40 years ago, Ceská Zbrojovka, located in Uherský Brod in what was then Czechoslovakia, introduced a new pistol called the CZ-75, which marked the start of the "Wondernine" pistol trend. This name took hold in the United States because the 9 Para pistols offered almost twice as much magazine capacity as then-standard M 1911 Government Model in .45 ordnance pistols. CZ has since grown to become one of the world’s largest handgun manufacturers, with a permanent presence of its own in the US since 1997.
Reaching unit numbers of over 1 million in 2007, the CZ-75 has joined the elite group of handguns rightfully considered modern classics, gathering a host of imitators like no other firearm model in the 9 Para field. Sphinx, Norinco, J.S.L. Hereford (Spitfire), BUL Transmark, Jericho, Springfield and Tanfoglio are just a few of the manufacturers that have taken as their model the enhanced Browning system designed by Frantisek Koucký. For their part, the Czechs have developed a plethora of additional models on this basis, among them the CZ-75 SP-01 Phantom presented here (which in itself is a CZ modification with double row and polymer substructure).
This frame helps the weapon cut its weight by over a third compared to the all-steel model. Other new features include the Picatinny type mounting rail, the forged steel slide and the stepped flanks, also chosen to reduce weight - all of which come with the CZ-standard Polycoat finish. Two replacement backstraps are also included with the Phantom. An eye-catching technical feature is the redesigned lever on the top left of the slide, which replaces CZ-75’s traditional thumb safety with a decocker lever for the SA/DA trigger system. And there something new on the inside as well, namely an auto firing pin safety.
CZ-75 SP-01 Phantom test
Just like its progenitor, the CZ-75 SP-01 Phantom has a simple, roughened finish with rustic final polish, as can be seen from the abundance of machining traces found on the inside. In light of that, the somewhat less than attractive lettering and merely burnished magazine were of comparatively little consequence by comparison (-2 points).
The operating elements are all on one side, ignoring left-handers. Although the decocker is functional, it gets in the way of a two-handed shooting position with both thumbs pointing forward (-3 points).
The trigger-frame design did not reap universal praise, either, due to the uncomfortable hand position, which the replacement backstrap insert included as a standard accessory did little to alleviate (-2 points).
One of the testers thought the sights seemed cloudy, the alignment of the twilight dots was not entirely parallel and the contrast was somewhat inadequate (-2 points). Better trigger characteristics – both SA and DA were extremely rough – would have helped improve precision, which demonstrated a best group size of 72 mm (-15 points) when fired from a sandbag.
Very substantial friction was noted during discharge – an absolute ‘no-go’ for sports pistols (-5 points). Only the section of the test devoted to chambering/safety resulted in no loss of points, as the Phantom worked smoothly with all ammunition types loaded (-0 points) and also exhibited a robust capacity to accommodate alternate makes.
Test summary for the CZ-75 SP-01 Phantom
This is an affordable pistol – but you have to take a few aesthetic and practical shortcomings into the bargain. It’s sturdy and reliable and delivers acceptable accuracy. But the trigger cannot be recommended in its current form and is something that should be dealt with an expert – preferably the one at the factory.
VISIER score for the CZ-75 SP-01 Phantom in 9 mm Luger
|Precision (max. 50 points)||35 points|
|Chambering/Safety (max. 10 points)||10 points|
|Trigger characteristics (max. 10 points)||5 points|
|Trigger-frame design (max. 5 points)||3 points|
|Operating elements (max. 10 points)||7 points|
|Sights (max. 5 points)||3 points|
|Finishing (max. 10 points)||8 points|
|Total score (max. 100 points)||71 points|
|Rating||4 out of 6 |
Shooting test: CZ-75 SP-01 Phantom
|No.||Factory cartridge||group size||v2||E2|
|1.||115 grs GECO JHP||72 mm||339 m/s||428 J|
|2.||124 grs TC Fiocchi FMJ||99 (65) mm||339 m/s||462 J|
|3.||124 grs Remington Golden Saber||105 mm||350 m/s||492 J|
|4.||125 grs Hornady Steel Match JHP||94 (63) mm||336 m/s||457 J|
|5.||140 grs Sellier & Bellot FMJ||90 (31) mm||271 m/s|
Note: group size = 5/4-shot groups, fired at a distance of 15 metres from a sandbag support, stated in millimetres, measured from bullet hole centre to bullet hole centre. v2 = muzzle velocity, stated in metres per second. E2 = muzzle energy in joules. Bullet abbreviations: SP = oft Point. FMJ = Full Metal Jacket. JHP = Jacketed Hollow Point.