Exclusive: USFA ZiP .22 Review
January 11, 2013
I first saw the USFA ZiP .22 on USFA's website and it immediately caught my attention. Why? Well, for starters it is unique — very unique. It captures the imagination, finding something truly new in firearms development is a bit of a rarity. John Browning and Paul Mauser can still say that most firearms are mere modifications of designs they pioneered 100 years ago. So on that merit alone, I wanted to check out this pistol.
Secondly, being mainly polymer and uber-lightweight, this gun fills a niche for the survival crowd. It would fit easily in a backpack, truck or tackle box, and could be carried as an emergency survival gun without any undue weight.
Finally, it is versatile. It takes Ruger 10/22 magazines (I mean, who already doesn't own a 10/22 and a plethora of mags?), and with the Ruger 25-round mags, it makes this pistol one of the few handguns on the market with a 25-round capability. In light of the recent fervor coming from the gun-grabbers in Washington, owning multiple guns that take the same high-cap mags might not be such a bad idea. This gun can also be converted into a rifle, and can be used in conjunction with other firearms with a standard 1913 Rail — all NFA rules do apply, of course.
So I literally begged Douglas Donnelly, USFA CEO and inventor of ZiP, for a test sample before the masses could get their hands on it at SHOT Show. He came through, so here is my brief review.
Few Metal Parts
Only a few years ago, I would be lamenting the use of plastics in firearm construction, but today with the extremely advanced polymers available, it is a no-brainer not to use polymers, and the ZiP takes polymer construction to the extreme. There are only a few metal parts: the barrel of course, some screws, firing pin, trigger, operation rods and springs. Even the bolt itself is polymer, and it is designed to be replaced. In fact, ZiP sells a 100% Life Kit, which includes a new bolt and springs, which they suggest replacing after 5,000 rounds.
Second Strike Capable
This is actually pretty cool feature on this little gem — it is second strike capable. Knowing the .22 rimfire ammo is less than reliable, ZiP utilizes two different length charging rods. One is to load the gun, and the shorter one is just to reset the striker in case the ammo doesn't go bang. They are ambidextrous and can be swapped with a single screw.
Curious to whether the ZiP is cocked or not? Simply look at the top strap and it easy to see if the striker is in a cocked or uncocked position through the large inspection port. From the factory, it is simply stainless steel, but it could easily be painted to make it more personal — and visible.
This is really a cool feature; not only can the ZiP be completely disassembled with a single Allen wrench and a barrel nut, both are secretly fitted into the removable top plate for easy access. Another unique aspect of the removable top plate is that other top plates are available, including a rail for mounting optics as well as a rail to attach it underneath a standard 1913 rail on the forearm of an AR — of course, doing so would require an ATF Form 1 application as the ZiP when mounted becomes an SBR.
Ruger 10/22 Compatible
If you were going to design a .22 around a magazine, there is no other choice than the Ruger 10/22. With over 5 million 10/22s in circulation, there are lots good-feeding, reliable magazines out there. The standard 10-rounder is a flush fit making for a relatively compact package on the ZiP, while the 25-rounders act as a good grip and are a lot more fun.
As I said, we just got this gun, so a full range test has not been conducted yet. However, we did fire for function, and all we can say is the gun went bang and hit the target. Noise was as expected and recoil, even for a 15-ounce pistol, was of course non-existent. Expect a full shooting test on this site with a variety of ammo in the coming weeks. As a side note, this gun comes with two sets of recoil springs so you can fine-tune it for standard velocity ammunition as well as hyper-velocity fodder.
Anytime you get a gun weighing under a pound, you have something pretty exciting, and the ZiP falls into this category at 15.5 ounces unloaded. We got excited with the survival bolt-action rifle we built
, which was under a pound, but getting a semi-auto pistol to weigh the same is pretty remarkable. OK, so the naysayers will claim that it is over a pound once you load up a 25-round magazine and insert it, but you were going to carry extra ammo anyway into the backcountry anyway, right? So why not carry it ready to go in a loaded mag?