I generally don’t like surprises. Because, let’s face it, they’re usually unpleasant. I was surprised when I managed to shoot a hole through a very expensive double glazing unit with my Tanfoglio Witness. I was very surprised to discover that I hadn’t secured the seat properly on one of the motorcycles I had re-built and found myself standing at a set of traffic lights with just a seat clutched between my thighs as the bike accelerated briskly up the road. You get the picture. Happily, I’m rarely surprised by replicas. I have owned a fair number from different producers and I generally have a good idea of what to expect before I even pick a new pistol up. But, just occasionally, I find something unexpected in a new replica and that happened recently when I was provided with an ASG CZ 75 for review.
I have owned several ASG replicas, and they’re generally pretty good. In terms of blowback, semi-auto BB shooters, I have owned an STI Duty One and a CZ P-07 Duty. Both were very nicely made and finished, powerful, reliable and reasonably accurate, but I didn’t especially care for the trigger action on either – like many replicas they both use the first part of the single action trigger pull to queue up the next BB for shooting and neither could be field stripped. Not show-stopping issues to be sure, but I do like functional accuracy and a true single action trigger. I had assumed (always a dangerous thing to do) that the ASG CZ 75 would be similar and had never owned or shot one. How wrong I was…
Real steel background
State-owned arms manufacturer Česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod (CZUB) was established in 1936 in the small town of Uherský Brod in what was then Czechoslovakia and is now the Czech Republic. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, the company was privatized in 1992 as Česká zbrojovka a.s. PLC. CZ currently employs more than 2000 people, making it one of the largest firearms manufacturers in the world.
Back in the early 1970s, military orders were starting to drop-off and the Ministry of Foreign Trade requested CZ to begin work on the design of a military and law enforcement pistol which might have export potential to Western countries. The design brief was for a pistol chambered for the 9x19mm round, with a high-capacity magazine and capable of being carried “cocked and locked” (i.e. with the hammer cocked and a manual safety applied). Chief designer František Koucký (with some help from his brother Josef) produced a design where the slide of the pistol ran inside rails on the frame, rather than the conventional approach where the slide is outside of the frame. This was claimed to give smoother and more controlled slide movement, though it did mean that the slide serrations are a little small. Czech architect and designer František Crhák was also asked to provide ideas on the visual design of the pistol, and the result was a simple, distinctive and instantly recognisable design.
Early model CZ 75
Functionally, the all steel CZ 75 is a relatively simple design using a modified Browning short recoil operated, locked breech action. Early prototypes were single action only but the final version featured both double and single action with a half-cock position for the hammer in order to make manual de-cocking safer (because it can be carried cocked but with the safety engaged, the manual safety does not incorporate a de-cocking function). Mass production began in 1977 and the CZ 75 quickly gained a reputation for power, accuracy and reliability. It also has superb ergonomics, combining the slim pointability of a 1911 with the advantages of a double-stack magazine.
During the early 1980s, the CZ 75 became one of a small group of pistols referred to as the “Wonder Nines“. Police in the US were still largely armed with revolvers at this time, and a number of influential gun writers including Jeff Cooper and Robert Shimek urged the adoption of 9mm handguns with large capacity magazines which could be carried ready to fire, but with a manual safety. The CZ 75 was one of the pistols identified as a Wonder Nine and it was eventually adopted by some US Police Departments as well as by police users in the Czech Republic and Turkey. The CZ 75 and its derivatives have also become very popular as target shooting and self-defence weapons around the world.
The earliest versions of the CZ 75 featured a rounded trigger-guard and a spur hammer though these were quickly replaced on the CZ75B with a combat style trigger-guard and a rounded hammer. Subsequent versions have included the select fire CZ 75 Automatic and the aluminium framed compact P-01. More recent pistols from CZ such as the polymer framed P09 Duty continue to use the internal slide and other operational features from the original CZ 75. The CZ 75 has also been used as the basis for several other handguns including the IWI Jericho 941 series, the Tanfoglio TZ-75, the Chinese Norinco NZ-75 and the Springfield P9.
The ASG CZ 75
Danish group Action Sport Games A/S (ASG) produce a range of CO2 powered 4.5mm semi-auto and revolver replicas. ASG have a licensing agreement with CZ and a number of their replicas are based on CZ designs. The ASG CZ 75 is an all-metal licensed replica of an early CZ 75 featuring blowback, a full-size drop-out magazine and full CZ markings. Up to 17 steel BBs and the CO2 are stored in the magazine and all controls from the original are replicated visually and operationally.
Magazine capacity: 17 steel BBs
Barrel length: 4.3″ (110mm), smoothbore
Weight: 2.1lbs (950g)
Overall length: 8.27″ (210mm)
Sights: Front: Post, fixed. Rear: Notch, fixed.
Claimed power: 312fps (95m/s)
Packaging and presentation 2.5/5
The ASG CZ 75 comes in a card box with a polystyrene insert shaped to fit the pistol and extras. It is supplied with a hex tool for removal of the magazine base plug, a small box of steel BBs and a very short user manual. The manual doesn’t mention the full and half-cock hammer positions or tell you how to field strip the replica.
