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Zev Technologies 0.Z-9 — So What?




From Bal­lis­tic­Mag -

The firearms world is a diverse uni­verse of com­pa­nies, some of which are huge con­glom­er­ates while oth­ers are more bou­tique. Some focus on a few spe­cif­ic prod­ucts, and oth­ers try to make every­thing under the sun. That’s the sim­pli­fied, gen­er­al lay of the land in the firearms indus­try. One com­pa­ny may leap into an “indus­try leader” role for a while but is usu­al­ly replaced in short order as Com­pa­ny X releas­es its new blaster. All the while they seem to be chas­ing each oth­er, and in many cas­es copy­ing what seemed to work for some­one else.




How­ev­er, there is one com­pa­ny that stands apart from this some­times pre­dictable frame­work. A com­pa­ny that has chart­ed its own path and decid­ed that it is capa­ble of tru­ly being the epi­cen­ter for shoot­ers. This inno­va­tor is ZEV Tech­nolo­gies.




ZEV Foundations

From its start with after­mar­ket drop-in trig­gers, ZEV built its busi­ness with the phi­los­o­phy that any part it made had to be the best prod­uct avail­able on the mar­ket. In short order, its cus­tomer base expand­ed from com­pet­i­tive shoot­ers to elite mil­i­tary and law enforce­ment per­son­nel, and ulti­mate­ly into lead­ing gun stores and ranges. Oth­er com­pa­nies have entered this space, but only ZEV prod­ucts have won world cham­pi­onships, and go through the most exten­sive test­ing by top-tier mil­i­tary clients. While some com­pa­nies would con­sid­er that the pin­na­cle of achieve­ment, ZEV hasn’t been con­tent to sit on its lau­rels.

It became appar­ent to the engi­neers at ZEV that their abil­i­ty to inno­vate in the hand­gun realm was lim­it­ed by the base prod­ucts they had to work with. Instead, it would be much more effec­tive if they could get their hands on a gun in ear­li­er stages of its design. It is this idea that moti­vat­ed ZEV to make a very bold move. In Jan­u­ary of 2019, after three years in devel­op­ment, ZEV announced that it had begun man­u­fac­tur­ing a com­plete pis­tol. This move embod­ies the company’s unre­lent­ing com­mit­ment to qual­i­ty, and the result is the OZ9.

Origin Story

The OZ9 (Orig­i­nal ZEV 9) is the cul­mi­na­tion of tens of thou­sands of research and devel­op­ment hours. Bal­lis­tic received its first hands-on look in Octo­ber 2018 at Athlon Out­doors’ sec­ond annu­al Ren­dezvous shoot­ing event. Short­ly there­after, we had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to vis­it the mad sci­en­tists at ZEV’s Cen­tralia, Wash., facil­i­ty and got an even bet­ter behind-the-scenes look at the new pis­tol.

The OZ9 is a poly­mer-framed, strik­er-fired 9mm that is absolute­ly more than the sum of its parts. At first glance, it screams “ZEV” sim­ply because of its excep­tion­al fit and fin­ish. But the core of the OZ9 is the frame that ZEV com­plete­ly man­u­fac­tures in-house, a prod­uct of more than a decade of expe­ri­ence. Dave Roberts, ZEV’s vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing and busi­ness devel­op­ment, shared how they came up with the design. “Over the past 12-plus years, we have per­formed thou­sands of Glock mod­i­fi­ca­tions for cus­tomers. We looked at what was most com­mon­ly request­ed and used that as a base to work from.”

ZEV OZ9 Features

After work­ing with the OZ9 and putting rounds through it dur­ing my Wash­ing­ton vis­it, I found it to be every­thing I could want in a strik­er-fired pis­tol. It has a full-sized grip with tex­tur­ing that pro­vides good pur­chase with­out chew­ing my hands up. There’s also a good-sized Pro Plus mag­a­zine well for quick reloads, and unlike some oth­er designs, it’s mount­ed using a sin­gle retain­ing pin. The back of the frame has a full dove­tail, which is a wel­come addi­tion to those who suf­fer through “slide bite” from their Glocks.

One of the most inter­est­ing aspects of the frame is that it has an 18-degree grip angle. This is dif­fer­ent from a stock Glock, which comes in at approx­i­mate­ly 22 degrees. In fact, the 18-degree grip angle feels more rem­i­nis­cent of a 1911, and the gun points more nat­u­ral­ly. The OZ9 also has a dou­ble-under­cut trig­ger­guard as well as ambidex­trous mag­a­zine release. The trig­ger for the OZ9 is ZEV’s Pro Flat Face unit, which seems right at home here, and wrap­ping up the low­er assem­bly is a dust-cov­er rail for mount­ing acces­sories.

I’m sure there are more tech­ni­cal descrip­tions that could be used, but the slide on the gun is just damn sexy. Made from stain­less steel, it comes from the fac­to­ry pre-milled for a Tri­ji­con RMR, and ZEV has includ­ed patent­ed mount­ing points with posts that bet­ter sup­port the optic. In terms of iron sights, you’ll notice a fiber-optic front sight and a ZEV Com­bat rear—perfect for fast tar­get­ing.

