CZ has a knack for making some rather amazing handguns. The CZ75 Bull Shadow in 9mm is no exception!
“Competition Breeds Excellence” is more than a fanciful quote. To the guys at CZ Custom in Mesa, Arizona, those three words fuel the fire of creativity and drive them to build better and better handguns. It also has the founder of the company, Angus Hobdell, traveling to IPSC matches the world over to prove it’s more than a motto.
Innovation and Excellence
I am most fortunate to have for review the latest brilliant innovation from CZC, the CZ-75 Bull Shadow. My sample gun (a pre-production unit) was shipped to me only one day before I took it to compete in a steel challenge match. While I enjoy the challenge of competing with guns I have never fired before, when that start timer sounds, it can be nerve-wracking for any manufacturer whose confidence in their guns is less than 100%. It is well known that I “show and tell” what happened like it happened, and not every gun performs well.
- Type: Hammer-fired pistol
- Cartridge: 9mm
- Capacity: 15+1 rds.
- Trigger: 3.5 lbs. (SA); 7 lbs. (DA)
- Overall Length: 8.5 in.
- Barrel Length: 4.8 in.
- Weight: 40 oz.
- Width: 1.6 in.
- MSRP: $1,495 –$1,650
- Manufacturer: CZ USA
However, the CZC Bull Shadow is, in my mind, the perfect blend of CZ USA technology and CZ Custom know-how. These two entities have combined what is arguably the most ergonomic frame ever created with the first use of a Bull Barrel in a CZ handgun! I am a CZ-75 fan and while I started shooting IPSC/USPSA with an Ithaca 1911A1 (before these games had divisions by gun type) within a year or so I had moved on to my first of many CZ-75 “clones.” I put many, many rounds through Springfield P-9s and Tanfoglio parts kit guns; I always loved the “feel” yet suffered from the lack of reliability.
That was decades ago. But today, with CZ-USA and more importantly CZ Custom on the scene, one can now have it all: reliability, accuracy, an incredibly smooth trigger and that oh-so-wonderful ergonomic connection between hand and handgun inherent in the CZ-75 grip frame.
If you only take away one lesson from this article, take this one statement to heart: this CZ Custom Bull Shadow is one of the top 3 handguns I have reviewed. Considering that I have tested and reviewed over 30 handguns in the competitive arena alone, that statement is not proffered lightly.
The 4-1-1 on Bull Barrels
What is a bull barrel and why might you want one? Custom pistolsmiths have been tweaking and tuning competition handguns since we have had handgun competitions! Bullseye, Bowling Pins, Metallic Silhouette, Bianchi Cup, IPSC or IDPA or USPSA – each and every discipline has its devotees and its custom hardware. And in all of them oversized, match-grade, heavy weighted, hand fitted “Bull Barrels” have been employed. Check the photos to see the difference between a stock CZ-75 barrel and is Bull Shadow counterpart. Now that is putting the “bull” in bull barrel.
The benefits observed in using bull barrels in self-loading “Browning style” tilting barrel handguns is due to their weight. Not only is there more weight at the muzzle-end of the gun where it can reduce muzzle lift, there is also greater initial mass that must be overcome during the recoil cycle. Increasing that mass reduces recoil as some of the energy must be used to move the combined weight of the heavy bull barrel and slide.
My particular sample gun was built by CZC’s Master Maker (aka Head Gunsmith), and a man of many talents, Eric Zinn. Zinn’s attention to detail even in this rushed-to-me project was evident in his most excellent fit of the Bull Barrel and truly superior trigger work. Fitting a bull barrel is more labor intensive than a “traditional” unit and the fire control components more complex. For Zinn to make this all come together in near perfection in just a few hours is simply amazing! Oh…and he is also the man who shot, signed and provided the enclosed test target that I show in the video.
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From Box to Match
Let’s do some shooting! Unless a deadline is pressing I try to shoot review guns twice through a match and that generally nets me 300+ rounds in actual competition. The event I competed with this pistol required more than 400 rounds to complete. Not quite satiated at the end of the match I continued to pour another couple hundred through it later that…