CZ Makes a 45 for the Americans: the CZ-97B

This pistol is up for auction at RIA on June 23.

Introduced in 1997, the CZ-97B is a .45ACP caliber addition to CZ’s line of globally popular handguns. However, the 97 has some substantial mechanical differences from the CZ-75 line. Most significantly, it locks on the front of the chamber and the ejection port instead of having locking lugs cut into the top of the barrel and underside of the slide. It also has a threaded and removable barrel bushing, unlike the 75s. This is an early 1998 production example, with wooden grips, no front slide serrations, and a solid front sight (newer examples have thinner aluminum grips, front serrations, and a fiber optic front sight).
The CZ97 has never been particular hot or popular, in large part I suspect because of its overall size coupled with a 10-round magazine. During the AWB when it was introduced in the US (and I’m sure the US is a primary market for a .45ACP CZ) this was not so much of a liability, but today there are many other options for a full-size .45ACP handgun with significantly more capacity.


  1. I’m a fan of my 1999 example – great trigger, reasonably accurate (although I suspect a set of adjustable sights would do wonders) with factory ammo, and recoil is not as noticeable (a 9mm Colt Combat Commander. The wood grips are a bit chunky, but comfortable, and the bushing only has one detent on this early model.

  2. The Ruger P-series pistols (introduced in 1985) are also Browning-derived and lock up on the chamber/slide in the same way. The Ruger design uses a swinging link and no separate barrel bushing (barrel rides in a “bushing” that is a part of the slide.)

    • I would like to point out that John M. Browning did not use the ejection port in the slide as a single surface for locking the breech. This is an idea of modern “improvers”. Maybe Browning had good reasons for using two separate locking lugs.

      • Ejection port lock surface looks a very clever improvement over multi lug hidden in the slide constuction. lt is easier to manufacture, stronger, safer and more controllable during usage. ln fact, only a single lug works in multi lug barrels initially and others, through long usage, begin to work as being peened by discharge blasts both rearward as producing and downwardly as reducing the lock surfaces. ln coil type recoil springed pistols, this type of locking is first appeared in French MAS pistols as an economical concept and became popular after SigSauer handguns.

        • There is one more detail and you as man of manufacturing background will understand. When you opt for two or more contact locking surface sets, you need to apply extremely tight tolerances to have them engaged simultaneously. In practice this never happens as they gradually (thru your mentioned peening) reach close to equal seating, but never perfect.

          Single locking surface via ejection port is small, further reduced by barrel tilt inlet – not the best solution. More engagement surface, the better. I like it more the old fashioned way.

          • Of course, it can be argued that the cuts/ bosses can be produced by single tool without indexing. In that case it is consistency of tool maintenance and set-up which plays the major role.

          • Best approach to get maximum locking surface, should be, to clean downwardly swaged peening projections through discharge impacts which pushing the barrel out of lock, after a well calculated usage period, follwed by reheatreating.

      • The ejection port/oversized chamber lockup variant of the Browning system first showed up on the French model 1935S version of the Model 1935A service automatic in 7.65 x 20mm. Both pistols were designed by Charles Gabriel Petter (1880-1953), a Swiss-born engineer who later worked for SiG in Switzerland;

        The 1935S version was developed in the 1937-38 time frame to be more easily and rapidly mass-produced than the more elegant, but also more tricky to machine, Model 1935A.

        Any resemblance between the M1935A and the SiG P-210 is not coincidental; Petter was largely responsible for the 210 design, as well.



        • Main differences between P210 and Model 1935;

          – Kidney shaped cam under barrel developed by Sig engineers,

          – Slide rails nestled within the frame,

          – Trigger release Lockwork constructed with a definite two stage let off.

          • It’s interesting to note that the French Model 1950 9 x 19mm service auto, the successor to the 1935 series, was basically an enlarged and strengthened M1935S. It served the French forces very well until replaced by a variant of the Beretta M92 in the late 1980s.



  3. I wonder if anyone tried to fit a suppressor and a slide-lock to a modified example. There may be some merit in that, but then again the result may be another “offensive pistol” like the Mark 23…

  4. “CZ97 has never been particular hot or popular, in large part I suspect because of its overall size coupled with a 10-round magazine.”
    What about adverts? Does they made some in 1990s USA? More general what was brand recognition of ČZ-UB in 1990s USA?

