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CZ Shadow 2 Review

Overview

The CZ Shadow 2 is based on the venerated DA/SA(Double Action Single Action) CZ75 design which is the 2nd most copied handgun design in the world behind the American Browning-designed 1911. CZ is known for making some of the best firearms in the world and has a long history of producing quality firearms. The CZ75 was designed when CZ located in the Czech Republic was behind the Iron Curtain. Despite being a soviet-era iron curtain design the CZ75 series is known not just for its reliability but also it’s great trigger, fantastic ergonomics, and overall surprising refinement.

The original CZ75 did not feature a firing pin block and later the CZ75b featured. Considering the CZ75 was designed and manufactured primarily as for military and police use safety is a key factor. The firing pin block provides an extra level of safety in case the gun is dropped but it comes at the cost of a less desirable trigger pull. Add more parts to the CZ75 trigger design and it creates more resistance to pull the trigger.

To keep customers in the competition space happy CZ introduced their Shadow series which is essentially their standard lineup without the firing pin block. This allowed current production guns to have a better trigger than their firing pin block counterparts. One of the popular CZ pistols was the CZ SP01 Shadow which had an accessory rail that was for tactical use but also benefited competitors since the extra weight of the rail at the front of the gun decreased weight and muzzle rise under recoil.

CZ added the CZ SP01 to the Shadow series to take advantage of the growing competition market. Seeing how well the CZ SP01 Shadow was doing in the IPSC(International Practical Shooting Competition) CZ decided to try to expand on the success and focus on developing a purpose-built competition pistol from the ground up. The result of these efforts was the CZ Shadow 2.

Holster Design

The CZ Shadow 2 is a fairly heavy gun weighing in at 46.5 ounces so you need a heavier Kydex like .093 to handle the weight. The metal trigger guards can sometimes be a challenge to get perfect retention with holsters due to their sharp edges and thin profiles. Luckily it’s not hard to get great retention in a CZ Shadow 2 Holster due to the reasonably thick and well-rounded trigger guard. On our Contender CZ Shadow 2 Holster we made sure it’s compatible with a turboprop which is an improved version of a thumbscrew. The Turbo Prop allows you to fine-tune the retention on the CZ Shadow 2 holster from very light to extremely secure with just a turn of your fingers.

If you get your CZ Shadow 2 milled for a slide mounted optic the Trijicon SRO or Leupold Delta Point Pro or own a CZ Shadow 2 Optic Ready model you’ll need to make sure your holster will accommodate the optic. Most CZ Shadow 2 Competition holsters will accommodate an optic as their outline is cut to just shy of one-half inch below the ejection port in accordance with USPSA holster regulations. But this is still something you’ll want to verify unless you order a Contender holster for your CZ Shadow 2 Optics Ready.

The CZ Shadow 2 isn’t only a wonder competition pistol but it’s also a great gun for plinking on the range. What you’re using the gun for will dictate how you want to set up your CZ Shadow 2 holster. We’ve designed our Contender CZ Shadow 2 Holster so you can set it up from Competition, serious range use, or casual plinking. If you are a serious competitor you’ll likely want to set up the Contender CZ Shadow Holster with a competition hanger like the BOSS Hanger or our preferred competition hanger the Turbo Drop.

For serious range use or more casual competition events, something like the Blacktech Tek Lok or an X Lock is an excellent option for your CZ Shadow 2 holster. This style of belt attachment will keep the holster sturdy but sits closer to your beltline than a true competition style holster mounts like the Boss Hanger and the Turbo Drop. Another great option if you plan to switch out guns and holsters often while using the range belt is to add a Safariland QLS hanger to your Contender Shadow 2 Holster. This will allow you to switch out guns and holsters in seconds while still having a very battle belt setup.

If you’re using the Shadow 2 as a range gun and you’re looking for a holster setup that is easy to put on and take off you’ll likely be best served by mounting a paddle to your CZ Shadow Holster.

Features

The CZ Shadow 2 uses 17 round CZ 75 Magazines made by Mec Gar. CZ75 magazines are available directly through Mec Gar so magazines are available at an affordable price. You can get low capacity 10 round magazines or extended magazines that increase the capacity up to 26 rounds.

