Smith 1911A1, Wilson Tactical KZ-45, or CZ 97-B?


November 27, 2003, 12:25 AM
I strongly prefer .45 ACP for autoloaders, and I own several (Sig P-220, H&K USP, Glock 36, and Colt, Kimber and two Springfield 1911A1s). Eventually, I plan to buy another .45 ACP semiautomatic; I have narrowed my choices to: (1) the new Smith 1911A1, (2) the Wilson KZ-45, and (3) the CZ 97B.

I believe the Smith will be a first-quality 1911A1, comparable to similarly priced (~$650) Springfields and Kimbers.

The Wilson “tactical” KZ-45 is somewhat more expensive (~$1050), but it loads 10+1 and has Wilson’s excellent quality, accuracy, reliability, durability, and customer service.

This leaves the CZ 97-B. I am very impressed with my CZ 75-B; its quality, accuracy, reliability, durability, and overall VALUE have been superior. Further, everything I read regarding the 97B suggests it is simply a terrific .45 ACP: (1) 10+1, (2) Browning (BHP) design approach, (3) great quality, (4) outstanding reliability and durability, (5) superb fundamental strength, (6) excellent accuracy, and (7) COST UNDER $500. However, it is a big sidearm and my greatest concern with the 97B is CAN IT REALISTICALLY BE CONCEALED (note: I have no problems concealing full-size 1911A1s)?

Therefore, two questions for our members:

a) Smith 1911A1, Wilson KZ-45, or CZ 97B . . . and why?
b) Practically, can the CZ 97B be concealed easily (similar to a full-size 1911A1)?

Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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November 27, 2003, 01:28 AM
George Hill, one of our moderators, did a very interesting review of the CZ-97B on his Web site. See here ( to read it.

November 27, 2003, 07:36 AM


I remember reading George’s piece early in my “quest” re the CZ 97B. George -- I suspect from years of TFL and THR communications -- is a big guy. We exchanged e-mails or PMs sometime ago re the 97B’s “concealability”, which he (along with many others) suggest only marginally differs from a MilSpec 1911A1. No doubt, the 97B is a GREAT firearm and a superb value. Only time will tell what I’ll decide . . . and there’s always a Valtro.

Happy Thanksgiving.

November 27, 2003, 07:45 AM
"Browning (BHP) design approach, "

What the heck? CZ97 and the HiPower?
There is nothing common.
The CZ97 is a CZ75 with Browning-SIG barrel locking.

(IMHO the CZ97 is the best of the three you mentioned.)

Walt Sherrill
November 27, 2003, 09:06 AM
Most of the CZs (75, 85, 97) use a variant of the Browning barrel / lockup design, but so do the vast majority of modern semi-auto pistols.

Other than that, CZs have NOTHNG in common withe Browning Hi-Power design. They are fundamentally different guns that resemble each other physically.

(You have only to detail strip them both to see they are totally different -- from the trigger and transfer bar mechanism, to the fact that the BHP is Single-Action only, to sear and hammer design, etc., etc.)

November 27, 2003, 10:04 AM
I don't have much experience with the others on your list, but fwiw here's my experience with the 97b. I like it very much, it feels great in my hand and is very accurate, but it hasn't been without some issues.

Out of the box it had feeding problems with all ammo that I tried. Occasionally rounds would nosedive into the bottom of the oddly curved ramp and jam there. An 18# Wolff recoil spring improved matters but it still occasionally balked with hollowpoints. Some light grinding and polishing of the feedramp and it now seems to feed everything reliably if not extremely smoothly. Eventually I'm going to have the mag retaining button modified to hold the mags flush (there's a small gap between the grip and mag baseplate) and the higher placement of the rounds relative to the chamber should make it feed like butta.

As to concealability, I've actually carried it concealed IWB, but I'm a big guy and for some the wide grip might be hard to hide. I now have a CZ PCR that is my main carry weapon.

To sum up, it took some tweaking to get it to where I feel I can rely on it, but I liked the look, feel, and accuracy so much that I really wanted to make it work out, and it did. Most other owners I've heard from haven't had the difficulties I faced but it's not unheard of.


November 27, 2003, 10:13 AM
Well I love 1911's and I love CZ' this is a rough thread :scrutiny:

The S&W aside from its teething problems and recalls is a first class 1911.
The look and feel is like any other nice one.........If it runs outa the box like it should its hard to beat.

The KZ is a Wilsonized Bull framed Kimber poly framed Hi Cap......If it were me..Id get the Kimber version of the same gun and have alot of money for ammo.................

