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The Czech CZ 75: Past, Present And Future

The Czech CZ 75: Past, Present And Future

The author takes a closer look at the past, present and future of the CZ 75, the timeless Czech wonder nine.

If you show up at any pistol match today—whether it’s IDPA, USPSA, IPSC or Steel Challenge—I’d wager you’d find a CZ in many, many holsters. In fact, I’d hazard that the top shooters at your match, at least half of them, are running a CZ of some flavor. This includes my own holster—not that I’d shout from the rooftops that I’m a “top shooter.” 

The data backs this up, too. Participant survey data of USPSA Production division handguns at the 2020 Nationals shows that 45 percent of shooters were running some kind of CZ, and plenty of others were using pistols based on the CZ 75 like the EAA Tanfoglio Witness Stock 2. It’s easy to see why they’re so popular when you consider that the CZ Team alone took 9 medals at the 2022 IPSC Handgun World Shoot XIX.

A member of the CZ Shooting Team competing with one of CZ’s customized race guns. Photo credit:

So, this got me to thinking—how did this pistol rise to such prominence in competitive pistol shooting? Compared to action movie icons like the Beretta 92, the CZ 75 is relatively unknown, nor does it have the history or the zealous followers that John Moses Browning’s 1911 has. In fact, even my brother-in-law who is of Czech descent and in law enforcement had never heard of the CZ 75. This is a shame, as the pistol really deserves more respect and recognition.

To help remedy that, today we’ll be talking about the CZ 75’s origins, how it evolved into a world-class competition pistol and where it’s going.

Origins Of The CZ 75

Before we can begin any discussion on the present or future, we need to talk about the origins of “Česká Zbrojovka,” a name that roughly translates to “Czech armory” and is what CZ stands for. 

The CZ saga dates all the way back to 1935 when an armament factory was established in the former Czechoslovakia in Uhersky Brod (CZUB), as far as possible from the western borders of Nazi Germany. Located in the southeast of Moravia, this factory was primarily tasked with making aircraft machine guns, weapons that obviously saw plenty of use in the impending world wars. In 1949, after WWII, the joint-stock company Česká zbrojovka was nationalized and gradually became the main Czechoslovak manufacturer of small arms such as Sa vz. 23 submachine guns and vz. 58 rifles. By 1962, the company was producing the iconic vz. 61 Škorpion machine pistol, a gun that’s almost certainly seen more action in movies and video games throughout the years than it ever has in real life.

Then, in the late 1960s, development of the CZ 75 began by brothers Josef and František Koucký, the two stars of post-war CZ small arms design. Legend has it that František Koucký was offered the job to develop a new 9mm handgun, but because he had recently officially retired from CZUB, this time he had carte blanche on the project. This gave him the freedom to both completely innovate with fresh ideas as well as borrow from whatever existing designs he wanted, and he took full advantage of both.

An original CZ 75.

Result? The Koucký brothers’ design was so innovative that it’s still relevant today almost 50 years later. Cleverly, the brothers only used their surname on the CZ 75 patents so they could both share the glory. This, also, may have contributed to the patent debacle, but we’ll discuss that more later. 

The CZ 75 Is Born

When the Koucký brothers began work on the CZ 75, Czechoslovakia’s service pistol cartridges were the same as those of other Warsaw Pact countries (namely, 9x18mm Makarov and 7.62x25mm Tokarev), the CZ 75 (being a 9x19mm pistol) was initially intended as an export-only firearm.

“The choice of a 9mm Parabellum was clear from the start,” Lynn Twiss, Marketing Director of CZ-Dan Wesson said. “At first, there was talk of it being a small pistol for self-defense. An exclusive distributor abroad then demanded a large-capacity magazine like the one that came with the FN HP 35, and finally, a request for an SA/DA trigger and firing mechanism. More detailed development was left to the designer. The explanation for its design was simple: it was to be a product for export to the West, where the concept of the Wonder Nines was taking hold.”

Despite being designed in the early 70s, the pistol did not reach the Czech civilian market until 1985 and was only officially adopted by its home country’s armed forces in 1989.

Then in 1986, CZ introduced the CZ 85—an ambidextrous model with a safety and slide stop on either side. From there, the CZ 75 platform underwent minimal changes, for the most part, until the early 2000s when CZ began to turn its eye toward competition shooting.

