All Bullies Aren’t Bad — CZ Custom CZ75 Bull Shadow in 9mm

“Competition Breeds Excellence” is more than a fanciful quote.  To the guys at CZ Custom in Mesa, Arizona, those three words fuel the fire of creativity and drive them to build better and better handguns. It also has the founder of the company, Angus Hobdell, traveling to IPSC matches the world over to prove it’s more than a motto. 

Innovation and Excellence

I am most fortunate to have for review the latest brilliant innovation from CZC, the CZ-75 Bull Shadow. My sample gun (a pre-production unit) was shipped to me only one day before I took it to compete in a steel challenge match.  While I enjoy the challenge of competing with guns I have never fired before, when that start timer sounds, it can be nerve-wracking for any manufacturer whose confidence in their guns is less than 100%.  It is well known that I “show and tell” what happened like it happened, and not every gun performs well.


  • Type: Hammer-fired pistol
  • Cartridge: 9mm
  • Capacity: 15+1 rds.
  • Trigger: 3.5 lbs. (SA); 7 lbs. (DA)
  • Overall Length: 8.5 in.
  • Barrel Length: 4.8 in.
  • Weight: 40 oz.
  • Width: 1.6 in.
  • MSRP: $1,495 –$1,650
  • Manufacturer: CZ USA


However, the CZC Bull Shadow is, in my mind, the perfect blend of CZ USA technology and CZ Custom know-how. These two entities have combined what is arguably the most ergonomic frame ever created with the first use of a Bull Barrel in a CZ handgun! I am a CZ-75 fan and while I started shooting IPSC/USPSA with an Ithaca 1911A1 (before these games had divisions by gun type) within a year or so I had moved on to my first of many CZ-75 “clones.” I put many, many rounds through Springfield P-9s and Tanfoglio parts kit guns; I always loved the “feel” yet suffered from the lack of reliability.

That was decades ago. But today, with CZ-USA and more importantly CZ Custom on the scene, one can now have it all: reliability, accuracy, an incredibly smooth trigger and that oh-so-wonderful ergonomic connection between hand and handgun inherent in the CZ-75 grip frame.

If you only take away one lesson from this article, take this one statement to heart: this CZ Custom Bull Shadow is one of the top 3 handguns I have reviewed.  Considering that I have tested and reviewed over 30 handguns in the competitive arena alone, that statement is not proffered lightly.

The 4-1-1 on Bull Barrels

What is a bull barrel and why might you want one?  Custom pistolsmiths have been tweaking and tuning competition handguns since we have had handgun competitions!  Bullseye, Bowling Pins, Metallic Silhouette, Bianchi Cup, IPSC or IDPA or USPSA – each and every discipline has its devotees and its custom hardware.  And in all of them oversized, match-grade, heavy weighted, hand fitted “Bull Barrels” have been employed. Check the photos to see the difference between a stock CZ-75 barrel and is Bull Shadow counterpart.  Now that is putting the “bull” in bull barrel.

The benefits observed in using bull barrels in self-loading “Browning style” tilting barrel handguns is due to their weight.  Not only is there more weight at the muzzle-end of the gun where it can reduce muzzle lift, there is also greater initial mass that must be overcome during the recoil cycle. Increasing that mass reduces recoil as some of the energy must be used to move the combined weight of the heavy bull barrel and slide.

My particular sample gun was built by CZC’s Master Maker (aka Head Gunsmith), and a man of many talents, Eric Zinn. Zinn’s attention to detail even in this rushed-to-me project was evident in his most excellent fit of the Bull Barrel and truly superior trigger work. Fitting a bull barrel is more labor intensive than a “traditional” unit and the fire control components more complex. For Zinn to make this all come together in near perfection in just a few hours is simply amazing! Oh…and he is also the man who shot, signed and provided the enclosed test target that I show in the video.

