Newbie Range Report: M40 vs. CZ40B

Discussion in 'M, C, L and S Series' started by mikey, Feb 18, 2006.

  1. mikey

    mikey Guest

    Since it seems obligatory for a newbie here to open up with a range report, here’s mine. :D

    I bought my Steyr M40 ages ago (brand-new) after reading an enthusiastic review by Massad Ayoob (who raved about the piece’s “superb ergonomics”). A checkout at the local gun store confirmed that, in comparison to the various 1911’s I’d owned, the Steyr did indeed point beautifully. I bought it.

    It’s an early model (s/n 0022XX) and I was pleased to find that it was absolutely stone reliable. But, being accustomed to the clean, crisp trigger of a tuned 1911A1, I had problems adapting to the Steyr’s funky, Glocklike system. And the triangular sights seemed, well, just plain goofy. I liked the M40 well enough not to sell it, but not quite enough to favor it.

    After a time, though, my sometimes-unreliable 1911 got sold off, and pretty soon the M40 was my last surviving autopistol (aside from an oddball Wyoming Arms 10mm – which I probably ought to sell ASAP, as I never even shoot the dammed thing).

    Things got interesting lately, though, as J&G sales (not far from my rural Arizona home) offered a Christmas sale on the compact CZ40B, in .40 S&W. I’ve had a long fascination with Czech firearms, thinking that the Czech ZB26/ZB30’s were the most awesome automatic rifles made (as if I’ll ever actually get to test fire one) and I figured that the sale price of $269 was enough of a bargain to justify my joining the CZ fraternity.

    And so, I arranged a CZ/Steyr face-off at the local indoor shooting range, bringing with me a nice supply of Russian Wolf, Czech S&B, and American Federal ammunition for the shootout.

    FIRST IMPRESSIONS: The two pistols are almost exactly the same size, with the CZ weighing perhaps an ounce or two more. Both came standard with 10-round magazines, but the CZ’s magazines come with a ridiculously huge finger-rest extension attached to the bottom. Since the CZ’s grip frame is entirely big enough to comfortably carry my average-sized male hand without the magazine, that magazine extension is totally unnecessary and only adds unwanted bulk to the piece. Score a point for the Steyr here.

    Build quality of the CZ is more than satisfactory. Though (being an economy gun) the finish is merely “painted on,” the semi-gloss black paint is attractive enough in its own right. Comfortable black rubber grip panels come standard, and the piece feels great in the hand. Frankly, the CZ feels way better to me than the Steyr, which (even today) still seems a little weirdly shaped and slippery.

    Pointability, though, remains a Steyr virtue, as quick, grab-and-aim exercises proved that the Steyr always came right up on target, while the CZ’s front sight invariably wound up way-low on me. Not a big deal for deliberate shooting, but I still like the way the Steyr's front sight is always RIGHT THERE when I grab it in a hurry. Unlike the CZ, I don’t have to hunt for it after a quick grab.

    SHOOTING: The CZ choked (failure to feed) on the second round fired, but worked flawlessly from that point on. Almost certainly nothing more than the “new gun break-in blues,” and nothing I got upset about. And it proved to be an easy shooting piece, a real pussycat.

    The Steyr, to my mind, was certainly a harder kicker. I realize this is contrary to the prevailing viewpoint around here, but there’s something about the Steyr’s sharp grip angle that really socks the web of my hand. The flip side, of course, is that there’s not as much muzzle flip – certainly a positive point.

    Honestly, the recoil isn’t all that vicious with either gun, it’s just that a whole lot of shooting with the Steyr is likely to leave me with a slightly sore hand, while I suspect that I could shoot the CZ all day long quite painlessly.

    One problem immediately came to light: the Steyr absolutely did NOT like the Czech S&B ammunition, delivering two or three misfires (light hits) out of every magazine load. Since the Steyr happily gobbled down all of the crappy Wolf ammo I could feed it, I have to think that the S&B ammo just has rather hard primers. However, the CZ had no problems with the Czech ammo, making me worry a bit about my Steyr’s sudden ammo pickiness (the Federal ammo, of course, worked fine in both guns).

    Anybody else out there have problems with S&B ammo in their Steyr’s, or am I the only one? I’m wondering if years of neglectful storage with the Steyr’s striker spring cocked (my fault, of course) has perhaps weakened it a bit. I did do the Steyr firing pin cleanout procedure – nothing out of the ordinary found.

    The CZ is your typical DA autopistol, firing double-action for the first shot, single action thereafter (unlike the famous CZ75, the CZ40B is NOT SA/DA selectable). Double action pull was not bad: fairly light, though a bit stagey. The CZ’s single action pull, however, was a grand disappointment: very light, but also VERY creepy. Almost Glocklike. My Steyr, of course, is your typical Steyr: a bit heavy (I never did get the trigger upgrade done) but short and fast. Honestly, I was amazed to discover that the Steyr actually had less trigger creep than the CZ (!).

    SIGHTS: This test, to my mind, confirmed the absolute superiority of Steyr’s unusual trapezoidal sights. Okay, I admit that I was dubious at first – but now, I’m a true believer. Quick to acquire, fast to accurately align, they’re flat-out better, in my view, than the conventional sights that everybody else uses.

