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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
|Name||Zoli Z Sporter|
|Barrels||32” over & under|
|Weights||8lbs 4 oz|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates