The latest addition to the Zoli Z range is a wonderful example of the maker's "Classic Revolution" - and it shoots very well too, says Matt Hunt
The latest addition to the Z range is the Zoli Z One, a black-actioned Sporter with detachable trigger unit on a Boss-type action. The overall design of the gun conforms beautifully to my expectations of a Sporter; there are no quirky over-engineered design features nor unnecessary aesthetic features. What is unusual, though, is that it has a retail price of just £2,800, which represents astonishing value for money. I would have expected a gun of this quality to have a price double this.
The barrels are monobloc in construction and Zoli has embraced the traditional method of ‘silver’ or ‘soft’ solder to attach the ribs and monobloc. This process has been industrialised to ensure perfect joints. There is no need for engraved rings around the tubes where they meet the monobloc as this joint is virtually invisible. This method of construction allows a soft harmonic feel when shooting — you usually only experience this when shooting a gun costing considerably more.
The action and monobloc start as an alloy steel forging prior to CNC machining. However, the zero-tolerance accuracy that has been achieved is through the latest spark erosion machining technique. This puts the fit of the trigger-plate and other assembled parts into a different league.
Internal mechanical parts are normally the Achilles’ heel of guns of this price and type and what separates average guns from exceptional guns. These are always the parts that eat up man and machine hours. They are also the parts that determine all the important aspects of reliability, longevity and ergonomics and normally where faults come from.
The Z One’s mechanical parts are superb and exceptionally machined and finished, with a titanium nitride hardening process to ensure that wear and corrosion is minimal. The main springs are of coil type and demonstrate a fierce lock time.
My one criticism of the gun is that it has an almost too perfect appearance caused by the unbelievable accuracy of manufacture. The stocking, chequering and wood-to-metal fit has that Jessica Rabbit look about it. I can buy into the fact that the wood finish is ‘hand rubbed’, but honestly, I like to see natural materials such as walnut having a few imperfections or the odd overrun in chequering, both of which I feel add to the soul of a gun.
Need to know
- Manufacturer Zoli
- Model Z One
- Calibre 12-bore
- Barrels 29.5in
- Chamber 76mm
- Chokes Multichoke
- Rib 11mm-7mm parallel top rib with vented mid rib
- Grip Pistol
- Weight 7lb 14oz
- Importer Edgar Brothers
- Price £2,800
I had low expectations of my performance with the Z One as I walked out on to the shooting ground. Despite my best efforts, I have never been able to shoot straight with an Italian-made Boss-type action with a detachable trigger.
The Z One was a different story. From the very first shot, I felt comfortable with the gun and, unlike every other gun of this type, it shot where I looked. It has an exceptional feel to the grip, which is slim and profiled for the hand rather than designed around the dimensions of Thor’s hammer.
The comb is slim — as a sporting gun should be, in my opinion — and allowed for the eye to comfortably come over the centre of the barrel without the need for excessive pressure on the cheek or change in how the gun needs to be mounted.
The rib being parallel to the barrel profile and tapering neatly from 11mm to 7mm gave just the right amount of awareness and, even on longer targets, my eye wasn’t distracted from looking at the target.
These are important and very different characteristics for this type of gun, and I was genuinely surprised how well it suited my shooting style. If you are a Browning or Miroku shooter, next time you fancy a change, pick up a Z One — you will be pleasantly surprised.
Mechanically, the gun worked faultlessly — even the camming and the top-lever and engagement of the hold-over was perfectly timed, and I’m hoping this feature travels down the valley in Brescia to other more prominent makers. If I had to pick fault, the take-up on the trigger was too much and detracted from what was otherwise a crisp and fast trigger time.
In my opinion, the Z One is the most exciting gun to come out of Italy for a decade. It is well made, exceptionally well priced and shoots like a gun you’ve owned for years — and leaves you with that confident feeling that next time you will be even better.
This new shotgun from Zoli has opened my eyes to the future of Italian gunmaking. As the Turkish gunmakers take over the reliable, functional and reasonable end of the market, Zoli is forging a new and exciting image, and I wish it every success.
- Action and barrels 20/20 Superb engineering and finish
- Handling 20/20 Best-handling Sporter since the 1990s
- Trigger 17/20 A little reluctant but gun was ‘pre-launch’ model
- Stock 17/20 Great dimensions and looks superb
- Value 20/20 Simply remarkable for the money 20/20
- Overall score 94/100 Most exciting gun I’ve seen for a decade
Most exciting gun I’ve seen for a decade