Review: CZ-USA P-10C
December 27, 2017
In my opinion, the CZ P-07 and P-09 pistols haven't gotten the kind of attention they deserve. Maybe it's because American consumers aren't as familiar with the name CZ as they are with some of its competitors. Or maybe it's because the P-07/P-09 pistols are "old school" double-action/single-action, hammer-fired semiautos.
The American gun-buying public and manufacturers seem to be obsessed with striker-fired pistols. I'm making no judgment as to whether that is a good or a bad thing; it just seems to be. CZ has acknowledged that trend and is jumping into the already-crowded pool with its new striker-fired pistol: the P-10 C.
If I was forced to describe the P-10 C, I might say that it is a striker-fired P-07, but that wouldn't be the whole story—not by a long shot. CZ took a good look at what was great and what was just so-so with the P-07 and made substantive improvements to the design of the P-10 C that have nothing to do with the trigger system.
Let's start with the name. The "C" in the P-10 C stands for compact. Much how CZ first introduced the smaller carry-size P-07 before the full-size P-09, expect to see a full-size P-10 somewhere down the road. But CZ's idea of a compact isn't necessarily what you might expect. Dimensionally, the P-10 C is almost identical to the original Smith & Wesson M&P. So it is concealable, but it's not exactly a pocket gun. This is a belt gun.
Sporting a four-inch cold-hammer-forged barrel, the P-10 C is 7.3 inches long by 5.25 inches tall, and it weighs 26 ounces empty. So it is large enough to shoot like a full-size gun, but small and light enough to conceal with the right holster and clothing choices. This is a polymer-frame, striker-fired semiauto pistol. Both the magazine release and the slide release are ambidextrous. The magazine release is rectangular and checkered. It's weird looking, but I like it.
The pistol is offered in 9mm and .40 S&W versions. The 9mm version, which will be the most popular choice by far, is supplied with two 15-round magazines. (CZ also offers a 9mm version with 10-round magazines for people living in restrictive states.) The .40 S&W version holds 12 rounds in the magazines. The follower in the magazine is a bright fluorescent pink, which is a nice tactical touch most people will overlook. The P-10 C takes the same magazines as the P-07 and P-09, so finding additional magazines will not be difficult.
The pistol is offered in two colors: all black or with a flat dark earth slide. The slides and barrels of both versions have a corrosion-resistant nitride finish. Depending on color and caliber, suggested retail of the P-10 C ranges from $499 (black 9mm) to $541 (FDE .40).
That suggested retail price, you might notice, is significantly lower than you'll see with a lot of competitors' guns. Do not for a second think this means CZ pistols are of lesser quality because that is not the case.
The P-10 C features a grip angle similar to that found on the vaunted 1911 and CZ's most famous pistol: the CZ 75. The pistol is supplied with three backstraps to adjust its grip fit to your hand. The backstraps are held in place by a simple pin at the bottom of the frame. Push it out in either direction, and the backstrap slides downward off the frame. None of them affect the area under the web of your hand, so they don't change the reach to the trigger, which is my only minor complaint. The reach to the trigger is the same as you'll find on a S&W M&P, but S&W now offers two backstraps for the M&P that put material under the web of the hand to increase the reach to the trigger.
My only major gripe with the P-07 and P-09 was that there was a lot of slick plastic on the grip between the mediocre texturing. The P-10 features a little less slick real estate on the grip, and it no longer matters because CZ has upgraded the texturing via the use of small raised squares. They don't look like much, but for "grippiness" they are nearly on par with hand stippling. The squares on the frontstrap and backstrap are a little smaller and more aggressive than the ones on the side.
Since we're at the "more aggressive than the P-07" part of the review, it's time to talk about the slide serrations. Just like the P-07 and P-09, the P-10 has serrations both at the front and rear of the slide, but those on the P-10 C's slide feel sharper and more aggressive—although maybe my hands are just becoming more delicate.
I was shipped a preproduction flat dark earth P-10 C for testing. The main difference between my pistol and production models is the sights. The production model P-10s will have the sight cut of the CZ Shadow 2 (a factory competition version of the CZ 75 for which there are numerous sighting options available) instead of the P-07/09.
Another difference between my preproduction model and the final version is small but potentially important. The production model will have a relief cut in the firing pin channel to eliminate the possibility of hydraulic lock when flooded with oil, water or other fluids.
Also, my preproduction sample features three-dot sights with luminous paint, but the production flat dark earth version has tritium sights. The all-black version has sights with dots of luminous paint. I like that CZ adds only about $25 to the cost of the pistol to upgrade from luminous paint to tritium inserts on the sights. All sights are steel, of course, and have a ledge at the front of the rear sight so you can rack it one-handed on a hard surface.
