Innovation looms large in Texas and ZRODELTA
Deep in the heart of Texas lays a place so vast and remote you’d swear you were on the sub-Sahara plains of Africa, but the animals might have something to do with that too. Champion Ranch, operated by Joel Swan and Papa Joe, is home to over 40+ species of animals, many exotic and many which you won’t find anywhere else in the US. ZRODELTA and U.S. Optics were gracious enough to invite Guns.com, along with a handful of other industry writers, to the ranch for a display of new guns and gear they’re rolling out in 2018.
Clint Walker, Director of Sales & Marketing for ZRODELTA, started the overview for the writers by going over the what’s new and what has made the company great to begin with. “We want to be innovative and change the way the industry operates” Walker said. This is clearly the case as ZRODELTA has unleashed a plethora of products that are both innovative and potentially disruptive to the industry.
Born for precision out of innovation
“ZRODELTA was born from the love of precision shooting,” Walker said, that rings true when you see their scope mounts. We got a chance to play around with the DLOC-M4 30mm & 34mm Scope Mount, which is a single piece precision machined body made from 6061 aluminum. The company boasts this as a true return to zero scope mount which includes nine points of engagement, none of which require tools and don’t mar the M1913 rail. It attaches to the rail via their patented DLOC system, which has six recoil lugs and three tensioning side grip surfaces, allowing the mount to grab more rail than any other mount on the market. With a finger tight lock the mount will be impossible to move and the company backs it up, having put the mount through numerous competitions without a single issue.
Next up was the new and very innovative DLOC-S Mounting System with Harris Bipod which the company has recently released. I know what you’re thinking “Cool, a Harris bipod, who hasn’t seen one of those?” Well, you’ve probably never seen one like this, it was designed for ultimate flexibility by adding DLOC attach system which utilizes 10 engagement points with three recoil lugs, this allows the mount to grab more rail than any other mount on the market today. Other notable features of the bipod are the one handed quick detach, the ability to cant the weapon without moving the bipod for quicker leveling, and the SARG knob (Shooters Adjustable Rotary Grip) which allows the user to lock the bipod or disengage with ease. These bipod mounts retail for $259 while the scope mounts come in at $279.
The Z9 pistol system
Innovation didn’t stop at the bipod or scope mount though. Next, Walker showed us the good stuff, the guns. Let’s start with the most anticipated gun to release from ZRODELTA this year, the Z9 pistol system. Walker has touted this as being “the world’s first modular pistol that will allow the user to go from compact to full long slide race gun in seconds.” If that sounds too good to be true, it’s not, as I witnessed it happen multiple times with my own two eyes.
With just a couple screws and a small tool, which will be included with the purchase of a pistol, you can completely transform your pistol. Furthermore, the screws require no Loctite to stay in place. Worried about the gun falling apart in your hands when you shoot? Need not, thousands of rounds put downrange proved that all you need is a little elbow grease and that small tool to assemble the gun and shoot all day.
All the pistols are compatible with Glock Gen 3 parts including trigger packs, trigger housing, slides and slide internals, plus much more. Why did they do this? Well it’s not about beating Glock as Walker reinforced by saying, “The pistol is about customization and the power of building and the free market and putting that power into the hands of the consumer – not about beating Glock.” And why would anyone realistically want to take on a giant in the industry such as Glock? No, this pistol is truly about giving the end user the most customization and bang for their buck. Literally everything on the gun is customizable, don’t like finger grooves? Get rid of them. Want a different backstrap? Change it. Want more capacity? Change the magwell. It all happens in a matter of seconds with their patented design. “We wanted to bring the modularity of the AR system to the pistol platform” Walker said.
So how did they perform on the range for the various writers at the event? Well, it wasn’t a 100% flawless exhibition, but this was also the first time having outsiders test the gun. In another sign of innovation, the company didn’t run from issues or blame the shooter’s grip etc. which I’ve seen so many other companies do. Instead, they worked tirelessly the next day with the writers to address the issues and implement solutions. We were reassured that all issues with the gun, which were minor, will be fixed by the expected ship date in July of this year. They are expected to hit the ground running, shipping 2,000 pistols the first month, their goal is to have 5,000 pistols shipped by the end of the year. Want to order one now? You’ll have to wait as ZRODELTA won’t be pre-selling any these pistols, a commitment that they’ve made to get it right the first time, so they don’t have to do any recalls or returns.
The best part about the gun for me, minus the fact that you could completely transform it in a matter of seconds, was the trigger. It had very little sponginess upfront and the break was so very clean. The reset was short and sweet, making for a firing experience that was both pleasant and accurate. It was a trigger that you didn’t want to get off, if I could take their trigger and place it in my S&W Shield 9mm I would jump at the chance to do so.