The CZ97 is the best deal on a 1" @ 25 yds gun you can buy. The grip dimensions are the ONLY reason I dont have mine anymore..the front to back thickness is just a tad to big..and Ive got big paws also.

I say for the money, hands down the 97 is the way to go..................

Im sure youre all SHOCKED by that answer :what:

Shoot well............

November 27, 2003, 10:14 AM
I briefly owned a 97B and was pretty impressed. If I wasn't such a 1911 nut I would have kept it. If you have no problem concealing a full size 1911, I think you will find the 97B concealable. It is taller and a little bigger around in the grip, but I don't think that will make too much more of a challenge.


PS PCRCCW is right on the Kimber/Bul/Wilson thing. I had a Bul M-5 and was pretty impressed. I then came across a deal on a Kimber Pro Carry Ten II and took that. Also a neat pistol. I don't see spending the extra on the Wilson. The Bul and Kimber are substantially identical. If Charles Daly ever gets the Bul's back in country, you may want to just buy one of those. Makes for a light, comfortable hi-cap 1911. Not much to fault in that! I just wish I could get one in .38 Super....

November 27, 2003, 10:15 AM
Of your choices & considering what you already have in your collection, I'd go w/ the SW 1911.

Dave T
November 27, 2003, 02:07 PM
The KZ is a Wilsonized Bull framed Kimber poly framed Hi Cap......If it were me..Id get the Kimber version of the same gun and have alot of money for ammo.................

PCRCCW in not correct and neither is Grayrider. The Wilson KZ-45 is not the BUL or Kimber Polymer frame. It is a unique and different frame made exclusively for Wilson in South Africa. It is no wider at the widest point than a single stack 1911. The front strap is more square in contour, allowing for the dedicated, double stack mag. BUL and Kimber magazines will not fit in the KZ-45.

The full size KZ magazine holds 10 rounds and no more. It is not an abreviated, castrated 12 or 14 round magazine. Wilson designed the gun with the idea of making a 10 round 45, not a 13 round gun that only held 10.

I have both a full size KZ-45 and the Compact version. Between the two I have well over 5000 trouble free rounds. They are excellent 1911 variations but don't confuse them with the other two.

November 27, 2003, 04:42 PM
I've seen far too many broken or otherwise poorly QC'd S&W 1911s to recommend them at this juncture. Several had 20lb trigger pulls and problems with the FP block releasing, quite a few more came back for problems with reliability, and I've seen a broken slide stop and a broken bbl bushing. Smith needs to get their QC under control, not to mention comeback to reality when it comes to pricing their magazines. You can buy at $25 buck Wilson/Rogers (marked Wilson, at that) at S&W's low low price of $38? What a deal!

That said, the Wilson KZ had its share of teething problems as well, but they seem to be pretty good now. My big issue is that although the width is comparable to a standard single stack 1911, they just don't feel "right." Too boxy at the front. Much better than the Kimber/Bul Polymer guns in my opinion though. And the KZ's accuracy and trigger are usually extremely good.

The 97B is an excellent firearm, that I would <gasp> put in the same catagory as the Sig 220ST. Superior DA triggers than most large bore autoloaders, good ergonomics and excellent accuracy make it easy to hit with. If you are out to get a new .45 autoloader and don't neccessarily want a 1911 pattern, this is an excellent choice. I've not experienced problems with the plastic guide rod or using hollowpoints, although I did put in the beefier 18lb recoil spring.

Kentucky Rifle
November 28, 2003, 11:16 AM
I was shocked when I saw the new S&W 1911 at my gunshop. It was priced at about TWICE your figure. This gunshop usually has GREAT prices! I've purchased 14 guns there. (All great deals.) Maybe this was just his first S&W 1911 and he wants to keep it a while. Well, he just might at the tag price! I kinda like those Wilson KZ's.


November 29, 2003, 09:06 AM
FYI, right now GunBroker has a NIB Smith 1911A1 for $650 (and with no reserve price). I mention this only because they routinely can be purchased for a good deal less than local gun shop prices (of course, you have to pay shipping and an FFL fee in addition, but you do not have to pay sales taxes).