Emulation, Innovation And Patents

They say that emulation is the greatest form of flattery, and in this way, the CZ 75 may be one of the most flattered guns in the industry since its design has been copied by over a half-dozen other pistol manufacturers. However, that’s not to say that the CZ 75 design itself wasn’t inspired by others. 

Semi-autos in general date back to the early 1890s. By WWI, autoloading pistols like the German Luger and the Colt 1911 were in general use by armed forces. John Moses Browning, inventor of the famous and aforementioned 1911, died in 1926 while he was developing the Browning Hi-Power or P35. Anybody just looking at the Hi-Power can see the resemblance to the CZ 75, so it’s no wonder that they function similarly too. Both pistols use a short-recoil, locked-breech system with a linkless cam locking system.

Two police pistols. On top, the author’s Novak FBI Hostage Rescue Team clone. Below, a Belgian police lightweight BHP turn-in exchanged for something more “modern.”
Two Browning Hi-Power pistols. It’s easy to see how this gun inspired the CZ 75’s design, especially the profile of the front end and the grip angle.

“The [Hi-Power] 35 was just one of the many inspirations for František Koucký,” Twiss said, regarding the 75’s design. “His way of thinking was perhaps best summed up in 1979 by the legendary Jeff Cooper: ‘The Czech 75 — called the Brünner Pistol in Germany — may be considered the ultimate development of the Browning/Colt system. It takes the best Browning features, combines them with a couple of better innovations found in the best French and Swiss designs, and adds a few original touches of its own to put the whole together in the neatest package in the world.’”

“We innovate and develop our guns in a variety of ways. Sometimes we build on previous models. Sometimes we try new design paths. But one thing always remains the same: the customer, his needs and wishes are essential for us. It may sound like a cliché, but that’s exactly what makes great pistols, like the Shadow.”

Three years after the Browning Hi-Power’s release, the Walther P38 was invented. This pistol featured an open-breech design, much like what the Beretta 92 and some similar pistols adopted, but also a DA/SA trigger and a decocker—a standard feature on the CZ 75BD, SP-01 Tactical, CZ P-01 and many other models. 

All of that to say, firearms borrow from other firearms. However, many other designs have cropped up that are exact clones of or copies heavily inspired by the famous CZ 75. There’s the IMI/IWI Jericho 941 (aka Magnum Research Baby Eagle), Tanfoglio TZ-75, SAR 2000, EAA Witness and even the Sphinx Systems Sphinx 2000 just to name a few. All of these are CZ 75 copies of varying degrees.

Jericho feat
A Magnum Research Baby Desert Eagle, aka the Jericho 941, Israel’s CZ 75 copy.

Why are there so many copies made outside of its birthplace? Much of it has to do with the complexity of Czech patent law, secret patents and the fact that the CZ 75 was designed for export.

František Koucký was very concerned about patent protection for his designs, and this gun was no exception as it was covered by four patents. Due to potential interest from the armed forces, they were first filed as secret patents. This is not unusual, as this practice is utilized for inventions all over the world, including in the U.S.

In 1979, it was decided to declassify all four patents for the CZ 75. Long story short, something went wrong, and CZ never managed to secure world patent protection, leading to a free-for-all of global manufacturers making use of the design for free.

Despite this, CZ is still going strong today, and it never stopped innovating on the CZ 75 design as it continued to release new models. Even with the market being flooded with clones since before the original manufacturer could break into the international market, the company’s pistols continue to sell extremely well around the world.

While originally designed as a military pistol, however, most of the new models based on the CZ 75 have trended towards competition shooting in recent years. Let’s dig into how this transition came to pass.

Two CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow pistols, one equipped with a red dot.

The CZ 75 And Its Rise In Competitive Shooting Sports

For years, CZ sensed the potential of the CZ 75 pistol, but a lot of credit for building CZ’s shooting team goes to Czech Canadian Milan Trkulja, an IPSC shooter, judge and expert in shooting disciplines. He was one of the driving forces that convinced and motivated CZ to found a shooting team, also marking the start of sport pistol development based on the CZ 75. This is where you can find the origins of CZ’s line of competition pistols.


The father, or rather grandfather, of these guns is the CZ SP-01. While it was also originally created with military and law enforcement use in mind, its features were quickly recognized as being beneficial to competition shooting as well. One was even used by Adam Tyc to take 1st place at the 2005 IPSC championship, World Shoot XIV around the time of its release.