Most competitors will use the gun with only 10 rounds in the magazine since they’re likely shooting USPSA Production Division which limits the competitor to 10 rounds in the magazine. This is where one of the Shadow 2’s biggest downsides comes into play. The slight bevel on the inside of the magazine well doesn’t do much to assist in a fast reload so if you’re looking at the CZ Shadow 2 to use in USPSA production where the average stage will include 2-3 reloads that’s something I’d take into consideration.

Grip/Ergonomics

The CZ75 series of guns are known for their fantastic ergonomics and the CZ Shadow 2 is no exception. The contours of the steel frame fit great in a wide range of hand sizes. There is a large beavertail on the CZ Shadow 2 and blends nicely into the frame and causes no discomfort to your knuckles the way some large beavertails do.

There is very aggressive checkering on both the front strap and backstrap of the Shadow 2. On the backstrap, the checkering starts halfway down the grip providing great traction but hitting your thicker skin on the palm of your hand avoiding the more delicate skin in the web of your hand. If you don’t have calluses built up on the inside of your fingers or your lower palm the texturing on the CZ Shadow 2 is aggressive enough to build them up.

The CZ Shadow 2 ships with anodized Aluminum grip panels that look great but if you plan to do more than casual shooting with the gun then you’ll likely want to upgrade to a more aggressive aftermarket option. There are many great aftermarket G10 and Bronze Grips options for the CZ Shadow 2 but we’ll touch more on that later.

The trigger guard is undercut nicely on the CZ Shadow 2 so it won’t beat up the knuckle of your middle finger like a lot of other pistols. Yes, I’m looking at you Glock! All the edges of the CZ Shadow 2 trigger guard are nicely rounded so you won’t feel any discomfort when handling or shooting the gun. There is a nice large trigger guard on the CZ Shadow 2 so if you are doing cold weather or tactical shooting and wearing shooting gloves they won’t impede your use of the gun.

Falsely known for a low bore axis the CZ75 is famous for its internally mounted slide that is hard to use. The bore axis on the CZ 75 series is actually fairly high because the bore axis is measured from where the top of the hand shits in the tang or beavertail to the top of the slide and not to the bottom of the slide. The CZ Shadow 2 has a really small slide like the rest of the CZ 75 lineup but the has large chamfers on the slides of the slide giving your hand more surface area to grip the Shadow 2’s narrow slide.

The slide features forward and rear serrations that are deep and aggressive. Even with the small slide, it’s easy to manipulate the slide using the front serrations but the rear serrations can be hard to grip due to the thumb safety stopping your hand from getting low enough.

Sights

A red fiber optic front sight and elevation adjustable blacked-out rear sight come standard on the CZ Shadow 2. The adjustable rear sight has an extremely crisp square notch that’s .123 wide and the Shadow 2’s front red fiber optic sight is .117 wide. The rear is elevation adjustable with the turn of a flathead screw but if you wish to adjust windage you’ll need to drift the rear sight. These are probably some of the best factory sights that have ever shipped with a factory handgun. If you’d like to modify the sights there are also aftermarket options.

CZ now makes the CZ Shadow 2 Optics ready variant so you can add a slide mounted optic to your CZ Shadow 2 from the factory. The optic mounting system they use removes the entire rear sight assembly. All of the aftermarket CZ Shadow 2 Optic Mounting packages I’ve seen from companies like CZ Custom, Fire4Effect, and Primary Machine also omit the rear sight when milling the slide for an optic. If you’d like backup iron sights the CZ Shadow 2 probably isn’t the best option.

Controls

There is an ambidextrous safety on the CZ Shadow 2 with an extremely wide lever on the left-hand side and a very low profile lever on the right side of the gun. The safety on the Shadow 2 is positive and you can hear an audible click when engaging and disengaging but it’s very light. In my opinion, I’d want the safety to require a little more force to take off if I were to carry it cocked and locked.

There is no decocking feature on the CZ Shadow 2. Most of the shooting sports divisions like USPSA production require the CZ Shadow 2 to be shot from the double action on the first shot. It’s common practice to load the gun and then manually decock the hammer by slowly letting the hammer down to half cock and leaving the safety unengaged. This is how the gun was intended to be carried and not cocked and locked so that is likely why CZ didn’t spend more effort on a more positive safety.

