An opportunity was offered to us by Sportsman’s Loft/TAI Imports to check out a Phoenix Redback pistol. I volunteered since I am aware of CZ style pistols but have not spent much time behind one. The Sportsman’s Loft sent in a Phoenix AG Redback Ultralight. Let’s dive into this Swiss-made competition pistol.
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From The Ashes Rises A Phoenix
From what I have been able to glean from other people, the engineers who used to work for Sphinx have moved on to form Phoenix AG. The Sphinx pistols were stellar pistols but they were designed for self defense. The only ones I saw were short barreled for CCW. I wanted to see a full-size version for use in competition. Well, that is where Phoenix has gone with their Redback line of pistols. Their Redback is on the IPSC production list.
According to Phoenix’s website they are three variants of their Redback pistols; Redback, Redback Light, and Redback Ultralight. The difference is in the materials used for the frame.
The frames of the Redback pistols are made of two parts – the frame rails and the grip or as they call it, the “upper” and “lower” frame. For the Redback Light, the upper frame (rails) is made of steel while the lower frame (grip) is made of aluminum.
CZ Styling But Swiss Made
The Redback Ultralight is similar to a CZ-75. The frame wraps up and around the slide. This is a tried and trued design made popular with the CZ-75. Having the slide ride inside the frame increases accuracy and makes for an efficient barrel lockup which improves accuracy.
Aside from the basic CZ-75 design, the Redback has been designed for the competitive shooter in mind. The first design feature that drew my eye is the machined texture in the sides of the frame. With the frame over slide design, you can place your support thumb high up on the side. Phoenix AG machined small pyramids into the side of the frame for aiding your support thumb to get purchase and apply downward pressure.
Phoenix also added a wider thumb safety. While the Redback is ambidextrous, the left side safety lever is wider and acts as a thumb shelf for your right hand thumb.
You can see how much farther it sticks out in the photo below.
Slide serrations front and back are nice and aggressive for solid purchase.
I found the trigger to be interesting. I like straight bow triggers so I was pleased to see this on the Redback. While straight bow triggers are not new, this design is new to me. See the vertical slot in the middle of the trigger bow? Rather than add texture, Phoenix machines this slot and it acts like checkering. I can feel it on the pad of my index finger and it helps to keep my finger from sliding off the bow.
I found the trigger to be very light. My trigger pull gauge showed 2lbs 3.2 oz maximum.
The grip is also rather aggressive with its texturing. The Redback Ultralight came with these G10 grips with deep scalloping.
The front and backstrap texture are the same mini pyramids that are on the side of the frame.
Shooting The Redback Ultralight
I took the Phoenix Redback Ultralight to a local USPSA match. I will preface this with the fact that I dislike shooting with iron sights so I do not do it a lot. I am much more comfortable shooting red dots. The Redback Ultralight came with a fiber optic front sight and adjustable rear sight.
I had a couple rounds fail to fire but it was the ammo and not the gun. One stage had you shoot really small steel 40 yards away, something I do not practice especially with irons. But I had a good time shooting the Redback Ultralight. I got quite a few shooters ask about the Phoenix pistol and was happy to share with them.
Final Thoughts On The Phoenix Redback Ultralight
The pistol is well made. You can sense that as soon as you pick it up. However there is a drawback and that would be the price. I have found them for sale for $3,100. Some of my friends had some sticker shock. They question why someone would buy the Phoenix Redback when you can buy two or three CZ-75 Shadows for the same amount of money. I can see both sides of the argument. One comment I read on Instagram was by a sponsored competitive female shooter from France. She said the Redback was better built and less prone to breaking down. But if you buy multiple backup CZ Shadows this problem is negated by the fact that you have spare parts and guns. I look at the Phoenix pistol like a Rolex or other well machined Swiss product. There is a quality that is inherent that adds to the value. While you could have a few pistols for the same price, they are not a Phoenix Redback. If well-engineered and machined firearms are of an interest to you and the price is reasonable to you, I would take a closer look at Phoenix’s offerings. These pistols are exclusively imported by The Attic Imports.