experience feeding issues. I would recommend cleaning your CZ around every 500 rounds. Tear down is quite simple and, as long as you have a brush and a pick, cleaning is a breeze. The other malfunctions I experienced were from weak mag springs that I can only assume were way past their prime. This caused the rounds to dive in the magazine causing a failure to feed. Other than that the gun has been problem free; I have seen more malfunctions in modern polymer frame guns at the range.
After I started getting comfortable behind the trigger of the Shadow is when I really started to notice an improvement in my shooting. My match times were getting faster, my downs were getting lower match after match, and I was consistently placing in the top five in my division. I started shooting the CZ as a sharpshooter and not long after shooting it, I made the bump up to expert. My confidence has gone up and I can feel master almost in my grasp. I credit a lot of this to the ergonomics of the CZ, it comes out of the holster fast and is easy to get on target quickly. The added weight of the steel frame has tamed recoil so much that my splits have gone way down. Reloads have become very smooth and much more consistent. The accuracy of the Shadow makes it easy to shoot groups so tight that they can be covered up with a single paster. That makes everyone feel good when it comes time to score your targets unless of course you double a non-threat, damn you non-threats!
CZ has produced a very impressive firearm with the CZ 75 SA. CZ Custom has turned it into quite the masterpiece with their Shadow series. I'm not going to lie, they're tits! You will see a fair share of CZ's at a match but the majority of them are SP01's with the full length dust cover and the DA/SA trigger. The SP01 is legal in ESP and SSP, but under IDPA rules you have to fire your first shot double action. This is where I really feel the Shadow SA has a huge advantage over the SP01 in the ESP division. The SP01 also feels a little nose heavy compared to the Shadow SA due to the full length dust cover. I only recall seeing one other CZ 75 SA at any of the many matches I have been to. So, if you want to experience one of the best kept secrets of IDPA and get some of those style points, give CZ Custom a call and order yourself a CZ 75 Shadow SA. You will not be disappointed.