Czech that centimeter
Full disclosure, I am a big 10mm fan. Hence, the choice of a Glock 20 as my one pistol for a SHTF situation. As I was cruising through SHOT 2020, I noticed a unique looking CZ97B in the corner of CZ’s booth. The grips grabbed my attention further, as they had “CZC 10mm” emblazoned upon them in red. Sadly, this was not a CZ 10mm factory gun, but happily, this was an available pistol to order from CZ Custom, aka Ghost Products. Trigger warning for those of you who hate high priced guns: The cost of this pistol is in nosebleed territory: Roughly $2.5-3k, depending on how one configures it.
The model I settled on was the 97B 10mm Accu Rail. Here are the specs:
- CZC 10mm Custom ACCU Gun features:
- Accu Bushing Bar Sto 10mm made for CZC
- Trigger job with Wide competition hammer
- Short Reset Disconnector
- extended firing pin
- 85C gunsmith fit trigger
- LCI delete
- High cut frontstrap and backstrap
- Grip reduction
- Picatinny rail
- LOK checker G10 grip
- 12 round magazine (2 of them were included with my pistol)
The custom wait
I ordered it immediately after SHOT and waited. And waited. Custom pistols are not a good endeavor for the impatient, but having been down this road before, I knew it was better to be pleasantly surprised whenever the pistol showed up at my FFL. Seven months later, I finally received the long-awaited pistol.
The CZC 97BD 10mm comes in a standard CZ plastic pistol case. Inside, there was a custom cut foam insert for the pistol and two magazines. Also in the box was a barrel bushing wrench and full-length guide rod disassembly tool. There were three magazines in the box, one being the original .45 ACP magazine the 97BD came with before the conversion (which I promptly stored away from the pistol to avoid any mishaps) and two being 14-round 10mm magazines. These magazines are made by Mec-Gar for the 10mm EAA/Tanfoglio pistols. I should note that CZ Custom recommends only loading these to 12 rounds, as when fully loaded, they do not drop free and can sometimes bind a bit in the magwell.
The pistol itself exhibited excellent fit in every way and was properly lubricated right out of the box. The high cut front strap and backstop, coupled with the grip reduction and custom slim G10 grips, made the CZC 97BD 10mm easily the slimmest double stack 10mm pistol that I have yet held. This excellent grip is one of the main facets that piqued my interest on the pistol in the first place.
The pistol comes with a drift adjustable rear sight and hi-viz red fiber-optic front sight. The sights come clearly into focus both indoors and out, but aren’t so useful at night, which is where the removable Picatinny rail comes in from providing a light/laser mounting location. The trigger pull was excellent, with a smooth consistent 7lb 14oz DA pull, short reset, and crisp 4lb 4oz SA pull. The trigger face is very slick, however, and there is no checkering on the front or rear strap of this pistol. Keep this in mind if you anticipate shooting this pistol a lot with sweaty hands. I shoot with gloves on 75% of the year, so it’s not a deal-breaker for me.
At the range, the CZC 97BD 10mm Accu Rail had some strong points and some stumbling blocks. The magazines load easily enough, and the pistol sits extremely well in my XL hands. Sending rounds downrange with the excellent trigger was heavenly. I would rate the shooting comfort of this roughly 40oz pistol as the highest of any of my 10mm pistols.
Accuracy was also excellent. The 97BD handily outshot both my Glock 20 (no surprise) and my Wilson Combat Tactical Elite 10mm (surprisingly) that I have many more years of experience shooting. The CZC 97BD was able to turn in 1.5-2″ groups at 25y with American Eagle 10mm. Where the real difference was seen was how many consistent hits I could get at 100y, pretty much max range for a hunting pistol. I was able to hit a minimum of 10 and usually 12 out of 12 rounds in a magazine after only 200 rounds of familiarization through this pistol. I even was able to figure out a 200 round hold and could yield about 50% hits at that range.
A sticking point
Overall reliability was good. Unfortunately, the CZC 97BD and my 10mm hunting round of choice, Federal TBBC (P10T1) did not mesh well together. Out of 40 rounds of this ammunition that I tested, I had 5 failures to function. The nose of these rounds kept getting held up, resulting in a variety of misfeeds. Otherwise, I had no other failures with three other 10mm loads that I have tried so far in this pistol, including Underwood’s Extreme Hunter with Lehigh projectiles.
On the hunt
I carried the CZC 97BD 10mm for the majority of both bow and rifle season. While holsters for the CZ97 platform are somewhat hard to come by, the pistol fit fine (after I removed the detachable rail) in my hunting holster of choice, a Bianchi UM84 that I can easily swap between riding on my pack kidney straps and my belt. I crawled through sagebrush scrub, mud and snow with it on my hip. It was exposed to dirt, dust, heat and freezing cold. After over 20 hunts (and a few falls), there is nary a scratch and no rust on the pistol.
Though doubtfully as bomb-proof as the Glock 20, the CZC 10mm was much less prone to dust and debris incursion than my 1911 platform 10mm. Though outclassed by the CMMG 10mm Banshee as a pure hunting pistol, I will not hesitate to bring this 10mm into the field with me in the future on bow or rifle hunts as a backup platform.
The CZC 97BD 10mm is as close as one can get to a factory CZ in 10mm for now. The Tanfoglio guns, while very good pistols, have dimensional differences that preclude true CZ parts compatibility. Then again, so does the slide of this particular 10mm. The trigger, fit, and finish of this pistol are outstanding-especially the outstanding grip. Like I said, this is what double stack 10mms of the future should aspire their grip to be like.
Objectively, the CZC 97BD 10mm is an expensive, accurate, though heavy 10mm pistol with an excellent trigger. Its magazine capacity is a middle ground between a 10mm 1911 and the Glock 20. Subjectively, I found the grip to be the best thing going for any double-stack 10mm I have ever tried. Though I disliked its inability to reliably function with Federal TBBC 10mm, its ability to handle Underwood Extreme Hunter ammunition and make reliable hits at 100y keeps the CZC 97BD a viable hunting pistol.
I do think that overall, the CZC 97BD 10mm is a very niche product. If one is simply looking for a 10mm CZ-type platform for hunting or open competition, I’d recommend first looking at the Eric Grauffel influenced Tanfoglio Match Extreme 10mm with its easier-to-adjust sights, 15 round magazines, 6″ barrel, scope mount drilled frame, and lower price point. The CZC 97BD 10mm remains, however, a very good pistol, and if one can afford the price of entry, may be near the pinnacle of large frame, heavy double-stack 10mm pistols. Hopefully one day, CZ takes CZC’s lead and makes factory 10mm. For now, this is as close as it gets.