Blowback helps to replicate the feel of a cartridge firing pistol. Shooting pellets generally give better accuracy than BBs. So, combining the ability to shoot pellets combined with blowback just has to be a good idea, right? Except that it hasn’t always worked out that way. There have been a few pellet shooting replicas with blowback, but none have been especially good shooters. Can the CZ P-09 Duty from ASG change that?
Danish group Action Sport Games A/S (ASG) produce a range of 4.5mm and 6mm BB shooting semi-auto and revolver replicas. I have owned several ASG pistols including a couple of Dan Wesson revolvers, a blowback CZ P-07 Duty and an STI Duty One. They were all pretty good, seeming to have above average build and finish quality for mid-range replicas. However, at the start of 2014, ASG introduced a new range of pellet shooting pistols including a blowback semi-auto replica. Now, I like semi-auto replicas, and I like blowback guns, but when I heard this I had mixed feelings. The theory of a pellet shooter with blowback is good – you should get the realistic recoil effect of blowback plus the power and accuracy of a pellet shooter, but somehow products from other manufacturers who have attempted this have fallen short (has anyone owned an Umarex PX-4 that shoots straight, I wonder…). I was therefore delighted when I was recently provided with a new ASG CZ P-09 blowback pellet shooter, so I could find out whether it’s actually any good…
Real steel background
Česká Zbrojovka (Czech Arms Factory – CZ) has been producing a range of sporting and military firearms since 1936. In the period between the first and second World Wars, Czechoslovakian companies exported weapons round the world (the Bren machine gun used by British forces, for example, was produced in Czechoslovakia). Following the end of World War two, CZ continued to produce weapons such as the Model 58 assault rifle and the Scorpion machine pistol for Czech forces and their Soviet bloc allies. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union and the formation of the Czech Republic, CZ became a private company in 1992. In 2005, CZ bought the US Dan Wesson firearm company. Today, still operating from the small Moravian town of Uherský Brod, CZ employs over 2000 staff, making it one of the largest firearms manufacturers in the world.
In 1975, CZ introduced the CZ 75, a 9mm, short recoil operated, locked breech pistol using the Browning linkless cam system (as seen on the Browning Hi-Power, which it somewhat resembles). The design of the slide on the CZ 75 is notable in that it rides on rails inside the frame, rather than sitting outside and over the frame as on 1911 style pistols. This allows the slide to be slimmer and more compact. The CZ 75 is a full-size, military and police sidearm and it quickly gained a reputation for rugged reliability and good accuracy and is still being manufactured today.
CZ P-09 Duty
In 2012 CZ introduced the P-09 Duty, basically an updated CZ75 featuring a glass-fibre reinforced polymer frame and an improved trigger system. The P-09 Duty is able to hold 19, 9mm rounds in its large magazine whilst retaining good ergonomic qualities. Like the CZ 75, the P-09 has quickly gained a reputation for reliability and accuracy at a very reasonable cost. The P-09 is popular both as a law enforcement and military sidearm, and as a sporting pistol (especially in the Czech Republic where shooting is the third most popular sport, after football and ice hockey).
The ASG CZ P-09 Duty
ASG have a licensing agreement with CZ and many of their CO2 powered semi-auto replicas are based on CZ pistols such as the CZ 75 Compact and the CZ P-07 Duty. Most ASG replicas are available in 4.5 and 6mm forms. However, for the first time in early 2014, ASG launched a range of pistols chambered for both .177 pellets and 4.5mm steel BBs. These included updated versions of the Dan Wesson revolvers and a pellet shooting, blowback version of the CZ P-09 Duty.
The ASG CZ P-09 features a polymer frame and grip and a metal slide, hammer, trigger, slide release and safety. The inner barrel is deeply recessed and the outer barrel includes a removable end-cap, allowing the fitment of a moderator. An under-barrel accessory rail is provided and each pistol has a unique serial number. The ambidextrous manual safety/de-cocker is fully functional.
Pellets or BBs are loaded in a double-ended magazine which incorporates two, eight shot rotary pellet carriers, giving a total capacity of 16 shots. The magazine is very similar to those found in the Umarex PX-4 and the Gamo PT-85 (actually, it appears to be identical to the PT-85 mag). Both front and rear sights feature white dots. CO2 is retained inside the grip and this licensed replica features accurate CZ markings. Unlike many other ASG replicas which are made in Taiwan, the CZ P-09 Duty is manufactured in Japan.
The magazine chambers are magnetic in order to hold steel BBs in place. ASG provide a number of accessories for the P-09 including spare magazines, a hard case, a moderator, a tactical light and a laser sight.
