While most people associated CZ with the Česká Zbrojovka, specifically, these days, with CZ-UB (as the original CZ trademarks have traveled around a little), occasionally you’ll see a CZ that is not a CZ. One of these is the CZ-99 (and its successor, the CZ-999). These pistols were not produced by a Czech firm at all, but by the former Yugoslav firm Zastava Arms (formerly Cervena Zastava) in Kragujevac, Serbia.
The CZ-99 was intended to be the Model 1989 of the Yugoslav Army. Instead, soon after production began, the country went out of business. According to legend, the gun got the CZ-99 moniker in the United States because of a typo on an ATF form (99 for 89) and hopes of exploiting the public’s goodwill towards the CZ-75 and its successors.
Only a handful were imported before a 2003 embargo on Serbian goods, but the Serbian sanctions have since been lifted and exportation to the USA resumed.
It has a modified SIG manual of arms. Modified in that it has no manual safety, and the slide stop and decocker functions are combines. A single catch works as slide stop and (when the slide is forward) decocker.
The CZ-99 has been replaced, and its successor, available now, is the CZ-999. It retains the CZ-99’s modified SIG manual of arms.
The pistol is available in 9mm and .40 S&W calibers, and (internationally, at least) in several different sizes. The latest variant is the EZ, in EZ9 and EZ40 models for those two calibers and in three sizes from concealment to service pistol. It appears to be the same as the C999, with the addition of a light rail.
Zastava in Kragujevac was long Yugoslavia’s and then Serbia’s state armory, and makes all calibers and types of small arms. According to Zastava’s website, its products are imported by Century to the United States, but none of Zastava’s pistols are listed in Century’s 2016 catalog.
Slovenia != Serbia, Rex != Zastava
A pistol that is sometimes identified as a CZ-99 derivative, but seems to be a closer copy of the SIG P22x series, is the Rex Zero One. The Rex is made by Arex, a Slovenian defense company that is, as far as we know, unrelated to Zastava’s pistol. Here, the imitation of the SIG operating system is more exact. There is a slide-mounted safety which is the one ambi control (the mag release is reportedly reversible). Instead of the ambidextrous slide stop/decocker lever, used on the CZ-99 and its derivatives, the Rex has this lever on the left side only.
While it looks like a SIG, it isn’t. It’s its own thing. To the best of our knowledge, no SIG parts interchange. The Rex appears to be well-made. It sells at a similar price point to other alloy-framed SA/DA pistols from Europe, although availability of spares is nil at this time.
These are all fairly unusual pistols in the USA at this time. Despite their rarity, collector interest is just about nil. These are potential carry guns if priced reasonably, you can get sufficient magazines, and you can make yours fit a SIG holster or have a custom holster made. These things are enough of a pain in the neck that you start to see why someone might throw in the odd-gun towel and get a Glock, when you can get spare mags and holsters seemingly everywhere.