To build the SP-01, CZ essentially took the P0-1 (an aluminum-framed, compact model already certified by NATO) and gave it a full-size steel frame and slide and an extended 18-round magazine while retaining the P0-1’s accessory rail. Following the gun’s positive reception in sports shooting circles, CZ clearly saw a new potential market and began cooking up designs to cater to them. In the two decades since, CZ has released a litany of excellent competition-focused pistols, but all are still based on the original CZ 75 at heart.


Lynn Twiss also shared this anecdote with me about how the original CZ SP-01 Shadow was born. “The result was a huge surprise, as well as a disappointment, since the pistol seemed too robust, heavy, and unsuitable for normal carry. It was supposed to be for special forces use, but we found it completely useless. This was perhaps the reason why no manufacturer had tried to make an all-steel pistol with slots for a flashlight. However, the real potential of the pistol did not go unnoticed by the aforementioned Milan Trkulja. He wanted to lend the gun he made to IPSC sport shooters for a few days, so they could test it. Instead of returning it after a couple of weeks, he kept it for three months and confirmed it would be a force to be reckoned with in the Production division. After a few minor modifications, the pistol called CZ 75 SP-01 SHADOW was fitted for our shooting team, who immediately started winning titles with it. The success of our shooters and their tools began to be noticed by other shooters and other manufacturers. There are similar concepts on the market today, but despite this fact, we consistently prove at each and every competition that our technology and know-how are far ahead of competing brands.”

Parting Shot

CZs have something of a cult following, but I say that with love because in many ways I’ve sipped the Kool-Aid, too. They are well-built, high-capacity, exceptionally accurate, wildly ergonomic pistols that have ample models and modifications to choose from. 

My recommendation is if you haven’t had the chance to shoot a CZ yet, you should. Even just holding one, you can tell it’s an extension of your hand, and couple that with some custom, aftermarket grips and you no longer have a pistol—you have an appendage. Next time you’re at the gun shop, if you see one, pick it up.

A spread showing some various flavors of CZ pistols available today- ranging from compact carry models to race guns.

The original CZ 75 is not only a classic Cold War-era military pistol, but it remains an excellent shooter. That said, the design has only improved in terms of shootability since the company started focusing on the competition market. Whether you’re looking for a full-size target pistol, a compact carry gun or something in between, there’s a flavor of CZ 75 out there ready to do the job.

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Concealed Carry

Customization and Concealment: How to Modify Holsters for Perfect Fit


Finding the right holster for your firearm is essential for comfortable and secure concealed carry. However, off-the-shelf holsters may not always provide the perfect fit for your specific needs and preferences. In this guide, we’ll explore the art of holster customization, offering tips and techniques to modify holsters for a personalized fit that ensures both comfort and concealment.

Understanding Your Needs: Identifying Areas for Improvement


Before diving into holster customization, take some time to evaluate your priorities when it comes to concealed carry. Consider factors such as comfort, concealability, retention, and accessibility. Determine whether your current holster meets your needs in these areas or if there are specific areas for improvement.

Examine your existing holster for any discomfort or issues that may arise during daily carry. Common pain points include pressure points, sharp edges, or inadequate retention. Take note of these areas as they will guide your customization efforts to improve overall comfort and functionality.

Holster Modification Techniques: Tips for Customization

One of the most common methods for holster customization is heat gun molding. This technique involves using a heat gun to soften the holster material, typically Kydex or polymer, and then molding it to fit your firearm more closely. Be cautious not to overheat the material, as it can lead to warping or damage.

If your holster lacks sufficient retention or is too tight, consider adjusting the retention screws or adding retention devices such as adjustable tension screws or retention straps. Experiment with different settings until you find the right balance between retention and ease of draw.

To address discomfort caused by pressure points or sharp edges, consider adding padding or cushioning to your holster. Options include foam padding, adhesive-backed fabric, or leather lining. Apply padding strategically to areas that come into contact with your body to improve overall comfort during extended carry.

Concealment Enhancements: Tips for Discreet Carry


Adjusting the cant and ride height of your holster can significantly impact concealment and comfort. Experiment with different cant angles and ride heights to find the optimal position for your body type and carry preference. A slight forward or reverse cant can help improve concealment and draw efficiency.

