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CZ 85B, by Pat Cascio

by Pat Cascio, Survival Blog:

Continuing on with testing all-metal firearms, as requested by many of our readers, here’s one of my favorite double-stack 9mm handguns. The CZ-85B is simply an upgraded model of the original CZ-75. For many years, the CZ-75 was hard to come by in the USA, because it was produced in the Czech Republic when it was behind the “Iron Curtain”. The few CZ-75 handguns that were in the USA were very hard to come by and expensive, very expensive!

Because of the scarcity of the original CZ-75, a number of near-clones of this gun appeared. One of the most recognized, coming from Italy, was imported by several different companies into the U.S.

However, some were a serious hit or miss proposition, and I owned many. They had feeding problems as well as extraction problems, and most were guns you sure didn’t want to bet your life on. That was then, and this is now. One major importer– European American Armory– is bringing in some outstanding CZ-type handguns. However, like many gun owners who longed for the real thing, I wanted the original.

CZ-USA.com is the importer of the original CZ-75 and, of course, the subject of this article is the improved version or updated version– the CZ-85B. The CZ-75 is used by many military forces around the world; it is “that” reliable. Well over a million of the original CZ-75 models have been produced since their inception in 1975!

The CZ-85B is an all-steel handgun, frame and slide. Of course, that turns off a lot of people because everyone is into polymer framed guns these days. While I own my share of polymer framed handguns, I sure would never turn my nose up at a great all-steel manufactured gun like the CZ-85B and to be sure the grand 1911 handgun that has been around for well over a hundred years.

We have a black polycoat finish on the CZ frame

We have a black polycoat finish on the CZ frame and slide. It isn’t highly polished; it has a little bit of a dull look to it, and I have no problem with this. However, you can see some tooling marks inside the frame and slide, but they are only cosmetic. They do not affect how the gun functions. For all intents and purposes, the gun just screams “military” to my mind. I like it! The 9mm version, which I have, holds 16 rounds in the magazine, while the original CZ-75 held 15 rounds. However, there are outstanding after-market magazines from Mec-Gar that hold 17 rounds and have a nice slam pad on the bottom of the magazine for a sure reload, and they are easier to load than the original mags. The gun comes with two mags.

We have the popular 3-dot white sights on the slide, which are very fast to pick up, even if the sights are a little bit small for my liking. The top of the slide also has serrations running along the top of it. BTW, the “B” designation means that the gun has a firing pin safety, which I can take or leave. Given my druthers, I’d rather not have it. The trigger pull is Double-Action/Single Action. When you chamber a round, the hammer is cocked; you can then either apply the frame-mounted safety and carry it cocked ‘n locked, like the 1911, or carefully, very carefully, lower the hammer by holding it between your thumb and index finger, while pulling the trigger. Then the gun will fire with a long but very smooth, double-action trigger pull. I much prefer the cocked ‘n locked carry method.

On some of the clone-like versions, there was a slide-mounted decocker/safety, but some also had the frame-mounted safety. One bad thing with many of the clones was that the trigger pull was long and heavy if you elected to fire from the double-action trigger pull. On the CZ-85B, the trigger design is outstanding, and my trigger finger had no problems reaching the trigger in the double-action mode. Still, my preferred method is carrying the gun cocked ‘n locked; snip off the frame mounted safety ala’ the 1911 and you have a short trigger pull.

CZ-75/85 guns are known for outstanding accuracy, and this comes via two things; the 4.6-inch hammer forged barrel, of course, contributes to this. But then we have the way the slide and frame fit together. Unlike other semi-auto handguns, where the slide rides over the rails on the frame, the CZ slide rides inside the rails on the frame. The slide fits snuggly inside those rails, and the slide on the CZ guns also sits lower inside the frame. It doesn’t stick up high at all, which is good and bad. It makes for a cleaner looking package overall, but it also doesn’t give you a lot of frame to grasp when chambering a round from the slide forward; however, it’s not a deal breaker at all.

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