Packaging and presentation 2.5/5
The ASG CZ P-09 comes in a simple a cardboard box with shaped card inserts to locate the pistol. It’s a perfectly serviceable box, though not something you’d use to display the pistol. The P-09 is supplied with a single magazine and a short user manual.
Visual accuracy 9/10
CZ P-09 Duty (above), ASG CZ P-09 Duty (below)
ASG claim that the original CZ drawings were used to create this replica, and I see no reason to doubt that – this is about as good as it gets in terms of a visual replica. Every line, pin and contour or the original is replicated, down to the complex whorls and curls of the anti-slip grip finish. Even the base of the grip and magazine replicate the look of the original (something many replicas fail to do). All controls are accurately replicated and markings are as per the original. Even the obligatory safety markings are discreetly engraved rather than painted in bright, white text.
The black finish on the metal slide closely matches the finish of the plastic frame and grip, making the various parts of the pistol look as though they belong together. A particularly nice touch is that the inner barrel is deeply recessed, leaving a large visible barrel opening. If you put this replica next to a P-09 firearm, I suspect you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. The only visual clues are that the ejection port is recessed rather than cut-out (though the port and ejector pin are crisply moulded) and the small actuating button in the centre of the left side manual safety/de-cocker isn’t present on the original.
Functional accuracy 12/15
The ASG CZ P-09 Duty has good weight – it’s around 100g lighter than the original firearm, but it does provide convincing heft. The hammer, trigger, ambidextrous safety/de-cocker and magazine release all function as per the original. The slide release on the left of the frame does not move and has no function (the slide on this replica does not lock back). The plastic magazine is of reduced size. What looks like the base of the magazine is part of the removable section of the grip which gives access to the CO2 chamber.
The slide moves under blowback action though it cannot be locked back. There is no simple way of removing the slide and the P-09 cannot be easily stripped for lubrication or cleaning.
Preparing the ASG CZ P-09 for shooting is simple. The lower and rear part of the backstrap are removed to reveal the CO2 chamber. CO2 is inserted, and the metal tab tightened to pierce the CO2, which it does with almost no loss of gas. The first time I loaded CO2, I came close to over-tightening the tab, as I was waiting for the tell-tale hiss of escaping gas which didn’t happen.
Pellets or BBs are then loaded into the double ended magazine. ASG recommend using flat-fronted pellets only, to avoid potential jamming issues. Two chambers are visible at a time on each rotary carrier, so there is no way to use any form of speed loader and loading takes a little time and requires careful placement, especially of pellets. At least when you’re done you have 16 shots before re-loading is required. The magazine clicks positively into place, though it is quite deeply recessed in the grip.
With the manual safety on, the trigger and hammer are locked. To move the safety from “safe” to “fire”, the small button in the centre of the safety on the left of the frame must first be depressed. It’s a slightly fiddly process, and difficult to achieve with one hand (especially if you’re left-handed). However, I rarely use the manual safety on most of my replicas so this wasn’t a major problem.
With the safety off, the first shot can be fired in double action or the hammer can be manually cocked for single action. There is no need to rack the slide before shooting the first shot. In both double and single action the trigger pull is fairly long, and there is a distinct catch as the rotary pellet carrier is indexed. The actual release point comes almost at the extreme rear point of trigger travel and there is distinct additional pressure as this point is reached. However, the release point is consistent and clear. If you pull the trigger almost to the point of shooting and then release it, the pellet carrier will index again when you pull the trigger a second time, leaving an unfired pellet behind in the magazine. The non-adjustable white dot sights are clear and easy to align.
The pistol fires with a distinct crack rather than a loud bang, and blowback is strong and rapid. The blowback action only cocks the hammer, it does not index the next pellet for shooting. The slide does not lock back on empty (a function of loading pellets via a rotary carrier), so you do need to count your shots.
Six shots, six yards, semi-rested. RWS CO2 Target pellets, 0.45g (7.0gr)
The good news is, this is a very fine shooter. At six yards, mine shoots slightly to the left of the point of aim and around ½” low when using .45g (7.0gr) pellets. A lighter pellet would probably allow it to shoot very close to the point of aim. Rested, it will group at about 1″ at six yards. Freestanding, this increases to 1½” – 2″, but that’s probably down to my ageing eyesight and wobbly limbs rather than any fault of the pistol. In my experience, that’s about as good as it gets for a pellet pistol shooting over open sights, and certainly almost as good as any multi-shot pellet pistol I have tried.
