Back in the 1990s, the Czech CZ75 pistol was being rapidly understood to be one of the best combat handguns of the 20th Century. The thing is, since these guns were made behind the Iron Curtain, they were hard to get in the land of Apple Pie. Well, that's where Springfield came up with an idea crazy enough that it just might work.
Czech, by way of Italy
The Czech designed CZ-75 was, as noted above, next to impossible to get in the US during the Cold War. However, the Italian firm of Tanfoglio made a nearly perfect clone of the CZ since the 1980s. Incidentally, the "G" in Tanfoglio is silent, leaving it pronounced as "Tan-fol-io". The Italian made gun was marketed as the TZ-75 (very original!). The original TZ-75 was externally quite different in appearance from the CZ-75, with a sleeker shape, more ergonomic grip, squared trigger guard, and a larger spur-type hammer. The sights were also of the three-dot type, and larger than the tiny sights used on the CZ-75 of the time. The TZ-75 also added a slide-mounted safety/decocker, the option of ambidextrous controls. Internally, it had a slide-mounted safety added. The TZ was a beauty of milled steel engineering, with no polymer or plastics involved.
The TZ 75 (Last MSR $440) was imported into the US by FIE from 1982 to 1989, and the TZ 75 series 88 (Last MSR $519), an improved TZ75 action with a frame-mounted safety, was imported from 1988 to 1990 then EAA picked up the line and dubbed them the Witness series after 1995 with still more changes. It was this gun, the T75 Series 88, which Springfield picked up as their P9.
Springfield started importing these guns under their own label from Italy around 1990. This was right after FIE stopped importing the TZ75 and before EAA really got ramped up in filling that vacuum, (this is important later kids). Although they were made in Italy, they were prominently marked 'Springfield P9' across the frame and slide.
P9s were often turned into IPSC 'raceguns' such as this $1100 build sold on Armslist that is a Springfield P9 in 9x21mm with WCPI (World Class Pistols Inc.) 6 inch barrel, long slide with no porting, compensator (with 3 ports), short single action trigger, skeleton hammer, ambi safety, extended mag release, scope mount with carbon fiber side panel, Tasco PRO point red dot scope, wood checkered grips and rounded style trigger guard as opposed to the more squared off version sometimes seen on the custom P9
If variety is the spice of life, the Springfield P9 was one hot tamale. They came in several finishes including a two-tone (blued upper/slide Assembly, industrial hard-chromed lower/frame Assembly), blued, and chrome. Besides the normal CZ 16-shot 9x19mm, the gun was also produced in an 11-shot .40S&W and .45ACP variant as well as a competition-grade 15-shot 9x21mm. While the standard model came with a 4.75-inch barrel and was 8-inches overall, there were also Compact and Subcompact models with 3.75 and 3.50-inch barrels respectively. If you wanted to go bigger, there was the Factory Comp model, which came with extended mag releases, extra-slim competition grips, and a dual-port compensator that gave the gun an overall length of 9.5-inches.
(Two tone LSP variant. Note the really nice blue and white cardboard box early models came in. In the last year or two of their marketing, SA shipped these in a much better blue plastic box seen above)
Get your own
Sadly, once EAA became fully vested in the US with their Witness line (also made by Tanfoglio from their Series 88 TZ75); Springfield just couldn't make a go of it and pulled the plug on their P9's in 1993. New old stock was sold off within a few years of that date. Today, with the market having to compete with actual Czech-made CZ's after the end of the Cold War, P9s are all but forgotten. History's loss is your gain, however, as they can often be picked up for a song.
(All SA P9's will be very well marked as such)
Henning Competition in Colorado makes a number of race-gun parts including grips, triggers, magwells, sights, guiderods and more. Full-sized models will take the excellent Mec-Gar aftermarket CZ75 mags, which are usually available online from sources like Midway and GPC for about $25. Most parts advertised as fitting a TZ75 (Series 88) should work on your gun. Be advised that Springfield may not support these anymore since they stopped selling these guns 20-years ago, but it's worth a try to call if yours breaks.
Very nice condition P9s can be had for $350-$500 with even tricked out raceguns made from P9s can be had for $1K. Not too long ago I saw a scratched up but fully functional P9 that a buddy picked up for $250 with three mags.
Therefore, if you see one of these bad boys on a gunshow table for a good price stop and give it a look-see.