    • Brand recognition has been commendable, but there are too many choices, especially in .45 Gov.1911 – all American killer pistol.

      Btw. Army of CR (cute little expeditionary outfit) has penchant for exotic stuff. They bought some CZ75 in military guise not untill 2009. Police was not interested, so company briskly offered model D (compact) with aluminum frame. There is always a Glock lurking around the corner.

        • Maybe American shooters are finally realizing that no, the .45 ACP is not more powerful than the world-standard 9 x 19mm. Something the U.S. Defense (War) Department has known since 1945.

          The first proposal to replace the .45 with the 9mm dates to 1948- and was derailed by the Korean War.

          9mm pistols and SMGs were used extensively by U.S. special operations forces in Vietnam, to the point that the U.S. Navy SEAL basic training manual (1974) lists the MK22 Mod 0 pistol as the standard SEAL sidearm; it was otherwise known as the Smith & Wesson Model 39. The standard SMG is the Swedish Carl Gustaf M45 in 9mm, with the S&W M76 “clone” as “limited standard”. The 1911 .45 pistol and M3 .45 SMG are listed as “obsolescent”, and the old Thompson isn’t even mentioned.

          The major complaint with the adoption of the Beretta M92 as the U.S. Pistol M9 in 1986 wasn’t its caliber, it was that the open-top slide/aluminum frame combination did not stand up well to sustained use of full-power service ammunition. (This was a long-standing complaint with both the earlier Beretta M951 and the Walther P.38 as well, BTW.) The result wasn’t a return to the 1911, it was the adoption of SiG automatics with fully-enclosed slides in 9mm as “substitute standard”, and more recently the adoption of the SiG P320 in 9 x 19mm as the new standard U.S. service pistol;

          The .45 ACP round has been an anachronism for about a century. While many may mourn its passing, you really can’t argue the facts and figures, “stopping power theory” fantasies to the contrary. When approximately 350 to 400 foot pounds (475-542J) of kinetic energy is applied to a human body, that body is going to suffer about the same amount of physical damage, whether the application is by a large projectile at low velocity, a medium-sized projectile at medium velocity, or a small projectile at high velocity.

          IOW, no matter whether you’re shot with a .45 ACP, a 9 x 19mm, or a 7.62 x 25mm, you’re hurt just as bad.



          • Lets see what caliber is in following automatic pistol in statistics I linked:
            1. 9×19 Parabellum
            2. .22 WMR
            3. 9×19 Parabellum
            4. 9×19 Parabellum
            5. 9×17 Kurz [.380 Auto]
            While 1,3,4,5 are not surprise for me, number 2 is mind-boggling. While I was aware of that particular automatic pistol I did not except it to be so popular.

  5. EAA also made a CZ-75 .45, the “Witness”. Does it have the same technical quirks and size hugeness, or is it really just a .45 CZ-75?

  6. My impression is that the Witness is a reason the CZ75 never really took off in this country. I know friends who consider it just another “cheap foreign import semiauto.” I realize that’s a misimpression, but that’s marketing.

  7. Where is the bleeping link to RIA?
    Why cant you make a prominent, clear visible link to them (Rock Island Auctions)?
    Is that so difficult?

    • “Why cant you make a prominent, clear visible link to them (Rock Island Auctions)?
      Is that so difficult?”
      If you are not able to detect it then you might just do as follow (tested in Firefox browser, but other might work too):
      Press [left] ctrl + u
      Press [left] ctrl + f
      type rockislandauction
      it highlight fragment containing this phrase, while it is not link you are looking for then press enter

      However, I want to note that I did not have problem with finding that link, even without resorting to above described procedure.

  8. One thing that did not help sales was when Col Cooper gave it a thumbs down. It was in his “Cooper’s Commentaries” in that era. If you think about it, this gun is a lot like a Bren Ten in 45ACP. Cooper liked the CZ-75, other than it being in 9mm. So one would think this would have been a slam dunk.

    Copper did not elaborate on what he did not like about it–I can only guess that it would not properly fit the hands of too many students.

    If it had, back then, Cooper’s endorsement, and had become the go-to pistol when he reconnected with Gunsite, maybe it would have taken off?