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From Box to Match

Let’s do some shooting! Unless a deadline is pressing I try to shoot review guns twice through a match and that generally nets me 300+ rounds in actual competition. The event I competed with this pistol required more than 400 rounds to complete. Not quite satiated at the end of the match I continued to pour another couple hundred through it later that day.

I shoot these guns right out of the box with nothing more than a field strip, bore check and lubing. Any mechanical device can fail and guns are no exception.  While I was delighted with the 3.5-pound, single-action trigger, I was concerned that the wonderfully smooth 7.5-pound, double-action trigger would not be able to reliably ignite factory ammo primers.  Many competition shooters rely on the easier to light Federal primers in their own reloads when running DA trigger pulls in this weight class. Despite my pre-match concern, however, I am happy to report that this CZ Custom Bull Shadow never failed to go bang on my asking.

A Few Issues

Not everything was perfect with this pre-production CZC Bull Shadow.  During accuracy testing, I found that the beautiful set of fixed sights were regulated to place bullets 6 inches above the aiming point at 25 yards. Perhaps that accounted for one or two of my misses at the match, but it was sure apparent when I was holding hard on one bull during accuracy testing and hitting the one above it. The other less-than-perfect item was noticed during field stripping. The recoil spring guide rod bushing is fit so tight in the slide that it must be pressed or tapped out. That unnecessarily complicates the takedown process and can lead to frustration. I immediately shared these issues with the good guys in Mesa, Arizona, and was assured that these two issues will be resolved well before release. These are set to be released in January 2018.


Lasting Impressions

That said, overall I am quite impressed with this masterfully assembled yet rushed to me pre-production gun bearing a brand new USA made slide and barrel. Not only did it run flawlessly over the course of 700 rounds fired, it demonstrated superior accuracy as well!  I shot a total of 50 rounds for accuracy at 25 yards off of a pair of sandbags. Those 50 rounds were comprised of 10 rounds of each of five kinds of ammunition. The average of all 50 shots was 1.68 inches. I wish I would have had time before the deadline for this article to take this fine shooter out to 50 yards, where I am sure it would shine. And I don’t say that about many handguns.

Check out our review of the CZ Shadow 2 in 9mm.

Beyond this innovative competition pistol, the CZ Custom shop builds many guns built for use by us good guys that carry daily.  Compact CZs of all stripes, 1911 and Browning Hi Powers just to name a few.  Each built with the care and knowledge that any one of their creations could be called upon to defend life and limb.  Looking for something unique? Something with a personal flair? Perhaps a gift or something to show-off to your gun buddies? CZ Custom has you covered as all manner of high-end artistry is available.

Here’s an example of some other CZ Custom options.

This gun was meant to be used, and while it was pretty enough to be the “queen of the gunsafe.”  It was lubed, loaded and ridden to two match wins. Then I continued to hammer it both before and after my accuracy testing. So as you check out the photos, remember they are “post-Patrick” and I added those competition character enhancements myself.

The CZ Custom Bull Shadow is in my mind a USPSA Production Division masterpiece. It is truly a pleasure to shoot, wicked accurate and the trigger is outstanding.  Over the course of the 700 rounds downrange it never even hinted at a malfunction.  Thank you, CZ Custom Shop for “lending” me this beautiful ballistic tool … but you ain’t getting this one back.  I just paid the invoice in FULL.

To learn more about Federal ammunition, click here.

For more information about CZ USA Custom shop, click here.

To purchase a CZ Shadow 75 on GunsAmerica, click here.