For competition and range shooting the safety isn’t an issue but if you’re buying this gun as a carry gun or home defense gun and plan to keep it cocked and locked you may want to consider other options than the CZ Shadow 2.

The magazine release on the CZ shadow 2 is quite large and you won’t have any trouble finding it when you try to release the magazine. It’s easy to reach without breaking your grip. One thing to be aware of is that the screw holding the magazine release on will likely back out unless you apply some sort of nonpermanent thread locker.

Unless you have a giant hand you’re not going to be able to reach the slide release without breaking your shooting grip quite a bit as a right-handed shooter. The large arm of the CZ Shadow 2 safety is a barrier to reaching the slide release and the slide release is mounted far enough forward that you likely couldn’t reach it without breaking your grip if the safety were not there.

Right-handed shooters will have the option of dropping the CZ Shadow 2 slide by hitting the slide release with their left-hand thumb after inserting the magazine or racking the slide. Left-handed shooters will only be able to rack the slide. If you’re a left-handed shooter who will normally drop a slide by hitting the slide release with their trigger finger it’ll likely be hard to do and the CZ Shadow 2 due to the position of the thumb safety lever. If you’re a USPSA competition production division shooter you’ll hopefully have a good enough stage plan that you won’t be executing a slide lock reload so the location of the slide release won’t be an issue for you.

CZ Shadow 2

CZ Shadow 2 Optics Ready OWB Competition USPSA Holster

ACTION: DA/SA semiauto
CALIBER: 9mm Luger
MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 17+1
BARREL: 4.89 in.
OAL/HEIGHT/WIDTH: 8.5/5.75/1.3 in.
WEIGHT: 46.5 oz.
CONSTRUCTION: Black-Nitride steel slide, Polycoated steel frame (as tested)
GRIPS: Blue Aluminum (as tested)
SIGHTS: Steel; adjustable rear, fiber-optic front
TRIGGER: DA pull, 8.75 lb.; SA pull, 3.75 lb. (measured)
SAFETIES: ambidextrous manual thumb
PRICE: $1,299
MANUFACTURER: CZ-USA

Trigger

The trigger on the CZ Shadow 2 is incredible for a DA/SA pistol with a $1350 MSRP and a $1200 street price. From the half-cock the double-action trigger has just a slight bit of takeup before the real trigger pull begins and then is heavier but smooth and extremely consistent until it breaks and you feel the over travel.
When shooting single action there is a springy takeup and then just the slightest little bit of creep before the trigger breaks. The CZ Shadow 2 definitely has a rolling break as opposed to a hard break.

When resetting the trigger it wants to bring forward past the true reset point so you’ll likely be pulling through some of the springy takeup before feeling that slight bit of creep and then break.

If the trigger isn’t to your liking there are multiple aftermarket options that can change.

CZ Shadow 2 Range Bag

CZ Shadow 2 Range Bag

The Shadow 2 is the perfect gun for your range bag. In fact, the Shadow 2 is the perfect gun for the Lynx Defense pistol range bag it fits nicely in the deep gun inserts. The opposite side of the insert are magazine holders that allow you to put the Shadow 2 magazines neatly in order.

Taking your S2 to the range or to a competition requires you to carrying it with you so you might as well get the best pistol range bag for the job. The Lynx bags are built tough so you don’t have to worry about your Shadow 2 getting banged up.

CZ Shadow 2 Accessories

There is no shortage of CZ Shadow 2 Accessories. You can get triggers, spring kits, trigger kits, grip, magazine releases, recoil spring, and complete custom overhauls. Just some of the companies providing aftermarket parts for the CZ Shadow 2 are Apex Tactical, Armanov, Armorycraft, Cajun Gun Works, CZ Custom Shop, Dawson Precision, Lok Grips, MCarbo, Springer Precision, Taran Tactical, and VZ Grips.

Custom work on the Shadow 2 is also done by multiple shops including Cajun Gunworks, CZ Custom, Fire4Effect, Primary Machine.