Consider adding concealment wings or clips to your holster to enhance concealment and stability. These accessories attach to the holster and help distribute weight more evenly, reducing printing and improving overall comfort. Choose options with adjustable angles and tension to customize the fit to your body shape and clothing style.

For added safety and concealment, consider modifying your holster to provide enhanced trigger guard coverage. This can help prevent accidental trigger access while ensuring a smooth and consistent drawstroke. Add-on trigger guard extensions or molded-in trigger guard covers are available for many holster models and can be easily installed.

Customizing your holster allows you to tailor it to your unique needs and preferences, ensuring a comfortable and secure carry experience. By identifying areas for improvement, exploring modification techniques, and enhancing concealment features, you can create a holster that fits you perfectly and provides reliable performance day in and day out. Remember to take your time, experiment with different adjustments, and prioritize safety throughout the customization process. With a little creativity and ingenuity, you can transform your holster into the ideal companion for concealed carry.

Has this guide helped you to pick a holster? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

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Holster Materials Demystified: Leather vs. Kydex vs. Hybrid Options


Choosing the right holster material is crucial for effective and comfortable concealed carry. Each material, whether it be leather, Kydex, or a hybrid of several materials, offers distinct advantages and disadvantages. This guide will help you understand the differences between these materials, aiding you in making an informed decision based on durability, comfort, maintenance, and functionality.

Leather Holsters: Traditional Comfort and Elegance


Leather has been used in holster manufacturing for centuries due to its durability and the unique way it conforms to the firearm and the wearer’s body over time. A well-made leather holster can last for many years if properly cared for. Leather’s natural give ensures that it doesn’t scratch or dent your firearm, protecting the finish over long periods.

One of the primary advantages of leather is its comfort. Leather holsters tend to be more flexible than Kydex, which allows them to mold to the body’s contours, providing a personalized fit after a break-in period. Aesthetically, leather also has a classic look that appeals to many gun owners who appreciate its traditional appearance and craftsmanship.

The main drawback of leather is its higher maintenance requirements. Leather needs to be regularly cleaned and conditioned to prevent drying out or cracking. It is also less resistant to moisture compared to synthetic materials, which can be a consideration in wet climates or for everyday carry.

Kydex Holsters: Modern, Durable, and Low Maintenance

Kydex is a lightweight, thermoplastic material that is both durable and maintenance-free. Unlike leather, Kydex does not warp, crack, or require regular conditioning. It is highly resistant to moisture, making it an excellent choice for humid environments or active individuals who might sweat during carry.

Kydex holsters offer a firm, secure fit that doesn’t change over time, which means consistent retention and a reliable draw every time. These holsters are generally designed to offer an audible click when the gun is properly holstered, providing additional security feedback. Kydex is also easier to clean; usually, a simple wipe-down is all that’s required to keep it in good condition.

The primary disadvantage of Kydex is that it can be less comfortable for extended wear, especially directly against the skin, as it does not conform to the body the same way leather does. Additionally, the rigid nature of Kydex can sometimes cause wear on the finish of the firearm with repeated drawing and holstering.

Hybrid Holsters: Combining the Best of Both Worlds

Hybrid holsters are designed to offer the best features of both leather and Kydex. Typically, these holsters use a backing of leather (or sometimes a breathable synthetic fabric) that rests against the body, providing the comfort and flexibility of leather, coupled with a Kydex shell that holds the firearm. This combination ensures that the holster is comfortable against the skin while maintaining the structural integrity and easy re-holstering benefits of Kydex.

The leather backing of a hybrid holster conforms to the body, similar to a full leather holster, improving comfort for daily wear. The rigid Kydex shell keeps the gun securely in place and allows for smooth, consistent drawing and reholstering without the holster collapsing.

While hybrid holsters attempt to offer the best of both materials, they may also inherit some disadvantages. The leather component may still require maintenance, and the overall bulk might be greater than a single-material holster. Additionally, depending on the design, the sweat protection for the firearm might not be as robust as with a full Kydex design.

Choosing the Right Material for Your Needs

When selecting a holster, consider your personal needs, daily activities, and the environments in which you will be carrying. Leather offers a traditional, comfortable fit at the expense of greater care and potentially less durability under extreme conditions. Kydex provides excellent security and low maintenance but may sacrifice comfort. Hybrid holsters balance these factors but check that the design fits your specific requirements and comfort preferences.

