The shooting industry is ever marching forward with new firearm and cartridge combinations intended to entice shooting enthusiasts away from more familiar platforms. Nevertheless, there are a few classic handgun designs which have not only withstood the test of time but have been widely copied, cloned and borrowed from by a variety of manufacturers.
These include easily recognized options like the Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector style double-action revolver, the Colt 1911 A1 semi-automatic and more recently the Gen 3 version of Glock's polymer-frame, striker-fired pistols. Among the most highly regarded and regularly cloned duty pistols of Europe is the CZ-75 chambered in 9 mm. Ceská zbrojovka Uherský Brod (CZUB) of the Czech Republic launched the original CZ-75 series of semi-automatic pistols in 1975.
The SAR USA Model 2000 as it comes in the box.
It was one of the early “wonder 9” pistols outfitted with the double-stack style of magazines that would eventually become the standard for pistols in this caliber. The CZ-75 quickly garnered a reputation for durability, reliability and a comfortable, user-friendly design. These desirable features, and the weak patent protections of the era led to this being a popular model to replicate. But not all clones are created equal.
That's why I was glad to hear that Sarsilmaz Firearms Corp. would be reintroducing its take on the CZ-75 to the United States through SAR USA as the Model 2000. Operating out of Istanbul, Turkey, Sarsilmaz has been manufacturing sporting- and military-grade firearms since 1880. Today, the company is the only privately held provider of sidearms for the Turkish National Police and armed forces.
A closer look at the controls on the left side of the frame.
In other words, it has a pretty good idea of how to put together a quality all-steel pistol for a fair price. The 2000 is a duty-size, short-recoil-operated semi-auto pistol that employs a locked-breech configuration. Cosmetically speaking, the CZ-75 platform has various interpretations, but this one leans more towards the Italian Tanfoglio style for its controls. The Turks are well known for producing top-notch alloy steels.
This pistol is wholly constructed of a high-chromium carbon steel, which is not quite a stainless steel but close. Applying the matte-black finish is a proprietary nitrocarburizing process with corrosion-resistant results comparable to a Melonite finish. The sights, controls and magazines are all steel as well. The only polymer components to be found in this gun are the magazine followers.
A closer look at the two white dots on the rear sight.
The beveled slide is topped with a set of three-dot combat sights and features canted cocking serrations at the rear. Unlike the original short-rail version of the CZ-75, the 2000's slide is fully supported by a pair of uninterrupted full-length rails instead of the four small metallic contact points typically installed in polymer-frame striker pistols. The slide rides inside of the frame instead of wrapping over the frame like many other modern semi-automatics.
This shortens the length of the cocking serrations but lowers the bore axis and gives the pistol a sleek, trim appearance. The removable front sight is secured by a screw, while the square notch rear sight is dovetailed into the slide. The bore of the 4.5" barrel is cut with land-and-groove rifling, making it safe to use with unjacketed bullets. The recoil assembly consists of a full-length steel guide rod supporting a single round-wire recoil spring.
The SAR USA Model 2000 with magazine removed.
The frame's dust cover is classically contoured, which is to say it doesn't have an accessory rail. The generously sized rounded trigger guard provides plenty of room for a gloved trigger finger, with just a hint of a chamfered recess where the trigger guard meets the grip frame. The steel bow trigger is long and deeply curved for a comfortable feel. The rounded exposed hammer is grooved for easier manual cocking.
The slide catch, thumb safety lever and magazine release button are all located on the left side of the frame. This pistol does not have a de-cocker. The grip frame is grooved along the front and back straps for added purchase with a beaver tail extension to protect the shooting hand from hammer bite. The soft rubber grip panels are secured to the frame with one screw each. The blued-steel, 15-round magazines feature flat metal baseplates and red polymer followers.
The SAR USA Model 2000 disassembled.
They drop free from the grip when the push-button magazine release is pressed. This is a traditional double-action single-action (DA/SA) pistol. With the hammer in the forward position, firing the first shot requires more than 12-lbs. of trigger pull. After the first shot is fired and the hammer has been cocked by the rearward movement of the slide, the trigger pull for subsequent shots drops to 5-lbs., 15-oz.
This gun can also be carried cocked-and-locked like a 1911 with the hammer fully cocked and the thumb safety engaged for a single-action trigger pull from the first shot fired. The old school, all-steel SAR USA 2000 was a real pleasure to take to the shooting range. Weighing in at 32.1-oz., unloaded, the added weight of the frame lends itself nicely to taming felt recoil. One of the most likable features of this pistol is how well it fits one's hand.
The SAR USA Model 2000 with four other magazines used in testing, which all worked without issue.
I'm not the only one who thinks that. The grip is not particularly narrow, but it's got all of the right curves in just the right places. Forming a shooting grip feels perfectly natural, so that the pistol just becomes an extension of the arm. The soft, rubber grip panels are nicely contoured and provide a just right amount of non-abrasive purchase. Although the grip frame provides plenty of room for those shooters with big mitts, it still fits my somewhat smaller hands like it was made for them.
I had a total of five factory magazines on hand for the range test. They all fed flawlessly and dropped free from the grip when the release was pressed. This pistol can safely handle +P loads with the understanding that a constant diet of hot ammunition will speed up the wear and tear on the springs and bore. With ammunition being as tight as it is right now, I couldn't shoot this gun as much as I wanted to, so I did my best to mix things up with the standard pressure test ammunition to check for reliability.
The SAR USA Model 2000 with the three different brands of 9 mm ammunition used in testing.
The rounds fired included practice and defense grade options, some steel-case rounds and U.S. varieties alongside imported brands. There were no malfunctions or mechanical issues of any kind in the course of testing. Formal accuracy testing was conducted from a bench rested position 25-yds. away from the targets. Federal Premium's American Eagle 147-gr. full-metal jacket load printed a best single five-shot group of 3.03" with a group average of 3.18".
Geco Red Zone 124-gr. jacketed hollow points yielded a best group of 3.14" with an average of 3.26". Red Army Standard's polymer coated steel case 115-gr. full-metal jacket knocked out a best group of 3.39" with an average of 3.49". The Model 2000 chambered in 9 mm is another example of the solid value that SAR USA's pistols provide.
The fit and finish of this gun was top notch throughout with a smooth, clean feel to the action and controls right out of the box. It ran reliably without the break-in period that some all-steel guns require. The weight and 4.5" barrel length of this particular model calls for a fairly sturdy holster if it's going to be carried concealed. But if you are looking for an affordably priced CZ clone with a comfortable grip and more moderate levels of felt recoil, then this SAR USA option deserves a closer look.