The CZ Shadow 2 Compact As A Carry-Gun Pt.1 By:

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Does the CZ Shadow 2 Compact make a good carry gun? It’s something I’ve been wondering about and I wanted to explore the gun’s viability as a carry-piece. Since its original launch nearly a year ago, the CZ Shadow 2 Compact has been many things: well-received, sold-out, much talked about and even a little controversial for some in the shooting community.

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The CZ Shadow 2 Compact takes after its mythical bigger brother, the original CZ Shadow 2, but with different dimensions. The former is about one inch shorter lengthwise and approximately ¼ inch less height-wise than the latter. Its frame is made from aluminum instead of steel which reduces the Shadow 2 Compact’s weight to one less pound than the original.

My hunch had always been to “pass” on the Shadow Compact 2 as a carry gun since it famously shares the same action as the original full-size Shadow 2. The original isn’t considered drop-safe due to the omission of a firing pin block. I also called Cajun Gun Works in Louisiana, one of the most important entities with anything aftermarket or performance in the world of CZ pistols, and wanted to get their expert opinion.

During the call, I asked their gunsmithing and technical services department if perhaps the Shadow 2 Compact had a lighter firing pin with a heavier firing pin spring. The tech told me that pins and springs are identical between the smaller compact and larger standard pistol. For what it’s worth, he also added that Cajun Gun Works officially does not consider the Shadow 2 Series to be drop-safe. 

I’ve seen a few different forum discussions and YouTube videos of people anecdotally testing both their full-size and compact Shadow 2s on video to see if they failed informal drop tests or were struck with hammers, etc. I even thought about designing my own drop tests at home with primed, empty casings to see for myself. But I decided against it.

Not only do I want to avoid unnecessary damage to a gun that isn’t mine, but even ‘proving something’ at home is still anecdotal and not statistically significant. N = 1, after all. Things would be different if I had access to a laboratory and sophisticated equipment. Not to mention several CZ Shadow 2 Compact pistols for a better sample size along with a professionally-designed experiment. But I don’t, so it’s a moot point.

While they shouldn’t be taken as official advice, the anecdotal videos I referenced above did leave me with some doubts. Perhaps an unmodified stock pistol in the original factory configuration *could* be drop-safe.

The Shadow 2 Compact is Not Alone

I don’t have a definitive answer myself, perhaps that “maybe” at best. Even so, this is where the waters get murky for me. I don’t want to immediately dismiss the CZ Shadow 2 Compact on the basis that it may not be drop-safe. Plenty of gun owners have been carrying “Series 70” 1911 pistols for generations. Sure, many come with lighter titanium firing pins and those heavier firing-pin springs to overcome inertia from setting off a primer in a chamber pistol inadvertently. But it doesn’t change the fact that the well-loved 1911 isn’t 100% drop-safe due it its inherent design.

I doubt that most serious Staccato 2011 shooters got rid of their guns immediately after Ben Stoeger publicized his recent video clip on Instagram showing how the Staccato XC 2011, one of the Texas gunmaker’s premium models, wasn’t drop-safe. I certainly won’t call any of my friends who carry 2011s to stop carrying them because Stoeger dropped his own gun, either. Therefore, I’d be a hypocrite if I said the same thing about a dedicated shooter who wishes to carry the Shadow 2 Compact.

If someone doesn’t already do it already, perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea for an enterprising parts and accessories company to sell lighter titanium firing pins and heavier replacement springs for the Shadow 2 Compacts, as extra “insurance”, they way some 1911s include them. 

CZ Shadow 2 Compact As a Carry Gun
CZ Shadow 2 Compact pictured with a mounted Leupold DeltaPoint Pro reflex sight and a surefire tactical light.

The Shadow 2 USPSA Tragedy

I can guess that the likely reason for the Shadow 2, in general, always being brought up when discussing drop safety is most likely due to a tragic incident that occurred in upstate New York in 2018. During a match at an indoor range, someone dropped a loaded Shadow 2, which caused the gun to fire.

The bullet struck and killed another spectator at this USPSA match. Match-specific guns can be heavily modified and not in the same league as normal factory guns. It wouldn’t be fair to judge a factory-new, unmodified gun against a raced-out competition blaster.

Costs aside, the impetus for writing this piece comes from the “drop-safe” discussion. Prior to doing any research or calling Cajun Gun Works, I had a spirited text message exchange with a friend who loves these guns and is also an experienced shooter in his own right. He carries a Shadow 2 Compact, and I wouldn’t consider him to be a jackass with guns.

His point was, where’s the real threshold on a gun’s ability to be drop-safe? What if they’re drop safe 9 out of 10 ways, but not in the one outlying instance? This discussion made me ponder the whole aspect of guns being drop-safe and what that label means. Guns are inherently dangerous weapons by their very nature. Where is the threshold being overly concerned between their “safety” and the fact that they can accidentally maim or injure when handled improperly?

Glocks, for example, are designed to be drop-safe, but many people still accidentally injure themselves with one. Maybe not from dropping them, but this begs the question: Is “drop-safe” the only yardstick that defensive-minded concealed carriers should care about? What about the many pre-tensioned striker guns that people are literally carrying right now? Are those striker triggers “okay” as long as the gun is “drop-safe?”

What about the venerable 1911? What about a gun like the Staccato 2011 C2 model, which is more or less categorically identical to the CZ Shadow 2 Compact? The 2011 C2 or any other Staccato, like most 1911s don’t have firing pin blocks, but they’re still sold as carry or duty guns (and I am fine with this.)

At the end of the day, I’m not saying that the CZ Shadow 2 is perfectly drop-safe. I don’t know. Even though an authority on CZs like Cajun Gun Works officially told me they do not consider it as such, the cursory research I did, along with the discussion of other guns like 1911s/2011s and their level of inherent safety, made me ponder the case of the Shadow 2 Compact a little more deeply.

Maybe in its stock factory configuration the gun might really be drop-safe, or perhaps it isn’t. After spending more time than I ought to thinking about this, I’ve just come to realize the topic isn’t so binary.

Part 2 of this article explores the benefits and drawbacks of the gun itself, independent from the firing pin block and drop-safe discussion.