[This post is a recounting of the events surrounding my attempt to test-fire the USFA ZiP pistol as I perceived and understand them, and is based off my own experience with the firearm as well as conversations with knowledgeable friends, gunsmiths, and ammunition manufacturers.]
[The first half of this story is available here.]
At 1304 on 24MAR13, I sent the following email to Mr. Douglas Donnelly, the President, CEO, and founder of United States Firearms, and the inventor of the ZiP pistol:
While I appreciate the opportunity you have given me, after thinking about the situation, I would like to decline reviewing the ZiP and return the firearm with no further testing. Please email me the address I should send it to – preferably an FFL-holder so I do not have to go through an FFL at my end.
I will not be posting a review of the ZiP; however, shortly after sending this email, I will be posting a factual documentation of the events, written as objectively as I can.
Thank you for your time.
(I use my carbon name in communications with companies where I am testing and evaluating their products; after all, they have to be able to mail me said products (though, in this specific case, the ZiP pistol went through an FFL).)
At 1340 on 24MAR13, Mr. Donnelly responded with the following email:
I understand you were not informed about the Springs being swapped in the unit. That was our oversite. Of course your testing that way with a mix of "coffee can" ammo and other dated offerings, you mentioned, "Federal Lightning" (more than a couple decades old itself) places the "test" in a category all it’s own.
Your choice not to "review it" is at odds though with your intent to "document" something which is therefore by your own admission a flawed test due to several factors.
It’s our opinion you should either conduct another "test" and review the unit properly or not at all. You would not want another individual testing the same unit and achieving a different result?
Chris Choat of Small Arms Review is the next in line.
Either way, the unit can be sent back to the FFL address sent to you when we spoke, with all accessories.
Thank you for your time.
Douglas F. Donnelly
Pres/CEO, Founder + Inventor
445 Ledyard St.
Hartford, CT 06114
Hartford, CT 06144
For clarification, Walmart will still sell you Federal Lightning ammunition (or they would, if there was any .22lr to be found anywhere in the country these days), as will numerous other online retailers. Lightning is no longer listed on Federal’s webpage (the "load number" – 510 – now seems to be labeled "Champion"), but I would imagine that the decision to discontinue that line, if it was made at all, was made quite recently, given that there are still inventories and stocks to be sold. I cannot speak to the exact age of the half-a-box of Lightning I put through the ZiP, but the packaging exactly resembled the box featured in the Walmart advertisement, not this one or this one.
Furthermore, recall that Federal Lightning was the only make/model of ammunition where the ZiP had no failures whatsoever.
Likewise, I am unaware of how storing bulk ammunition in washed-out coffee cans would change any aspect of that ammunition, especially since it invariably comes loose-packed in cardboard boxes. If anyone has any concrete information, however, I would be interested in seeing it, given I store .22LR, 9mm, .223, and other calibers in this fashion.
Finally, I never "admitted" to any "flaw" in my test; I simply told Mr. Donnelly the facts of what transpired and what I had discovered about the firearm, exactly like I did here, in addition to my feelings about the matter.
It is also worth noting that the ZiP manual does not forbid, or even recommend against, using any type of ammunition. In fact, the manual has this to say regarding the situation, on pages 24 and 25:
ZiP research and development engineers through extensive testing have provided the following recommendations to ZiP Operators for ammunition use. All results were tested at ZiP Factory.
The ZiP ships with 2 sets of recoil springs. Target and High Velocity -(Installed) Zip engineers have specified that "target weight" springs can be used with the corresponding listed ammo. ZiP has a tuned action and works best with:
The manual goes on to name CCI Standard Velocity, Federal Value Pack 525, American Eagle AE5022, Winchester Super X22LR, and Winchester Wildcat and provide specific product codes and lot numbers.
It continues with:
Use the installed "High Velocity" springs for the corresponding ammo recommendations. ZiPFactory received no inducement for the recommendations/tests as shown. (See pg.33 on how to change springs.)
CCI Mini Mag, Federal Game Shok, CCI Blazer, CCI AR Tactical, and Federal Auto Match 325 are all named as suitable "high velocity" choices.
However, the manual presents these recommendations as just that – recommendations. It does not state that these are the only types of ammunition you should use, nor does it list any proscribed ammunition.
Unfortunately, of the lists of ammunition provided, I only had CCI MiniMag available to me, and finding the other makes/models in the current market would be borderline impossible. As stated yesterday, the ZiP failed to reset it striker twice while using CCI MiniMags, though that was with the "Target" springs installed, unbeknown to me.
Back to the timeline, at 1708 on 25MAR13, I wrote the following in a comment on my post regarding my experience with the ZiP:
In truth, after writing this comment, I will be headed to my local FedEx where I will be paying to ship the firearm back to USFA. I contacted them to inform them that I would be returning it, and they simply told me where to send it; no attempt to pick up the tab was made by them.
At 1752 on 25MAR13, I paid $76.37 to "priority overnight" (required per company policies) the ZiP pistol to USFA through FedEx, insure the package for $200, and request proof of delivery. The tracking number is 802243554912, and it was delivered at 0922 on 26MAR13 and signed for by "L. CLARK".
At 2344 on 25MAR13, Mr. Donnelly sent the following email to Dragon Leatherworks in reply to a previous email thread where Dennis requested a copy of USFA’s FFL:
Denis: I forgot to include our FedEx account number:
And as you know, on any FedEx ship you can simply choose to bill recipient for the delivery. Not a problem.
(FedEx account number redacted.)
At 0005 on 26MAR13, Dennis forwarded that email to me, and copied me on the following response:
Thanks for forwarding the copy of your FFL.
I believe that [Linoge] is handling the return shipment to you, as ATF regs allow for anyone to ship, as long as the receiving party holds an FFL. I’ve cc’d him on this mail, so that he has the FedEx acc# to handle the return.
Dennis aka: Dragon
Then, at 1150 on 26MAR13, Mr. Donnelly sent the following email to Dennis at Dragon Leatherworks, who promptly forwarded it on to me at 1155:
Please let [Linoge] know that our Accounting dept has had FedEx reimburse [Linoge] for the pending shipment and put the expense on our Fedex account.
As of 1630 on 26MAR13, the pending charge from FedEx has not been canceled/reversed, which may be due to FedEx’s internal system taking its time. Also, I have received no direct communication from Mr. Donnelly or USFA since his 1340 email on 24MAR13, despite his having both my email address and cell phone number, and despite the ZiP pistol being shipped from me, not Dragon Leatherworks.
All said, between the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Instant Check System charge, transfer fee, ammunition, targets, range time, return shipping (pending its cancellation), gasoline, and my own personal time, this experience has cost me in excess of $150. If the pending shipping charge does get canceled, I will post an update.