CZ Tactical Sport Orange - a Review of a high quality Limited / Standard Pistol
The CZ Tactical Sport is a very familiar model in Europe amongst those who participate in IPSC competition. It’s a big heavy gun with a steel frame and single action trigger that is pretty easy to shoot fast and accurately. The Tactical Sport Orange is the dressed up brother to the “bare bones” tactical sport – which is the equivalent of saying “just” a Corvette next to a Corvette Z06.
The Tactical Sport is the bigger brother of the venerated CZ 75 lineup. It shares the an action with the original 75 series pistols without a firing pin block – but sports a wider grip to accommodate wider magazines – meaning more capacity for the same grip length. From the factory it’s going to come set up as a manual safety and a very crisp single action only trigger. Being bred for racing it comes with all the accoutrements you would want for a thoroughbred iron sighted race gun – target sights, magwell, oversized controls, and aggressive checkering. The Tactical Sport shares a frame with the top of the line Czechmate.
The Tactical Sport Orange is the deluxe model of the Tactical sport – featuring handsome aluminum grips in a striking orange, an adjustable metal trigger (as opposed to plastic on the base model), a larger aluminum mag well (plastic on the base model), a drilled and tapped frame featuring a thumb rest, and better checkering on the front / back strap. The whole package comes in a quality pistol case worthy of transporting it in.
The fit in hand of the TSO is pretty good right out of the box. The grips are thin – but large handed shooters will have an easier time gripping them than the smaller gripped 75s. The beavertail has an excellent sculpt and relieved trigger guard that puts the gun exactly where you’d want it to be in the hand. The beavertail and backstrap is a little narrower than a widebody 1911 / 2011 and as a result if you’re shooting this beast in 40 then you can expect for it to beat you up a little more than a 2011 might. The aggressive checkering on the front and back straps are appreciated – though the checkering on the pretty aluminum grips seems mostly ornamental.
The grip panels that ship with the gun – while gorgeous are a little thin and a little slippery. This isn’t a gun that’s going to ride in a concealment holster against your skin – so concerns about “too aggressive” aren’t quite as prevalent as would be more for most guns.
The trigger is about as good as you can make a non-1911 trigger. There is a little bit of wiggle on the sear/hammer engagement – but not much in the way of slack. You can dial in more slack if you want via the adjustable trigger. This example breaks at just under 2 pounds and is very short with very little overtravel. The reset is somewhat weak but very short.
The sights are fantastic – a fiber optic front with an adjustable rear. The rear face of the rear sight is serrated and black – it’s easy to ignore as you look through the notch to your front sight and target. The tall shoulders on the rear sight are great for cutting a target in half and rapidly acquiring the front sight. Now’s probably a good time to mention the fact that the 5.23” barrel provides an immense sight radius. For most handgun distance targets – if the fiber pipe is in the rear notch at all and held over the target generally you’re going to wind up with a solid hit – or very near.
As a result of good sights and a good trigger – you get a gun with great accuracy. Warming up shooting 5 shot groups off hand at 20 yards I was able to print a near cloverleaf group with 2 fliers. Not that impressive to bullseye folks I’m sure – but I’m a red dot shooter. That’s not boasting of my marksmanship – just underscoring the point that the gun is easy to shoot. At the 50 yard line on C zone steel I went 8 for 10. Feeling saucy at 50 I was able to connect on the plate rack better than half the time. If you do your part – the gun will do it’s part.
The magazine well that comes with the gun is appropriate for the IPSC standard division box but is probably a little undersized for USPSA. The magwell is not blended to the frame – and would benefit from it (at least on the mid 2019 example). The magazines do hang up as the mag catch presses in on them during insertion– but when reloading in haste you don’t notice it. With very little dry practice I was able to rip shot to shot reloads of sub 1.2 seconds on a 10 yard target.
The magazine button is similar to those that ship on the Shadow 2 – it is adjustable in 3 different positions. The button is very accessible without breaking your firing grip on the pistol. Pressing the button rockets the magazines from the gun.
The magazines that come with the gun are quality typical of all of the CZ magazines. They are 126mm long clad in orange base pads – suitable for IPSC competition. In their base configuration they’ll accommodate 20 rounds in 9mm or 16 rounds in S&W. With the addition of aftermarket 141mm baseplates the magazines grow to 20+1 reloadable in 40 S&W – suitable for USPSA competition. If you are competing – you're going to want that 140mm base pad – putting it into the column of “essential”.
The thumb rest is a little undersized and far forward for most shooters hands to put much of your thumb into it to help control recoil. And getting on the pad of that thumbrest puts your thumb in contact with slide stop. Thankfully – the TSO comes with a couple of the Czechmate style slide pins that frees up space on the frame. Of course running the pins and not the stop will not allow the slide to lock back – and believe it or not that’s a good thing for competition. I would probably recommend anyone considering running this in competition use the provided pin in lieu of the slide stop.
And because there is a thumb rest – you aren’t carrying this in a kydex holster – generally. This type of gun would ride in a skeletonized race holster such as the Double Alpha Racer / Race Master / Alpha X, CR Speed WSM II, Safariland 014, or others that secure the gun by the trigger guard. You can make kydex work and accommodate the little thumb rest – but drawing a 5.23” gun to clear leather is going to be slower by a hair than just clearing the trigger guard. Obviously – there are plenty of concerns with skeletonized holsters – but in my testing – using an Alpha X – it was easy to get used to the trigger lock and in very short order I would subconsciously disengage the trigger lock before performing reps. For the uninitiated – skeletonized holsters ain’t cheap. Expect to spend $150 - $250 for a proper one – so factor that in.
So if you put those things together – a three pound gun with a two pound trigger, an over sized mag release and a generous mag well, and a 5.23” sight radius and target sights you get a gun that is easy to aim, easy to shoot, easy to load, and easy to love.
Specifications: CZ Tactical Sport Orange
Caliber: 9×19 or 40 S&W Capacity: Three 126 mm magazines – 20 rounds 9 or 16 rounds 40
Weight: 47.3 ounces Barrel Length: 5.23” Overall Length: 8.86” Height: 5.9” Maximum Width: 1.77”
Trigger: 2 lbs Sights: Fiber Optic Front / Adjustable Target Rear (black) Controls: fully ambidextrous magazine release and slide stop. Grip Safety MSRP: $710
Reliability * * * * No issues – CZs do have short throats so some reloads will choke it that won’t choke other guns – especially 40 S&W loaded long for 2011s.
Accuracy * * * * * Hole in hole accuracy is certainly possible with this gun – and the ergos and trigger increase the likelihood you get it.
Ergonomics * * * * 1/2 The sculpt is comfortable – but being narrow across the back marks it down in 40 S&W as in recoil it hits you in the palm pretty hard.
Customize This * * There are very few CZ aftermarket shops – you've got Cajun Gun Works and CZ Custom – though lots of race holster options available from all the major offerings.
On The Range * * * * 1/2 Shooting this gun is pretty darn easy
Overall * * * * For the casual shooter – the TSO is near perfect out of the box. The competition shooter is going to want to put some more money into it. For my money at this price point – I would consider potentially saving for a low end 2011 – but the TSO doesn’t really disappoint either.