Zoli Z Extra Sport
- 15 Comments
- Last updated: 25/05/2021
Zoli shotguns are one of those unsung heroes of the shooting world, a bit like Kahles optics, they are premium products but don’t make a song and dance about it. I like that their quality and product range to do the talking for them.
The Zoli Z Extra is available in Sporting (on test) or Trap formats and with a variety of barrel, stock and choke options, while they all feature the same trigger mechanism. This Extra model offers almost full coverage English-style engraving and the Z Gun logo is inlaid in gold on both action sides. It stands out very nicely on the silver-carbon nitride finish. The stocks are select finest Turkish walnut and the Extra comes with stock and barrel socks in a robust green and gold combination locked case.
The Z-Gun range sets a very high standard of fit and finish as well as real-world performance, reliability, handling and above all style. It shoots as good as it looks. The key features are the Monolithic frame structure with Zoli’s detachable trigger group system and titanium coated components. You have a choice of single or selective trigger with ejectors and hand-finished engraving. Trap and Sporting stock and fore-end options are available with flush, fixed or extended multi chokes.
It is very difficult not to be impressed with the Zoli’s stock and the wood to metal fit is excellent. It has very good handling characteristics that are instantly obvious when the gun is mounted. It’s fast to handle and sight, plus fits a treat with its 14.75” adjustable length of pull and perfectly level rib for my eye.
The different stocks or styles are actually interchangeable. The Beavertail-type forend is standard on the Trap and Skeet versions, while this Sport model has the typical Zoli rounded-type forend wood/London style. It’s a very comfortable forend that cradles the hand well, with extra grip applied by cut chequering to both sides that meet underneath. The barrel release mechanism is well inlet and engraved.
Sadly, the quality of walnut does not match the exceptional butt stock. The rear stock shows a slimline black rubber recoil pad that allows fast mounting. It has a lovely weight and Sporter styling that gives a very natural hold and thus great handling characteristics. There is a small amount of cast and the pistol grip is equally well chequered. It is quite upright and shows a palm swell to one side. This model was left-handed but seemed to fit me perfectly?
The quality of walnut on the test gun was superb, showing very rich, dark swirling figuring and veins on a honey colour background. As well as full coverage, it’s the same on both sides and really makes a statement. It certainly elevates the status of this Zoli as does the very good oil finish, which adds that last piece of class.
I like the styling of the Zoli Extra with its traditional 43mm action width, which combines strength and good looks. Well, it is Italian.
The Z-Gun range has a forged stainless steel and monobloc action design that makes use of a Bosstype locking system that includes an easily removed trigger group. The barrels attach to the action via a bifurcated bolt moving forward through the breech face and locating with bites each side of the bottom barrel. This locking system is known for being very robust as the split locking bolt accurately engages the locking lugs of the monobloc and its axis maximises the tightness of the closure.
The firing mechanism system has been designed to the highest safety standards and the firing pin is guided by a specially made bushing that ensures concentricity. This bushing is also provided with vent holes, to allow any gas produced by the accidental rupture of the primer to escape, without damage to the gun or injury to the user. The ejectors are equally good, with well-timed and forceful removal of all cartridges shot. Barrel selection is via an inset barrel toggle on the sliding safety catch, which is well chequered for grip. Left for the bottom barrel and right for the top.
Zoli has manufactured its own barrels for over 55 years now, allowing close control on quality and design. Their ballistic performance has always been very good, with great velocities and excellent patterns down range too. Being in house, the technology used to improve performance and reduce recoil can be finely tuned, making Zoli that bit different.
The barrels are well balanced both in terms of handling and construction so that all the harmonics and vibrations on firing are smooth. This helps reduce recoil and produce better patterns. They have also taken the time to make sure the point of impact is correct to the sightline, for effective pattern placement. I liked the highly durable chemical blueing, which has a very good depth to it and is both durable and elegant.
The barrels measured 29.5” or 75cm, but longer 32” tubes are available. They come with 3” chambers as standard and the bores are chrome lined. The rib section is tapered with a 10mm width, is both flat profiled and fully grooved to reduce glare. The top and midsection ribbing is vented for extra heat dispersal. There is a single, highly visible, red DayGlo element at the muzzle, which is all you need.
Thanks to the various multi chokes, the shotgun can cater to almost any species of game or clay. The gun comes with a full set, which includes cylinder/skeet, improved cylinder, modified, improved modified and full. They are all titanium coated and the flushfitting chokes are optional/extra charge.
Zoli guns have a unique detachable, locked trigger system that can be removed by hand for adjustment, cleaning, storage or maintenance. The mechanism is inertia operated and includes high wearing or crucial parts that are titanium nitrate treated for longevity. The main coil springs have a self-lubricating coating to resist wear as well as corrosion.
The internals of each mechanism are also precision CNC machined which include the hammers, sears and trigger blades. All have been specially hardened and ground to fit precisely.
The trigger blade is also easily adjustable forward or backwards for length of pull adjustment.
The detachable trigger group offers fast, short and crisp pulls. This is because the trigger plate mechanism is completely independent of the action, so less stress is imparted to it. Finer adjustments are guaranteed, even under prolonged heavy use. The sliding safety is manually operated, which is my preferred option, and it glides effortlessly.
Despite being left-handed, the Zoli fitted me very well, did not feel very heavy and swung effortlessly. Recoil was mild, even with the 36- gram loads, and it digested the tested cartridges, shooting some excellent patterns down range.
The best performers were the Gamebore Pigeon Extreme, which consists of a load of 34-grams of #5 shot and a plastic wad. With the modified choke fitted, we had 180 pellet strikes, with 71 within the 15” inner and 109 within the 30” outer of the pattern board. Equally good were the Hull Pheasant Extremes and several clay loads, notably the Eley Superbs, which produced very dense, even patterns.
Zoli shotguns really do possess a very certain Italian charm to them. They always feel very natural in the hold and have that elusive ‘X’, or should I say ‘Z’ factor, where balance and handling all come together. The walnut is excellent, although the forend needs to match better, and the patterns shot with all the ammunition were impressive.