Review: CZ Shadow 2 Optics-Ready
The high quality of CZ pistols is widely known and acknowledged among USPSA shooters, and the Shadow 2 is an excellent pistol with a fine track record. Since 2017, the Shadow 2 has been approved for Carry Optics, and CZ has started producing guns for that division such as the CZ Shadow 2 Optics-Ready ($1,549, cz-usa.com).
The model we received for testing was fitted with a Trijicon SRO sight. The short version is that the gun and the optic both performed without a flaw. We had no malfunctions of any type. The Shadow 2 was hauled to the range by Jake Martens and myself for a workout on two different occasions, and each of us also shot the gun separately. Several thousand rounds were fired through the Shadow 2 during these sessions.
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The first range session was in early summer. At this session, all the shooting was performed from a table-top start. Though we did not have a holster ready for this session, we were anxious to shoot this Shadow 2 and evaluate it’s performance. We were shooting full-size USPSA steel targets, using both Federal 130-grain Syntech and SIG Sauer 147-grain Match Elite loads for this session. Both varieties fed through the gun well and were accurate.
The first drill was a front sight forward configuration, with the targets 10 yards away and one yard separating the targets. Both Martens and I started with hands on marks on the tabletop in order to have a consistent start position. His four runs on this drill had times of 3.69, 3.10, 2.96 and 2.73 seconds, while my times were 3.02, 2.83, 2.91 and 2.68 seconds. Neither Martens or I recorded a miss on this drill. Martens shoots quite a bit in the Carry Optics division and is familiar with using a dot. I pretty much shoot iron sights exclusively. However, neither of us had trouble finding the dot with this gun and optic configuration.
The second drill was a modified El Prez. It was an uprange start, but the gun was still on the table. With the turn and the picking up of the gun, there was a lot more going on than the typical El Prez. The reload was done from the table top instead of from the belt. Martens had times of 7.08, 6.26, 7.22 and 5.76 seconds. His first three runs had all of the hits, but the final run had a single miss. My times were 7.00, 6.44, 6.65 and 6.29 seconds. My fastest run and two others were clean, but I had one miss on this drill.
Next was a set of empty draws from the table, with the target at 10 yards. The goal was a fast load and enough sight picture to get that good hit. Martens had times of 2.73, 2.68, 2.48, 2.43 and 2.61 seconds, and my times were 3.44, 2.38, 2.57, 2.56 and 2.03 seconds. After fumbling my first attempt, I became a little better and smoother. I had tried to use the front cocking serrations during that first run, and on the others I used the optic, so the results seem to speak for themselves. Use the large bump to rack the slide.
The next drill was a near to far array of four targets set at 10, 13, 20 and 26 yards. The width of the array was about 12 yards from left to right. Martens had four runs on the drill with times of 3.93, 3.16, 3.38 and 3.25 seconds; my times were 3.47, 3.41, 3.16 and 3.31 seconds. Starting from the table loaded, these were respectable times. The gun came into the hand easily, and the dot was easy to track from shot to shot and target to target. This hefty CZ was soft shooting, and the gun stayed flat so that it was easy to get onto the next target. This drill incorporated target distances that can be widely found in USPSA stages at all levels of matches, and the CZ chewed them up and spit them out.
This concluded the first range session with the CZ. We were both happy with the gun and the dot. This is not surprising, as we have tested this gun before and knew what to expect. Wanting to do some work out of the holster in addition to this set of drills, a second session was planned. There was some time that elapsed between the first and second range session, and several things happened in between. One of those things was that I started chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer, so I was not my normal self for the second session and that limited what I could or should do for safety’s sake. During the second range session Martens worked out of the holster with the CZ, and I worked off the table for the same drills.
The first drill that we shot in the second range session was a front sight forward array that included four steel USPSA targets that did not have the delta zone on the target. These reduced-size USPSA targets added and element of accuracy to the drills. The distance of the targets was 14 yards, with two or three yards between the targets. Nothing about this eight-shot drill said “hoser”. Martens had times from the holster were 3.74, 3.58 and 3.53 seconds, and his fastest draw was 1.62 seconds. My times from the table were 4.26, 3.92 and 3.52 seconds, and my fastest first was 1.42 seconds on the third run. The gun is performing as expected at this point, and shootings a little better than I expected as neither of us missed. We have both proven our ability to shoot deltas, and they would be a miss on these targets. Additionally, Martens performed a couple of five-shot groups with the CZ at a distance of 14 yards, shooting the group offhand without any support, bags or rests. We painted the targets and placed a paster on the target to give him an aiming point. One group of five rounds was shot double-action only, and the other group of five rounds was shot single-action.
The second drill used the same steel targets from the first drill, but added two 10-inch steel plates on the left and right side of the array. All of the targets remained at 14 yards. We shot from left to right on the array with one hit per target. Martens had times of 3.71, 3.87 and 3.68 seconds, and his fastest draw to a 10- inch plate was 1.67 seconds. My times were 4.61, 4.66 and 3.99 seconds, and my fastest first shot was 1.51 seconds. Once again, neither shooter missed a target, and the gun and dot were working well.
The third drill utilized two of the reduced-size targets. The first target was at 10 yards and the second at 15 yards. There was about four yards between the targets. We drew into the close target for six shots, then transitioned to the second target for two shots. Martens had times at 3.05, 2.98 and 2.96 seconds, and his fastest draw was 1.49 seconds. My times were 3.59, 3.48 and 3.21 seconds, while the fastest first shot for me was 1.30 seconds. The gun was flat shooting, and this drill made that obvious. Watching as Martens shot this drill, you could see the gun was perfectly flat for the six shots on the first target, and that allowed for shooting at warp speed. While I was shooting the first target I could see the dot throughout the whole process, and I do not have a lot of experience with red-dot optics—so if I can do well with this equipment, most competitive shooters have a chance to do well with it.
The last drill that we shot during this session was a near to far array. We used the reduced USPSA targets at nine, 10, 14 and 20 yards with a width from left to right of 12 yards. Martens had times at 3.45, 3.95 and 3.49 seconds, and his fastest draw was 1.55 seconds. My times were 4.93, 4.85 and 3.99 seconds, and the fastest first shot was 1.59 seconds.
Although this review is mainly about the gun and optic performance, an important performance tidbit is from the ammunition. Five types of ammunition were evaluated with chrono data. They all functioned at 100 percent, but in my mind, the best was Federal Syntech 130-grain ammo. It was the softest shooting of the bunch in terms of felt recoil. Switching back and forth between the different brands of ammunition, the Federal 130-grain stood out. Many competitive shooters load their own ammunition for a variety of reasons, but the 130-grain Federal is my first choice of factory ammunition for 9 mm pistols.
The CZ Shadow 2 is a great gun for USPSA Production division, and with a Trijicon SRO sight riding on the slide it’s a great gun for Carry Optics. If you have not given these products a serious look, you are missing the boat. It’s hard to imagine that there is a better combination out there for the action-shooting world where fast and accurate hits are necessary. Plus, this gear is rugged and dependable. Both Martens and I recommend the CZ Shadow 2 Optics Ready 9 mm pistol and the Trijicon SRO without reservation.
Article by Aron Bright