Grips/Magazine releases

There are a lot of CZ Shadow 2 grips options available. A company called Lok Grips is the most well known for its CZ G10 grips. Lok Grips has a ton of off the shelf options as well as semi-custom and full custom grip opting. If you’re willing to pay the price Lok Grips will build you a set of grips in any color scheme you design with a custom logo overlay. They also make heavy brass grips if you want to add even more weight to the gun.

Armanov, Armorycraft, Henning, and VZ Grips also offer grip options but they tend to be plainer than the Lok Grips.

Trigger Shoes

CZ Custom Shop and Armorycraft both make CZ Shadow 2 Flat Triggers. The CZ Custom Shop CZ Shadow 2 Flat Trigger is designed to work in DA/SA but requires their short reach trigger kit to work. The Armorycraft CZ Shadow 2 Flat Trigger requires you to convert your CZ Shadow 2 to SAO(single action only). Armory Craft offers their triggers in a wide variety of profiles and colors.

Trigger Parts

Behind grips, trigger enhancement parts are probably the most common aftermarket items for the CZ Shadow 2. The most well-known companies with arguably the best reputations are CZ Custom Shop who is the OG of custom work on CZ 75 series pistols and Cajun Gunworks who has also done CZ trigger enhancement work for a long time. CZ Custom Shop was founded and is still run by Angus Hobdell who is a competition shooter who has shot CZ pistols since the 90s. Angus has an impressive record of winning competitions with CZ pistols.

Apex Tactical Innovations makes a CZ Shadow 2 trigger enhancement kit that includes a matched sear and hammer. This kit will give you a hard wall right before the trigger breaks.

Magazines/Bases

Mec Gar Makes the OEM magazines for CZ pistols and they sell the 75 series directly under the Mec Gar brand.

If you’re looking for weighted base pads or magazine extensions to add to your CZ Shadow 2 magazines Henning, Dawson Precision, Armory Craft, CZ Custom, and Taran Tactical all offer options.

Sights

Henning and Dawson Precision both offer sights for the CZ Shadow 2.

Aesthetics

The CZ Shadow 2 is definitely a unique looking gun and one what stands out of a lineup. With its bold outline and heavy noise, it looks somewhat bulky yet refined like a large pickup truck that has the highest-end trim package. You can customize the looks of the CZ Shadow 2 with a wide variety of bolt-on accessories. You can buy color-coordinating grips and magazine releases that really set the gun off.

If you want your gun to truly stand out from the rest you can send your CZ Shadow 2 to Fire4Effect or Primary Machine for slide milling and custom paint jobs.

Shooting

Loading the CZ Shadow 2 is a pure pleasure. When inserting the magazine it’ll be the same experience you’ve had with almost every other gun you’ve shot when when you rack the slide you’ll really begin to understand why the CZ Shadow 2 is such a special gun. The slide feels like it’s on the ball bearing is just as smooth if not smoother than semi-custom 1911s costing 2-3 times as much as the reasonable $1350.00 MSRP.

The grip just feels right in the hand and the sights are crisp and clean leaving little doubt that the gun is aimed right where you intend. As you begin to pull the DA trigger you realize that it’s just as smooth as it is in dryfire.

When the shot breaks you realize the CZ Shadow 2 can definitely be compared to driving a high-performance car. The heavy frame weight on the CZ Shadow 2 tames recoil but at the same time, the steel frame transfers more vibrations to your hand than a polymer frame would. Much like how a stiffer suspension will help when cornering on a car but it’s definitely not as smooth of a ride. If you’re looking for a cushy ride for a long-range trip then the CZ Shadow 2 probably isn’t the gun for you.

But If you’re looking for a gun you can run hard and fast this just might be the gun for you. The Car analogies just really work for the CZ Shadow 2. If you’re the gun owner who wants a great daily driver that is comfortable then buying the Shadow 2 would be like buying a Porsche 911 Turbo for a grocery getter or picking the kids up from school. But if you plan to take it on the track or in this case through multiple stages of competition it’ll serve you well. If you just want something fun to run hard on the weekends and show off to your friends the CZ Shadow 2 is the perfect pistol.