The CZ Shadow 2 OR

Big, Bad, Beautiful, Blue

The CZ Shadow 2 OR pistol is a fine piece of iron right out of the box.
Accurate,reliable, smooth and comfortable, this is the competition pistol
that will also help keep your family safe.

The CZ Shadow 2 Optics Ready pistol represents a radical divergence from your typical modern gun shop fare. Meticulously executed and built like a sewing machine, the steel-framed Shadow 2 OR is also as heavy as Aunt Ethel’s prize-winning fruitcake. Custom crafted for competition but a nonetheless splendid choice for defensive applications as well, the Shadow 2 OR is pure joy on the range.

Medical Master of Mayhem

As is so often the case I got the call on a Friday at work. The grandmother in room two had a social disease, the toddler in three had shoved an aquarium rock up his nose, and Mrs. Morrison in four was convinced she had passed a snake in her bowel movement (“It was two feet long with a head and two eyes!”). The call from the President was a welcome respite.

Three hours later, I advanced the throttles on my F/A-18 into afterburner and lifted off from Millington NAS. I took my briefing from the CIA Deputy Director for Operations via secure data link. My face camo rakishly applied, I sat alone in the cockpit, lost in thought.

My tricked-out HK416 was stowed inside a custom drop tank alongside my CZ Shadow 2 OR tactical pistol, both veterans of countless similar operations. Someday the CIA’s Special Activities Division would recruit some proper operators. Until then, Mrs. Morrison and her snake remained at risk of interruption. I donned my game face and began my descent into Bagram.

Two days later, I was back at the clinic. My ears still rang from that Soviet F1 Limonka grenade, and my scrub shirt concealed the fresh bullet crease across my right shoulder. The clinic crew assumed I had been off on some writing junket, just like always.

The impassioned thanks of half a dozen recently liberated Sports Illustrated swimsuit models and yet another handwritten “thank you” drafted on White House stationery were all I had to show for my weekend’s festivities. Alas, operating in the shadows to rescue lonely supermodels and messily retire sundry drug lords, terrorist masterminds, and bloodthirsty war criminals was my lot. In the interim, there was always Mrs. Morrison’s snake.

Who am I kidding? The only way I could terminate a terrorist mastermind would be if his evil lair was wheelchair accessible. A liberated supermodel would undoubtedly view me as both “adorable” and “harmless.” She’d look at me with those deep sultry eyes and then tell me how much I favored her grandfather. The only time the President might need me would be if every single military organization including the Cub Scouts were otherwise inexplicably indisposed. Then why do I persist in buying guns like I might actually someday be called upon to do something extraordinary?

Truth be known, it’s because guns are just cool. Many’s the rarefied smoke pole that found its way into my personal collection simply because it pushed my man buttons. The CZ Shadow 2 OR is an undeniable boat anchor of a pistol. However, this thing runs like a chimp after Cheetos.

While the CZ Shadow 2 OR is contrived for competition, it would also make a superb CQB tool.

Stone cold CIA operator or maturity-impaired, dignity-deficient, middle-aged gun writer? You decide.

Shadow Philosophy

The CZ Shadow 2 OR is purpose-designed for competition. We’ve all seen the videos of Rob Leatham killing steel plates at warp speed, Jerry Miculek popping balloons at a thousand yards with a slingshot, and Keanu Reeves training for his next John Wick film alongside half a dozen scantily clad Hollywood range bunnies. Those guys clearly aren’t human. Out here where the normal folk reside, however, shooting competitions are a great way to refine your skill at arms. While precious few of us will be called upon to abandon our day jobs and HALO into the Hindu Kush to rescue hot supermodels, being able to run a gun accurately and well remains the birthright of the free American.

A proper competition pistol is designed to be run, not carried. For these applications, having a portly front-heavy handgun is actually a boon rather than a detriment. You typically won’t have to tote your competition pistol much farther than the shooting bench.

A competition handgun needs a slightly abrasive grip, uncompromising reliability, and a trigger that is to die for. It doesn’t have to be lightweight, compact or concealable. Interestingly, the same attributes that make for an awesome competition gun also produce the perfect home defense weapon.

As expected, the Shadow 2 comes apart easily without tools.

The design of the CZ Shadow 2 has the frame wrapping up around the slide for
optimal full-length stability. This does minimize the gripping area for slide racking chores, however.

The CZ Shadow 2 OR Details

Here’s the elephant in the room — the Shadow 2 OR weighs 46.5 oz. and has an MSRP of $1,549. That’s just shy of 3 lbs. — 7.5 oz. more than a GI M1911A1. The purchase price represents enough dough to buy 7.75 Hi-Point C9s or take your wife out on a modest dinner date in the Deep South 44 times. However, what in heaven’s name might you actually do with 7.75 Hi-Point pistols?

Much of that mass comes from the gun’s steel frame. Steel handgun frames have fallen out of vogue in these days of ubiquitous plastic pistols. However, properly maintained steel guns last literally forever, and the extra mass nicely tames both recoil and muzzle flip.

The magazine packs 19+1 of 9mm Parabellum chaos, and the gun comes with three. The barrel is cold hammer forged. The manual thumb safety is perfectly mirrored on both sides of the gun to facilitate Condition 1 carry if desired. The fiber optic front sight is readily acquired, while the HAJO rear is easily adjustable. The rear slide deck is cut for a red dot sight.
The magazine catch is reversible and includes an extended button. There are three different positions that let shooters customize the mag release to best suit their personality and anatomy. Everything about the Shadow 2 is built to run fast and shoot straight.