Ultimately, the best holster material depends on your unique situation and preferences. Testing different materials and types can provide firsthand experience and help you make the best choice for your concealed carry needs.

Do you have a preferred material for your holsters? Why? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

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Concealed Carry

Concealed Carry Essentials: Choosing the Right Holster for Your Firearm


When it comes to concealed carry, choosing the right holster is as crucial as selecting the firearm itself. A good holster not only secures your weapon but also ensures comfort, accessibility, and concealment. Whether you’re a seasoned carrier or new to the world of concealed carry, understanding the different types of holsters and what makes them suitable for certain situations can help you make the right choice for your needs.

Understanding Holster Types

Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) Holsters

IWB holsters are one of the most popular choices for concealed carry because they offer excellent concealment. Positioned inside the wearer’s pants, these holsters sit just behind the hip or at the appendix position. They are designed to conceal the gun effectively beneath a lightly draped shirt or jacket, making them ideal for those who wear casual or business attire regularly. The key is to find an IWB holster made from a comfortable material that minimizes discomfort against the skin.

Outside-the-Waistband (OWB) Holsters

While OWB holsters are less concealable than their IWB counterparts, they are often more comfortable for extended wear, especially if you spend a lot of time seated, such as driving or working at a desk. These holsters sit on the outside of the pants, held close to the body by a belt. OWB is a preferred choice for open carry, duty carry, or when using larger frame pistols that are harder to conceal inside the waistband.

Pocket Holsters

For those preferring to carry smaller handguns, pocket holsters are a viable option. These holsters protect the firearm from debris and lint while ensuring that it stays upright and accessible in your pocket. The holster’s design also masks the shape of the gun, helping to prevent ‘printing’ (when the outline of the gun is visible through clothing), thus maintaining concealment.

Material Matters: Selecting the Right Fabric


Leather Holsters

Leather is a traditional choice that combines durability with comfort. Over time, leather holsters can mold to the shape of your gun and body, offering a custom fit. However, leather requires maintenance to keep it supple and functional, and it might not perform as well in very wet conditions.

Kydex and Other Synthetics

Kydex, a type of thermoplastic, is a popular alternative to leather due to its robustness and low maintenance. Holsters made from Kydex are resistant to water and sweat, making them suitable for humid climates. They also retain their shape over time, which facilitates quicker re-holstering. However, they might be less comfortable against the skin than leather and can wear the finish of your firearm faster.

Hybrid Holsters

Hybrid holsters combine materials, usually leather or a soft fabric backing with a synthetic shell. This design aims to offer the best of both worlds: comfort from the backing material and durability and easy access from the synthetic shell. These are particularly popular among those who carry daily as they balance comfort and functionality.

Fit and Comfort: Ensuring a Proper Holster

Custom Fit

It’s crucial that your holster fits your firearm snugly. A good fit prevents the gun from shifting, falling, or being difficult to draw. Most holsters are built for specific models, which means a one-size-fits-all approach might not be the best when it comes to holsters.


Comfort is key, especially if you plan to carry your gun daily. A comfortable holster should distribute the weight of the gun evenly without chafing. Padding can be crucial, particularly for IWB carriers. Test different holsters to see how they feel when sitting, walking, or bending.

Retention and Accessibility

Good retention keeps the gun securely holstered but allows for quick drawing when necessary. Some holsters offer adjustable retention screws to tighten or loosen the hold on your firearm. Moreover, ensure the holster does not obstruct your grip; when drawing, you should be able to get a full grip on the handle.

Concealment and Practical Considerations

Pistol in the holster.


Choose a holster that keeps your firearm out of sight but within reach. The best concealed carry holster offers a balance between accessibility, comfort, and invisibility. Consider your daily activities and the type of clothing you wear when selecting a holster for optimal concealment.

Practical Considerations

Lastly, consider other practical aspects such as the ease of holstering and unholstering, the holster’s profile (does it add too much bulk?), and its compatibility with your wardrobe. Some holsters, especially those designed for deeper concealment, may require practice to achieve a smooth and quick draw.

Choosing the right holster is a personal journey and often a matter of trial and error. Don’t be afraid to test different types, materials, and positions until you find the perfect combination that offers safety, comfort, and confidence in your ability to carry concealed effectively.

Do you have any tips for people looking for holsters? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

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