Written by Phillip Chambers

CZ 75 SP01 Review

If you are interested in graduating from hobby shooting to competition shooting, the SP01 Shadow is a great starting point. Incredible accuracy, reliability, and balance-It’s all here in one good-looking package.

The CZ SP01 utilizes the traditional CZ 75 platform to create a pistol that is ideal for competitive shooting in the production pistol class.

Despite its sport shooting intentions, the pistol will also be more than suitable for home defense.
It won’t get concealed carry advocates excited because it’s a full-size steel pistol.

However, if you are planning on upping your range time, the SP01 will prove to be a workhorse and a smooth paper puncher.


Caliber: 9mm
System: Single Action / Double Action
Magazine: 19
Barrel Length: 4.7 in
Weight (with empty magazine): 41 oz.
Trigger Pull: 3.5 lbs
Length (Overall): 8.1 in
Width (Overall): 1.46 in
Height (incl magazine): 5.79 in

The Shadow has a more upswept beavertail design compared to the P-01 and the standard CZ 75. This helps with better recoil control. The grip is also a bit more “swept”.

Origins Of The CZ SP01 Shadow

A number of years ago, a Special Forces unit required a CZ 75 with a tactical rail on the front. This precipitated the production of the original SP01.

CZ USA seized upon the possibilities and turned out a pistol geared towards competition shooting and military/law enforcement.

The SP01 Shadow that followed was designed with input from Team CZ shooters Angus Hobdell and Adam Tyc. Suggestions were also sought from police and armed forces worldwide.

The Shadow is available through the CZ custom factory shop which is run by Hobdell. To improve upon the basic Sp01, new sights and a lighter trigger pull were introduced.

Removing the firing pin block safety and using a lighter hammer spring are the tweaks that result in the softer trigger pull.

These days the Shadow is the most popular pistol in the USPSA standard production division, particularly when you factor in the Shadow clones that are available on the market.

Choosing A CZ SP01 Shadow

I have done quite a lot of shooting with the SP01 Shadow and understand why it is such a popular choice. Without wanting to sound like a fanboy, it is a Rolls Royce of a gun.

Aside from the usual accuracy and rugged reliability that you can expect from the CZ 75 design, the input from competition shooters is apparent.

Compared to the standard CZ 75, the shadow has a better trigger in single and double action. You will be hard-pressed to find a production pistol with a better trigger in general.

The tactical rail at the front of the frame adds a little bit of extra weight but this serves to further reduce barrel rise and felt recoil.

The Shadow comes with a fiber optic front sight. The rear sights are “Novak Style” which assists with better target acquisition, particularly at longer ranges.

The ergonomics of the gun are fantastic but people with smaller hands may find the grip thickness and overall size a bit much.

Ammunition-wise, the Shadow eats up all ammo without any issues. I have personally never fired the SP01 with aluminum cases but some say it has extraction issues. I don’t know of any auto pistol that doesn’t have occasional issues with aluminum case rounds.

The magazine capacity is 19+1 in 9mm. Apart from sport shooting; the high capacity is great for the armed forces as well.

The SP01 Shadow combines balanced weight with great accuracy which helps average shooters to shine on the range. The tried and trusted CZ 75 design combined with some competition modifications leaves little to complain about.

CZ 75 SP01 Shadow Variants

CZ SP01: Has a firing pin block.
CZ P01: Compact version with an alloy frame.
CZ SP01 Shadow Orange: manually fitted barrel and new trigger mechanism.
CZ SP01 Shadow 2: Heavier. Slightly longer barrel and smaller fiber front sight.
CZ 75 TS Czechmate: The race gun in the CZ family.

The CZ Shadow is in the mid-price range for production competition pistols. The Orange and the Shadow 2 are a step up in price.

Who Uses The SP01 Shadow?

The Shadow is predominately used by competition and club shooters. It’s not a fully-fledged race gun but is perfect for the production class in IPSC.

The production pistol class is favored by many but it is also a good starting point for shooters wanting to cut their teeth in the competitive shooting game.

The Shadow is extremely popular in this shooting division because of its overall suitability and it is middle of the road as far price is concerned. Compared to other pistols targeted at the production class that is.

Many of the top shooters in IPSC use the Shadow or one of its clones, which is a measure of its quality and general effectiveness in competitions. The Shadow has gained favor as far afield as Brazil and South Africa.

The gun is on the heavy side for regular and all-day carry but it will still be an excellent home defense weapon if you need a gun that is useful in more than one area.

Competitor Pistols

The Shadow competes with the other popular pistols that qualify for the production division in IPSC. Other popular choices are listed below.

The EAA Tanfoglio Stock 2 is basically a clone of the CZ platform. It has the beavertail extension and a larger magazine release button, all the standard features.

The Glock 34 Gen 5 has an extended 5.31-in Glock Marksman barrel for improved accuracy. As a polymer pistol, it's far lighter compared to most of its competitors.

The Walther Q5 Match is a gun that is known for its great ergonomics. It has a slide that is cut for optics and a trigger safety like the Glock.
Trigger safeties draw a line in the sand with shooters; you either love them or hate them. I have done quite a bit of shooting with Glocks. The safety did not annoy me as much as I thought it would.

The SIG Sauer P320 full size is manufactured in steel and has been gaining popularity with law enforcement as well. Of the more popular picks, it’s the most affordable.

The SIG Sauer P320 X5 is the beefed-up competition-ready version of the P320. It comes with an extended beavertail tang and a steel bull barrel.

Of all these pistols, the Shadow and the Tanfoglio clone are easily the most popular. In terms of price, the Shadow is mid-range compared to the other guns on the IPSC list.

CZ SP01 Shadow Accuracy

The shadow was designed with the input of competitive shooters and it retains the classic slide that fits in the frame. It’s fairly heavy, so all of these elements make for an accurate pistol.

Using a range of pretty cheap factory ammo, most shooters report 2.5” groups at 25 yards from a rest. If you load your own ammo, obviously this can improve down to around 2”.
When playing the fool at the range, I like to subject a pistol to the bottle top test. This involves trying to shoot five bottle tops in a row from 7 yards.

The CZ SP01 Shadow certainly measures up to my old-school method of accuracy testing.

If you test other pistols before buying a production gun for competitive shooting, you may like some gun features over others, but accuracy will always be a selling point for the Shadow.

Accessories And Modifications

Due to the Shadows tactical rail and its popularity in sports shooting, the gun has more accessory and modification options compared with the standard CZ 75.

If you intend to use your gun for competitive shooting, it would pay to find out what legal modifications are allowed, as there are options on the market that would not be accepted by the USCP.

The Cajun Gun Works in Louisiana specializes in CZ modification and accessories. If you are not interested in tinkering around yourself, Cajun would be able to spec your gun up for competitions while still remaining legal.

As stated earlier, the shadow has a great factory trigger but changing the trigger is probably one of the most common personal preference modifications made to the gun.


Getting into the production auto pistol division is quite easy once you have your pistol. If you are not aware of clubs in your state, then visit the USPSA website for a list of member clubs.

Your nearest club will be able to guide you through the registration and onboarding process.
The IPSC was formed in 1976 and has grown to cater to a wide range of competitive shooting divisions from pistols to shotguns.

If you have the time and commitment, IPSC is a great sport with a welcoming community. You may develop an interest in other shooting divisions as well.


  • Superb accuracy
  • Low recoil
  • Exceptional reliability


  • There are no major cons that I have personally picked up on but perhaps others may have a few little nagging issues. I list other Shadow user’s observations below.
  • Front optic sight may be on the large side for some
  • The trigger in single action has a tiny amount of creep
  • The Shadow has a plastic guide rod, some prefer stainless steel

Overall Review

How good is the CZ SP01 Shadow? I am assessing the gun mainly from a competition shooting perspective.

Given that so many club, regional, and national champions have used the Shadow or a clone; the gun's overall qualities should be apparent.

For an out-of-the-box gun, you will find it hard to beat. Taking into account that it is also in the mid-range as far as price goes; it’s a great choice.

Some shooters will want something different because every Joe and his brother have a CZ Shadow. I personally do not have anything bad to say about the guns.

Sometimes the masses know what they are talking about. The Shadow certainly wins the popularity contest.

Overall review 4.5/5

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