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Zoli Z Sporter

One of the most anticipated competition guns of recent years, Zoli’s new range of Z Guns has now made it to these shores; Mark Stone sees what the fuss is about

First seen at IWA a couple of years ago, importer John Fawcett of JPF Supplies likes things to be right, insisting that Antonio Zoli over in Italy supplied the new Z – Gun to his own, UK-specific, stock dimensions and handling tailored made to British shooters. Where the Z differs from their already established Kronos is both seen and unseen. This is something you’re aware of right away, as both Sporter and Trap models come in a travelling case worthy of the 12-bore they contain.

Grain gain

Although no actual grade is quoted the Z’s walnut has got to be at least level five if not six. Semi oil-finished, the well grained wood shows soft yet positive chequering along with a comfortable and well proportioned London-style forend. The butt in standard form offers a well rounded comb and a drop of 1 17/32nd with a corresponding drop at heel of 2 7/16th. This is matched to an adjustable pull length of 14 ¾” all of which is rounded off with a thin spacer and soft rubber recoil pad.

Currently available in black, the hardened, Boss-style action is milled from solid with the aid of computer controlled machinery. The steel alloy is well defined whilst displaying the inherent strength of this type of manufacturing. With the letter Z along both sides of the action, in the case of the test gun it was only the word ‘Sport’ picked out in gold on a quilted effect panel that broke the gloss black look of the finish.

Elsewhere, the top lever, ejectors, trigger guard, trigger and other smaller components are formed by the MIM (metal injection moulding) process. Similar to sintering, metal powder is heated and moulded which gives a guaranteed +/- 2000th tolerance. More or less ready to fit straight out of the mould, the process is so precise that finishing is kept to a minimum.

Drop out

Not unusual in itself but usually only found on shotguns costing considerably more, the Z offers a fully detachable trigger group. Apart from ease of maintenance, adjustment and repair, providing you follow the removal instructions exactly and the fact that the settings don’t alter when the stock bolt is tightened the hand polished lock work is complimented by the blue Teflon anti – friction and anti – rust coating on the springs. The end result is an exact and predictable 5lbs 2oz pull on both barrels that can be simply and easily adjusted by a gunsmith.

Likewise the barrels, the gloss black 32” tubes are superbly finished, the vented mid and 11mm top – ribs exemplifying the fact that all Zoli barrels are hand built to custom levels. Crowned with a hi-viz bead the muzzles are complimented by the titanium coated, extended, multi-chokes that add an additional ¾” to the overall length. Finished with a clear – cut jewel finish by virtue of the design the 3” chambered monobloc action means no load is applied to the hinge pins during firing. The monobloc along with the action frame and substantial locking bolt absorbing the pressure, a characteristic carried over from the double rifles on which Zoli shotguns are based.

Flat out

Starting out with 25 of Withet SG’s compact I was initially surprised to miss one or two of what I’d call relatively easy targets. A short evaluation later revealed this Z was rather flat shooting. However, staying with the ½ and ¼ chokes plus my usual Express Supremes and a minor hold modification soon saw most of the birds shattering convincingly.

Moving onto the skeet layout, the Z’s almost neutral handling characteristics were capitalised on by holding the gun either down or out of the shoulder pocket. The Z handles and mounts well, whilst the balance is precisely on the hinges ensuring the 8lbs 4oz of weight sits squarely between the hands. What’s more than interesting is that the overall handling is of a 12-bore gun that’s both lighter and shorter in the barrels. Zoli having nigh on perfected the balance, with the weight and point of inertia combining to bestow a smoothness of swing coupled with a more controlled directional change.

If I had to comment it would be the radius of the grip and palm swell. Although it offered a solid, secure hold I found my right hand to be slightly fuller than I like. Personally I prefer Sporters marginally slimmer since I like to move the gun about more than others, but once again that’s just me and it’s for that reason I’d be more than likely to opt for the £250 extra custom woodwork, an option that sees Zoli build the stock to your own individual dimensions.

Zeitgeist  

Where the Z wins out is that it’s the answer to many sporting shooters’ long sought after requirements wrapped up in a £3,750 package. OK, it’s not a budget shotgun but when you compare it to other competition guns that supposedly offer the exact same thing you’ll find they cost considerably more or have certain Zoli standard features as hefty priced extras. Where the Z also offers true value for money is in the fact that both the Sporter and Trap versions cost the exact same, £3,750.

Already a proven competition shotgun in the hands of champion shooters such as Willy Gordon and Mick Nicholson, the Z adds a new competitive edge to Zoli’s line up, an edge that most shooters can now easily capitalise on themselves.

We Reckon!