    Regarding 9mm and 45ACP. With good ammo, either is fine, but we did not always have good ammo. A lot of hollow points did not expand. Everyone has a theory or formula of stopping power, but accefontal evidence is the only thing worthwhile for a lot of people. McBride’s account from WWI was that the FMJ 45 put people down and the FMJ 9 was iffy. Take it or leave it, but that was what was being said so that was what people went with. McBride, by the way, suggested (IIRC) a 6mm intermediate cartridge as the ideal infantry round, so he was not of the bigger is better mindset. My personal opinion is that 45 has an edge if ammo fails to expand–but I tend to carry 9mm more than 45ACP because it is more compact.

    • Should have been “Anecdotal evidence”

      And CZ does make really good guns. The most accurate handgun I ever shot was a CZ75.

      • Cooper helped design the bren 10, that might have had some pull on why he didnt like it. I have a newer 97b and love it, very accurate, fits well in my hands and the recoil isnt bad. No complaints from me about it.

    • Not disagreeing with you, but in the mid-1970s, when Dr. Martin Fackler of the U.S. Army Wound Ballistics study project (Infantry School) looked at medical reports and etc. from the ETO in WW2, he learned to his surprise that U.S. .45 230-gr. FMJ and German 9mm 124-gr. FMJ delivered almost exactly the same number of the much-desired “one-shot stops” with center torso area hits; about 68%. And that the .32 ACP and .380 ACP weapons, like Walther PPs and PPKs, Beretta M1934s and 35s, and the British .38 S&W revolvers, all performed at about 50%.

      Even the derided Japanese 8mm Nambu cartridge was good for 55%, about the same as the U.S. .38 Special used by the OSS. Considering both had almost exactly the same muzzle energy (about 240 FPE/ 325J) this probably shouldn’t be too surprising.

      The fact is that everybody’s pistols and SMGs back then were doing about the same amount of damage, regardless of actual bore specs.



      • “(…)SMG(…)”
        This is crucial, independently from it visual or perceived terminal effect, 9×19 is just lighter than .45 Auto, just look for table here:
        cartridge mass for 9×19 NATO is 12,6 g, for .45 Auto is 20,9 g, while maybe not much nuisance in case of automatic pistol and carrying limited number, there is big difference for sub-machine guns, to better depict that situation: mass of 100 rounds of .45 Auto is equivalent to 165 rounds of 9×19 Parabellum and mass of 100 rounds of 9×19 Parabellum is equivalent to 60 rounds.
        And this is counting only cartridges mass, without magazine which if made from same material would probably even make this comparison less favorable for .45 Auto as it is just bigger geometric-wise.

        That being said both cartridge are of 1900s and nonetheless both are still alive today.

        • is: “(…)both cartridge(…)”
          should be: “(…)both cartridges(…)”

          is: “(…)of 1900s(…)”
          should be: “(…)of 1900s vintage(…)”

  9. Interesting WWII statistics and WWI anecdotes posted above. In particular I found the 9mm vs. .45 stop percentages somewhat surprising. Disregarding such arcana as tissue disruption/wound channels etc. it seems likely the smaller, faster bullet might pass thru the target and not transfer energy as efficiently.
    Bullet profiles might have a significant effect as well. 9mm FMJ is noticeably “pointier” than .45 ACP, and hollowpoints that fail to expand are essentially ball ammo.
    The heavy and “slow” .45 has proven effective for a long, long time. Advances in bullet construction are said to bring 9mm ammo to a comparable level. (These same advances have been applied to other calibers, including .45.)
    If one resides in a jurisdiction that limits magazine capacity to 10 rds
    AND prohibits the use of expanding bullets, I reckon .45 would be the more effective choice. In these areas wadcutters, SWC or RNFP bullets might have an edge.
    Are seven rounds of modern 9mm as effective as 7 rds of .45 ACP? Are 10 rds more effective than seven of .45? I doubt anybody knows for sure.
    But when the chips are down I will reach for my trusty .45.

  10. While caliber differences are arguable, having a firearm that the shooter can carry appropriately and shoot effectively is what matters most. A well practiced shooter with a 9mm kurtz is a more dangerous opponent than a casual shooter with a pistol of any caliber.

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