Not too long ago, when a "CZ75" was thought of as an evil Commie gun that was rarely seen in America, there was a rumor about them. The rumor was that these pistols, particularly the earliest examples, were built from some sort of super tough, invincible steel, and they could withstand monumental abuse. I've heard and read a few theories as to why this was so. One such reason was psychological in nature- it was an "exotic" weapon, and so its owner(s) had to justify paying huge money for examples by exagerrating its merits.
There's a bit of truth there, I suppose. I mean, think about it; the price of a new CZ75 imported into America during the 70s and 80s was astronomical, often upwards of $1,000! Even during the vaunted Wondernine decade, that was a whole lotta money to pay for a gun that had little more than a cult following here in the States and Canada thanks to Col. Cooper. So, it stands to reason that some CZ75 owners felt the need to overstate the toughness of the gun to their friends and fellow enthusiasts. Not only was a CZ75 a very rare sight on the local range, but with a lack of general knowledge about them you could pretty much get away with anything short of God himself forging the frames.
Another rumor I heard had to do with the design of the pistol. Perhaps the greatest feature of the CZ75 is its use of the Petter inverse rail system, which was only seen on one such pistol before the 75- the legendary and ogle-worthy Sig P210. While both use the interesting and allegedly inherently more accurate inverse rail design, the Sig is a bit beefier, whereas the CZ75 had VERY thin rails during its first incarnation. This was supposedly offset by the tough metal CZ was to use for the model of 75.
In truth, the rumor was quite contrary. Supposedly, CZ had problems with the earliest of the CZ75s and their rails failing under heavy and sustained fire. Truthfully, I don't know if this was true or not, as I haven't read any hard evidence of this. However, its possible, as any mass produced item is bound to have some sort of hiccup to work out. The fact that only a handful of 75s made it out of the factory in 1975 does lend some credibility to this claim. 1976 was also a notably shallow year in production, though this can be argued with low demand for an unproven new pistol.
For some, that's where the rumor actually starts. Could it be that CZ found some sort of magical perfect blend of steel for the 75 after the first wave left the factory? Really, I don't think so. My next point would put a hole through that claim if it were true.
See, in 1980, that's when the first big design change came into effect. Due to outside influence (supposedly from the Swiss), the CZ75 changed from the short-rail design to the more famous 3/4 rail set up, and the rails themselves were beefed up. However, CZ themselves would admit to a fatal flaw at this point later on, as they decided to go to an outside contractor in Spain for the frame casting.
These Spainish casted frames, well, sucked. Not only was the Spainish firm very slow in completing orders, but the parts CZ got back from them were of inferior quality to the first generation's. That alone made people look back to the first generation with new appreciation.
It wasn't long before angry customers gave CZ an earful about their junky new CZ75s with their fancy new rail redesign. Fortunately, CZ was already working on the solution, and that came when CZ perfected its investment forging foundry within the factory's confines.
Once that was set up, the quality of metal vastly improved in short order. Such a massive improvement in such a short time also helped aid the CZ75's reputation here in the states, as very few of the Spanish frames made it over here, and so CZ didn't suffer as bad a hit here as it did with its military customers in Europe and Africa.
So, perhaps that begs the question, "which is better? The first generation or the post-Spanish second generation?"
Truthfully, I don't know. I can say that the first generation that I have does use a very high grade of steel, which can be witnessed when you tap the metal together and listen for a higher pitched ring, like glass. This indicates toughness in the metal's composition, but can also mean less flexibility, i.e. brittleness.
I have not heard of any stories of the 80s Pre-Bs failing. Small parts may break, but I have yet to hear of the older guns actually becoming unusable due to major parts completely failing. After 20+ years on many of these guns and countless rounds, that's a very good testament to their strength. These guns were built to last, and they still do. And believe it or not, but some of the original CZ75s are still in use in odd places as service pistols! They must have access to the motherlode of Pre-B spare parts, but if the frames, sldies, and barrels are still in working order after 30 years, then its very hard to deny their toughness.
Whether or not any particular version is better than the other is hard to say, because both have excellent reputations. The only low point were the Spanish frames, and CZ moved quickly to resolve that problem. So quickly, that without CZ acknowledging this fact, it might have been completely forgotten.
So, perhaps there's alot of truth to this so-called myth. CZ's a solid company, and maintainer of the world's largest small arms factory. They're so big, in fact, that they literally make their own metal, whereas most other small arms producers buy from outside sources, and some even get major parts forged or casted by outside contractors. This means that CZ has direct control over the quality of their own steel, and they're not going to get short-changed, nor will they short-change their customers.
And they're actually getting better. Perhaps the P-01, P-06, and SP-01, with their mysterious "better methods of manufacturing", according to CZ, should be more closely examined. Because, when a company like CZ says they can make even better metal, its nothing to sneeze at. Its quite possible that the steels used in today's CZs overshadows the old legend.
However, the Pre-Bs will always demand a certain amount of respect. Not only do they possess a shape many people find to be the most appealing thing CZ's ever come up with, but they have a level of toughness and stone-strong reliablity that should never be discounted. Even as spare parts and goodies continue to evaporate to the point where we're reaching the end someday in the future, many people, myself included, will continue to love and shoot these old guns beyond their expected service life.
And that, my friends, is the legend.
(I apologize in advance for any incorrect information that may have seeped into the above editorial. I do, however, stand by my research and opinion.)