Some people may find it difficult to believe, but this is the handgun that I shoot best with.

The pistol is Norinco’s iteration of the famous CZ85 pistol.

I suppose it’s because I used to own a CZ75B years ago. My training with the previous handgun probably translated directly into proficiency with this one. After all, the two guns share the same weight, size, and operating system. Even the shape of the grips appears to be identical.

NZ85B Specs and Features

It’s a handsome-looking piece, just like the CZ85B it was patterned after.

Its operation is straightforward, the control levers are well-located, and each lever is properly serrated to provide good traction. The safety switch on this gun is ambidextrous; the slide release is on the left side.

The magazine release is also very neatly configured, so that you don’t accidentally dump the magazine while taking the gun through its paces.

A pronounced beavertail protects your hands from slide bite; the front edge of the trigger guard is scalloped and textured, in case you want to brace the index finger of your weak hand against it for stability.

The NZ85B holds 15 +1 rounds of 9mm, and fires single- or double-action. The rear sight can be adjusted for windage, although the handgun arrived perfectly zeroed, right out of the box.

The mating of slide, barrel, and frame are all tight—there are no rattles even when you shake the gun violently. This, I surmise, is what gives it such inherent accuracy.

I was initially suspicious about how reliably the gun would perform given the tight tolerances it appeared to manifest. My experience with 1911’s taught me that the tighter the gun is built, the more vulnerable it becomes to fouling. When enough dirt gets in between those very tight-fitting parts, the gun begins to malfunction.

(This is why most combat and defensive firearms are built with a nominal amount of play between their moving parts—it ensures that dirt, grime, and powder residue getting in between the moving parts don’t immediately jam the firearm.)

The double action pull on my particular example of the NZ85B is not light, but it is smooth enough to make my first shot out of the holster count. In single action mode, the trigger breaks at about 4 pounds, which makes for reasonably accurate shooting.

Finally, the gun’s barrel is chrome plated, to increase wear resistance and make it easier to clean after range sessions.

Getting Ready to Rumble

When the gun arrived, it was taken apart, de-greased, and then re-oiled. It was ‘broken in’ by firing 200 rounds of jacketed factory ammunition through it.

In the weeks that followed, I started feeding it reloads—full metal jacketed 9mm, then moly-coated round-nosed lead bullets.

My fears about the gun’s reliability turned out to be totally unfounded—the NZ85B performed flawlessly throughout the entire process. And I shot so well with it, that it became an instant favorite for shooting club competitions.

Accuracy

Shooting factory ammunition from a supported rest, the NZ85B will put 15 shots into a single ragged hole at 15 meters.

Every shot lands smack on top of the front post. If you get a flyer, it’s definitely going to be your own doing.

In more capable hands than mine, the NZ85B produces 2-inch groups at 25 meters, using factory hardball. This can be considered more than adequate for any kind of serious defense work.

Two Modes of Carry

The NZ85B can be carried cocked-and-locked like a 1911.

It can also be carried with the hammer down, over a live round in the chamber, the classic double-action way.

The NZ85B does not have a decocking mechanism.

Carrying one up the pipe with the hammer at rest, requires you to manually lower the hammer over a live round. This entails squeezing the trigger while manually controlling the fall of the hammer, until the gun’s hammer stops at the intermediate, or half-cocked position.

This may sound scary to the uninitiated, but it’s not that difficult to do. You just have to be careful, to avoid the possibility of an accidental discharge. To be absolutely safe, make sure that the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction, at something that will stop a bullet in case your fingers slip and the gun goes off.

A manual safety is provided for safe cocked-and-locked carry. The frame-mounted safety works exactly like that on a 1911—lever up means safe, lever down means ready to rock.

Outstanding Features

The best feature of this gun is its reliability.

It cycles any kind of 9mm ammunition I put through it without any complaints. It doesn’t discriminate between hollow points, hardball, and lead bullets—it just cycles them all.

It’s also a very robust, well-fitted handgun, almost like a Ruger in the way it’s built and put together. It feels very solid in the hand, and the balance of its all-steel frame is remarkable.

This is one pistol that points naturally, like an extension of your arm. It doesn’t over-travel when you swing from one target to the next in the field.

The NZ85B soaks up recoil well, returning the front sight to the target very quickly after every shot.

The magazine drops free when you hit the release button, and the opening of the magazine well is wide enough to facilitate fast reloads.

Managing a Design Quirk

I guess the only thing that bothers me about this gun’s design is the fact that the slide actually runs inside the frame. It’s a good way to maintain perfect frame-to-slide alignment and keep dirt out of the gun, but the design presents its own set of problems.

Because less of the slide is actually exposed above the frame,  you get less to hold on to when you have to pull the slide back to load your first round. The NZ85B is not unique in this respect—it shares the same issue with guns like the CZ75 and the CZ85 (on which it is based).

I’ve found that the best way to manipulate the slide on all these guns, is to hook the index finger of my weak hand around the fixed rear sight, and use my grip on the rear sight to haul the slide back.

Works every time!

Recap

All told, I believe the NZ85B is one gun that can be expected to provide years of useful service.

Some 5,000 rounds later, its lock-up still appears to be as tight as the day it arrived. It has lost none of its accuracy, and the way that the action cycles has actually gotten smoother.

This one’s definitely a keeper, and I’m starting to consider carrying it as a defensive sidearm.

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