Firearms Reviews

CZ 75 TS Czechmate Parrot and the End of an Era

CZ makes some amazing competition pistols. The CZ 75 TS Czechmate was one of those. Even though it doesn’t dominate USPSA/IPSC Open and Limited divisions like the Shadow 2 dominates Carry Optics and Production divisions, it’s still worth taking a look at.

I guess I’m a day late and dollar short with this first impressions review. How’s that? Well, the CZ 75 TS Czechmate Parrot (which is a mouthful so I will refer to it as the Parrot from here on out) has been a grail gun that I’ve been wanting to add to the collection for a long time. My interest in it grew by leaps and bounds over the past year since I got far more involved with USPSA than in previous years. Especially since it could also be used to dip my toes in Open division which is something I’ve been wanting to do. A few months ago, I finally got my grubby mitts on one and as I started preparing this review I learned that CZ discontinued a few of their competition guns this year (2023) with the Czechmate and the Parrot (there is a difference which I will cover) being one of them. So there you have it, a day late and dollar short. Don’t disparage though, discontinued or not, this review is happening. 

Let’s start with a little disambiguation. The CZ 75 TS Czechmate and the CZ 75 TS Czechmate Parrot, or the Czechmate and the Parrot, are for all intents and purposes the same gun which was designed and built with IPSC Limited and Open division competition in mind. In other words, they are race guns. The Parrot is a limited edition variant of Czechmate. How limited? My understanding, while it may be inaccurate, is that CZ USA imported about 10 Parrots into the United States each year. There are a few differences between the variants which I will cover shortly as we tour the gun from muzzle to heel in the usual manner.

Regardless of the variant, they both present a complete package that makes the guns pretty much ready to race in an IPSC or USPSA match right out of the box after acquiring a compatible holster. Street price for a new in box Czechmate or Parrot, assuming one can find one in stock, is right around $3,300. Yeah, okay. I get it. That’s not exactly budget friendly. However, considering the other options for race ready contender race guns are tuned and customized 2011s. The CZ price tags are a much lower point of entry considering one can expect to spend two to three times that amount for a race ready 2011. Also consider that serious competitors usually buy two of them in order to have a standby backup pistol for major matches. 

So what can one expect to get for that cheddar? Well it starts with a large briefcase-sized hard-sided foam-padded case that can be configured to transport the handgun regardless of whether it is configured for open or limited division. The contents of which are as follows:

  • The pistol itself (marketing material indicates it was factory configured for open division, however it may be in limited configuration),
  • A large four port compensator,
  • A muzzle with a front sight,
  • A slide racker, 
  • A rear sight, 
  • A frame mountable gas pedal (or thumb rest),
  • A frame mounted optic mount, 
  • An optic mount mountable gas pedal,
  • A C-More SlideRide 6MOA red dot sight, 
  • A collection of hex and Torx wrenches necessary to reconfigure the pistol,
  • A few non-locking slide stop pins, 
  • A spare slide stop, 
  • A low power recoil spring,
  • Three (3) twenty (20) round magazines,
  • One (1) twenty-six (26) round magazine,
  • A cable lock, 
  • A pistol manual,
  • And an optic manual. 

In the case of the standard Czechmate variant, a spare 9mm barrel is also included.

We begin the muzzle to heel walk of the Parrot with either the compensator or the front sight integrated muzzle device both of which are threaded onto the barrel. The compensator, or comp, is big and heavy with four large ports. The weight does make the Parrot front heavy which I suspect helps minimize muzzle flip in conjunction with the ports and does make for a very fast return. The flip side of that is that I found myself putting extra effort to keep it from dipping below the point of aim on the return. Granted well timed follow up shots as the dot returns to the point of aim help to keep the muzzle from dipping too far and make for some incredibly fast splits. Another drawback of the front heavy configuration is that it doesn’t lend itself well to transitions. The inertia is noticeable and makes it more difficult to start and stop a transition. There may be some additional benefits to the compensator that I’m not aware of yet and may reveal themselves as I get more trigger time with it.

