Range Review: CZ-75 SP-01 Phantom

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posted on October 21, 2017
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The CZ-75 pistol was created in the 1970s in what was then the nation of Czechoslovakia, behind the “Iron Curtain” of Warsaw Pact countries aligned with the Soviet Union. The patent laws between Warsaw-Pact countries like Czechoslovakia and the rest of the world were a little muddled at the time (to say the least), and the CZ-75 soon became one of the most-copied pistol designs in the world. The CZ-75 SP-01 Phantom from CZ-USA takes the time-tested design of the CZ-75 pistol and updates it with a decocker, interchangeable backstraps, Picatinny accessory rail and polymer lower.

The pistol was discontinued in the U.S. in 2013 because of demand from the Czech Republic, where it serves as the standard sidearm of the Czech Armed Forces. CZ-USA is returning them once again to our shores with an updated polymer formula, bringing much joy to the hearts of CZ fans all across the country.

The CZ-75 SP-01 Phantom ships from the factory in a hard plastic case with two 18-round 9 mm magazines, an additional backstrap, a cleaning brush, a gun lock and a set of instructions and safety manuals. The SP-01 Phantom is a traditional double-action/single-action (DA/SA) pistol, with a long trigger pull that measured more than the 12-pound limit on my Lyman trigger gauge. Follow up shots, however, have a significantly lighter 4-pound single trigger pull. That 12+-pound double-action trigger pull might seem a bit daunting, but the double-action trigger on the SP-01 Phantom is smooth and has a consistent feel, making it easy to put first-round hits on target, despite the added effort on the trigger.

The CZ-75 has always been known for its outstanding ergonomics, and the CZ-75 SP-01 Phantom is no exception. I found the pistol easy to hold using the standard backstrap that was already installed on the gun, and the smaller backstrap was simple to pop in place if I needed it instead. The controls of the SP-01 Phantom are set up well and easy to reach. I was able to easily and consistently hit the slide-release lever after a reload, (something that’s not easy to do on other pistols), and the magazine-release button and decocker lever were right where they were supposed to be, every time I needed to use them.

Traditionally, CZ-75-pattern guns have a slide that is a little shorter than other pistols, giving you less room to grip it with compared to other pistols out there. CZ takes this into account with the SP-01 Phantom and provides serrations on the rear of the slide to help with loading, unloading and charging the pistol. The rear sight, right above the serrations, is drift-adjustable for windage and has two white dots on it that line up with white dot on the front sight. Even though it’s a full-size service pistol that holds 18 rounds in the magazine, the CZ-75 SP-01 Phantom weighs in unloaded at a shade over 29 ounces, a real featherweight compared to 40+ ounces of the similar, all-metal SP-01 Tactical pistol also made by CZ.

The CZ-75 SP-01 Phantom is a flat-out joy to shoot. Easy to hold and easy to control, I had no trouble putting round after round into the 10 ring of a B-27 target at 25 yards with this pistol.  The gun was completely reliable through the 250 rounds I shot through it, and the logical and comfortable placement of the controls made changing out magazines and charging up the gun a simple task to perform. I’m not that big of fan of three-dot sights on a pistol, but fortunately, aftermarket sights are available for the Phantom and are easily installed.

The SP-01 Phantom is a solid performer, and there are good reasons why it’s a favorite of CZ aficionados around the world. As a polymer gun with a traditional double-action/single-action setup, full-size grip and high capacity, it’s great choice for someone looking for a pistol that packs a lot of firepower into a lighter-weight gun. The MSRP on the CZ-75 SP-01 Phantom is $636.

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