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1911 Vs. CZ 75: Two Legendary Guns Go Toe To Toe

1911 Vs. CZ 75: Two Legendary Guns Go Toe To ToeAt first glance, it may seem somewhat odd to read a story comparing a 1911 with a CZ 75.

The 1911 is as American as apple pie, and the CZ 75 was born behind an iron curtain of communism. The 1911 is a single-stack 45 and the CZ a double-stack 9mm, not to mention the 1911 is a single action and the CZ 75 is a double action/single action weapon. So why exactly would anyone compare these two weapons?

First off, they are both legendary in their own right. They have served around the world and developed a reputation of being solid and reliable. Both weapons were made and continue to be made in great numbers. Not to mention that both have a cult following. Both are also popular competition weapons, and both are heavy enough to be used as a hammer. Oh, and John Browning had a little something to do with both of them.

Overview

The 1911 needs no introduction. It’s the brainchild and masterpiece of the preeminent firearm designer in the world, John Moses Browning. The 1911 is one of the longest-serving sidearms in the United States military and has been around long enough to fight the Germans twice, as well as to kill fascists, communists and radical Islamist terrorists. The 1911 still serves the United States Marine Corps, with its Special Forces Warriors armed with brand new Colt 1911s. The 1911 is also one of the most copied and updated weapons on the civilian market, with models varying greatly in price, features and quality. A Rock Island Armory basic 1911 costs around $400 and a Wilson Combat special edition around $8,000.

The CZ 75 is not new to American shores, but has a reputation that is quickly gaining steam. It has found its way into the hands of champion shooters over and over. One look at the weapon will tell you it’s got some Browning in it. The distinct shape and appearance have a passing resemblance to a Browning Hi Power. The CZ 75 B is now the most prolific in America, with the “B” simply standing for firing pin block. The CZ 75 was one of the first wonder nines, and due to Soviet secret patents this weapon is the most copied pistol in the world. Prices vary from $300 for basic models to high-end models like the Sphinx going for around $1,200. This isn’t counting the off-shoot custom race gun, the CZ 75.

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These pistols have one more very important thing in common: The late, great Colonel Jeff Cooper advocated for both pistols. So let’s get in the nitty gritty.

Aesthetics

This is a hard beauty contest to judge, as I love the look of both weapons. First off, the CZ 75 lacks the brutal and often odd look of most Soviet-era weapons. It’s refined, it’s smooth and it’s thin. The curves are just right. The 1911 just looks and screams “class.” The overall Square 1911 is round in all the right places, and has a level of refinement we don’t see these days. (Cough … Glock … cough.) The 1911 just oozes a certain level of class and imagination long forgotten. I will say this: Neither the CZ 75 nor 1911 look good with a rail.

Winner: 1911. (A very hard decision.)

Ergonomics

It’s important to note we are going with the base models, with as few bells and whistles attached as possible. Both weapons feature an outstanding placement of controls, including a flawless integration of a safety. Both weapons feature an outstanding grip angle that allows the weapon to be pointed naturally. The thin profile of the grips allows the shooter to gain a full and tight grip on the weapon without it feeling like a 2×4.

Carry ergonomics are also similar. The right-rounded edges and thin profiles of both weapons are major advantages for a carry weapon, but both weapons are large and heavy and some may dislike that for carry. The winner is a tough one, but a major advantage is the lack of a grip safety on the CZ. Grip safeties work perfectly at the range but in a fight you never know how your grip is going to be, so a grip safety can be a real danger. This may just be a gun store rumor but I’ve heard the old Border Patrol gunfighters taped their grip safeties down, and I’ve seen a custom 1911 built for a Texas ranger that did away with it completely.

Winner: CZ 75. Colonel Cooper even agreed with me here.