The front sight integrated muzzle device is not nearly as heavy as the comp. However, it doesn’t do anything to reduce muzzle flip or speed up recoil recovery. The integrated front sight design minimizes front sight movement during recoil considerably compared to front sights that are installed on the slide. With the front sight on the muzzle device, the front sight moves vertically during recoil. The front sight on the slide, the front sight moves vertically during recoil but also back and forth as the slide reciprocates with the pistol’s action. The difference in movement gave me the impression that I was able to establish a front sight focus for precise follow up shots faster. That said, I think a high visibility fiber optic sight would be far more effective than the black serrated front sight found on the muzzle device.

The traditional CZ 75 slide follows the attached muzzle device. As one can expect, it has that low profile that is characteristic of CZ pistols. While it does feature front and rear slide serrations, I still find it difficult to manipulate given the limited real estate available to establish a working grip. This can make clearing malfunctions challenging. The flip side of the coin here is that the low profile design means less slide mass. That means less reciprocating mass which translates into less recoil and fast operation which lends itself to competitive shooting where speed is important. 

Continuing along the slide on the right side, we find the ejection port and the external extractor. A bit further back and along the top of the slide, we find a dovetail where the fixed rear sight or the slide racker can be affixed. The fixed rear sight features a traditional square notch design that is black and serrated. The slide racker is a small simple horizontal design that can be oriented on either side of the slide. It should be noted that if it is oriented to the left side of the slide, then one will need to remove it in order to remove the slide from the pistol for cleaning as the optic mount will interfere with the removal. The Parrot’s slide racker is anodized purple whereas the standard Czheckmate’s slide racker is black.

Within the slide we have the cold hammer forged 5.23” threaded barrel which is chambered for 9mm Luger. I should mention that the pistol is designed to withstand pressures from 9mm Major loads which are desirable in order to make major power factor in USPSA and IPSC competitions and are considered to be required in order to be competitive in Open and Limited divisions at a high level. Under the barrel is a full length steel guide rod and the recoil spring.

Below the slide we have the steel CZ 75 large form factor frame. On the left side of the frame we first encounter three pre-drilled holes that are used to install the Limited configuration gas pedal, or thumb rest depending on the preferred nomenclature, or install the optic mount, which in the case of the Parrot happens to be anodized blue. The optic mount also includes several pre-drilled holes where a gas pedal may be affixed and configured in different angles. 

We’ll cover the optic mount and the included optic in a bit more detail soon, but for now let’s continue along the frame which will bring us to the slide stop that is also found on the left side. As mentioned earlier, the parts included with the pistol allows the user to swap out the traditional slide stop with a non-slide-locking pin. This configuration option shaves off an ever so tiny amount of weight and may be necessary in order to install some aftermarket gas pedals. It also leaves a smoother surface that could alleviate some hot spots on the support hand and may be preferable to some competitive shooters. Giving up slide lock is a fairly common practice that usually begins with competitors using custom magazines or customizing their magazines with a non-locking follower that allows stuffing a bit more ammo. 

Right after the slide stop one will find the manual thumb safety which is ambidextrous. The thumb safety is one of the most contentious features of this pistol at least among the aficionados that frequent the local matches that I do. We all understand that is absolutely necessary given it is a single action pistol. However, everyone has an opinion about its placement and design. I found it very difficult to actuate with the firing hand thumb mostly because I had a hard time reaching it which also means I had a hard time “riding it” while shooting. Thankfully there are several aftermarket options to alter its footprint and improve its usability. 

Just a bit further back we arrive at the hammer. The Parrot features a “Stealth” hammer which has a low profile design with a bit of material removed via three holes that reminds me more of a lever than a hammer. The standard Czechmate features a skeletonized competition hammer that is also found in several of their other competition pistols.

Heading down from the hammer we come across the large beaver tail that is a part of the wonderfully designed ergonomic grip that CZ is also known for. There are plenty of details here that can be appreciated such as the lack of sharp edges that can lead to discomfort and hot spots, the aggressive checking along the back of the spine and the front of the grip, the undercut under the trigger guard, and the checkering along the front of the trigger guard which is flat. The pistol is outfitted with thin aluminum grips which have a fair amount of texturing to them which feel really good in hand. Granted I would have preferred more aggressive texturing, but that is something that can be remedied with aftermarket grips if so desired. The Parrot gives us another splash of bright colors with a yellow grip on the left side and an orange grip on the right. 

