Americans sometime suffer from the "If we didn't invent it here we're not interested" syndrome. Not always, but just often enough it can get in the way of a good thing, and this is one of those times. We've covered CZ-USA pistols before in Police, and frankly were very impressed with their new PO-1 duty pistol. After having our minds opened with that experience, when the opportunity to test a brand new design from CZ appeared as if by magic, we grabbed it, especially since we had a small part in its final design.
But first, allow us to clear up some confusion concerning the "CZ" name. Established in 1936 in the small Moravian town of Uhersky Brod in then Czechoslovakia, today's CZ has undergone several make-overs before arriving where it is now as one of the leaders in firearm design and manufacture. Thanks to the Cold War and related politics, all gun makers in Czechoslovakia worked under the same umbrella of the "state" and all firearms had to bear the Czech "BRNO" mark, regardless of which maker or factory they originated from. Consequently, for decades, those of us outside the communist block generally assumed "BRNO" was the maker of a wide range of designs. Nothing was further from the truth. It was as if all the makes in the United States were sold under one label.
Throughout the Cold War, CZ made the CZ 52, CZ 75, and other pistols, along with the VZ 61 Skorpion sub-gun and rifles. In 1991, Czech weapons factories were "de-centralized" and began business on the free market. CZ "UB" (for Uhersky Brod) was the first to take that leap and promptly dominated the market in more than 60 countries. Also in 1991, CZUB established a permanent presence in the United States in the form of CZ-USA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CZUB, specifically created to handle the American market.
To confuse things even more, over the years a wide range of firearms made in the Czech Republic have been imported into the U.S., all bearing the "CZ" moniker. However, many of these were not from CZUB. Think of the "CZ" label as simply saying "USA" and you'll get the idea. It would be as if Europeans started calling all guns made in the states "USA" brand. I'd imagine Colt would be a bit upset if they were called by the same name as S&W. Ditto for CZ-USA.
CZUB guns have been imported by Bauska, Action Arms, Magnum Research, and others over the years, but now, CZ-USA is the sole importer, working out of its facility in Kansas City, Kan., where it offers warranty service and a complete parts department. CZ-USA is only one "brand" of firearm made in the Czech Republic and others may say "CZ" on them, but have no relation to CZ-USA. So now you know.
A Good Idea
I was fortunate enough to tour the CZ Factory late last year and was able to examine some prototype handguns. Hiding on a table was a small, lightweight semi-auto with serious lines. I spoke with "Milan" from the factory, who smiled and said it was a gun called the RAMI, made for "deep cover and concealment."
It was in late prototype form, but I noticed it had no slide stop. Therein began a semi-spirited discussion where Milan tried to convince me it didn't need one and I tried to explain the peculiarities of the American market. Milan is an expert in design and function, and I confess he was right, but the realities of our market remained true. I left and crossed my Yankee fingers.
Two months ago I received a call from Alice Poluchova, president of CZ-USA, who happily announced the RAMI had passed import inspections and was now available for testing. "By the way," she said, "It's got a slide stop on it." It seems CZUB understood after all, and are to be commended for it.
The test gun is an early import and is roughly Colt Officer's ACP-sized (or a bit smaller). It shows the typical good fit, finish, and attention to detail of late-model CZUB products, but it felt just a bit "foreign" in the hand. A lifetime spent with 1911s and S&W revolvers creates muscle memories hard to break.
However, the RAMI felt comfortable, with a slightly "fat" grip, but one that still fit easily in my smallish hands. One of our testers did comment he'd like to see a magazine extension for the little finger, but that would compromise concealability. Either way, the gun is easy to hold and to control, even when firing hot .40 S&W ammo.