Review: CZ Shadow 2

posted on January 31, 2018

The arrival of the CZ Shadow 2 was much anticipated; my favorite daughter shoots the Accu-Shadow in Production, so hope was in the air that this gun would be familiar, easing the pains of getting to know it and discovering its quality. Indeed, when it arrived, the gun looked very familiar.

The Shadow 2 (MSRP: $1,300; is a fine-looking pistol; it is a handful of steel that has noticeable heft to it. This is not your mother’s Tupperware; in fact, “beefy” was the first description that came to mind. The Shadow 2 is the bigger, more impressive cousin of the Accu-Shadow.

How much recoil would be felt shooting this gun in 9mm? The short answer is, “not much”. The sessions on the range proved this hefty pistol to be very soft shooting, as any knowledgeable person would expect. Since this pistol is for competition, the weight is an advantage rather than a hindrance. If this gun is too heavy for getting through a match with it on your hip, step off to the left and we will print out your WIMP card.

The Shadow 2 has a larger frame than its predecessors; it manages to fit the hand very nicely, but not the same holsters. The grip is slim in the right places and the trigger guard is undercut, allowing for a very high and very comfortable firing grip. Reaching the trigger on this large-framed gun was not difficult at all. A well-designed grip increases the “shootability” of this pistol tremendously. Kudos to the designers for knowing what shooters need in a pistol. Many different brands of pistols do not seem to understand how important the grip and the feel of the grip are to quality shooting. Some are just way too thick and blocky; CZ gets the size and shape of the grip right.

CZ-USA Shadow 2
The grip features texture that is fairly aggressive for a factory gun. It also features a fiber optic front sight and an adjustable rear sight.

All four sides of the grip feature some texturing that aids in maintaining a firing grip on the gun. Skateboard grip tape would not be a necessary addition for most shooters, but the texture is not as extreme as some stippling jobs on many custom pistols. The weight of the pistol literally soaks up recoil.

It is not surprising that CZ has carved out a place among the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) crowd; people spend money on quality products. Longtime friend and fellow philosopher Bill DeZarn has always said buy as many match points as possible. The Shadow 2 is money well spent as far as match points go. If you can shoot up to this pistol, championships are in your future. The Shadow 2 will not be the weak link in your shooting.

This gun continues the tradition of the CZ family of pistols by providing a large frame that is easy to grip with the weak hand while using a two-handed grip. CZ pistols sit the slide down into the frame rather than fitting the slide over the top of the frame. This is a positive characteristic. There is plenty of room for the weak-hand thumb to ride on the frame and above the trigger guard, which aids greatly in obtaining a proper grip. Despite the pistol’s girth, weight and overall impressive size, it remains very user-friendly for all shooters except for those with the tiniest of hands. (For the little-handed people, talk to your parents and place the blame accordingly.)

The Shadow 2 is outfitted with both rear and front cocking serrations. As mentioned in other reviews, cool is not even possible without front cocking serrations. A rail for mounting lights, lasers and other gear is also present on this pistol, and the beavertail more than adequate to prevent hammer bite. The magazine release is large and easy to find with a thumb. It could be pressed without breaking the firing grip if you have either large or medium-sized hands (the little-handed people will have to break their firing grip).

The thumb safety is small and lies very flat to the frame of the gun. Using the gun from a cocked and locked position would require practice and skill development; in 9mm it is unlikely that a cocked and locked start position would be widely used, and is against the rules in many of the divisions that the designers had in mind for the Shadow 2. However, it would be possible for the outliers in the crowd to use this gun from a cocked and locked starting position or for carry purposes if they so desired. The slide release lever is large and easily activated when the slide is locked back. Some thumbs can also activate the slide release while the firing grip is maintained. Sometimes steel plates or small poppers disrupt the stage plan to the point that a slide lock reload is necessary, so the large slide release lever could be handy for many shooters once in a great while.

CZ Shadow 2 Trigger
Nothing needs to be done to the trigger out of the box.