    The CZ comes with perfectly good standard sights. However, though they are physically larger than the Steyr’s trapezoids, I found that they just didn’t line up as quickly for me (once spoiled by something superior, it’s hard to revert to the older generation, I guess).

    The CZ comes standard with kind of bogus “night sights,” which are actually nothing more than painted-on, phosphorescent dots. I tested them out in a dark, windowless bathroom at home, exposing them to bright light and then switching to total darkness. They initially showed impressively – just like tritium sights – but within two minutes they’d faded down to general uselessness. While they don’t detract from the gun in normal use, they honestly don’t work well enough to boast about, either.

    MY VERDICT: I am (by no imaginable stretch) a master shooter, but shooting two-handed isosceles in this side-by-side comparison, I always shot slightly tighter groups with the Steyr. When firing at about a one-round-per-second cadence, I discovered myself slightly vertically stringing the shots in the CZ. Credit the Steyr’s trapezoidal sights (which just seemed to align faster and easier for me) as well as the Steyr’s minimal muzzle flip. And debit the CZ’s awful single action trigger pull, which I just didn’t adapt to.

    While I like the CZ, I think I’m finally over my infatuation with Czech gunsteel. The CZ offers great build quality, great price, and near-perfect reliability, but when totaling up all the little things, I ultimately ended up preferring my trusty old Steyr.

  2. FlaChef

    FlaChef Guest

    Thanks for the well written report.
    You should see about the trigger upgrade, and check out the thread running about grip textures/ slip-ons.

    Not unheard of in any gun for one not to like a particular ammo it's twin will eat up. Usually it's the wolf that gived people problems though :?
  3. srfl

    srfl Guest

    I have both guns as well and discovered that the felt recoil was slightly heavier with my Steyr and muzzle flip much less than with the CZ.

    My Steyr is more accurate, but has suffered more malfunctions. My CZ hasn't malfunctioned once in nearly one thousand rounds.
  4. ThaiBoxer

    ThaiBoxer Active Member

    The "point" where the dip at the top of the backstrap meets the straight part of the backstrap, digs into my hand also, around the meaty area at the base of my thumb. I thought about Dremeling it to blend it more gradually into the rest of the backstrap.

    Iinstead I bought a Hogue Handall. That pretty well fixed the problem for me, plus the finger grooves add to controllability. I never thought I would like finger grooves, and I don't aesthetically, but the M40 is a no-nonsense utilitarian item for me. A bit of spray adhesive helps keep the Handall from "squirming" around in your grip, and is removable.


  5. mikey

    mikey Guest

    I did try doing the striker/firing pin cleanout procedure (and THANK YOU for showing me how to do it – I’d never have had the guts to attempt it otherwise) but even before I took it apart, the striker seemed to move freely. Once apart, it turned out that it really wasn’t that bad inside, but I still cleaned it out with WD-40, a Q-tip and a final light lube with Break Free. I just shot another 50 rounds through it the other day, and it still loves that El Cheapo Wolf ammo (!) but I haven’t had a chance to try it again with S&B.

    I actually contacted the original importer (what were they called, “GSI” or something like that?) about the trigger upgrade, but I balked at the $50 Fed-Ex shipping cost. By the time I decided to go for it, GSI was defunct. Now that Steyr is apparently back in business here in America, maybe it’s time to re-consider.

    And yes, I’m quite interested in those rubber grip sleeves. Heck, for $7.99 (or whatever they cost) they seem to be worth trying out. The slipperiness of my little Steyr is one of the nagging things that’s always bugged me about it. Maybe a rubber grip sleeve is the answer.
  6. bigtaco

    bigtaco Active Member

    nice range report. very thorough.

    i have heard others say that s&b primers are, in fact, relatively hard. i don't have any personal experience though.

    my first few hundred rounds with the steyr, the little humps in the backstrap got to me and i thought this thing had some real zip recoil wise. i don't know if i've built callouses or trained my nerves there or what, but i've shot 250 rounds out of it in a day with no trouble.

    tri/trap sights... they rock.

    i've been looking for a cz-52. the nice ones are 2xx.00 though. the ones in my price range look like parts guns. maybe one of these days i'll pony up real dough for a real example.
  7. mikey

    mikey Guest

    This is probably old news to you, but J&G Sales (in Prescott, Arizona) has been advertising CZ52’s in the Shotgun News for months now: $89.99 in “Very Good” condition, $99.95 in “Very Good Plus,” and $119.95 for “Hand Select.”

    The joker is that all those CZ52’s are *still* sitting somewhere in Europe! Last I heard, the latest ETA was March – but it seems like every time I ask, J&G seems to push the arrival date back yet another month.

    As for their actual condition, well, who knows? I’d have to see them for real to know for sure. But, if a “VG” CZ really is going to sell for only $89, it’s a bargain price indeed.
  8. bigtaco

    bigtaco Active Member

    what are the odds that any of them have matching numbers though? that is the lowest price i've heard of though. i'll start watching that. wait til they get them in and see if i can find anyone who bought one.
  9. ScottW

    ScottW Guest

    I've been thinking of a CZ52 as a fun gun. Saw a nice one at the show a few weeks ago but the guy wanted $240 for it. Then I found one for $125. I was prepared to pay that and it looked to be in good shape, until I got a gander at the bore. The amount of rust in there was absolutely incredible! Corrosive ammo and neglect had taken their toll on an innocent firearm.