CZ P-09: The Powerhouse 9mm Gun the US Military Passed On

CZ P-09
May 29, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: MilitaryCZXM-17GunsFirearmsGlock 19XCZ P-09

CZ P-09: The Powerhouse 9mm Gun the US Military Passed On

The Czech-made CZ P-09 was a strong contender for the XM17 Modular Handgun System competition to replace the Beretta M9 but ultimately withdrew.


Summary: The Czech-made CZ P-09 was a strong contender for the XM17 Modular Handgun System competition to replace the Beretta M9 but ultimately withdrew.

Beretta M9


Despite its solid design, the CZ P-09 likely faltered due to its original double-action-only trigger and lack of a modular frame.

These factors might have led CZ to believe it would be eliminated early. Although it didn't enter the competition formally, the CZ P-09 remains an underrated sidearm, trusted by law enforcement in the Czech Republic and Hungary, but not selected by the U.S. military.

CZ P-09's Withdrawal from XM17 Competition: What Went Wrong?

The XM17 was a big contract for any gun maker to score. CZ had a good shot with its CZ P-09 model. So why did this firearm fail? 

The Czech-made CZ P-09 withdrew as a formal entrant for the XM17 Modular Handgun System to replace the Beretta M9. It’s not clear why because the CZ P-09 likely would have been considered a solid choice. Was this a fatal mistake as the CZ could have perhaps been a finalist in the competition?

The decision to quit the contest was perhaps because of the P-09’s original double-action-only trigger and lack of modular frame. The Czech gunmaker may have thought it would get eliminated right out of the gate. But let’s take a deeper dive into its merits.

The XM17 Competition

In 2015, the U.S. military was ready to move on from the Beretta M9 service pistol and its variants. It put out a request for proposals that became known as the XM17 Modular Handgun System competition. This program had to go through some Congressional wrangling, but it finally got funded and the overall contract was going to be worth $580 million.

CZ Was Ready to Go

It looked like at first CZ (Ceska Zbrojovka) was going to jump through all the hoops. It made a compact model, which the military called for. The P-09 is polymer framed with steel slides. To better fit different hand sizes, three different grip backstraps (small, medium, and large) are available. It comes in 19-round of 9mm and .40 S&W ammunition or 21-round magazines with aluminum base plates. Reloading is easier because of a uniquely-shaped magazine well-mouth.

The length of the standard handgun is 8.1-inches and the barrel is 4.54-inches. It weighs 31 ounces unloaded. This is on the large size compared to some competitors.

CZ P-09: Safety, Controls, and Rail System

The CZ P-09 also has a de-cocker safety for righties and lefties. The CZ P-09 comes standard with three-dot tritium night sights. The Picatinny rail is ready for accessories such as lights and different optics. A suppressor can also be added. The controls are big and simple to use (slide release, safety, magazine release, trigger).

Double-Action Only or Double-Action/ Single-Action?

Early on both the full-size and compact model had double-action-only triggers instead of normal double-action single-action mechanisms. So, the trigger cocks and releases the hammer. What’s mysterious about the CZ P-09 is that it looks like the manufacturer later offered a different “Omega” trigger that does come in double-action single-action.

Maybe if CZ would have had the DA/SA from the get-go it could have stayed in the competition. It’s not clear when CZ made this change to the trigger.

The P-09 also did not have a modular frame. The double-action-only feature was not in the requirements for the RFP, but modularity was needed.

As you could expect, the CZ P-09 and its compact P-07 are in use with law enforcement agencies in Central Europe – both with the Czechs and Hungarians. This should have given CZ confidence that its favorable track record with police would help it in the competition.

What May Have Been

CZ maybe looks back on the XM17 trials as something they weren’t quite ready for. It did not make a formal entry into the competition and the SIG Sauer M17/M18 finally won the bid. The CZ P-09 should overall be considered an underrated sidearm.

Sig Sauer M17

It’s not in the hands of the U.S. military, but it has earned its bona fides with national police in the Czech Republic and Hungary.

About the Author 

Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.

Image Credit: YouTube screenshot.