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CZ Shadow 2 - Optics Ready - Review of one of the best Carry Optics Guns

The CZ Shadow 2 immediately became one of the most popular guns in IPSC and USPSA Production division. To that point way back in the day when I was a Production division competitor I used the CZ platform - specifically the Shadow 2. Shortly after making Master in Production I picked up a pair of Shadow 2s and I was angry that I hadn't started shooting them sooner - they were a marked improvement over the Shadow 1s I previously was competing with. Fast forward to 2020 when USPSA changed it's rules allowing Carry Optics guns heavier than 45 ounces and CZ begins importing the Shadow 2 Optics Ready

There's a lot to like about the CZ Shadow 2 Optics Ready - and some to dislike - but we'll save the negatives for a bit later.

What there is to love is that the gun is very easy to shoot accurately. The ergonomics on the CZ are such that it is intuitive how to place your hands on the gun and grip it properly. Other guns - especially import polymer guns introduce a "thumb rest" to get ATF import points - and pretty much universally this thumb rest is in the wrong spot leading to degraded accuracy if you actually use the thumb rest. Since there's none of that silliness your hand will go to where it's supposed to be - giving you the best access to the trigger to pull the trigger straight to the rear.

Speaking of the trigger - on the whole range of what a trigger can be - it's quite good. For a competition gun out of the box it's unremarkable. On my example the trigger pull weight on the double action clocked in at about 9 pounds and the single action was just north of 3 pounds. The double action weight wasn't so much the issue but the quality of the DA pull. My Beretta 92G Elite LTT RDO is also a $1500 premium optic gun and the trigger out of that pistol is remarkable. On the Shadow 2 - it's just "I mean it's not bad". The single action trigger has a "rolling break" or a very "soft wall" - and don't let me fool you - those are two nice ways of saying there is creep in the trigger. Writing it out just now makes it sound worse than it is - the trigger is very predictable and when shot fast works very well for it's intended purpose. Since the trigger pull weight roughly matches the weight of the gun - this contributes to accuracy - if you aren't overpulling the trigger it becomes very easy to hold the gun on target through the trigger pull.

The trigger reset is a little long - considering what can be done with the trigger ultimately. I've had CZs that were worked over in the CZ Custom shop - I know how good they can be made. Unfortunately - out of the box - they're just OK. The frame itself is worth talking about. The frame might be the best in class. The checkering on the front and backstrap certainly are the best in class. The gun will stay absolutely planted in your hands through the recoil thanks to the geometry of how it sits in your hand and how it bites you back. The only thing keeping it from brilliance is the factory grips. The factory grips look amazing - but they're not very aggressive. LOK makes some of the best grips for handguns. The brass grips they offer actually make the gun balance really well - as well as a couple ounces heavier than a boat anchor. If you're too proud to rock the brass grips their palm swell Veloce grips are equally amazing. With good grips - the gun doesn't move.

The slide is basically the same as the regular Shadow 2 - except that the rear sight is dovetailed into a removable plate that can accept optics plates. And here is when I begin to go sour on this gun. Don't get me wrong - I VERY much like the Shadow 2 - but...

They don't include any optic plates with the gun. Ok, no big deal - I'll just buy them from their webstore and it will be fine - right? Wrong. They're perpetually out of stock on the popular optic footprints. You have to order them from Europe if you don't want to wait for the US store to restock. There are tons of aluminum optic plate options - but I wouldn't recommend an aluminum optic plate. Aluminum optic plates the threading can pull free and launch the optic. It'd be funny if it didn't happen with enough regularity to be alarming.

So be sure to get a real steel optic plate. Your aluminum one might be fine - but the same weekend my buddy launched his DPP and shot it - another Shadow 2 had a similar failure of the plate flying loose. It's not common - but it happens.

So for $1500 you're still on the hook another $60 to be able to use ONE optic.

The other downside is that CZ doesn't really put in the effort to make the Shadow 2 OR work for the USPSA segment here in the states. If you don't follow the rules - IPSC Production Optics and USPSA Carry Optics have different rules. In IPSC you can only load 15 rounds into your magazine. In the US in USPSA you can load as many as you want up until a magazine total length of 141.25 mm. Rather than introduce longer magazine tubes that fit the gauge - like Sig Sauer did - or even Canik did - CZ just bolts on +2 magazines to their 17 round chrome plated - still well short of 140mm and 19 rounds being well short of the 22 or 23 rounds "standard" in Carry Optics. The average range plinker won't care and just be happy - but as a competitor you're dropping an extra $130 or so on new magazine base pads to get competitive. The other shortcomings of the CZ platform - worth noting if you're not familiar - the trigger return spring (TRS) breaks about every 10,000 live fire rounds if you're dryfiring and using double action regularly. If you never double action pull then it will last likely indefinitely. The other weak link in the CZ platform is the slide stop. While this is much improved in the Shadow 2 - it will snap somewhere north of 20,000 rounds - it's a $45 part that doesn't have to be fit - so not the end of the world - but worth staying on top of.

If you load your own ammo then just know the throat is very short on CZs - so if you load cast lead 124/125 grain projectiles - be certain to plunk test before you get to the range and realize your ammo that works in every other gun you own wont' work in your special snowflake CZ that requires stuff to be loaded stupid short. With some projectiles I had to load down to 1.060" on my CZs. Some projectiles can be loaded out to more typical lengths like 1.100" but it's rare you find one that loads longer than that and doesn't get into the rifling on a CZ. Other maintenance the CZ will require is at 20,000 rounds - pull the extractor and clean the channel, swap the firing pin and firing pin spring. New hammer spring and recoil spring every 10k rounds or so. Ultimately - it's a SUPER FINE SHOOTING GUN - it just is a little high maintenance and costs a lot of money. But you won't care about all that when you're on the range - you'll be too buys grinning to care.

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