Dimensionally, this is a very good replica indeed. The lines of the original and the shape and location of sights, controls and grips are precisely the same. Even the distinctive tiny, silver hammer pin retaining peg is in place. The magazine on the ASG CZ 75 does have a larger base than the standard CZ 75 magazine. However, CZ provide an extended magazine for the CZ 75 which increases capacity to 18 rounds, and the magazine on the ASG version is based on this, so it’s a reasonable solution to the need to fit a 12g CO2 cartridge inside the mag.
Later model CZ 75 SP-01 fitted with high-capacity magazine
The finish on the replica is a semi-matt black compared to a fairly glossy black finish on the original, but it looks reasonable and it’s close to the finish on later models of the CZ 75. The trigger is chromed and outer barrel is finished in polished alloy on the replica, which look good and replicate the finish on the original. Markings are fair. The “Model 75 Cal. 9 Para” on the left of the slide is correct though the “Made in Czechoslovakia” text which appeared on the left side of the frame of early versions of the original is missing and the CZ logos on the slide and grips are modern style rather than the 70s version. There is also additional white ASG text on the right of the frame, but at least it’s small and fairly discreet.
Functional accuracy 14/15
The ASG CZ 75 features blowback operation and the slide moves through a full range of movement. The slide lock/release works as it should and the slide locks back when the last round is fired. Like the original, the hammer has a half-cock and full-cock position. On the cartridge version this is used to safely de-cock a loaded pistol – the hammer is de-cocked only from full-cock to half-cock. This is probably not something you’ll be doing often on a replica, but it’s nice to see such attention to functional detail. With the hammer in the full-cock position, the pistol can be fired in single action. With the hammer in the half-cock position, the pistol can only be fired in double action. The manual safety can be applied only with the hammer in the full-cock or half-cock position. With the hammer fully down, the pistol can be fired in double action, though on mine this is notably stiff (but it does seem to be improving with use).
Hammer at half-cock (top) and full-cock (bottom)
The ASG CZ 75 can be field stripped in the same way as the original (though this isn’t explained in the manual). To remove the slide, the magazine must be removed and two marks on the left rear of the slide must be aligned. The slide release can then be pushed out from the right and removed from the left, and the slide can then be moved forward off the frame. It’s very similar to the takedown procedure on any 1911 style pistol.
Overall, this is a very good functional replica of the CZ 75. It accurately replicates trigger action, slide movement and locking and takedown and it’s very close to weight of the original. This would probably make a good training aid for anyone who also owns the cartridge version.
To load the magazine with CO2, the plastic cover on the base must first be removed. There is a small plastic button in the centre of the base which is pressed, then the plastic cover can be slid off to the front. This exposes the tightening plug which can be removed using the supplied hex key (though it also has a large slot so a coin or screwdriver can also be used). The plug must be completely removed so that the CO2 can be inserted from the bottom of the mag. Once it’s in place, the plug is replaced and tightened until the cartridge pierces, which it generally does cleanly and without any major loss of gas.
Up to 17 steel BBs are then loaded into the magazine. The follower doesn’t lock down, so it must be held in place whilst you are loading.
The magazine is then replaced and you’re good to go. The slide must be racked to prepare for the first shot and, due to the design of the slide, the area of serrations is fairly small. This, combined with a strong return spring, means that you do have to grasp the slide strongly to get a good grip. Racking the slide also cocks the hammer, so most of your shooting will be done in single action. Fortunately, the ASG CZ 75 has a very nice, light, true single action trigger. There is some free-play, but the pull is short, light and consistent. Blowback is strong and snappy and this replica shoots with a reasonably loud bang. Sights are simple and basic (no white dots here), but clear and perfectly adequate.
The CZ 75 can be fired in double action if the hammer is fully down or in the half-cock position. With the hammer at half-cock, the double action trigger is moderately heavy, though smooth and consistent. With the hammer down, the first part of the double action pull is much heavier, though this does seem to be improving with use.
The CZ 75 shoots well, with groupings on average of around 2″ at six yards, though this does seem to vary. One magazine of BBs might group at 1½”, while the next might be 2½” or even 3″. On the target below, the group was around 2½”, but if you watch the video review, you’ll see a grouping that’s close to 1½”. This seems to happen in a number of steel BB shooting replicas I have owned, and I have no idea why. In general, the first magazine I shot in a particular session with this pistol seemed to be less tightly grouped than subsequent efforts. The CZ 75 is roughly comparable to something like the Cybergun Tanfoglio Witness in that it isn’t going to compete for accuracy with your pellet shooting replicas, but it is accurate enough for satisfactory target shooting and plinking. It feels adequately powerful and I have no reason to doubt the claimed 300+ fps. In temperatures of around 26 – 28°C I was getting between 50 and 60 shots per CO2. Power doesn’t seem to drop off, and accuracy and power are maintained until virtually the last shot. The slide locks back reliably when the last shot is fired.