A Look Inside

The OZ9 uses one of ZEV’s well-known bar­rels and a cap­tured recoil spring on a stain­less steel guide rod. The gun can be tak­en down just like a Glock, but this is where I did a dou­ble-take.

As I broke the gun down, I came across what makes it dif­fer­ent and game chang­ing. ZEV hous­es the trig­ger, trig­ger bar and all of the oth­er fire con­trol com­po­nents in a self-con­tained receiv­er unit that pulls free from the gun. The ben­e­fits of this design are numer­ous and make it tru­ly a mod­u­lar gun. The first wave of OZ9s will all be full-sized, but ZEV is ramp­ing up to offer shoot­ers a vari­ety of frame size and col­or options. All you’ll need to do is pull the receiv­er and drop it into your new ZEV frame.

Each seri­al­ized receiv­er is made from 4140 alloy steel and has what ZEV describes as “lube reser­voirs” on top. These also act as a place for debris to fall into and help keep the gun run­ning flaw­less­ly. The rails on the gun are extend­ed and pro­vide 50-per­cent more engage­ment than fac­to­ry rails. The major upside to this is improved accu­ra­cy. In that the receiv­er hous­es the trig­ger, the pin is essen­tial­ly cap­tured and does not require a cut for reten­tion. This will undoubtably add to the life of the pin and save the shoot­er from the frus­tra­tion asso­ci­at­ed with bro­ken pins.

The trig­ger bar is worth a spe­cial note, as it too is made in-house by ZEV. Once again, the engi­neers looked at what peo­ple have request­ed over the years and made a unit that fits all those para­me­ters. Vis­it­ing with Dave Roberts, I dis­cov­ered the design and devel­op­ment of the ZEV trig­ger bar was a mon­u­men­tal under­tak­ing — one they are extreme­ly proud of.

Behind the Bullets

I’ve had the plea­sure of run­ning sev­er­al ZEV-upgrad­ed guns, and I’ve been impressed each time. Get­ting the oppor­tu­ni­ty to walk the floor and vis­it with the team helped me to under­stand just why ZEV prod­ucts are so good.

One of our stops was at the inspec­tion room, which turned out to be a fas­ci­nat­ing vis­it. One of the inspec­tors, Randy Pratt, shared that, “We have exact­ing qual­i­ty stan­dards. Parts are mea­sured and checked by three peo­ple, then loaded into a pre­ci­sion robot­ic mea­sur­ing sys­tem and fol­low­ing that are mea­sured yet one more time by an inspec­tor. All to make sure the prod­uct is per­fect every sin­gle time.”

The shop space was hos­pi­tal-ward clean and well orga­nized. Most shops hav­ing their fair share of pal­lets and gen­er­al man­u­fac­tur­ing debris around, but that was not the case at ZEV.

I did come across a series of rifle builds and was quick­ly remind­ed that in 2017, ZEV stepped out­side the hand­gun mar­ket with the pur­chase of Mega Arms. Mega had also built a sim­i­lar rep­u­ta­tion for excel­lence. Right out of the gate, Mega became renowned for extreme­ly tight tol­er­ances and metic­u­lous qual­i­ty. So it was a per­fect fit for the team at ZEV, and the result of the pur­chase is a com­plete line of rifles with the ZEV mag­ic. Like their work with Glock hand­guns, ZEV takes a great rifle and makes it excep­tion­al. With an offer­ing rang­ing from com­plete rifles with car­bon-fiber bar­rels to uppers and a vari­ety of parts like charg­ing han­dles, they have it all.

Final Thoughts

Regard­less of what we were talk­ing about on the tour, my mind kept going back to the OZ9. To the unin­formed or pedes­tri­an gun own­er, it may look like just anoth­er tricked-out Glock. It is so very much more than that. But the qual­i­ty and inno­va­tion in this new design will be most appre­ci­at­ed by peo­ple who know what they are look­ing at. The exact machin­ing, design focus and atten­tion to even the most minute detail make this an excep­tion­al firearm.

One of the last points Dave Roberts shared with me was that “The new OZ9, with its exten­sive design process and metic­u­lous fin­ish­ing, reflects our com­mit­ment to qual­i­ty and excel­lence.” I have had the for­tune of see­ing behind the cur­tain at many shops around the coun­try, and each had their own unique attrib­ut­es and prod­ucts. But I’ve nev­er been as excit­ed about a new prod­uct com­ing to mar­ket as I am about the OZ9. It takes guts to make the jump that ZEV has made, and the shoot­ing com­mu­ni­ty will ben­e­fit from it. For more infor­ma­tion, vis­it ZEVtechnologies.com.

ZEV OZ9 Specs

  • Cal­iber: 9mm
  • Bar­rel: 4.48 inch­es
  • OA Length: 8.04 inch­es
  • Weight: 28 ounces (emp­ty)
  • Sights: Fiber-optic front, Com­bat rear
  • Grip: Poly­mer
  • Action: Strik­er-fired
  • Fin­ish: Mat­te black
  • Capac­i­ty: 17+1
  • MSRP: $1,679
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ER1C ☠

ER1C ☠

Dedicated Second Amendment Advocate, At-Home Gunsmith, Designer, Blogger, Video Guy, Author, Business Owner & ReloadOne Member.

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