Trigger

CZ 75. Image source: hipowersandhandguns

CZ 75. Image source: hipowersandhandguns

This is hard to judge due to the sheer amount of clones of each weapon that are out there, and undoubtedly some of them will have poor triggers. So instead, let’s look at the function of each weapon. The 1911’s trigger is a single-action-only affair, meaning the hammer has to be cocked and locked to fire, necessitating a safety be used when carried. The CZ 75’s DA/SA trigger means the first shot will be hammer down but have a long and heavy first trigger pull, and a short and sweet pull after every round, meaning no safety needed to carry. Each has its advantages, and even Colonel Cooper said DA/SA was a solution looking for a problem.

Winner: Tie.

Magazines

The gun-feeding devices are one of the most important factors of an auto pistol and are often the cause of most problems with automatics. The 1911 features a thin single stack magazine containing between 7 to 9 rounds and the CZ has a wider double-stack magazine containing 16 rounds. The advantage of a double mag is apparent in capacity. The single-stack magazine is simpler, and often more reliable after heavy use. Also, the 1911 has been around longer, and is ultimately more popular, meaning the magazine selection is top-wide and varied. CZ 75 users are stuck with factory or Mec-Gar mags, or cheap unreliable magazines and can be difficult to find locally, so one is left with the online option. 1911 magazines are everywhere.

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Winner: 1911.

Accuracy

I tend to dislike this category because 99 percent of accuracy is shooter-related. Both weapons are plenty accurate and have more accuracy potential than most shooters have skill. So let’s go with a tie.

Winner: Tie.

Shooting and Fun Factor

Both weapons are fun to shoot, but to me any weapon is fun to shoot. The 1911 is distinctly American, and firing it is a way to step back in time for a moment. The CZ 75 is exotic and will leave you wondering how it wasn’t made in America.

When I combine range time, recreation time, training time, and if I actually had to fight with it, I’d take the CZ 75. More rounds equals less reloading, and modern 9mm defensive rounds are just as capable as 45 ACP. The CZ 75’s low bore axis and heavy weight reduces recoil and muzzle flip, making the weapon extremely soft shooting. The 1911 fires a bigger bullet, but still handles recoil well. I find it easier to engage the target faster, and switch targets with the CZ 75, and it’s quite easy to Jerry Miculek a magazine due to the soft trigger and short reset.

Again, this is subjective. Choosing an overall winner and declaring one better than the other is not my place; it’s the user’s place. So let’s keep it simple — just buy both and then no matter what, you win. These are both classics and should be welcome in any gun collection.

Which do you prefer – the 1911 or the CZ 75? Share your opinion in the section below.

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22 comments

  1. The 1911 wins, hands down. Another great reason to BUY AMERICAN. I carried a 1911 in the Army as did my Dad in WWII and I developed a love affair with it that is as strong today as back then. I have several .45s and 9mm but carry the 1911. If my family buried me with it that would please me to no end but I’d rather pass it along to one of my sons.

    • You appear to be mentally deficient. Or failed to read the entire write up, which very clearly states pros and cons of both that are in equal amounts.

      No firearm will ever win anything “hands down” as there will always be an argument for another.

      And “Buy American?” Why? What does buying a product from your own country have anything to do with the quality or finding the best firearm for your use?

      Your “love affair” has left you blind to a world of options.

      This article is great, and details a number of finer points that buyers choosing between these two fine pistols would contest back and forth. Truly the answer is to have both.

      • I can see that your bias towards the 1911 is due to it’s history in your past.

        In that case the 1911 cannot win hands-down for that reason.

  2. Having spent most of my professional career days and nights, in densely populated metropolitan areas, in a very liberal state, I would opt for the extra rounds, just out of necessity. While I dearly love the 1911, and it took me a long time to adapt to it, it’s a solid performer. Having carried a 9mm exclusively, professionally, I find that the CZ-75 is an outstanding pistol, in accuracy, ergonomics, reliability and in carrying. When you can carry it cocked and locked, there’s little appreciable “difference” between using a CZ-75 loaded with excellent US modern ammunition, or, a 1911 loaded with excellent US modern ammunition. Both just “feel” good in my hands. Get one of each, for those days when it’s hard to decide, you cannot go “wrong” at all with either.

