Weight combined with balance makes this an exceptional target gun — expect to see it on the podium this summer, says Matt Hunt

Product Overview

Overall rating:

94%

Zoli Z-Sport Black 12-bore

Product:

Zoli Z-Sport Black 12-bore

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£5,000.00

Zoli Z-Sport Black

Over the past couple of decades, competitive clay shooting has grown substantially, as have the abilities, ambitions and, importantly, the budgets of its participants. (Read our list of best clay shooting vests.)

No longer are competitive shooters satisfied with an off-the-shelf, general-purpose and moderately priced Sporting clay gun. This means there has been growth in the development of dedicated ‘target guns’ and, if you visit one of this year’s championships, you will see the domination of brands such as Krieghoff, Perazzi, Caesar Guerini and Blaser.

The Zoli Z-Sport Black falls neatly into this class of target gun. As with all guns of this type, the overall weight is the most notable change from a traditional Sporter. At 8lb 6oz, it is not a gun you would use for general use or as an all-rounder. I will not be taking a pair on the moor. Its purpose and design are most definitely for breaking targets consistently.

Zoli Z Sport Black

Zoli Z Sport Black

The overall quality of design and build is comparable to that of the other top-end target guns, but the Zoli range stands out in terms of value for money. The barrels are exceptionally well constructed and use a more traditional soft or silver solder in connecting tubes with ribs rather than brazing or welding.

As you would expect, the barrels use a forged steel monobloc system and overall construction is superb and, in my opinion, class-leading. Customisation and ensuring the gun meets the individual’s requirements are key in the target gun market, therefore Zoli offers options on ribs, stocks and fore-end styles. The test gun has 30in barrels with a tighter-than-expected 18.5mm bore or .728. A 3in (76mm) chamber is standard.

Attention to detail with target guns is paramount and I would question the effectiveness of a 76mm chamber on a gun that will only ever be used with 70mm ammunition. But a tighter bore diameter is a positive when using fibre wad cartridges. The choke system is factory fitted with extended choke tubes. They are on the heavier side, adding more weight than I like to the muzzle, but the gun is balanced perfectly on its hinge pin and a fixed choke option is available.

The action body is a copy of the proven Perazzi model. Technically it’s 1mm deeper than an MX12 but 2mm narrower. The quality of machining is superb. The trigger unit is detachable but, rather than a complicated mechanism operated by the safety catch, it’s a simple torque screw.

The action comes with silver, coin or black nitride finish. It is diamond-hard and will not mark, scratch or wear. It has a distinctive look, with a gold ‘Z’ inlaid into a stippled oval with light scrollwork and a beautifully executed beaded border. Overall it has a very clean, stylish appearance.

The stock configuration on the test gun was a right-hand Monte Carlo type with adjustable comb and full pistol grip with palm swell. The comb is slim and the stock came as standard with ⅜in cast off at heel. This detail immediately made it feel like a Sporting clay gun and set it aside from some of the other competitors.

In its lowest position, the maximum drop that could be achieved was 1½in and, set in this position, the comb was parallel to the barrels. With its raised rib, it gave superb target vision but did have that Trap gun sight picture.

The finish on the wood and chequering is first class — as it is with every model in the Zoli range.

Need to know

  • Manufacturer Zoli
  • Model Z-Sport Black
  • Calibre 12-bore
  • Barrels 30in
  • Chamber 3in (76mm)
  • Chokes Multi
  • Rib Raised vented top rib and vented mid rib
  • Grip Full pistol
  • Weight 8lb 6oz
  • Importer Edgar Brothers, 01625 613177
  • Price RRP £5,000
Choke box

The choke system is factory fitted with extended choke tubes, which are a little heavy

Conclusion

The Zoli Z-Sport did not suit my average personal style of clay shooting. At English Sporting, I would shoot at least 90% of the targets gun down. The fatigue I feel after mounting a gun of 8lb 6oz has a negative effect on my accuracy and enjoyment.

I am in awe of those who make shooting these heavyweight guns look effortless. They are not easy to shoot well but, when they are, they clearly give the competitor an advantage. The weight combined with balance is what makes the Z-Sport a superb target gun. It feels stable to shoot at both close-up and distant targets.

Bold claims are made by Zoli about the barrel construction having a recoil-reducing effect. It did have smooth felt recoil and felt best with a high-velocity 24g load. The factory-fitted ventilated recoil pad was well designed for Sporting use rather than simply taken off the shelf marked ‘Trap Pad’. It was comfortable and did not inhibit mounting the gun at any point.

Operationally, the gun felt outstanding. All mechanical parts work effortlessly, without bite or drag. The trigger-pulls are on the heavy side but easily altered if required. These guns are the thinking man’s Krieghoff; they represent exceptional value for money with technical design and build quality that exceeds most of its competitors. I guess seeing championships won with a certain brand plays a major part in your choice when buying a target gun. For this reason, I wish those who shoot the Z-Sport the very best of luck in the coming months.

  • Action and barrels: Superb machining, finishing and style 19/20
  • Handling: Heavy, but a serious contender in its class 18/20
  • Trigger: Crisp but perhaps a little heavy 18/20
  • Stock: Exceptional measurements’ 19/20
  • Value: I don’t think it could be beaten in its class
  • Overall score: Don’t buy a target gun till you’ve tried it 94/100