CZ Shadow 2: CZ’s Dream Gun


A sturdy, reliable handgun is essential for personal defense. Polymer-framed, striker-fired guns don’t get much love, but they defend life and limb on a daily basis. At one time, each firearm I could afford had to fill a certain role, or I could not give it houseroom.

Today, I am pleased to own a few dream gun handguns. The Springfield TRP, SIG P210, and Colt Competition 1911 are among these. I won’t say they are any more reliable than a Springfield Loaded Model, SIG P226, or Colt Series 70, but they shoot better and are nicer to handle and fire.

CZ 75 retro top, and CZ Shadow 2 bottom
Compared to the CZ 75 Retro, top, the Shadow 2 is a highly evolved handgun.

Some handguns are their own adventure just to get up and running correctly. Other handguns represent progression without progress. The CZ Shadow 2 9mm is a dream that I am not ready to wake up from. I have handled the type before but never owned this particular CZ. I didn’t know I would have room in the battery for competition-oriented 9mm, but we are.

Shadow 2 Features

The Shadow 2 is well represented in 3 Gun and open classes. Some shooters modify the pistol heavily. It takes a great deal of training and practice — this is real work — to be a top competitor. It is a challenging pursuit, both mentally and physically. I find that I don’t have to work as hard to shoot the Shadow 2 as well as I do any other handgun. The pistol is that good.

CZ handguns have a spotless reputation for reliability and durability, but this isn’t exactly a CZ 75, it is highly modified. Just the same, that reputation has carried over into the Shadow 2. The majority of 1970s service pistols used an aluminum frame for light weight. The SIG P226 and Beretta 92, as well as the CZ 75, are among these. (The CZ 75 Compact 9mm is available in steel and aluminum frame versions.)

The Shadow 2 is a steel-frame gun, and that means a lot of weight. The result is a pistol that kicks little, while maintaining the sight picture during a firing string. The pistol is a double-action first-shot design. It may be carried cocked and locked (hammer to the rear) with the safety on. With the hammer is in the down position, the safety cannot be applied.

However, unlike most CZ pistols, the safety may be applied with the hammer slightly to the rear in the ‘safe’ position. There is no decock mechanism. While heavy, perhaps too heavy for concealment, the Shadow 2 is a fine home defense piece. In that role, it would be best kept at ready, hammer down, and on a loaded chamber.

CZ Shadow 9mm semi-automatic handgun, right profile
The Shadow 2 9mm has proven to be an exceptional shooter.

The pistol features a heavy dustcover, perhaps monolithic is the term. A Picatinny rail allows mounting combat lights and lasers. This weight-forward bias really aids in fast shooting. At the other end of the frame, a beavertail tang with a slight upsweep makes for a solid grip and helps lower the bore axis.

The grips are aluminum, and while slim as possible, offer a great gripping service that favors abrasion over adhesion. Both the front strap and rear strap are nicely checkered. This is a pistol that is easy to hang onto. If you prefer the index finger on the trigger guard, the square trigger guard of the Shadow 2 is pleasing to use.

The pistol features an extended magazine release, competition skeletonized hammer, smooth double-action trigger, and nicely done magazine well. Loading a tapered magazine into a magazine well this size is intuitive.

square trigger guard on the CZ Shadow 2 versus the rounded guard on the CZ 75
Some folks like the square trigger guard of the Shadow 2 better than the round trigger of the original CZ 75.

A secret of the CZ 75’s limited muzzle flip and good accuracy is the slide design. The slide rides inside the frame instead of over the frame. The result is a lowered bore centerline. This also results in good contact from front to rear, between the slide and frame. This may also prevent buildup of powder ash and lead in the pistol as the slide frame interface is quite snug.

The Shadow 2 slide may be more difficult to rack than some pistol slides. The slide is alive with bevels not found on the CZ 75. The treatment is very nicely done. A serrated rib runs between the sights. The front sight is a bright red fiber-optic while the rear is a well-designed adjustable type.

adjustable rear sight on a pistol
CZ’s durable, adjustable rear sight is a good addition to an accurate handgun.

I was a little surprised that the rear sight wasn’t a wedge type allowing cocking on a boot heel. Then again, this gun is for competition not combat. The rear face of the sight is line serrated. The edges of the sight are beveled. It looks sharp and offers a clear precise sight picture.

Barrel to slide fit is good. The guide rod is a full-length steel type. Two 17- and one 19-round magazines are supplied.

The double-action trigger is smooth. It may be staged but may be pulled straight through with good results as well. If you intend to use the double-action trigger, get plenty of dry fire practice. The single-action trigger is truly excellent. Take-up is modest, followed by a 4.0-pound compression and clean break.

CZ 75 triggers often display a modest backlash. This pistol has none of that. I took my time examining this handgun and spent several hundred repetitions in dry fire. A pistol weighing some 50 ounces loaded is a different piece to fire and use than most of what I am used to.

