Monday, April 08, 2013

CZ 97B .45 ACP

OK, when we left off last time I was in the midst of suffering from a bad case of CZ fever.  I had just picked up and fallen in love with a 9mm CZ D PCR.  At the time I made that purchase, Bill's Gun Shop and Range also had several more CZ's on the shelf, one of which was a full-sized CZ 75 with a polished stainless finish and night sights.  As this was the first CZ I had ever seen that sported night sights and, since I was deep in the mist of the CZ fever, I decided to go back the next weekend and pick up the full-sized stainless model with the night sights.  However, while I was there I decided to examine the .45 caliber model 97B that was also on the shelf.  I have owned one before, but this one was different.  The first thing that I noticed was this screw-on barrel bushing up front.  I did not recall mine having a bushing, at least not this one.

The second thing that caught my eye was the glossy blue finish.  With the exception of the one nickle-plated model I owned (twice--if you haven't read the last review go back to get the explanation) all of the others have had a polycoat black finish that was nice but dull compared to this glossy blue.  In this world of Parkerized finished slides over polymer or anodized alloy frames it was nice to see a full steel handgun with a great blued finish.  

The third thing I noticed was the trigger pull.  CZ's have always had good triggers on them; this one was very good in Double Action and excellent in Single Action.  The "B" in the CZ 97B model designation means that there is no decocker on the pistol; you can carry it "cocked and locked" for Single Action or you can ease the hammer down and carry it in the Double Action mode.  The DA pull averaged 8.95 pounds and the SA came in at 5.85.  Both the DA and SA pulls were clean and short.  So, let's cut to the chase; I obviously bought it.  One of the first things I wanted to see was whether or not the DA pull would cause me to throw the shot.  When I fire a SIG I have a tendency to throw that first double action shot off to the left a good three to four inches at 21 feet.  So I decided to fire two full magazines (20 rounds) all in the Double Action mode.  After each shot I kept the muzzle pointed down range and carefully lowered the hammer.

The good news for CZ (and bad news for SIG) is that the groups were very well centered.  The Double Action pull did not have an effect on my accuracy.  Now you may notice that the in photo above that the pistol has wooden grips whereas my top image show the 97B sporting Aluminum grips.  This was done to make the grip slimmer.  This is a large pistol.  It is 8.3 inches long with a 4.8 inch barrel and sits 5.9 inches in height.  My medium sized hand found the double action trigger to be just a bit of a reach.  To help with that problem I ordered a set of Aluminum grips with skate board tape inserts from the the CZ Custom Shop.  It trimmed the width from 1.4 to 1.18 inches making the double action pull very reachable which was important as I intended to carry the pistol in the Double Action mode.

As for other specifications, the capacity of the magazine is a Feinstein friendly 10 rounds.  The forward section of the slide contains the very unnecessary (in my opinion) front cocking serrations. The top of the slide contains the very necessary anti-glare serrations so that sunlight reflecting off the top of the slide does not obliterate your sight picture.

CZ's ergonomics are always spot on for me and the model 97B is no exception.   Even though this is a large pistol I had no problem operating the thumb safety, the CZ version of which I actually find preferable to the thumb safety on the 1911.   However, with all due respect to John Moses Browning, CZ did have an additional 64 years to work on theirs.

I think it's time to talk about accuracy.  Feast your eyes on this one shot group fired at fifty feet!

I took quite a chewing out by some reader when I posted this photo on one of the gun forums.  He let me know in no uncertain terms that one shot does not constitute a group and accused me of trying to foist some type of flim-flam scam on the American public.  Maybe he missed the orange burst next to the target that states "I know enough to quit while I am ahead" and didn't realize this was kind of a joke.  Whenever I shoot a first round at any kind of a real distance and  ping the center of the target I reel that baby in, photograph it and save it for the scrapbook because no matter how many additional rounds I fire at that target it ain't gonna look any better than it did after the first round!  This as well as the next two targets were shot with UMC 230 grain FMJ ammunition.

Now I also took this pistol with me to Chicago to for qualifications where I shot two 29's and one perfect score of 30.  After a little work on my grip the instructor had me popping groups like this one above at 30 feet (and yes I did put the target on the holder upside down--hey a circle is a circle).

Going back to 50 feet the target above shows what two magazines +one in the chamber look like.  You can see now why I pulled the first 50 foot target down after the first shot hit center.

As ammo was getting a little scarce I only had one box of defensive ammo which was Magtech 230 grain +P Jacketed Hollow Point loads.  This was what I used to shoot the target above at a range of 30 feet.

In all of my shooting trips with this pistol there have been no failures to feed or extract.

If you are looking for a large, all steel .45 caliber handgun for when the chips are down you are not find a better handgun than the CZ Model 97B.  The fit, finish, reliability and accuracy belies the price of $600 and change.

For one last look, here's the film noir version of the top photo.


That Guy said...

A fellow CZ Nut!

I have several CZs, and a few years ago, my wife bought me a -97B for my birthday. It is easily the most accurate pistol I own. I carry it concealed a lot in a High Noon holster. It is just a beautiful gun that works better than it looks.

Unknown said...

Excellent review. I have been dreaming of this gun for about year. Every time I have the cash and the Mrs.'s OK, it's no where to be found. I love a heavy steel gun. And, I love the grips you added.

Average Joe's Handgun Reviews said...

Marc, this pistol is a dream come true and for 2013 they upgraded it to include the aluminum grips and a fiber optic front site. Last week Arnzen Arms had one and they will ship to your FFL. Their number is (952) 944-1875.

Anonymous said...

Really like this pistol

Anonymous said...

Just came across your review of the 97, which will be my next firearm.

I have a question for you CZers out there:

Several years ago I came across a CZ-75 Compact in 2-Tone. The frame is stainless and the slide is pitch black Nitron. Everything else remains the same as far as I can tell.
CZ-USA told me in an email that only 360 of these were made in 2012 and gave me the exact date mine was made. It's got to be a collector's item for sure.
I have yet to find another one like this and was wondering if anyone out there has?
If so, what do you think mine will sell for in mint condition with all paperwork, hard case, etc.
I would greatly appreciate any and all help in this regard.

Stan in SOTX

Anonymous said...

This is Stan again in SOTX.
My email address is:


Anonymous said...

CZ 75D PCR I have this gun Love it!A lot of people know nothing of CZ97B Rail fits inside better lockup Excellent shooter 13 rds.