CO2 consumption is reasonable for a blowback pistol: at 24°C, I got around 50 – 60 full power shots from a single CO2. Accuracy is maintained until power starts to drop noticeably. I don’t currently have access to a chronograph, so I can’t comment on the claimed power of 492fps using .33g pellets. Most user reports suggest power somewhere in the 350 – 400fps range with heavier pellets, but the P-09 certainly shoots with pleasing authority and knocked large chunks out of my wooden backstop, so it has more than adequate power for target shooting.
The P-09 can also shoot steel 4.5mm BBs. These are slightly easier to load in the magazine than pellets, and locate positively into the magnetised chambers. However, I haven’t tried shooting it with BBs. I’m concerned that steel BBs may erode the lands in the rifled barrel, and I don’t want to risk compromising its accuracy with pellets. I’d assume it would shoot the lighter BBs with more power, but I doubt it would be any more accurate. Other than that BBs are a little cheaper than pellets, I can’t think of any reason you’d want to shoot BBs with this pistol.
This is a very nice shooter indeed. It is more than accurate enough for my level of shooting ability, and I imagine that it’s good enough to provide satisfactory target shooting fun for most people. It’s certainly shoots much closer to the point of aim and more consistently than any other pellet shooting, blowback replica I have tried which uses a similar magazine. I haven’t had the opportunity to try it at ranges longer than six yards, but I suspect that it may also have the power and accuracy to be used at ten yards and more. One small disappointment is that it doesn’t have adjustable rear sights. On a pistol this accurate, I’d have liked to be able to adjust the point of impact to precisely align with the point of aim, though mine shoots close enough out of the box that this is a fairly minor niggle.
Quality and reliability 14/15
Given that the CZ P-09 was released less than six months ago, it’s difficult to say anything definitive abut long term reliability, though I can report that mine has performed without any problems at all. Some owners have reported that the strong blowback can shake the front sight loose, and even cause it to fall off. Mine has remained firmly affixed, but it’s something that may be worth checking if you own a P-09.
The overall fit and finish of the P-09 are very good indeed. The slide has no rattles or side-to-side movement and cycles smoothly. The trigger and hammer have no looseness or rattles, the magazine locks and unlocks crisply and the rear and bottom part of the slide which give access to the CO2 chamber fit neatly with no movement or give. Even the CO2 tightening/piercing tab is metal rather than the more common plastic. The paint on the slide seems thick and chip resistant, and mine is showing no signs of wear. The plastic grip and frame are robust and nicely textured, replicating the complex anti-slip finish of the original.
I have read other reviews which suggest that the P-09 isn’t up to usual build quality of ASG products, and I don’t really understand this. I can’t fault the P-09 in terms of fit or finish and it shoots very nicely indeed. The removable grip base/backstrap can be a little fiddly to replace, but once it’s in place, it fits neatly and without any movement or give. For what it’s worth, in my opinion this is as good as anything else produced by ASG.
Overall (and like most ASG replicas) this seems well made and well finished and I’m not aware of any major issues.
Overall Impression 13/15
It’s difficult not to compare this to the other blowback pellet shooters currently available. It’s certainly feels as if it has better fit and finish than the Umarex PX-4, and is a better shooter than both that pistol and the similar Gamo PT-85. In terms of accuracy, it’s close to the Umarex Desert Eagle, though it has better CO2 consumption and (for me) much better ergonomics than that pistol. I also prefer the metal slide of the P-09 to the all plastic construction of the Desert Eagle and I feel that this helps to give more convincing blowback.
This is the first time I have come across a pellet shooting blowback replica which combines good accuracy, reasonable CO2 consumption and easy handling and consequently it’s a replica I really enjoy shooting.
The ASG CZ P-09 Duty is rapidly becoming one of my favourite replicas. I like the understated, functional look of the original and this is a spot-on visual replica. I also like blowback pistols and I appreciate the power and accuracy that only comes from shooting pellets though a rifled barrel. However, the other blowback pellet shooters I have owned have disappointed for various reasons. This one doesn’t. It has good weight and heft, great ergonomics, it appears to be well made and finished and it’s available at a reasonable price. Most importantly, it’s a cracking shooter – powerful, accurate and with the convincing simulated recoil effect that only blowback can provide. Of course, it isn’t perfect – I’d have preferred an open ejection port and adjustable rear sights for example – but it’s pretty close.
Only time will tell whether it’s reliable in the long term, but if like me you have always fancied a powerful pellet shooter with blowback that’s also a decent shooter, this could finally be the one.
Many thanks to Action Sport Games for providing the CZ P-09 Duty for review.
Total score: 87.5/100