Guncrafter Industries Executive Series

Re-Imagineering The CZ 75 As A Custom
6

I was fortunate enough to tour the CZ factory in the Czech Republic some years ago after this beautiful country was freed from the yoke of Communism. During my drive to the massive factory complex we passed block after block of depressing grey concrete “apartment” housing units. In the grey morning light, they looked more like prisons, courtesy of their former Russian rulers. It was sobering, and frankly, I wasn’t sure what to expect at CZ.

Surprises

What I found was a vibrant work place, populated with friendly, interested, open-armed people, quick to welcome me and proud to show what they were accomplishing. During the next couple of days I was privy to the reference vault, where I handled serial numbers 1 and 2 of the CZ 75 design, the prototypes of the famous Skorpion sub-gun and countless other designs — some never having made it to the public’s eye. At the range, I tried out a host of old, new and pending designs and even ran a mag or two through a full auto Skorpion. Great fun, indeed.

What I saw at the factory itself left a lasting impression. During my visit, some 15 years ago, I saw the highest technology CNC machinery available in use, CAD/CAM equipment and cutting-edge engineering and R&D facilities. Yet, on the very same production floor, I saw manually controlled lathes, milling machines, precision drill presses and files and stones on work benches — all manned by obviously seasoned, skilled workers. This collision of old and new was explained to me as being necessary as it was felt some facets of the manufacturing was best handled automatically — while other aspects needed the careful eye of a veteran gunmaker.

I understood completely, and applauded their commitment to keep quality first rather than speeding production and lowering unit costs to chase what was rapidly turning into today’s “commodity gun” marketplace.

CZ still adheres to the same principle and guns built by them today mirror the care put into those of 20 or 30 years ago — yet ramps up the game to even higher levels. I have several personally owned CZ rifles and handguns and would put them up against any factory-made firearm from any manufacturer anywhere in the world.

Guncrafter Industries

So this is where things get really interesting. If you start with the raw material coming out of CZ’s hands, then treat it to world-class customization, what do you end up with? Take every design element the original displays and continue the quality and engineering line even further up the scale — and you end up in the rarefied air of the work embodied by Alex Zimmerman’s team at Guncrafter.

“We’re diversifying and adding CZ 75’s to our repertoire,” Alex told me. Alex founded Guncrafter on the premise he could build a better 1911. He’s not only done it but has improved on the concept mightily. His “.50 GI” cartridge was and still is ground-breaking, and his HOSS “over-built” 1911 — as featured in the Nov/Dec 2016 American Handgunner — turns the 1911 design into a literal tank-tough machine with heavy-duty critical parts.

My personal “FRAG” 9mm 1911 model from Guncrafter shoots sub-1″ groups at 25 yards seemingly effortlessly and has never jammed — not once. His customers are fiercely loyal, owning multiple pistols from Alex’s shop and for good reasons. Adding the CZ designs to his stable is a smart move because, as Alex told me, the design is elegant but needed the touch of a customizer to push the performance envelope out to where it belongs. I agree completely.

“Basically we take the steel-framed CZ 75s, the full-size, compact and light-railed versions, and work them over for function — and looks,” explained Alex. A quick look shows the Guncrafter team offers a palette of options and base work. Each base gun is meticulously inspected and test fired and then, in the Executive Series we tested for GUNS, receives a long list of treatments.
Each one has a color-case-hardened frame with clear Cerakote, hot salt-blue slide with polished flats, flush cut and crowned barrel, DLC (Diamond-Like Coating) on the barrel and small parts, Guncrafter logo applied and GI Slim-Tac G10 Grips.

More options are Cajun Gun Works Pro or Defensive Carry packages (new action parts), trigger job on stock parts done by GI, new sights, GI aluminum grips with Frag pattern, GI Exhibition Grade wood grips and GI/Bitterroot CZ leather holsters with exclusive patterns matching the color case hardening! According to Alex, more options are pending. Our test guns hover in the $2,000 range but since they’re customs your results may vary.

The SP-01 Pistol

CZ took the redesigned grip frame of the compact pistol, incorporating it in this more full-sized “holster” gun. Enhanced handling and an exceptionally comfortable grip showcases just why this made perfect sense, and in my opinion, a great change from the standard CZ 75. An enhanced beavertail on the back of the grip allows both a high and tight grip and solid recoil control.