The trigger of the Shadow 2 is the probably the best thing about a great pistol. If this trigger is not smooth and light enough for you as a shooter―well, to put it politely, you need some skill development. This trigger is light and sweet; the reset is almost non-existent. The double-action trigger pull has some distance involved but it is smooth and the release is awesome. In live fire, both Jake and I were able to get quality hits at speed from double action. If we can achieve good accuracy on the double-action pull, then it can be achieved by most people. If you cannot get hits out to 15 yards double action with the Shadow 2, then I would recommend cowboy action shooting―and to be perfectly honest, I am not sure how successful you will be there.

Jake and I took the Shadow 2 out to the Riley Conservation Club and put it through some live-fire testing. The pistol came right out of the box and went directly into the holster with no lubing or special treatment. We were shooting Federal’s American Eagle ammunition. We shot FMJ ammo of the 147-, 124-, and 115-grain variety. We also shot some Federal Syntech ammunition in both 115- and 124-grain. The entire session was malfunction-free, and we fired nearly 500 rounds of ammo between us.

The first live fire exercise was a medium course of fire that consisted of eight paper targets, some that included hard cover. The course required three shooting positions, starting in a box and engaging four paper at distances from 10 to 35 yards. Shooting left to right required exiting the position on a hard cover target; shooting from right to left required leaving the position a very distant target. Moving to the left of the stage a single paper target had to be engaged, and then a door opened and the remaining paper targets were engaged at a distance of 10 to 15 yards. It was a pretty tough test; to do well required some good shooting, and there was no opportunity for hosing targets. Like a couple of idiots, we jumped right into this without any warm-up.

CZ Shadow 2 is ready for action shooting out of the box
This gun runs very well right out of the box as a Production gun without any special treatment.

The gun was very much up to the task. We ran the stage three times apiece and did the runs in a back-to-back-to-back fashion. Jake’s times were 12.36, 11.69 and 12.36 seconds respectively; my times were 13.99, 14.28, and 13.66 seconds. Overall, my points were a little better but Jake was obviously a little faster than me. This has been pretty much the norm between us for years. Even with the double-action trigger pull we both ran the course fairly well and were not uncomfortable with the Shadow 2 in our hands, even though it was new to us. We both drew into the nearest hard cover target that was 10 yards away each time. We both managed to avoid any misses on that target on all runs. The double-action first shot was not a problem for either of us. I was afraid to do much prepping of the trigger while pushing the gun out into position fearing an AD, but I am a soul of caution. With some practice I feel that I could get a comfortable prep on the trigger; with a little practice, the draw times could be reduced by not starting the trigger press at full extension. The trigger reset is short and sweet. Someone who is fast on the trigger could get real cozy with it, and perform some great feats of speed.

The next live fire drill that we performed was a “near to far” array of four targets. The near target that included hard cover was at 10 yards and the far target was a full 35 yards away. The remaining two targets were spaced evenly between the first and last target. Jake’s three runs were 5.15, 4.90 and 4.65 seconds respectively. My three runs were 5.40, 5.43 and 5.50 seconds. My best run was down only two points; Jake’s best run was down six points. The worst runs point-wise are not worth talking about, and nothing could possibly be learned from that score. Someone had a hole in the hardcover but I am not going to disclose who it was.

The next drill was El Presidente; we did not measure the distances, but it was real close to the right distance. This drill put a reload into the test drive. Jake ran it in 6.00, 7.04, and 6.14 seconds respectively. No mikes were recorded. Jake was down eight or 10 points on each run. The second run had an abortion in the middle of it that was labelled a reload. It happens once in a while (ask me how I know). My three runs were 6.84, 6.94 and 5.76 seconds. I ranged from 12 points down in the worst run to four points down in the best run, so my shooting was nothing impressive but very repeatable, much like the rest of my life.

If you are in the market for a new Production gun, the CZ Shadow 2 is a great candidate to fill your holster. You will not be disappointed―the Shadow 2 is a soft shooting, accurate pistol.

Article from the November/December 2017 issue of USPSA’s FrontSight magazine.


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