Sporter or Trap cost the exact same, a positive first
Simplicity and build quality make the new Z a winner
As near an off-the-shelf custom built shotgun as you’ll find

Technical Specifications
Name Zoli Z Sporter
Calibre 12-bore
Barrels 32” over & under
Action boxlock
Weights 8lbs 4 oz
Multi-chokes Y
Travel case Y
Price £3,750

All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates

Gun Mart Shooters Forum - Get Involved in the Discussion!
User Comments
  • An excellent and honest appraisal, i have a keen interest in the ;Z Sport; but i have not had an oppertunity to handle one thus only relying on what i can find in the way of magazine tests etc., Here in N Ireland I cant find one to view. We seem to be avid Browning or Beretta fans.

    Comment by: BERTIE WILSON     Posted on: 23 Mar 2009 at 08:14 PM

  • We'd been hearing good things about this gun even before Mark Stone's review. Nevertheless, as always we recommend that you try before you buy - even if it means a trip over to England.

    Comment by: pat farey     Posted on: 24 Mar 2009 at 09:45 AM

  • Zoli guns are no good - mine blew out the side plates and forarm using lighte loaded AA trap shells. Zoli would do nothing for except offer a 10% discount on a $9,000 in stock gun. Even my gunsmith said the gun was weak - I sent it to Italy for inspection and they ignored me.

    No thank you - buy a
    Browning - they will stand behind their product and it is better and less expensive.

    Comment by: jerry Luthin     Posted on: 09 Aug 2009 at 01:27 AM

  • I´ve been shooting a Zoli-Kronos for 3 years now,it now has about 30.000
    rounds through it with no signs of wear.
    If I ever have the need for another o/u, the Z-gun would be my first choice!

    Comment by: G.Jonasson     Posted on: 05 Sep 2009 at 12:40 PM

  • i take the point of Jerry Luthin but he must remember "one swallow a summer maketh not"!

    i own a Z sporter as well as some of the more expensive shotguns and it has to be said the Zoli has been faultless to-date and remains a pleasure to shoot.

    In my lowly onion, the Z series are undoubtedly a great all-round sporter offering tremendous value for money.

    Comment by: Tim Davies     Posted on: 30 Sep 2009 at 12:22 PM

  • We are the UK distributor of Antonio Zoli products and have been dealing with Zoli for the last 25 years. They are a most honorable company and would not treat anyone as Mr Luthin suggests.

    I contacted Paolo Zoli and his response is shown below, any right minded person will see Zoli offered Mr Luthin far more than he was entitled to simply as a matter of good customer relations--this is typical of the Zoli company.


    Dear John and Steven,
    Without prejudice
    I have made a research about this Mr. Jerry Luthin and found out that he did buy a shotgun from Zoli Antonio. It is a side plate shotgun from the old Ritmo line. The gun was originally sold to a Switzerland dealer in 1986. Mr. Luthin got in contact with Zoli in year 2003 but in his description he omitted to say that his gun was sent to italy (without ammunitions) for evaluation.
    When the Italian National proof House analised the gun it was found out that the original bore diameters were modified from 18,4 to 18,8 mm (that means 0,4 mm on diam) equivalent to a weight decrease of 250 grams, 15% less of weight. He also ported both tubes.
    When comunicating this to him he admitted that he asked somebody else to do the job for him. Due to that the Zoli Co. as with every manufacturer are not responsible for altered products, but in order to show the best opening in front of a Zoli customer, to discount about 30% on a new product.
    As a general information Italian law requires that every gun manufactured in Italy must go througth a shooting test with ammunitions with 30% higher pressure. The National proof house register informations for example the bore diameter and/or the weight. Those informations are printed in the barrels as well.
    Thank you for the attention. best regards.

    Paolo Zoli


    ZOLI ANTONIO srl - Via Zanardelli, 39 - Gardone VT (BS) Italy
    Tel +39 030/8912161/2 - Fax 030/8911165 - Nr. R.E.A. 458706
    P. Iva 02546330982
    www.zoli.it. - world@zoli.it

    Comment by: John Fawcett     Posted on: 18 Jan 2010 at 07:46 PM

  • Since I know Mr. Luthin, I felt I should comment, especially dealing with firearms. He is (obviously) upset about his gun, and wants to take out some frustration on someone. He knows very well that Zoli is not the problem. His comment is nothing more than sour grapes from an opinionated ******* and can be safely ignored.

    Comment by: JoeWhatWhere     Posted on: 18 Mar 2010 at 11:42 AM

  • I have a Zoli Z-Extra,Verona LX-980, and two Dakota Arms N3's and I must say they are one of the best buys on the market today. When a person offers an opinion on a Ritmo, they are not comparing apples to apples. The current Zoli guns are some of the strongest on the market. I have never had a problem with any of the guns and I probably have at least 75,000 rounds thru them. Buy this gun with confidence.

    Comment by: Joe McGinty     Posted on: 27 Aug 2011 at 12:02 AM

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