The CZ 1012 Semi-Auto Brings Inertia-Action Reliability for $659.00

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Ask a buddy which inertia-action semi-auto to buy and chances are they’ll recommend a Benelli. The Italian manufacturer has come to dominate mind-share for the gasless shotguns, with models that start at $1,349 – more than double of what CZ’s first inertia semi-auto will cost you.

Although there are a few inertia semi-auto shotguns that cost around $600, CZ brings to the marketplace name recognition, reliability, a national dealer network and its renowned value proposition as evident with a starting price of $518.00 for the CZ 1012.

We evaluated the 12-gauge CZ 1012 on 100 rounds of sporting clays using a variety of shotshell loads, and wrapped up the afternoon convinced we would purchase one. Two models of the CZ 1012 were made available. The CZ 1012 shotgun with gray receiver and Turkish walnut came with an MSRP $659, same as the black synthetic model that accompanied it. 

CZ 1012 GreyThe CZ-1012 with the grey receiver.

For the uninitiated, inertia shotguns harness after-shot recoil to cycle the next shell in the magazine. Inertia semi-autos are known for lower maintenance and higher reliability than gas semi-autos, which by contrast capture the shotgun shell’s spent gases to cycle the next shot. But that gas spews residue and if enough accumulates the action gets gummy to the point where the shotgun jams. If you’re lackadaisical about shotgun maintenance, picture this: a pheasant breaks, your gas semi-auto goes click instead of bang.

Dave Miller, CZ’s Shotgun Product Manager, Pro-Shooter and Guinness World Holder for the most clay targets shot in a single hour, said in an email that the company has tested their 1012 shotguns to 5,000 rounds “without a drop of oil or cleaning of any sort, while experiencing zero parts breakage or malfunctions. In normal field use, the occasional cleaning and oiling should be more than enough. In fact, I have about 8 of them in my demo trailer and each of them have had at least 4000 rounds shot through them and have received no more than a squirt of G96 on the exterior due to rain and humidity, they just keep running.”

Line upAll five versions of the CZ-1012 inertia semi-automatic shotgun.

Ease of use isn’t confined to upkeep. The beauty of handling an inertia-driven, semi-auto is their prevailing balance. Without the apparatus of gas cylinder, piston, spring and valves under the forend of gas-powered semi-autos, inertia semi-autos concentrate their components in the action. With its between-the-hands balance, an inertia shotgun presents more neutral handling. Your 12-gauge inertia shotgun may swing like a 20-gauge over/under. Case in point, the CZ 1012 weighs a 20-gauge-like 6½ pounds yet still delivers 4+1 capacity of shells up to three inches long.

The 28-inch barrel with a single white muzzle bead and vented rib certainly contributed to the lovely handling. Although the CZ 1012 ships with five extended chokes (F, IM, M, IC, C), I opted for the IC on the sporting clays course. The easy-access cross-bolt safety, larger trigger guard and prominent controls would be an asset in the field or blind. Not happy with the gray receiver/Turkish walnut combination or the all-black synthetic? CZ also offers the 1012 with a bronze receiver or in full camo. 

CZ 1012 CamoThe CZ 1012 in the camo finish.

A couple of reviews on the CZ 1012 web page help set my expectations.

“I purchased the Grey 1012, right out of the case it ran 3″ magnum steel shot and light target loads without issue. The gun points great and is well balanced, action is smooth and the gun is very simple which makes cleaning quick and easy. Very impressed thus far; the quality of this gun and the price point have me baffled.”

Ryan – August 7, 2019:

“I had the pleasure and, frankly, joy, to shoot with David Miller at the 19th Annual World Vintage Skeet Championship at the Powder Creek Shooting Facility in Lenexa, Kansas. The title of the event is misleading because dozens of participants shot 5-stand, skeet, trap and sporting clays. I shot five different CZ shotguns. The shotgun I used the most over three days of shooting was the Model 1012. In a simple phrase, I like it a lot. The shotgun is well balanced, moves easily to the target like a conductor’s baton and has enough forward weight to maintain momentum. The shotgun does not pretend to be what it is not: it is not a dedicated target shotgun, particularly for trap and or sporting clays. The shotgun is relatively light, befitting a field gun, but its balance makes it an effective clay target gun unless one desires to engage in serious competition. Again, I like it a lot and will be extensively testing the one sent to me.”

Michael Sabbeth – May 29, 2019:

The guns assembled easily in the field, and during shooting the forend cap would remain tight. 

Station one of Southwind Sporting Clays in Quitman, Georgia gave me a strong start with the Turkish walnut version by running the high outgoer and chandelle as both a report and true pair using 1⅛-ounce Federal Top Gun shells packed with #8 shot and rated at 1200 fps. This shell would be the baseline for evaluating the CZ 1012’s ability to handle different loads.

Perhaps the biggest rap against inertia semi-autos is felt recoil. Without the shell gasses to cushion the impact, the bolt spring of an inertia shotgun is capable of delivering a strong punch to the shoulder and face. I was really surprised after shooting Station 1 that there was virtually no kick to the shoulder but a bit of a sting to the face. But I discovered later that the 3-inch Monarch High Velocity Steel stuffed with 1⅛ ounce of #4 shot at a velocity of 1550 fps delivered a wallop. 

I used the Turkish walnut and gray CZ 1012 for the first half of the course mixing a variety of shells. In addition to the Federals and Monarchs, I tried a Fiocchi 1-ounce, #8 Texas White Wing shells that traveled 1250 fps, RC’s Champion ⅞-ounce of #7½ shells rated at 1360 fps, and Remington ShurShot Heavy Dove Loads with 1⅞ ounces of #5 shot rated at 1255 fps. All the shells were 2¾ inches except the Monarchs. 

Combining different shells at each station the CZ 1012 shot flawlessly with one exception. If the RC ⅞-ounce shell was loaded first it wouldn’t cycle the second shot. I attributed the mishap to shooting a new, out-of-the-box shotgun would probably need some break-in time.

CZ 1012 ProfileCZ’s 1012 inertia semi-automatic shotgun in black and Turkish walnut.

Regardless, the CZ 1012 was crushing targets like a maniac. It was quick yet controllable with a predictable trigger.

Switching to the black synthetic model it performed the same, although that gun seemed to fit me ever-so-slightly better even though both models had a 14½-inch length-of-pull. 

In the end, if you’re shopping for 12-gauge inertia semi-auto you seriously need to look at the CZ 1012. There’s no reason for you pay the Italians more than $659 for an extremely competent all-around shotgun.

Irwin Greenstein is the publisher of Shotgun Life. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Useful resources:

The CZ-USA web site

Irwin Greenstein

Irwin Greenstein is Publisher of Shotgun Life. Please send your comments to letters@shotgunlife.com.

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