forgotten weapons

USFA Zip 22: How a Garbage Gun Destroyed A Good Company

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USFA used to be the producers of probably the best Single Action Army reproductions on the market – but then the company owner decided to pursue a crazy whim and embarked on the Zip 22 project. This was to be a very modular and very inexpensive little pistol with lots of cool possibilities. Problem was, the thing was a malfunctioning piece of junk that handled like a lumpy 2×4.

To make it cheap and easy to make, Donnely (owner of USFA, and apparently the actual designer of the Zip) eschewed the use of either an extractor or ejector. Furthermore, the bolt is a roughly 1″ (25mm) cube of polymer and is a consumable part like the recoil springs. The combination of a short bolt travel, very light mass of reciprocating parts, and lack of traditional parts to ensure extraction and ejection resulted (not surprisingly) in a notoriously unreliable firearm.

While each individual Zip is very cheap, this is only possible through the use of polymer molds, which are very expensive to create. Apparently USFA sold off all its traditional machine tools (ie, the Single Action Army production capacity) to finance the various molds for the Zip 22 project. Donnely thought that the massive profits form the Zip would allow him to purchase new tools and restart SAA production after a two-year hiatus. However, the massive problems with the Zip destroyed the company’s finances. It was only in production for just about a year, and by January of 2017 the company was formally dissolved, with no assets remaining.

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