The Z9 Compact version will ship with the 17 round magwell, a backstrap, finger grooves, sights and a couple mags. This will be available for $1,299 starting in July. They have said that they will be shipping the pistols as complete pistols this year only, by this time next year people will be able to order just the components to custom build the pistol they want.
Heading to the long range
Next up from ZRODELTA was the Venator rifle which runs on the AR10 and AR15 platforms. The AR10 platform is being offered in .308 and 6.5 Creedmore, while the AR15 platform is currently offered in 6.5 Grendel and .224 Valkyrie. Walker told us that the rifles all ship with a ½ MOA guarantee, which is unheard of in the industry. “Accuracy, typically in an AR platform means it’s not reliable,” said Walker “then if it’s accurate and reliable you tradeoff weight. So the holy grail of that is accuracy and reliability and weight savings, and you’ll find that in the Venator system.”
Indeed the rifle proved to be all that and more when taken to the “shooters nest” – a high tech paradise located on the Champion Ranch properties which was a long range shooters dream come true. The gun proved to be highly accurate, being able to reach out and touch 1,000 yards consistently amongst the skilled shooters with no issue whatsoever. The rifle is set to release in July and will feature full ambidextrous controls and a carbon fiber barrel. The 6.5 Grendel offering will $3,500 – $3,800 depending on the fit and finish you want.
U.S. Optics shows up to shoot the long range
Mounted on the Venator was SVS 1-6x optic from U.S. Optics, who also made an appearance at the event. Although U.S. Optics has been around for years the SVS 1-6X optic is new and worth noticing. Walker told us “You will not find brighter glass on the market in the 1-6.” Truly it did stand apart from many other optics I’ve seen for its sheer brightness. It did appear to brighten everything up from the looking through it, a welcome sight for hunters and competitions shooters alike. “This optic represents the future of U.S. Optics and where the company is going” Walker told us. Clearly the company has a bright future ahead of it if this is the quality and precision that they are planning on putting into their optics.
They are targeting both the hunting market and true working professional with this optic. “You’re not going to dial a 1-6… you can make very minute changes and actually create a true point of impact with this optic,” Walker said. They tested this optic in their shop with a one of a kind machine which simulates 10,000 rounds fired. With the 30-06 ammunition in two separate tests they had movement of .02 mils and zero movement respectively, so this optic is built to last and stay at zero. Another key aspect and differentiator of this optic is that it has an infinitely adjustable rheostat, something which is uncommon amongst optics. Finally U.S. Optics is priding themselves on their name, telling us that the optic is made in the U.S. by the team of people who work in their Montana facility. It ships with the ZRODELTA mount mentioned above for $1,499.
The gun that stole my heart
Finally, ZRODELTA also had for testing their new Sub-ZRO 9mm carbine. While the company is focused on shipping their new pistols and Venator rifles, they have also developed a carbine pistol, which was an absolute riot to shoot. Chambered in 9mm this gun takes Glock mags and has ambidextrous controls. Eventually, they said they will be able to change the interior to go to 10mm and .45 as well. This gun was extraordinarily light and accurate, with a trigger that was an absolute joy to shoot. I could have sat on the range all day and shot this gun. It ate all the ammo we could feed it without a hiccup and was extremely accurate, even under high rates of fire. This gun should be released before fall of this year.
It’s refreshing anytime you see a company be disruptive within their industry. The combination of ZRODELTA and U.S. Optics at the Champion Ranch event should be an eye opener to any company within our industry that wants to sit back on its haunches and not innovate. Not only are these companies poised to make a big impact within the industry, they are going to make that splash quicker than imagined. This is a group of guys who fully embrace the “move fast and break stuff” mentality to get the greatest product into the hands of the consumer quickly. I’m excited to see both of these great companies grow as they invest more in T&E. Innovation and market disruption aren’t just buzz words for ZRODELTA and U.S. Optics, they are a way of life and I find it exciting to see the heights to which both of these companies will rise to.
Finally, the article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the fine people at Champion Ranch who housed the writers for the few days we were there. Not only can you see (not to mention hunt) exotic wildlife which would cost you tens of thousands more to see in Africa, you’ll do it in the lap of luxury. Everything from the food to the pool to the accommodations was nothing less than 5 stars. It shows in their booking too as Papa Joe told us they are booked up for months even while constructing a multi-million-dollar expansion to the property. Bravo to both companies on a job well done.