It’s been roughly eight and half months since I first got my hands on a CZ Shadow 2, slapped a Trijicon SRO on it, and started shooting it in USPSA matches. It’s taken far more time than I would have expected to put roughly a thousand rounds down range with it, but that has an explanation which this post will get into. Regardless, I now consider a pistol broken in once it reaches this round count and, as such, feel it is due for a follow up review.
Those of you who read my first impressions review on the CZ Shadow 2, which I’ll refer to as the Shadow, the Shadow 2, or simply the S2 from here on out, might recall that I was pretty much enamored with it. There were a few things that I didn’t care for or I thought could be better. For example, I thought the grips could use a little bit of palm swell to better fill out the hands and allow me to get a better grip on it. I also didn’t care for the 8 lbs double action trigger pull. I thought it was too long and too heavy for a competition pistol. I also said that it was easy to look past those things when running the gun and I meant that. However, given the amount of aftermarket support available to customize the gun, I decided to send it off to Cajun Gun Works to have them work their magic on the trigger, shorten up the trigger reach and reset, and add a barrel bushing. That took a little while during which forced a brief hiatus from shooting the S2 at the local USPSA matches.
Having Cajun Gun Works “cajunize” the Shadow 2 was, in my opinion, well worth the wait. The trigger reach fit my hands much better and the lighter double and single action trigger pulls were phenomenal. I heard rumblings that “cajunizing” comes at the cost of durability and reliability. That may very well be the case, but I have yet to see any signs of that. Yes, that is entirely anecdotal. Additionally, a thousand rounds is hardly high mileage, so it may simply be too early to tell. That said and since I expect the round count on the S2 to start increasing at a much faster rate, I’m currently planning on picking up a few spare parts that are notorious for reducing reliability or fail in Shadow 2s as they wear. This includes springs (hammer spring, firing pin spring, trigger return spring), recoil spring and buffer, and slide stop pins.
After having the Shadow 2 “cajunized”, I turned my attention to the grips. Some folks consider the thin blue aluminum grips to be essentially trash for folks with medium to large size hands. I don’t know that I would go so far as to call them trash. They are visually stunning and I found them to work fairly well for me. However, I have meaty hands with short sausage fingers and have found that thinner profile grips tend to feel better. Granted I didn’t do any sort of testing, so my preference is entirely subjective although my practical marksmanship has continued to improve. Nevertheless, I continued to feel that the factory aluminum grips on the Shadow 2 could benefit from a little palm swell. After holding several other Shadow 2s at local matches, I decided to replace the grips with some aggressive solid brass palm swell grips from LOK Grips. These are sometimes referred to as “cheater grips” because they add roughly another 9 ounces to the already heavy gun which dampens the already tame recoil even more.
The thumb safety is another feature of the Shadow 2 that I didn’t care for. It’s simply too small for me to operate with my thumbs. However, I haven’t attempted to address it because I haven’t found a reason to in the context of shooting USPSA with this pistol. The Carry Optics division I most often shoot in requires that DA/SA start a stage with the hammer forward. As such, there is no need to engage or disengage the safety since it never starts “cocked and locked”. Frankly, I had completely forgotten about my opinion about the manual thumb safety until writing this review. I might even go so far as to say I appreciate the design of the thumb safety now because it doesn’t get in the way and is easy to forget about.
The final modification I attempted before reaching the one thousand round count mark was increasing the magazine capacity. My first attempt at this was by outfitting the magazines +4 base pads from Taran Tactical Innovations (TTI) while replacing the follower and spring with a Grams spring and follower combo from the Ben Stoeger Pro Shop. In theory this should have resulted in magazines with a 21 or 22 round capacity. However, I couldn’t get the magazines to feed reliably with the Grams spring and follower at all. Additionally, the maximum capacity I was able to squeeze out of the 19-round CZ magazines was 20 with the TTI +4 base pad and the factory spring and follower. A closer look at the base pad description on the Taran Tactical website states that they are only designed to work the 17/18 round Mec-Gar magazines. My mistake. I should have done a bit more research before investing in this rabbit hole that didn’t yield the dividends I mistakenly expected. I ended up swapping out the modified factory magazines for a set of 140mm 23-round MBX Small Frame CZ magazines with the competition follower, which is what I should have done from the beginning rather than attempting to save a few bucks. The MBX magazines are a little pricey, but they run reliably and the extra capacity provides a lot more flexibility to plan a reload on a USPSA stage.
The Trijicon SRO continues to do its job as expected. It’s held zero and it continues to be my favorite pistol mounted optic for competition use. I continue to hold a very strong opinion that the larger 5.0 MOA dot variant is the way to go for pistol competitions that demand accuracy at speed to win. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – size matters and bigger is better.
At this point, the Shadow 2 is configured and customized the way I want it. I have no additional plans to make changes to it beyond routine maintenance as I continue to compete with it in USPSA Carry Optics division matches including my first area championship attempt which is coming up in early June. If anything and assuming I continue to get more serious about competing in this USPSA division, then there is a chance that I will acquire a second Shadow 2 and set it up the same way in order to have a backup gun. If that does happen, then it probably won’t take place until much later this year or early next year. Next time I write about this pistol will be when the round count reaches approximately 5,000 rounds or it suffers some sort of failure. Until then, I remain of the opinion that the CZ Shadow 2 and the Trijicon SRO should be strongly considered by anyone who is at least semi seriously considering competing in the USPSA Carry Optics division.