Range Testing

I began drawing and firing the pistol from a DeSantis Speed Scabbard. This holster is cut for the Walther PPQ .45 but fit the CZ Shadow 2 9mm well. I am not for mismatching holsters, but this was a happy circumstance. Drawing and firing to a fast double-action first-shot showed the pistol is capable of excellent first shot accuracy. I drew and fired at maximum speed and made a ragged, fist-sized hole with 20 rounds of 9mm. This is a fast gun on target, smooth handling, and super quick.

Next, I moved to 15 yards and began sighting the pistol in. I used a mix of 115-grain FMJ ammunition including Armscor, Fiocchi, and Ammo Inc. brands. All fed, chambered, fired, and ejected normally. In common with most pistols these days that are equipped with adjustable sights, the pistol arrived sighted ‘high.’ A few turns of the easy to access slot screw had the pistol sighted in.

Target showing early group size with the CZ Shadow 2
Accuracy came with acclimation.

Firing offhand or from the bench, all ammunition proved quite accurate. I made several cloverleaf groups with four shots touching and one out of the group by a small margin. I am no stranger to nice shooting pistols. This is the single most accurate 9mm I have fired. It shaded the Walther Q5 by a margin. I have fired it side by side with the SIG P210 and it has an accuracy edge over the P210.

Firing offhand, I enjoyed firing the pistol at man-sized targets and bulls-eye targets. I have never found a pistol so easy to use well on the first round. I cannot help but wonder how well I will use the Shadow 2 after more practice. And yes, it is my personal gun, not a loaner. I purchased it used, at a fair price. For reasons unknown, the previous owner sold it to one of my favorite shops. The performance certainly could not have been an issue.

Nitty Gritty

I elected to settle down in as solid a firing position as was possible and attempted to reach the limits of accuracy. In reality, I reached the limits of my personal performance. I have two friends who use this type of handgun in competition — one fairly stock and the other heavily enhanced. They have won quite a few contests, and each tells me they have never fired hollow point or defense loads in their competition guns.

Paper target showing group size after becoming acclimated to the CZ Shadow 2 pistol
The pistol is more accurate than the author can hold.

In truth, the most accurate loads in my larder are hollow point loads. I did have the Fiocchi 115-grain FMJ Shooting Dynamics, and added this to the Hornady American Gunner 124-grain, +P, and Federal 124-grain HST. I settled into the most stable position possible with the target 25 yards from the muzzle. I was steady as I am able, maintained sharp focus on the front sight, and pressed the trigger properly. The results in five-shot groups were gratifying.

All three loads sent five shots into groups of .8- to 1.2 inch. Invariably the best groups were tight, very tight, and I pulled a shot either from losing the sight picture or perhaps not pressing the trigger properly. Again, it is understandable that competitors often win a match by the smallest of margins. Concentration on the trigger and sight picture makes for superb accuracy. What’s next? I think I would like handloads and certainly a good 147-grain load.

What is the role the CZ Shadow 2 will play in my life? Am I going to jump into competition? No. The Shadow 2 will continue as a range gun for the pure joy and fulfillment of shooting and shooting well. As a dedicated home defense pistol, the Shadow 2 would perform as well or better than any other 9mm I have deployed and there is promise there.

field stripped CZ Shadow 9mm semi-automatic pistol, right profile
Field stripping the pistol is simple enough.

With a 19-round magazine in place and a combat light mounted, you practically have the efficiency of a 9mm carbine but with more maneuverability. With a magazine full of hollow point loads and an Inforce light mounted, I cannot imagine a better setup for home defense.

I carry Government Model .45s without complaint, but I don’t think I will carry a pistol that is eight ounces heavier (loaded) than a steel-frame .45. Just the same, I tried the pistol in the DeSantis Speed Scabbard and found the set up comfortable and hip hugging. The draw is sharp. However, there is a huge difference between carrying the pistol an hour or two around the home and carrying it for extended periods. The Shadow 2 is going to see a lot of use. Perhaps, I will even mount an optic.

Specifications: CZ Shadow 2

Caliber: 9mm Luger
Capacity: 17+1 rounds
Barrel length: 4.89 inches
Overall length: 8.53 inches
Height: 5,75 inches from top of rear sight to bottom of the factory magazine
Weight: 46.5 ounces
MSRP: $1,349 blue or grey grip base model (about $1,200 retail)

muzzle view of the CZ Shadow 2 9mm handgun showing the slide-to-frame fit
A slide that runs inside the frame rails is part of the CZ’s secret for accuracy.

Final Thoughts

I work out moderately and walk once or twice a day. I was surprised after firing the pistol that my anterior muscles were aching. The pistol is heavy but not that heavy, and recoil wasn’t a factor. I think holding the pistol in a crush grip for every shot and carefully steadying the pistol caused this — it has never happened with a 1911 .45. I cannot stress enough that competition shooters are true athletes. The Shadow 2 simply stretched muscles I have not used often.

Have you fired the CZ Shadow 2? What was your impression? Have you ever considered using a competition pistol for home defense? Share your answers in the Comment section.

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