  3. Having owned both pistols for many years, and having acquired a CZ .45 it is an obvious winner to go with the cZ, and especially its various EAA models such as the Witness and the SAR K2. Magazines are not a problem at all with the CZ or EAA, they can be found at several online stores and all work great. My 1911s all have had feed problems which require some careful ramp filing, and still there are times when I throw it down and grab the K2. Capacity is another clear winner for the CZ. Go get yourself a CZ or EAA and you’ll only use the 1911 as a nice old relic. Oh, and CZs are much easier to field-strip than a 1911.
    And many thanks to the many warriors who have used 1911s over the years and know how to run them. If that’s what you prefer, stay with it and God bless you.

    • I have a new CZ 75B Omega and I love it. It may be heavy and large but it shoots great and never jams. I have 2 factory mags came with gun, and 4 meggar and 4 promags that run like a charm. The only improvement I would make to the gun is reduce the double action pull (12 pounds) and lighten its 35.4 oz. Other than that it is my perfect pistol for ipsc and daily carry in large fanny sac holster. I think it is a classic combat pistol, the ak47 of 9mm service pistols.

  4. The terms single action and double action do not refer to or have anything whatsoever to do with semi-automatic handguns.
    The terms are used when describing/discussing revolvers,as that is the type of firearm the terms refer to.

    • You are incorrect, StarvinLarry. Single action means pulling the trigger does a single function: it drops the hammer after it has been cocked. Double action means the trigger can do two functions: it can raise and then drop the hammer or it can just drop the hammer if the hammer is already cocked.
      The 1911 is single action. If the hammer is down and a round is in the chamber, you have to thumb-cock the hammer before firing. The CZ-75 is double action. If the hammer is down and there is a round in the chamber, you can either thumb-cock the hammer and fire, OR, just pull on the trigger and it will raise the hammer and drop it for the first shot. As the gun cycles it will leave the hammer cocked for subsequent shots.

  5. 1911 cant beat it love it .45 the biggest and the best hand down

  6. Being a Army vet Late 70’s -early 80’s, I was in the 2/75th and got to use many weapons and spent a lot of time with a 1911 standard issue loved the 1911 up till a little bit ago I thought nothing else compared. BUT then I shot a CZ 75B they are both excellent weapons I own a P-09 which is basically the polymer version of the 75 with the Omega trigger system. with the improvements to the 9mm ammo over the last 20 yrs and the functionality of the CZ I have become a big fan. the SA/DA is a huge plus when it comes to carry I replaced the decocker for the saftey so I can carry cocked and locked or hammer down 1 in the chamber either way when it leaves the holster its ready to shoot. I could keep on ranting about how great the CZ is and why I prefer it over the 1911. BUT either way I wont change anyone’s mind. when it comes to handguns which ever one you prefer and enjoy the most is the best wether if its a 1911 or a CZ-75. I wouldnt want to be on the wrong end of either one. and if things get bad if I have a 1911 or CZ-75 Ill be happy

  7. A quality 1911 shoots very well (my buddy used to compete with a stock Kimber), but for emergencies I prefer more shots and lighter recoil. Also, a manual safety is an unnecessary complication when adrenaline and haste mess up your motor-skills, and the 1911 has TWO of them. I tested this at length before going with “grab-point-pull” designs. I’d ‘snipe’ with the 1911, but I’d take the CZ for caŕry.

  8. At this point in time,,, it is important to get a good pistol…. at a cheap price, and get the most ammo you can for your money.

    I have both,, the 1911 and the CZ,,,, both Browning modeled Patterns,,,, I call the CZ,, the “Browning Hi-power-ski” I use MecGar Magazines or Browning mags,, and the pistol performs like a Hi-power,,,

    Cant really go wrong here,,, even the Phillipine and Norinco models of 1911 are reliable shooters, and plenty of parts to go on them,,, almost all add on accessories will snap right in.