In case you're wondering about the luminous/fluorescent three-dot sights, they work. After sticking this pistol in direct sunlight for all of 15 seconds, I then took it into a dark room to see that the sights were glowing brighter than tritium night sights. They're actually quite a bit brighter because while the paint glows as bright or slightly brighter than tritium, the paint dots are larger than the tritium tubes in night sights. The photoluminescent paint won't glow for 10 years on its own, however, which is where tritium has the edge.
The Walther PPQ has the striker-fired trigger pull against which all others should be judged. It provides a short, crisp trigger pull usually somewhere between five and 5.5 pounds—sometimes less. I can say unequivocably that if production CZ P-10s have triggers like all of the early guns I've laid hands on, the CZ P-10 C now has the title of the best striker-fired trigger pull on the market. Period.
The trigger pull weight on my sample pistol came in at four pounds even, and all of the other P-10s I've handled had similar performance. CZ's specs for the pistol call for a trigger pull between four and 4.5 pounds, so my experience was no fluke. A trigger pull that "light" might give police administrators heart palpitations, but CZ knows its customers on this side of the pond are the American gun-buying public, which is getting increasingly more refined in its pistol tastes. The break is as crisp as you're going to find in a striker-fired gun.
Total trigger travel on my sample, including take-up, is 0.375 inch. That's not a lot, but two-thirds of the total trigger travel distance is take-up. This means the actual break on the trigger pull is a hair under one-eighth inch. Reset is positive and only one-eighth inch as well. That's as good as on some 1911s I've tried. It's also as good as the gunsmith-tweaked trigger on my carry/competition Glock. Ironically, when you pull the P-10 apart you'll see that the trigger bar goes around both sides of the magazine well and meets in back, reminiscent of the trigger bar on a 1911.
The trigger bow on the P-10 C has only a slight curve. Compared to the S&W M&P, its trigger is nearly straight. The face of the trigger is vertically serrated, and the ubiquitous safety lever is on its face. There is an internal firing pin safety in the pistol as well.
I mentioned that both the slide and magazine release are ambidextrous. They are also serrated steel and low profile. The pistol is widest at the magazine release, where it is just under 1.25 inches thick. The slide is only about an inch wide, so the pistol is eminently concealable with the right holster and covering garment. The beveled magazine well makes for easy reloads.
Due to their lack of a hammer, striker-fired pistols can more easily be designed with lower bores. The lower a bore is to the hand, the less muzzle rise when shooting. This is just simple physics: lever and fulcrum. The P-10 C has a nice low bore—not quite as low as a Glock but lower than an S&W M&P.
The P-10 C's recoil was manageable, but I noticed two things. One, felt recoil had a sharp impulse back into my hand, probably a combination of the low bore and aggressive grip texturing. Two, the pistol paid attention to how firmly it was gripped.
Some pistols are indifferent to how firmly or loosely they're held. The P-10 C is not one of those. When I had a firm consistent grip, I could chew raggedy one-hole groups into the target all day long offhand out to 10 yards. But if I got sloppy with my grip, those groups suddenly became palm-size. Of course, the guy in the next booth test-firing his short-barreled .500 S&W revolver prior to his backpacking trip in bear country wasn't doing anything to soothe my nerves. I think he set my target on fire a few times.
When shooting one-handed... well, let's just say the combination of that beautiful, crisp trigger with a short break and near-zero overtravel let me shoot the CZ as good one-handed as I've shot some double-action-only pistols two-handed.
The first time I hit the range with the CZ, I brought along my youngest son. At 15 he's an avid shooter, who while built like a pipe cleaner is now taller than me. Following my rule of "you can shoot all you want as long as you're loading the mags," he did his best, but the springs on the mags were so strong he struggled with the last few rounds. However, it was easy to seat a fully loaded magazine on a closed slide, which isn't always the case with some pistols, whether or not the magazines are new or have strong springs.
Several times while slamming a loaded magazine into the CZ he managed to get the slide to drop and chamber a round. I was never able to replicate this, but consider this an FYI that it could happen. All told, over several trips to the range this pistol had more than 300 rounds put through it without a single malfunction. No, 300 rounds isn't an exhaustive test, but it's usually in the first few hundred rounds that new pistols have problems.
American shooters today have a wide variety of choices when it comes to striker-fired pistols. With the P-10 C they have one more. But with its low bore and best-in-class trigger, the more I worked with the P-10 C the more it seemed to me to be a pistol made by shooters for shooters. And its sensible price tag only adds to the appeal.