About the author: Patrick Kelley is a champion shooter, noted competitive shooting authority and brand ambassador for several companies. He loves to share his extensive knowledge of guns and his competitive shooting experience (which spans several decades) and runs the entire gamut of the shooting sports.Patrick has earned numerous first-place finishes at major matches in 12 U.S. states and Canadian provinces, including two Gold Medals at the Pan American Shotgun Championship in 2013. He has mastered several shooting disciplines, from NRA Bullseye and Metallic Silhouette to the world of Practical Shooting. Patrick is also a member of the NRA 2600 Club and was ranked in the USPSA’s top twenty early in his shooting career. Patrick’s deep-seated interest in firearms has led him well beyond the basics of routine maintenance into gunsmithing and competition tuning.Mr. Kelley is also a respected and prolific outdoor communicator. His articles on shooting and firearms, as well as his photography, have been published in Shooting Illustrated, Outdoor Life, 3-Gun Nation, USPSA Front Sight and most recently GunsAmerica. His YouTube channel features instructional and exhibition shooting videos, as well as his very own “Out of the Box to the Match” gun reviews. This very popular format has Patrick shooting guns for the very first time at shooting competitions around the Pacific Northwest.

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Salelcid April 7, 2018, 10:33 am

    Well, I just received my Cz75 Bull Shadow. The single action trigger is avg. 3 1/4 . I have a couple of additions: a Ted Yost gold line front sight. Flatten top of slide with lines, Magwell was opened up, and dehornd and the frame was stippled on the front and back.

    The finah is excellent. I have shot almost 2,000 rounds with it . And it never a malfunction. With Asym ammo I was getting 10 shot groups at 25 yds. 0.8” inch.

    Great gun and worth every penny!

  • Salelcid April 7, 2018, 10:31 am

    Well, I just received my Cz75 Bull Shadow. The single action trigger is avg. 3 1/4 . I have a couple of additions: a Ted Yost gold line front sight. Flatten top of slide with lines, Magellan opened up, and dehornd and the fram was stippled on the front and back.

    The finah is excellent. I have shot almost 2,000 rounds with it . And never a malfunction. With Asym ammo I was getting 10 shot groups at 25 yds. 0.8” inch.

    Great gun and worth every penny!

  • DRB January 22, 2018, 11:48 pm

    I’m curious what are the top 3 handguns you’ve reviewed.

  • James bari January 19, 2018, 5:14 pm

    Trying to call 4809691311 several times to speak to someone about the custom bull cz75 shadow 9mm. Can someone please contact me at 6462566001. I am very interested in purchasing this hand gun. Thank you. James bari

  • Steve Smith January 19, 2018, 10:22 am

    Great! Now puts some nice Bomar sights and make it 10mm!!!!

    • Patrick E. Kelley January 19, 2018, 2:35 pm

      I would love that too!

  • Cam January 15, 2018, 11:05 am

    I like the review but wish you had tested a production piece, rather than a pre production one. I know these are sent it to hype the gun and get some pre orders and demand but The quality and finish work on an essentialy a custom piece built by the head of the custom shop will undoubtedly be better than I would get if I bought a production one.
    I always remember all the glowing reviews of pre production Remington r51 and when producers in mass for the public almost zero worked.

  • Kole January 15, 2018, 10:42 am

    Seems like a nice pistol. I have a cz 75 Omega and it’s a really nice gun too. However I can’t see spending almost double the price for a bull barrel. The trigger sounds way to heavy and should definitely come with a red dot for the price. Anyway it’s probably a good pistol if you want to spend the money I guess.

  • JR January 15, 2018, 9:25 am

    Interesting pistol. Think I’ll wait around and see what the street price will be.

  • James Barnes January 15, 2018, 7:17 am

    Hmmm…How was the builder’s test target so great and you shot 6” high?

    • Patrick E. Kelley January 19, 2018, 2:37 pm

      The test target was shot much closer than the 25 yards I use for accuracy testing.

  • Scott Carmody December 17, 2017, 1:07 pm

    Thanks for another awesome review, Pat. You do the best video and written reviews these days. I will definitely need one of these!!

    • Patrick Kelley December 31, 2017, 12:45 pm

      Thank you Scott. You are who I write for!

  • Mark December 13, 2017, 4:55 pm

    Great write-up. Pistol looks fantastic, and that barrel…wow

    • Patrick Kelley December 31, 2017, 12:46 pm

      It is a special kind of wonderful!

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