The SA/DA trigger of the Shadow 2 is the place where dreams are forged. The Cold War-era Czech CZ75 was prized the world over for its heavenly trigger, and the Shadow 2 builds upon that legacy. The DA pull is as smooth as Cary Grant circa 1936. The SA version breaks like a fresh Dorito and sports an abbreviated reset shorter than Paris Hilton’s attention span. Obtuse pop culture metaphors notwithstanding, this is likely the nicest SA/DA trigger I have ever squeezed.

The CZ Shadow 2 OR makes a hefty but eminently effective service
pistol for the well-heeled shooter of means.

Origin Story

The Czechs have forever been a fairly put-upon mob. Cursed with some of the world’s most unfortunate geography, the Czechs fell afoul of both the Nazis and then the communists sequentially. However, the former Czechoslovakia enjoys a storied history of gun making. Throughout their time as part of the Warsaw Pact, the Czechs managed to retain their individualism.
At a time when half the planet had aligned itself with communism and was equipping wholesale with Kalashnikov rifles, the Czechs were churning out Vz52’s, Vz58’s and CZ75’s. The Vz52 was a radical thing firing the remarkably prescient 7.62x45mm cartridge based upon the novel annular gas system of the Walther MKb 42(W) wartime German assault rifle. The Vz58 was a selective fire weapon firing the M43 7.62x39mm Combloc round that was lighter and arguably more efficient and effective than the ubiquitous Kalashnikov. The Czech CZ75 pistol was a radical combat handgun.

Introduced in 1975, the CZ75 featured a steel frame, a double column/single feed 15-round box magazine, and a hammer forged barrel. More than a million copies were built, and the CZ75 was one of the original Wondernine high-capacity 9mm pistols. What really set the CZ75 apart, however, was its unusual frame design along with its comparably extraordinary SA/DA trigger.

The frame of the CZ75 wraps around the slide rather than the other way around. This offers a full-length interface between the slide and frame, leading to exceptional accuracy potential. The downside to this design is that it leaves relatively little gripping surface to rack the slide.

I’m honestly not smart enough to elucidate just why the CZ75 trigger is so incredible. Suffice to say throughout the ’80s and ’90s, SA/DA high-capacity pistols like the Beretta 92F and SIG P226 were ruling the world. Throughout it all, the CZ75 trigger remained the one to beat. A striker-fired trigger will still be more consistent from first to last, but that of the CZ75 really was exceptional.

Prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain CZ75 pistols were the unicorns of the combat handgun world. Standard-capacity magazine bans were but a glimmer in the eye of a young Chuck Schumer, but we did very little commercial trade with Combloc countries. The only way an American civilian shooter could obtain a Czech CZ75 back in the ’80s was through a military Rod and Gun Club in Europe.

Rod and Gun Clubs were integral parts of the MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) Programs on military posts. Back before there were so many blasted rules servicemen could privately purchase firearms through the Rod and Gun Club at reduced prices. Czech handguns somehow made their way into these clubs on American military posts in Europe. When soldiers brought these guns home to the states, they sold for a holy fortune.

The slide deck is cut for a red dot, while the bilateral manual thumb safety allows Condition 1 carry.

The magazine release can be adjusted three different ways for optimal operation.
The anodized aluminum grips are both grippy and stylish. Their aggressive texturing
ensures positive control of the weapon.

Trigger Time

Running the CZ Shadow 2 OR is a unique experience. The heavy steel frame and superlative design excise all the snap out of the 9mm round. Each firing cycle feels more like a shove than a pop as a result. Polymer 65-grain Inceptor ARX rounds shoot about like a .22. This really is a fun gun to run.

The Shadow 2 OR ate everything I fed it without a hiccup. I tried and failed to choke it with bullets ranging from 65- to 147-grains in a variety of geometries. The 19-round magazines run about forever.

The grips on my gun are cut from blue anodized aluminum and have “Shadow 2” machined along their length. I must reluctantly admit they look pretty darn cool. The checkering both on the grips and the front and back straps of the frame is adequately aggressive as to offer a secure hold without abrading unduly. Five hundred rounds at a sitting might leave your mitts a bit raw but given the gun’s soft recoil impulse you’d have to work to get there.

Tune the mag release to your liking and the whole package runs like a dream. Smooth, slick, placid and fun are the sorts of descriptors that reflect the shooting experience. The frame is left extra-beefy up front, and this mitigates muzzle flip while facilitating exceptionally fast follow-up shots. The SA trigger sports a delightfully abbreviated reset. As such, if you are one of those guys who likes running his combat pistols like they were machineguns, the Shadow 2 will rock your world.

This gun is more accurate than I. From a simple rest and fed ammo it really liked the Shadow 2 was truly awesome. Running SIG 124-grain JHP ammo, I printed a single jagged hole with five rounds at 15 meters.

From 15 meters off of a simple rest the Shadow 2 OR shoots plenty straight.
Note that the SIG 124-grain V-Crown load produced a single ragged hole.


You wouldn’t want to pack this gun as a concealed carry weapon. It could be done, but you’d likely regret it later. The Shadow is optimized for USPSA competition.

As a competition pistol that means lightning fast reloads and tight groups. Recoil is a joke, and the controls are literally perfect. The beefy frame is naturally cut for accessories.

Even if you aren’t out rescuing supermodels, the Shadow 2 is the perfect bedside companion. Slap a Streamlight TLR-8G combination light and green laser on the rail, and you’re ready to displace the darkness while securing the hacienda. Precise, capable and delightful on the run, the CZ Shadow 2 OR is the race gun for the real world.

As an aside, while I’ve never technically rescued a supermodel, the three patient encounters listed at the beginning all really happened, even the one about the snake.

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