Some owners (and reviewers) say that the CZ series of handguns is one of the “best kept secrets” in small arms. Although made in Czechoslovakia, they are imported and serviced by CZ USA in Kansas City. It is also fair to say that if CZ was ever a “secret”, the number of satisfied users just continues to grow.
The flagship model is the CZ 75, a design that has stood the test of some 30 years of time. The CZ 83 is the baby brother, both in design and caliber. The 83 comes in either .32 or .380. Mine is the “glossy blue” in .380.
The gun comes from the factory in a blue plastic case and had the typical interior…spent casing, user’s manual, cleaning rod, and two magazines. The magazines are double stack, and hold 12 rounds.
Many people that opt for a smaller caliber also desire the smaller physical size that they often are found. Certainly, the Kel-Tec P3AT, or even the Walther PPK, are not just more diminutive, they also are substantially smaller than the CZ 83.
The CZ 83 weighs 24 ounces (steel frame…actually “feels” heavier); the overall length is 6.8 inches, with fixed, but smallish sights. Barrel length is 3.8 inches, height is 5 inches. It is a SA/DA trigger pull. I did not gauge it, but it seems to be about 9-10 pounds; the single action pull is typical CZ…slight travel, then crisp at about 5-6 pounds. (Note; in their model 75B series, they have a SA only model that has a superb light trigger).
Again, the dimensions are, for a .380, bigger than some might want. The picture here shows (going clockwise from noon) the P3AT, PPK, Bersa and then the CZ; for comparison, the Glock 19 is also shown. (NOTE Pics will be added the evening of 1-7-08)
The upside to the steel construction is that it is very easy to shoot (blowback design); recoil is very soft, followup shots easy to control. CZ accuracy is generally considered quite good “out of the box”, and this was no exception. Using the Winchester .380 100 round value pack from Wal-Mart, there was no problem shooting sub-4 inch groups, unsupported, one or two handed, from 25 feet. Any occasional flyer was just old age, not the gun.
Take down for field stripping is a bit stiff when new, and is slightly different than the Walther or Bersa (pull slightly forward and down on the inside of the trigger guard). Once I realized that the directions that suggested a slight forward pull was needed were in fact correct, then it broke down for cleaning quite easily.
It is not really fair to compare this gun to the P3AT or even the Walther; they are both smaller, lighter and have single stack magazines. The CZ 83 is a (fairly) robust heavy gun for its caliber, not one to just toss into a pocket; but, very easy to shoot and I suspect will be liked by anyone that has an affinity for the .380. In my classes, the Bersa .380 is always very well liked by those that are recoil sensitive; I am certain that this CZ will fall into that same category.
I only have about 150 rounds through it at this time. There have been no failures to feed or eject. In past CZ models, aluminum cased rounds and some hollow points have been problematic. Given the relative capability of the .380, I am not so sure that a hollowpoint is the optimum round in any event.
Bottom line: Reliable, easy to shoot and maintain, accurate. I believe the best market are for those that are a tad gun shy and recoil averse. The gun makes these type of shooters look good, and in turn they feel good. My guess is for the machismo fellows and ladies, this is not their gun of choice. It is really too big for pocket carry; for the size, you can find other larger calibers available. For example, the CZ 75 Compact model, a 9mm based upon the full sized CZ 75, is not all much larger, being the same height, only .1 longer barrel length; the big difference in size of the CZ 75 Compact and the CZ 83 is in overall length (with the Compact .5 longer), and weight (with the Compact being about 8 ounces heavier).
For the right person…a fine gun. Inexpensive also. The MSRP is $451, with a street price normally under $375.