The CZ-75 is a nearly forty-year-old design that was ahead of its time. Designed by the Czech siblings Josef and František Koucký in 1975 (hence the designation) for export to the west for hard foreign currency, the CZ-75 was something altogether different. It was an all-steel 9mm double-action pistol that used a staggered box magazine. When introduced, its closest competitors were the single-action Browning Hi-Power and the aluminum framed S&W M59. Thin, accurate and reliable, hundreds of thousands of CZs and unlicensed clones have found a following around the world.
To compete with the polymer market, CZ went back to the drawing board and came up with the Phantom. Based on the legacy ’75 and its younger brother the SP-01, the Phantom replaced the very heavy steel frame of the disco era and moved to a polymer one.
Ergonomics and Recoil
The CZ is a gentleman’s gun with an old world feel to it. The grip is very thin and almost elegant when compared to the clunkier polymer guns like the Beretta PX4. You almost expect that it is a single stack magazine inside the grip rather than an all-business 18-shot (in 9mm) double. While there is some muzzle flip, the gun fires beautifully. Double action pull is light and the trigger feels very thin, like a Browning HP and the pistols of yesteryear.
Calling the gun mildly recoiling and a joy to shoot is like saying Marilynn Monroe was cute.
However, like the guns of its original designs vintage, it comes standard as a right hand only weapon with very little functionality for lefties.
Trigger and Accuracy
Accuracy was good, but the pistol takes some getting used to before you can make and keep accurate patterns and pull off plate drills. The long double action, thin trigger and narrow slide give it a distinct feel that needs to be overcome through lead equity, but once done it yields good results. In single-action mode, the trigger isn’t as crisp out of the box as most would expect, but after a short break-in period, the trigger works like a charm. A tight slide fit due to inside-the-frame pinned steel rails (like the hyper accurate SIG P210) gives the gun a very efficient lock-up.
The Phantom is accurate enough that competition versions are in heavy use with IPSC competitors.
Reloading and Disassembly
Even though the Phantom is new to the gun market, the pistol will accept many of the legacy CZ75 parts and accessories including (best of all) magazines. The reload process, both for magazines and magazine exchanges is a no-brainer.
Disassembly, however, is a little different story. A hybrid DA/SA design that fires from a locked breech based on Browning’s linkless cam system means that it breaks down rather like a Colt 1911/Browning Hi-Power, which may be odd for someone who has never done it. Instead of a dedicated take down lever, you use a slide lock to hold the unloaded Phantom out of battery before removing the slide stop completely from the frame. It’s not overly complicated, but proper reassembly for first-time users can be a nail-biter.
Reliability and Durability
The CZ functioned well in tests and spit out brass with no issues. While extensive trials have not been conducted to the same level that has been done on other polymer pistols such as the Glock, the Phantom comes from a long line of reliable guns. After testing with the Czech government, they have been adopted by the Czech Army’s paratrooper and special operations units and are seeing hard service.
There is a growing underground of CZ lovers in this country and after shooting this gun, it’s easy to see why. While it’s a little heavier and a little funkier than some of the other pistols in its class, the Phantom brings a nice flavor with it that is really unmatched. It gives you the feeling that if John Moses Browning had access to polymer, this is the gun he would have built. It is a brilliant point-and-shoot pistol that just feels good. On the downside, it’s only currently offered in 9mm.