I’ve always advocated a .22 pistol as a survival firearm. The .22 round has a lot of disadvantages, but also some real advantages.
One advantage: the ability to carry a brick of ammo in an area roughly the same size as a soda can. The caliber lacks heavily for defensive use, but is quite handy as a general purpose caliber for small game. In a pinch it can be used defensively, but it’s far from the perfect lethal caliber. The weapon can also be quite small and concealable, and extremely controllable.
I also tend to like oddballs, as long as they are affordable and cheap. The USFA Zip is that.
On the outside looking in the USFA ZIP is an awesome gun for survival. It’s a little bulky, but is lightweight. Its bullpup design makes it small, without the sacrifice of having a small gun. The USFA Zip is quite unique; the first time you see one it’s bound to catch your eye.
It looks uncomfortable, but in reality it’s not that bad at all. The weapon does not feature a traditional grip, and looks like it has the ergonomics of a brick. It essentially is a brick with a barrel and two charging handles.
The safety is a standard push button, red for fire, and black for no-go. There is a small rail on the bottom, but I’m not quite sure what you could fit on it. The charging handle is kind of odd and doesn’t seem incredibly safe.
The charging handle is a rod placed slightly above the barrel. This makes you nearly place your hand in front of the barrel. To the left is the restrike hammer. Allowing you to re-cock the weapon in case of a misfire, or light primer strike. The restrike rod is shorter and supposed to only re-cock the mechanism. This doesn’t exactly work out. The round half ejects, and then gets jammed in the breech.
The trigger is stiff and long, but breaks evenly and consistently. They are nothing to write home about, but not worth cursing about, either. The sights are large and work well. They could use a few dots of white paint to increase visibility.
This is probably the best feature of this weapon. It’s very accurate. I surprised myself. Rounds consistently hit in a half dollar sized group at 15 yards. The weapon allows a good solid grip, and the large sights are easy to line up. The fact the barrel is lower than your grip aids a lot in a solid grip and control of this handgun.
Magazines are a critical part of any weapon, and if they don’t work the weapon doesn’t work. Well, USFA was smart enough to use Ruger’s genius and utilize 10/22 mags. 10/22 mags are plenty available and made by tons of different companies. Unfortunately, the only mags that even halfway work are the BX 10 mags made by Ruger. It’s laughable to even try to use any magazines that weren’t built by Ruger. The BX 25 mag doesn’t work past the first shot without an upgrade kit you have to buy from USFA.
Fit and Finish
The weapon is mostly plastic, with metal internals. It feels plenty tough. It would really be lightweight and easy to fit in a bug-out bag with a brick of ammo. The weapon seems rust-proof, too. I’ve left it in my trunk on numerous occasions and I’ve never found a speck of rust. The weapon is great at resisting rust and the finish seems top notch.
This is where the weapons degrades into a bad joke. Reliability? It’s about as reliable as a $15 Rolex. I’ve tried the recommended CCI mini mag ammo, and it fed properly about half the time. I’ve tried ammo after ammo and have not yet found a reliable brand.
The weapon is a mess, with failure to feed, failure to fire, and failure to eject round after round. I bought the extra springs to use lighter loading ammo, but nothing I tried worked. The longest string I’ve fired is seven rounds without a jam, stovepipe or light strike.
You literally spend more time clearing these issues than pulling the trigger. I followed every factory spec and suggestion and my gun has never functioned right. I’ve swapped ammo, mags and lubes. This dog just doesn’t run.
The gun is cheap, with an MSRP of $200, but is that a value? It makes a unique paperweight — that’s for sure. Do I regret spending the 200? Yes, I do.
So value is relative, and the weapon is cheap, but is it worth it? In my opinion, not at all. Stay away from the Zip — far away.
Editor’s note: The following video review of the Zip .22 is performed by a different person than the author: