By Dick Jones, Gun Digest
I review a lot of guns and I rarely review a loser. There’s a reason for this; I’ve been shooting for more than 40 years, and I have a pretty good track record for passing by the losers without the trouble of spending time with them. I’m occasionally surprised, but most of the guns I test are pretty good.
On the other side of this are the few guns that are simply surprisingly good. The CZ Czechmate is one of those guns. At SHOT Show, last January, I was looking for the gun I wanted to shoot in the Bianchi Cup this year. I’ve shot the Cup twice, once with a Metallic Class gun and once in Production. Iain Harrison offered me his 1911 race gun to try, just for fun on a plate range. I was amazed at its performance, and I decided then to try the 2013 Bianchi with an Open Class gun. I tried a couple of other guns and I’m committed to shooting the Czechmate.
As pistols go, the Czechmate is about as serious as you can go with an out-of-the-box competition gun. There are only a few companies that offer this type of gun, and the CZ is probably the lowest priced for what you get. It’s not as good as the guns the winners use; those guns probably would cost as much as three times the price of the Czechmate, and it’s not an inexpensive gun at just one cent less than $3,000. Having said this, for your $3K you get a lot more than just a gun.
The Czechmate comes in a suitcase box loaded with accessories. There are four magazines, three 20-round and one 27-round. There is an extra barrel and compensator that convert the gun from a standard 9mm pistol to a 9mm that can handle up-loaded ammunition that will meet major caliber requirements. There is a magazine loader, a C-More competition holographic sight and mount, a standard nonadjustable iron rear sight and a charging handle that replaces the rear sight that makes cycling the slide easy with the optic installed. There are also wrenches and spare parts, including a spare extractor.
This isn’t a perfect gun, but it is a very good gun that has qualities that make it a very good competition pistol. The slide runs on rails that are inside the frame, rather than on the inside of the slide. This reduces the mass of the slide, lowers the center of recoil and allows the side of the gun to be against a barricade without affecting the operation of the gun.
The gun is easy to cycle and operate with the optic installed because of the operating handle, which can be mounted for a right- or left-handed shooter. There is an ambidextrous safety and the magazine release can be converted to operate from the right side of the gun. The first reaction when handling this gun is that it’s a big gun. The Czechmate is all steel and, while the grip panels are thin, the grip is wider than any single stack gun I know of.
The grip angle is a departure from the standard 1911 angle, but it is comfortable and ergonomic. The magazine release is large and easy to find and with a large magazine well, inserting a magazine is easy. I would have liked to have seen witness holes to allow a quick check of how many rounds remained. In shooting tactical, 3-gun and action matches like the Bianchi, this is a great convenience factor, and every company who makes competitive, high capacity pistols should provide this useful option.