25 August 2010

Tools of War: Sig Sauer P220, Glock 36, and CZ-75

Okay, so this is not my normal ToW article. I'll be covering three distinct pistol models, and they aren't very similar at all. Really, I'm just combining three separate pistol reviews into one article. However, they DO have two things n common. First, I own all three and have put thousands of rounds through each of them, and second, I shot all three today.

First up:
The SIG Sauer P220

This is my duty pistol, and it is chambered in .45ACP (when you care enough to send the very best). It is a single-stack, so capacity is only 8+1, but that allows for a small-hands-friendly grip (not an issue for me, but then I'm 6'1" and 195lbs). The trigger action is DA/SA, and it has a thumb-operated decocker.

I love my P220....now. When I first picked it up, I was less than enthusiastic, and after my first box of 50 through it, I remained rather disconcerted. I couldn't put my finger on it, but something just didn't feel "right" about the thing. Turns out, several folks that I have talked to had the same initial impression that I did. Nobody else seemed to be able to pin down what the issue was either, but something felt a little off.

That said, as more and more rounds went through it, the more it grew on me. Whatever the "wrongness" was, it gradually went away and was replaced by "rightness". A couple thousand rounds later, and I am now just waiting for the day when I can buy it from the department and make it actually "mine-mine". I feel very comfortable with this pistol, not just ergonomically, but in terms of accuracy and reliability as well. It has a solid out-of-the-box trigger (though the new Short-Reset-Trigger that a fellow officer has in his weapon makes me want to weep with its goodness) and somehow manages to feel "hefty" without feeling "heavy". This is accomplished through the use of a lightweight alloy frame, so most of its 28oz are carried in the slide, where it should be.

The P220 has a relatively high bore axis, which is the height of the barrel above the grip. Now, in general, the lower the bore axis, the better, as the recoil and muzzle flip are minimized due to less mechanical advantage (leverage) against the shooter's grip. In theory, the higher bore axis should translate into longer target-reacquisition times, but that hasn't really been an issue for me in practice.

So yeah, I like it. And considering that the P220 has been continually refined over 35 years, it definitely earns its reputation as a "Cadillac" weapon. The only modification that I have made is to add some skateboard grip tape to the front strap, reducing slippage from sweaty hands during a hot day or an Oh-Shit call.

Now, I'm about to discuss two other weapons that have little similarity to this one, so let me comment on the contrasting feel of the P220. It's a full-size .45. A hand cannon, if you will. It feels, and is, big. And that is a good thing. Easily concealable? No, but that isn't what this thing is made for. It's made to easily, accurately, and reliably put big rounds on target, and it does that very, very well. And, though it took a few hundred rounds to get me there, it feels that way too.

Next Up:
The Glock Model 36

I might as well name this pistol "Gilligan". It's my "little buddy" and goes everywhere with me. On duty, it's my back-up weapon. Off duty, it goes with me everywhere except the gym and the pool/beach. It's a Glock, so it is utterly reliable, extremely tough, fantastically simple in design, and very lightweight.

This one is small too. It's very narrow for a .45, accomplished by making it a single-stack (the only Glock to date that isn't a double-stack). Capacity suffers a bit as a result (6+1, with +1 magazine extensions available...see the pic), but these are big-boy rounds, .45ACP, and each one packs a heavy punch. I own several standard magazines and several with +1 extensions. The extended mags LOOK like they should feel more comfortable, but I'm happier with the standard mag feel. And since the standard mag package is more concealable, that's what I carry.

This is a lot of firepower in a very compact package. It only weighs around 20oz, and the magazine needs to be in the weapon if you want to get your pinky involved in gripping the pistol. Of course, 99.8% of the time, that's a given, but it does illustrate that space is at a premium here, and controlability suffers a bit as a result.

Aside from it being a single-stack, the Glock 36 is the same as most any other Glock. Same reasonable-but-not-great striker-fired trigger. Same uber-lightweight polymer frame. Same indestructible Tennifer coating. It's the Tupperware of the firearms world...not sexy, but damn does it work. And that pretty much is exactly my criteria for a carry-pistola.

I've become accustomed to shooting it, and can qualify without issue. But all things considered, it isn't the first thing that I want to pull out at the range. While the Glock 36, like all other Glocks, has a very low bore axis, that only goes so far in attenuating .45cal recoil. Effective? Hell yes. Sweet-shooting? Eh....not so much. But I can fall asleep on the couch with it in an inside-the-waistband holster, and I hardly notice that it is there....and did I mention that the damn thing just works?

The CZ-75B

For those of you going "Huh? What the hell is a CZ?", let me introduce you. CZ (or Ceska Zbrojovka) is a Czech manufacturer that just happens to produce some EXCELLENT weapons. Not well known in the US until relatively recently (that whole Iron Curtain thing got in the way for a while), CZ is rapidly gaining in popularity. What that means is that pricing, which is ever driven by demand, is creeping up as well. I just happened to get very lucky back in '99 when I was looking for a "good, cheap 9mm", and I walked away with this baby for $400. In hindsight, a steal.

The CZ-75 is fairly similar to a Browning Hi-Power, and that is a good thing. It is a full-size, all-steel 9mm, which translates to a lot of weight (40oz) absorbing a low recoil, with a low bore axis to boot. That translates to follow-up goodness. This is a very easy pistol to put multiple rounds on target quickly.

It's a double-stack 9mm, so capacity is 16+1. It is DA/SA, and has a manual safety (which I don't like on a pistol) and no decocker (so you lower the hammer like a revolver...which can be a little disconcerting). In hindsight, if I had bought the CZ-75BD, both of these issues would be solved.

How does it shoot? Like butta, baby.... Everyone loves this gun. Nice smooth trigger (though long travel and long reset). Comfortable grip, with a grip angle that is virtually identical to the much-loved 1911 grip angle. It all just combines to make for a very enjoyable shooting experience. And it's fun to have something a little different from the everyday as well. This is the one that I reach for first at the range. This is the one that really makes me smile.

By: Steve


Boris said...

Please don't call it your "pinky", it makes you sound about five years old.

Steve said...

I'll refer to my little finger as my pinky if I damn well please....you dumb-dumb doo-doo head! LOL

Steve said...

Hmmm...just noticed that the CZ pic is of a .40cal. The vast majority are 9mm... Oh well.

Jason said...

So isn't this article better called - "Talking about my guns?" Seriously, dude build a shrine.

Steve said...

Hey, Brant MADE me do it, cuz he was pissed that he couldn't go shooting with us.

I guess I should have mentioned that the SIG and the CZ are each used by a couple of militaries (and both of them are used by a LOT of police agencies...the SIG everywhere and the CZ primarily in Europe).

The Glock 36? Umm...I know an SF guy that takes his with him everywhere, be it state-side or on deployment...

Brant said...

Brant heavily recommended you do it since it'd been over a month since your last, uh, 'weekly' column... :)

Steve said...

Hey, at last check, I have an "Irregular" column. What is this "weekly column" that you speak of? ;-)

Brant said...

you're making my point for me....

Anonymous said...

what kind of backstrap/frame plug do you have on the Glock 36? I've been trying to find one like this that rounds down to the extended baseplates.