Good recoil effect and a loud report make this a satisfying replica to shoot. It also inherits great ergonomics from the original, the single action trigger pull is wonderfully light and short and the sights give a clear picture. Overall, it’s a very nice shooter indeed.
Ten shots, six yards, semi-rested
Target downloaded from: http://umarexboysclubforum.myfineforum.org/index.php
The sights are non-adjustable and my CZ 75 shot around 1½” low and to the left at six yards. Or at least it did until I adjusted the hop-up. Hang on a minute, I hear you say, this is a 4.5mm replica, so it can’t have hop-up. And I’d agree, except that it appears that it does. There is an adjustment screw on the outside of the inner barrel housing which seems to press on an internal O ring – which is precisely how the hop-up works on 6mm replicas. And when I gave this screw and experimental turn, it did seem that the groupings changed until they were pretty close to centred for elevation on the point of aim (though still a little to the left). I know that sounds unlikely, but that’s just how it happened.
It’s possible I suppose that the inclusion of hop-up is a left-over from a 6mm version, but generally the hop-up mechanism isn’t included on 4.5mm replicas. And the conventional wisdom is that, even if it were included, it wouldn’t make any difference because the steel BBs are too heavy. The manual certainly doesn’t mention hop-up adjustment, but then it doesn’t say much about anything. It’s possible that the improvement in groupings is simply a coincidence and nothing to do with adjusting the screw – it could be part of the gun wearing in. Or I may just have had too much wine with my lunch. So, I don’t claim that the ASG CZ 75 has hop-up adjustment. But it does have something that looks an awful lot like it.
Mysterious screw. Hop-up adjustment?
Quality and reliability 13/15
I haven’t had any functional issues with my CZ 75. It loads and holds gas without leaks and everything works reliably. When shooting the first few magazines, there was an occasional double loading of BBs which resulted in a notably less powerful shot. However, this hasn’t recurred and I assume it’s just part of the process of wearing in. Like most ASG replicas, this feels well made – the slide fits tightly and with almost no play, all the controls works crisply and positively and the grips seem robust and don’t flex or creak when the pistol is gripped.
The finish is good, but not perfect. There a couple of areas on the frame and magazine where there are minor flaws in the paint. You have to look very closely to see them, but they appear to be slightly thicker areas of paint which have dried to leave a slight discoloration. Now, I have noticed that the finish on the previous ASG semi-auto replicas I have owned seemed to last better than the average. On most modern replicas, the finish is applied electrostatically, which gives an even, but very, very thin coating of paint. On some replicas this produces a finish so fragile that it wears if you look at them hard enough. I don’t know whether these slight defects in the paint on the CZ 75 imply that ASG use some other process to apply a thicker and more hard-wearing finish?
A very minor issue is that there is a tiny area of wear to the finish on the very back of the long beavertail. I’d guess that the equally long hammer is clipping the edge of this as the slide retracts under blowback. There is also a little wear inside the slide where the outer barrel is rubbing against the inside of the slide. It’s not major, and because the outer barrel is polished alloy, there is no finish to be worn off and this wear isn’t apparent unless you remove the slide and look inside. Otherwise, the finish on my ASG CZ 75 is holding up very well indeed.
Overall Impression 14/15
I hadn’t realised how much I have got used to replicas of polymer framed pistols until I picked up the hefty, all metal CZ 75. It’s notably heavier than, for example, the polymer framed ASG CZ P-09 Duty, and it feels good. OK, if I had to carry a pistol round all day, I’d probably appreciate the light weight of more modern guns. But as an occasional target shooter and replica collector, I really enjoy a weighty pistol.
Like most ASG replicas, it seems to be well made too. The finish looks good and (if my past experience of ASG replicas is a guide) should be durable too. I also appreciate the attention to detail in things like the half-cock position for the hammer, the light single-action trigger and the ability to field strip. Like the original, it isn’t a complicated design and the sights and controls are simple and basic but easy to use. Niggles? Very few really – the slide serrations are rather small and it can be difficult to get a good grip on the slide, the double action trigger pull seems sticky in the first stage (though this seems to be improving with use), I don’t especially care for the extended base to the magazine and accuracy seems to be variable, though within reasonable limits. Otherwise, this is very good indeed.
OK, this is pretty easy: Bored with 1911s, Beretta 92s and plastic framed pistols? Want a replica of something a little different? Then you need one of these. For collectors, it’s a very nice replica of a transitional design which comes somewhere between the 1911, the Hi-Power and more modern pistols like the Sig P226 and the Glock 17. For shooters it’s a powerful, weighty, reasonably accurate BB pistol with strong blowback, a true single-action trigger and great ergonomics. It’s also fairly frugal with CO2, it’s relatively inexpensive, it looks good and it feels great in the hand compared to most polymer framed replicas. For me, the only puzzling thing is that it has taken me so long to discover the ASG CZ 75. Surprised? You bet! But in a good way…
Total score: 86.5/100
Many thanks to ASG for supplying the CZ 75 for review.