The grips meet up flush with a flared magazine well at the bottom which is functional and helps with those high speed magazine changes which are easily initiated with the extended reversible magazine release button. As one can expect by now, the Parrot gives us yet another splash of color with a green magazine well which makes the red base plates that are exclusive to the Parrot magazines really pop. There really isn’t anything subtle about the Parrot. It is as vibrant as the name suggests. 

The last thing left on the frame to talk about is the trigger, which happens to be anodized red for the Parrot. The trigger is mostly flat with a slight curve at the bottom that provides an index for the trigger finger. The trigger pull is like butter. Given it is a hinged design there is a tiny bit of pre-engagement travel which can be adjusted with a set screw. By my best estimate the pre-engagement travel is about an eighth of an inch before we reach the wall. There is a microscopic amount of creep which is difficult to detect and I estimate to be about 1/32 to 1/16 of an inch before it breaks with just one ounce north of two pounds of pressure. The entire pull is short and smooth with a soft break that reminds me of a carrot snapping. The reset is short and tactile. It occurs when the trigger is let out about an eighth of an inch. Overall, it’s the smoothest and lightest trigger I’ve felt on a CZ that hasn’t been tuned by a gunsmith. 

Circling back to the optic mount and the optic. I may go into an in depth review of the C-More optic in a future post, but for the sake of brevity I will attempt to be brief. While it is, to the best of my knowledge, an older design, the optic is viable for competition given its large window and generous dot size. Even though it’s large, it is relatively light. There are few things about it that I don’t care for, but the one that pertains to this review is its size which seems to get in my way when I manipulate the slide racker with my support hand (my left hand) when the racker is oriented to the right side of the slide. 

Optic aside, the frame mounted optic behaves differently than a slide mounted optic during recoil. The dot moves far less when mounted to the frame. This is similar to how I described the movement difference between a slide mounted front sight versus a muzzle device mounted front sight. The difference in movement makes it considerably easier to call shots and track the dot.

That’s pretty much the CZ 75 TS Czechmate Parrot from muzzles to heel. Let’s turn our attention to how it shoots. I’ll start with a little disclosure – I didn’t send a lot of lead down range while it was configured for Limited division and spent most of my time with it so far while configured for Open. That said, I found the Parrot to be a pistol to be incredibly accurate and very easy to start shooting fast given how little it moves during recoil. Yes, the big old compensator had a lot to do with that as did the minimized movement of the dot (and the front sight). However, a lot of this also had to do with the fact that it weighs in at 45.9 ounces when configured for Limited division and 52.7 ounces when configured for Open division. An undesired side effect of this is that sometimes it’s easy to go too fast or at least faster than I am able to see and process information. That means that it will require a combination of getting more familiar with the pistol, improving practical marksmanship skills, and exercising a little more patience and restraint before attempting to go full throttle.

Overall I have mixed feelings about this pistol. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a fantastic pistol. My “mixed feelings” stem from their intended purpose now that they have been discontinued. On one hand, I see the pistol’s potential as a competitive platform for USPSA/IPSC Limited and Open divisions. While it provides a solid foundation with a relatively low cost of entry, it will likely need some customization to get it just right for the individual and their shooting style. The customizations that come to mind off the top of my head might include changing out the grips, the magazine well, the slide racker, the compensator, the optic, the optic mount, and the manual safety. Now considering that the Czechmate has been discontinued and the Parrot is a relatively rare variant, it’s not out of the question to consider the Parrot’s future collector’s value. I suppose we could also consider the same for the Czechmate, but given its availability I’d be far more inclined to customize it and put significant competition wear and tear on it. 

Now I’m not going to tell folks what to do with their stuff. If they want a Czechmate or a Parrot with the intention of making it a safe queen, then go for it. If they want one or two to run in competitions, then go for it. If one wants my suggestion for either of those purposes, then I would suggest the Parrot for the safe queen and the Czechmate for competition (especially since it includes an extra barrel). Either way, those of you who have had one of these on your radar may want to make a move while new ones are still in stock at some retailers. It’s hard to say how long that will be the case and it’s also hard to predict how the second hand market will behave as new in box supply diminishes.

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