Since it’s part of Guncrafter’s “Executive Series” it gets the GI custom touch. The color-case-hardened frame and clear coat application, hot salt blue slide with polished flats, flush cut and crowned barrel, DLC treated barrel and small parts, GI logo, GI Slim-Tac G10 grips and a GI trigger job on the factory parts is the basic package. But being a custom gun, you can add many things, among them the Cajun Gun Works Pro Pack trigger work. The test gun has the GI “Frag” pattern grips installed and are simply delightful to use.

The stock trigger can be worked by GI’s team to deliver around a 3.25-lb. SA pull and about a 7-lb. DA pull. The DA pull is smooth and silky and feels about what a good PPC DA revolver trigger feels like. The SA pull sort of “rolls off” and is smooth, not gritty or grabby like the stock trigger.

However, the Cajun action set can be tuned to deliver about 2.5 lbs. in SA mode and about the same 7-lbs. in DA. But the Cajun action is crisper, with minimal pre- or over-travel in SA and a touch smoother in DA if such a thing is even possible. Think of your favorite “perfect” 1911 trigger and this is what the SA feels like. I’m familiar with the CZ family and feeling actions like the ones on the GI guns surprises me every time I try them. They’re good.

At about 40 oz. the SP-01 isn’t a lightweight, but the “full-size” feel and light rail easily qualifies it as a premier self- or home-defense auto. Sights are fixed “night” sights and the 4.6″ cold hammer-forged barrel can really shoot. Magazine capacity is 18 in 9mm.

The CZ 75 Compact

A true daily-carry premium defensive handgun, the basic model gets all the “Executive Series” enhancements and comes standard with the Cajun Gun Works Pro Pack action. At 32 oz., it’s a few ounces lighter than a full-size CZ 75, with the weight savings from the shorter 3.75″ barrel/slide and 1/2″ off the height. A more modest beavertail helps concealability too. Magazine capacity is 14 rounds of 9mm.

Both this model and the SP01 have the unique CZ-style action. The guns can be cocked and locked like your favorite 1911 (safety is on when it’s up, so thumbs off normally), or carried with the hammer down (lowered manually) for a DA first shot, followed with SA shots. There’s no need to keep the safety on in DA mode, although you can if you like. There’s a firing pin safety too, so when lowering the hammer, you start it going by holding it and pressing the trigger, then allow the trigger to sort of follow the hammer forward slowly. This prevents the firing pin from moving forward if the hammer slips. It’s safe — as long as you keep your brain in gear.

I envision this being used as a police officer’s off-duty gun, an armed citizen’s primary defensive handgun, a weekend match gun for fun and practice and even for serious target shooting at a range. They shoot that well.

Shooting

It’s nice to handle all-steel handguns now and again. You’re reminded of how much easier they are to shoot. Recoil is minimal, they’re extremely controllable and the added heft helps to steady them during both moving or static aiming. They simply feel like “real” guns in the hand and on your hip and in spite of common sense knowing otherwise, this same heft installs a certain confidence in the tool. I’m sure you know what I mean.

Our test guns ran absolutely 100% with a wide range of 9mm ammo — typical of Guncrafter guns. I’ve never had a single malfunction with any test gun I’ve gotten from them — period. Alex knows his stuff, and it shows. While both guns shot easy 2" groups at 25 yards, the SP-01 really liked 147-grain sub-sonic ammo. With my “good” glasses on, I managed a couple of 1.5" or a tad-better groups. I only wish I could put a cross-hair scope on it to see what it could really do.

Parting Thoughts

If you have a fixation on 1911s — and custom ones in general — I promise you it’s time to break out of the rut. I know … I know … heresy, and I’ve heard it all, I promise. “If you don’t carry a 1911 you’re an uncouth savage, nay, a barbarian even.” But it’s worth a risk to be ostracized by the range gang. At the first sound of their harrumphing, finger-pointing and mumbling, simply hand them your new custom CZ. Things will get quiet — very quiet. Then suddenly shy voices will slowly mumble, “Um … uh … mind if I shoot it?”
Appropriate smirking would then be allowed, along with “I told you so’s” and “But I thought you only shot 1911s?”
Sometimes it pays to think outside the box.

GuncrafterIndustries.com

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