November 29, 2003, 12:53 PM
I'd say go with the CZ 97, as you already have a bunch if 1911 pattern pistols. I have a CZ 97 that I'm very fond of, it's a pleasure to shoot and accurate. This pistol is really not any larger than a 1911, just has a slightly fatter grip frame and a longer trigger reach (in DA mode).
To counter the bigger grip size, I sanded down my grips, made quite a difference. There are serrations on the front and back straps, so the smooth grips are offset by them, allowing a firm purchase on the gun.
The CZ works well for me in IDPA CDP divison, carries just like a 1911, C & L. Cost me $500 (here in Calif. no less!) and shoots like a $1K gun. What's not to like?:cool:

November 29, 2003, 01:07 PM
I don't know much about the others, only that my 97B is an absolute joy to shoot. I've modified it slightly with a stiffer 18 lb. Wolff recoil spring (use the one for the 75B) and replaced the wood grips with Hogue grips for the 75B. To properly install the grips, you need to place them in almost boiling water for about 40 seconds and quickly work to install on the 97B. The resulting gun is not as wide and I find easier to grip and control. An absolutely wonderful .45 to shoot.

George Hill
November 29, 2003, 01:45 PM
I'm 5 foot 11 inches and 250 pounds. I used to be able to bench 350 and slap the whole stack on the butterfly machine with 2 dumbells on top... that was before I tore my rotorcuff in my right shoulder... It never healed right so I am down to 250. I used to be 6 foot even before I had my cervical spine fused. So now it looks like I hunch to 5'11". So I don't know if I'm a big guy anymore. :(

The guns in question... I'd say it's a split between the KZ and the CZ. I love them both, and to be frank, the KZ is one of the best 1911 variants you can get. I liked it better than a custom Ed Brown that cost twice the price. Then again the 97 is more accurate and even half the price of the KZ.
Then there is the factor that .45's should be made of metal. Give the choice between the two, it would just be a matter of who is paying for it. Sure, I'd take a KZ, but if I'm spending my own cash - it's all about the CZ-97B.
There is the poly coat and the blued... I like the poly. It's a tough finish that will let the gun last a lifetime. But the 97 is such a fine gun... it's like coating a Aston Martin in Rhino-Liner. One day I'll get a high-polished blued example, with some fine wood grips on it... not that the factory ones are not nice or anything... but it just begs for something more exotic.

November 29, 2003, 11:34 PM
To reiterate my bit from the 'CZ-97B' post:

I have a 1911, Sig 220, and CZ-97B. I shoot them off against each other, and the CZ-97B is noticibly easier to get tight (one hole vertical slit) groups.

I don't have an explanation, just the observed results.

November 30, 2003, 06:27 PM
Don't know about the other models, but the SW1911 is a dandy shooter:

Good Luck...


December 1, 2003, 08:23 AM
I recently purchased a S&W1911. I have only put ~200 rounds thru the gun so far, but haven't had a single problem with it as of yet. My gun is post recall so no problem with the firing pin safety. I bought the gun at a local pawn shop for $680 NIB. I haven't fired it on the 25yd range yet. I have had it on the 15yd range twice and have had great accuracy results. A slight bump on the rear sight and this thing is the most accurate pistol I have ever shot. I am completely satisfied with this purchase and I love shooting it. It's nice to hit what you are aiming at. I haven't shot many other 1911 pattern guns so I really can't make an objective comparison between this S&W and any other brand. I have read a few posts with the opinion that the Smith is overpriced. It's cheaper than the Kimber's and the Wilson's I was looking at and a bit more than the Springfield's I was considering. I think it was a reasonalble price.

All that being said, I was torn between the CZ97 and the S&W1911 also. I wasn't able to find anything bad written about the CZ. The price was certainly appealing. I was able to handle one at the NRA convention in Orlando this past spring. It's a thing of beauty I'll tell ya. It just feels of quality when you pick it up. Built like a tank I'm sure. A differnt look with the slide running inside the frame and the full length dust cover as opposed to the traditional 1911 format. I don't know why they put a plastic guide rod in it, as Ogre said it just don't belong. I'm sure you can find a steel one if you are so inclined.

What swayed my decision to the Smith was first off is that it is American made. Even with the stigma of Smith being a Clinton butt kisser, which is when they were owned by a British outfit by the way, I will buy American whenever I can. The other thing that swayed my decision was the CZ's grip size and the length to the trigger. I have what I'd call medium sized hands with long fingers and the trigger is a long reach. It most likely is because of the front to back dimension of the grip. Not a deal killer by any means but not optimal for my hand size. If I had a spare $500 right now I'd buy one in a heart beat. I'll bet it's a great value and will become very popular in the near future. Too bad that popularity will most likely cause a price hike also. I think now would be a good time to get one if you want it.


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