The CZ P-01 is a compact, aluminum alloy frame duty pistol with some thoughtful features.
Since 1936 Ceska Zbrojovka (CZ) has been known as a maker of well-designed and highly functional firearms. Indeed, the company's pistols are so well designed that its classic CZ 52 was a mainstay of the Czech military for 23 years from 1952 to 1975 when it was replaced by the CZ 75 and has only recently been taken off the rolls of service duty in many countries around the world. CZ's reputation remains solid to this day with the continuing development of the CZ 75 line.
Back during the Cold War, CZ's guns were shrouded in mystery and became unlikely collector's items. Spoken of in hushed tones, the Com-bloc CZ 75 was essentially unknown to most shooters in the States. And with good reason. There were only a rare handful of samples available.
But then some handgunning pundits proclaimed the CZ 75 as the "perfect" high-cap "wundernine" design. They fell in love with the Czech pistol, touting its Browning Hi-Power-esque grip profile and slender slide, which reminded many of the justly famous SiG P-210 pistol, as a combination of the best of both worlds. This, combined with its double-action function and the ability to carry it cocked and locked, like the beloved 1911, rapidly made the CZ 75 attractive to many shooters.
Yet, the very fact they couldn't get one made the CZ 75 more desirable beyond its inherent value. The CZ 75 is a fine handgun that's beautifully machined and blued, but it's basically a military pistol, with correspondingly rough and gritty trigger pulls and average accuracy. It was never worth the $1,500 to $2,000 that collectors paid for it back when Ronald Reagan was in the Oval Office.
As time passed and the Berlin wall came tumbling down, CZ pistols became commonly available in the United States. Today, the original CZ 75 design has morphed into a series of pistols, each meeting certain needs, from competition to law enforcement and military applications.
CZ builds the basic design, in many forms, for more than 60 countries to meet their military, police and sporting needs. And why not? The CZ 75 is a solidly performing design that has been proven again and again in the real world.
But as popular as it is, the CZ 75 is beginning to show its age. So a few years ago, the Czech National Police asked a variety of gunmakers for a new model to meet its needs. The CNP wanted a design that offered a high level of comfort and ergonomics based on the solid CZ 75 operating system. It chose the CZ P-01.
Called a "Generation 3" pistol, the CZ P-01 fulfills the Czech Police's needs for a lightweight, compact pistol that delivers the accuracy and durability of a full-size, full-weight pistol. It's also as tough as a railroad spike. One of the reasons CZ won the contract is that the CNP had a tough list of requirements and, indeed, many companies simply declined to even attempt to meet them.
A nicely contoured “beavertail” keeps the hammer from biting the web of the hand and the rubber grips are simple and handle recoil well.
After some three years of development and testing, the P-01 was accepted. But just to put things into perspective, let's take a look at what standards it had to meet.
The gun had to withstand 4,000 dry-firings, 3,000 de-cockings, 1,350 operator-level disassemblies and reassemblies, 150 complete disassemblies all the way down to pins and springs, 54 drops of 1.5 meters onto concrete, a 3-meter drop test, and a 24-hour freezing test. If that wasn't enough, the National Police also required that the gun fire after being stripped of all lubrication and submerged in mud and sand. Finally, the CNP required that the service life of its new duty pistol exceed 15,000 rounds of +P 9mm ammo. They must have been impressed with the CZ P-01. Testing revealed that it can survive more than 30,000 rounds of 9mm ball ammo.
Another astounding aspect of the National Police test was the reliability requirement protocol of 98.8 percent, a 0.2 percent failure rate. This equals 20 stoppages per 10,000 rounds or 500 "mean rounds between failures" (MRBF). During testing, the average number of stoppages was only seven per 15,000 rounds, or a 0.05 percent failure rate. This translates to an MRBF of 2,142 rounds. That's about five times the minimum acceptable rate for the U.S. Army, which is set at 495 rounds for 9mm pistols with 115-grain ball ammo.
To sum it all up, the CZ P-01 is a highly reliable, rugged pistol, despite it's small size and alloy frame.