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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.