Gun test: ASG Shadow CZ SP-01
PUBLISHED: 15:29 06 February 2018
A refined version of a true classic has the editor excited!
There are some products that have a certain special something that’s hard to define. In the case of guns ,for me, it’s an innate ability to point where I’m looking without conscious effort, and that’s worth its weight in gold. Many years ago, I shot a CZ 75, 9mm handgun that blew my mind, and I’ve never forgotten that feeling. It was like the pistol wanted to hit the target and just needed to think ‘hit’. Somehow the Czech designers had perfected the interface between the human hand and cold, hard metal that joined the synapses of the human brain to a projectile heading for the target!
ASG has a licence to manufacture CO2-powered replicas of some of CZ’s best handguns and the SP-01 Shadow is truly superb. As I first enveloped it in my expectant grip, my memory flashed back to the moment I’d held one 30 years before. Only one word could explain the feeling and that was ‘right’. It felt like somebody had scanned my hand and designed this pistol just for me. There was no discomfort, just total support where it was needed for the ultimate trigger control, which naturally leads to the best accuracy, even during rapid-fire shot strings. Just like kissing an old girlfriend – so comfortably familiar and full of optimism of something good about to happen.
The basic design of the pistol was perfect from the start for military and police use, but of course, competition shooters wanted to push the design further, which meant extending controls and fitting better sights. This is where the Shadow comes in. The slide release lever reaches back toward the thumb of the right-handed shooter, and the much enlarged ambidextrous safety falls naturally under the same thumb. When under pressure, these exaggerated controls cannot be missed and time is always saved. The safety lever is ambidextrous for weak-handed drills too.
Wisely, ASG has manufactured in the right weight, giving the pistol the perfect heft to replicate the firearm. As I raised it to the aim, I immediately appreciated the competition-style sights. The rear has a large, clear notch that frames the fore sight element perfectly – not too wide, not too narrow. The rearward face of the rear sight is ribbed to eliminate unwanted reflections whilst the fore sight element has a long red, fibre-optic element that positively glows in even the dimmest light. I doubt you’ll find better combat sights.
Another quality of handgun frame design is the angle of the grip relative to the barrel and therefore the sights. Yet again, the CZ designers got this right and I found that it naturally pointed just where I wanted. I just looked at the target and brought the pistol to bear, and the sights were already aligned. All these factors contribute to fast times in competition.
Champing at the bit to get some lead downrange, I loaded a 12 gramme CO2 capsule, but only after wrangling with the ‘mag bumper’ extension that covers the base of the mag’. This needs a pointy tool to depress a spring-loaded catch that keeps it from sliding off. I don’t know why this has to lock on in such a frustrating way. Next, I used the 6mm hex driver to unscrew the threaded cap that drives the capsule up onto the piercing probe. Sounds like a long job, but it isn’t really.
Next, I filled the single-stack magazine with steel BBs and shot them into the target card to see how accurate they were. Then I filled the mag with some Webley AccuBBs that are lead with copper plating. I much prefer these to steel because they don’t rebound and ricochet like steel BBs do, plus in my experience they’re more accurate. These cycled just as well as the steel BBs, so I was a happy shooter.
Punchy but smooth
The firing cycle was nice and punchy, yet smooth, allowing me to regain the sight picture very quickly. It can be fired in double-action mode when pulling the trigger cocks the hammer as well as releasing it. In this mode, the motion of the trigger was somewhat notchy and heavy by comparison, but who needs double-action anyway?
Each time the action cycles it recocks the hammer and in this mode the trigger was light and smooth making my favourite double taps a pure joy.
Clearly, by now you don’t need me to explain that I love this pistol. So many things about it are just right, straight from the box. It feels natural, waiting to point at your chosen target. The shape and heft feel just like the original firearm and the strong blow-back action adds to the realism. The CZ75 is one of my favourite guns of all time, despite its age, proving that if you get it right first time, products can last forever.
Importer: Highland Outdoors
Model: Shadow CZ SP-01
Trigger: Double- and single-action
Length: 8 1/2” (210mm)
Weight: 2 lbs (950 grammes)