    I love my 1911, but the CZ is less “shock” but nothing a little practice wont take care of.
    The Col

  9. I love both pistols, and both are fantastic shooters. When I was just a kid, a local gun shop owner let me handle both. He handed me a CZ75 in gloss black and ever since then I have lusted for one. About 3 years ago, I managed to purchase a CZ75 stainless after selling my Glock 21 to a coworker. I love that gun, and it goes with me nearly everywhere. I shoot it as often as I can.

  10. They are both “best in class” type pistols. The CZ is simply the best platform for the 9mm Parabellum and the 1911 is the best platform for the .45 ACP.
    They are all steel, built to last, accurate and reliable and machining a pistol frame completely from bar stock requires far more skill and expertise to produce than one that is injection molded from plastic.
    Plastic guns have their place but, not in my gun safe.
    I have a Remington Rand 1911, built in 1943 that saw service in WW2 and Korea before being “souvenired” some time in the ’50s The parts are all original with the exception of new springs.
    Runs just fine for a 72 year old veteran.
    I’d be interested in seeing how a polymer gun holds up after 70 years.
    Both the CZ 75 and the 1911 are excellent pistols.

  11. I have both, a commander length bobtail S&W 1911 that I EDC and a CZ 75 SP 01 with a TLR1 that sits on my nightstand. I prefer the slimmer, lighter, and higher caliber 1911 for when I’m out and about. For HD the heavier weight of the CZ and higher magazine capacity are both a plus. Since they both have a nearly identical manual of arms, there is no cross training required between weapon systems. I also occasional pocket or ankle carry a Sig p238 as a BUG for the same reasons.

    If I had to choose one though, (or suggest one to someone else) I’d go with the CZ 75. It requires less maintenance, is more likely to work right out of the box, and is slightly easier to shoot.

  12. There is one factor you forgot to consider. Of all the (modern) pistols I own, the 1911 is my least favorite to strip and clean. My SIG’s are the easiest. The CZ75 is almost as easy as a SIG, and still miles more convenient than a 1911.

  13. I own several 1911’s and a CZ85 for whatever reason I’m more accurate with the CZ. Looking to increase my CZ collection. Both are fine guns. Recently sent the CZ to CZ Customs, what a difference that made, trigger is sweet.

  14. Hello,
    I am a Czech, and of course a fan of CZ 75 (have 75 Compact Luger). I agree to the comment that 1911 is ideal for .45 while CZ75 suits for 9×19.
    For the joy of shooting, I consider to buy a more competition-oriented pistol. I consider either Colt Competition, or CZ Shadow 2.
    I recommend you to have a look at the Shadow 2, it looks to me like a hidden gem. Not for carrying, but for shooting performance.
    Albert

  15. I have owned several 1911’s in my 65 years here on earth and have sold them all due to their finicky attitude and a bitch to clean. Also owned many striker fired goodies. Still have a number of them. To me my CZ75B is the perfect handgun. I stand 5’8″ 170 lbs. and have no problem concealing and carrying the CZ. This is one weapon that I will never get rid of.

  16. Can’t say which I like more. The 1911 is the perfection in single action. The CZ75 and variants is perfection in double action. These are the simplest terms I can put them on.

    If I could have both I would, if only one, I’d have acompact CZ. But it’s a hard choice.

  17. Have to go with th CZ 75. Double action and bigger magazine put the CZ over the top. The nuianced issue drop out of the magazine when emptied for the 1911 is better than the magazine being held in on the CZ (I think this is a vestige of east bloc economics) is mitigated by having double the rounds. I also have no problem with ccw and fortuantely live in an area that has a custom CZ shop.

  18. Nice article with one glaring exception: Myth of CZ low bore axis, particularly compared to a 1911 (and especially compared to something like a Glock). Putting calipers on my CZ75 and 1911 shows the exact same distance from the center of the bore to the ‘axis’ where the hand hits the top of the beaver tail. The Glock is .250 lower than either. CZ didn’t lower the slide into the frame, they built the frame up around the slide. The bore axis is not lower.

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