USFA ZiP: A Potential For Improvement

USFA ZiP: A Potential For Improvement

[schema type=”product” url=”” name=”USFA ZiP .22 LR” brand=”ZiP” manfu=”US Firearms” model=”ZiP .22LR” ]

U.S. Firearms” is a small company originally famous for its quality SA revolvers, while their own version of Model 1911 semi-automatic pistol was never much popular.  Interestingly enough, this company’s seat is located in Hartford, CT which is the home of “Colt Armory”, and their manufacturing program was so far based on Colt clones. However, their new .22 LR ZiP gun is something completely different and it certainly deserves closer inspection.

We would do it justice if we called this a small caliber gadget, than a firearm. Most of the parts are made of plastic, save the steel barrel and a few springs, levers and bolts. Yes, we know that polymer frames are getting more popular by the day, however, this apparatus is far from confidence inspiring. It is reminiscent of all those old single shot devices concealed as pens, umbrellas, belt buckles or cameras. Generally those improvised firearms are called zip guns, and hence the name of the USFA new offspring.

On the other hand, it’s worthwhile mentioning that the history of concealed firearms is full of accidents boiling down mostly to self-inflicted injuries. That possibility is more than real with this gun as well, as the new users must analyze it first from all sides in order to determine where the muzzle is. Its otherworldly shape says goodbye to ergonomic features, as you can never be sure if you’re holding a stapler or a nail gun.


Only when looked form above it might resemble one of the modern polymer pistols, like the Austrian Glock. The first feature that strikes the viewer is that there is no handle to hold it by. The concept of this gun calls for a three finger grip, while the palm rests on the back of the frame. The remaining two fingers hold onto the magazine. And this is the beginning of functionality issues with USFA ZiP, because it generally known that .22 magazines are prone to jamming, especially the double-stacked ones, made of plastic.

Originally it was planned that ZiP uses 10-round magazines for Ruger 10/22 rifle but it can also use curved 25-round magazines which only add to the alien look. The interior of the system reveals many flaws in the design, as its semi-auto action is supported by plastic parts, flimsy coil springs and levers, with the complete mechanism set between two plastic molded halves held together with screws. The barrel is only partially fixed and the feeding and extracting mechanism looks unsafe.

Many features of this gun are underdeveloped and unfinished, the most obvious example being the two protruding plastic levers outside the barrel shroud on the both sides. The designers wanted to avoid every moving surfaces on the outer side of the frame, and as a conventional cocking handle or a slide would be impossible to fit here, their function is taken by the massive cast short-action block, actuated by the two plastic levers.


This is the root of all the problems, as the two symmetrical moving slides often act as a DA feeding feature, leading rounds from the magazine into the breech. According to the users, this firearm is the infamous champion of unreliability. To the point that almost no user could fire a satisfactory number of rounds without a spent casing jamming into the next round. The people in USFA claim that these outer levers are an excellent solution as the gun can be cocked by pushing one of the levers on a table edge. A great show for impressing the friends but hardly useful.

The more experienced users will give this novelty a pass, as it from the very beginning caused many injuries, mainly cuts and bruises dues to the escape of hot gases directly into the palm. As if all that wasn’t enough unstable and unreliable, the left lever is slightly longer and it’s used for loading a cartridge, while the right one is shorter and is called a restrike – it’s used to cock the striker but does not engage the bolt and does not load a new cartridge. In theory that is not a bad concept. It gives the possibility to re-cock the gun after a misfire, but in real life it causes ammunition jams. Not convenient at all in a gun that you need a screwdriver to take apart.


The trigger force is set to 6 kg, which is too stiff and does little to improve the accuracy, especially if we remember that keeping a USFA ZiP aligned with the targeting line is close to impossible. Of course, the new wave of gun enthusiasts doesn’t care about such thrifty details, but are thrilled if their gun looks cool, tactical, if it has a Picatinny rail, etc. An extra feature is the longer barrel with a threading for mounting a silencer and the most pretentious detail is the possibility to mount this “shooter” as anunderbarrel attachment of an AR15 based rifle. We couldn’t understand why someone would want to increase the weight of their M4 Carbine by mounting a .22 LR pistol with the useful range of several meters.

The data reports that using Winchester ammunition caused four jams out of 30 fired rounds, with CCI Mini Mag it was 48 fired out of 50, with CCI Stinger it fired 46 times out of 50, with only Federal Lightning working flawlessly. The definitely worst ammunition was Remington Golden Bullet, making every fourth shot a jam, while after 26 fired shots the casing bottom cracked, injuring the shooter.

We sincerely hope that USFA consider improving this zip gun, making it more useful and redesigning its otherworldly look. Until then, ZiP stays an experiment and a novelty item for a selected clientele.

Images courtesy of:

January 11, 2015
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