What Happened to USFA ZiP .22?

It is not uncommon for a certain product line to be overhyped by its manufacturer and certain fans, only then later to be rejected by the majority.

The main reason why these designs flop is because when they eventually get released by the manufacturer after building up all the hype, they don’t live up to it.

Some even flop so bad that it doesn’t even take a year before manufacturers lower the retail price or make a complete recall.

What Happened to USFA ZiP .22

One such flop known to the gun industry and its avid fans is the USFA ZiP .22. The USFA is known for its high-quality clones of the Colt revolvers.

So, when the company sent a Youtuber one of its early designs of the ZiP .22, a video was released. It garnered multiple views as it intrigued many fans of the gun industry and of USFA.

But, after building up all that hype and promise with just a single video, USFA sadly wasn’t able to live up to it at all. In this article, we will be talking about what happened to the USFA ZiP .22 after its production.

History of USFA ZiP .22

Donnelly, one of the gun designers and owner of the company, originally planned to halt the major productions of USFA to generate revenue to be able to buy the equipment needed to make the ZiP .22 happen.

To do this, they had to sell all their replicas of the Colt Single Action Army. The revenue generated from this plan would then be used to buy the molding tools needed for the company’s general production.

On the 4th of June in 2012, a video entitled “Unidentified Firing Object-!” was released by Youtuber John Smith. However, this was the only video that John Smith would ever post on his Youtube account, claiming that a shooter at a gun range brought the pistol with him.

Later on, this video would be reported by an individual named Doug to The Firearm Blog.

After making a post about the video and of the gun, another account named Doug made a comment on the blog post praising both the video and the gun.

Due to the circumstances, it was believed that the owner of USFA, Douglas Donnelly himself, arranged for all of it to happen.

In December of the same year the video was posted, the gun was listed on ZiPFactory’s website.

A couple of months into 2013 had the pistol brought to the public on the SHOT show. In that same year, production of the ZiP .22 happened, but again, its value was not able to live up to its hype.

Only a hundred of these guns were produced by the ZiPFactory before the company lost its Federal Firearm License.


Designed in 2011 by Douglas Donnelly, the USFA ZiP .22 was a semi-automatic pistol and proposed rifle receiver.

At the time of production and release, it cost around 200 USD with its polymer frame. It weighed around less than half a kilogram (or less than a pound) with a total length of 7.25 inches.

Its barrel length made up most of it, being 5.25 inches long. The gun was also fairly thin at only 1.2 inches with a height of 3.1 inches.

With only 1 barrel, the gun was meant to have a cartridge of a .22 Long Rifle using a caliber of .223 (in 5.7mm). It had a straight blowback action, a vertical feed system, and notch and blade for its stock sight.

In a bullpup configuration, the ZiP .22 came in a box-shaped “futuristic” polymer frame, with 2 holes on it for the trigger finger and the user’s middle finger.

The bolt came with 2 trapezoidal bars spanning the length of the entire barrel, and the only way to cycle the action of the gun was to pull these bars in towards the user.

However, this was one of the major problems the ZiP .22 had that drew tons of criticism, mainly because of safety issues and possible injuries to the user of the gun.

The proposition of the ZiP .22 being a rifle receiver was due to its design to be part of a modular weapon system.

This meant that possibly a whole rifle could be built with the ZiP .22 as a receiver using a wide range of drop-in expansions, of course according to the user’s needs or preferences.

A removable plate where the stock iron sight is placed on can be replaced with enhanced sights or even a picatinny or scope rail to adapt for optics.

Another rail accessory could have also been added to the underside of the ZiP .22 to allow for additional firepower.

The simple addition of a carbine stock and suppressor could have seen the ZiP .22 converted into a rifle, but together with a .22MWR conversion kit, it never went past the prototype stage.

Performance of the USFA ZiP .22

As if rubbing salt on a wound which is the weird design of the ZiP .22, the semi-automatic pistol also came with a very underwhelming performance.

Not only was the performance underwhelming, but also was it riddled with multiple and frequent malfunctions, leading to the eventual rejection of it by multiple fans, even the loyal ones of USFA.

The bolt of the gun itself, as mentioned, was one of the biggest problems the gun had.

The design of the bolt with the rods practically required the user to place their hand beside the muzzle to bring in a new round into the chamber, which was a very careless and inconsiderate design as it could have easily injured the new and inexperienced users who were not aware of how to handle it.

The bolt also cycled too quickly, which meant that common magazines failed to feed or even double-feed, which is why some users would only get 5 to 8 rounds in before the gun started malfunctioning.

Ergonomically, the gun was also a huge failure owing to its horrendous design. Although the gun had a very low recoil that made things very comfortable for even new and the weaker users, the flat buttplate was quite huge even for users with big hands.

The body provided little to no room for a proper grip, which one could say defeats the purpose of having a low recoil.


The ZiP .22 currently only has 1 variant, the ZiPSSE. The ZiPSSE is a .22 Magnum single-shot semi-automatic. This variant could easily be made by using a drop-in ZiPSSE Module attachment.

However, just like the other attachments of the ZiP .22, the attachment never made it past the prototype stage because USFA had lost its Federal Firearm License before it could produce the attachments.

What Happened to Production?

Production started in 2013, almost a year after the first video on the ZiP .22 was made.

Because the USFA stopped production of its highly-acclaimed replicas of the Colt Single Action Army to use the revenue they garnered to purchase the expensive molding equipment needed to produce the ZiP .22, they took a big risk for the company.

The gun itself was fairly cheap, with a price tag of 200 USD, which meant that it was easy to acquire for fans of the gun industry, especially after all the hype it built up.

However, this price clearly was not the best for the gun to break even with the company’s production of it, especially since the molding required for its polymer frame was quite expensive.

The expensive molding equipment for the USFA ZiP .22 meant that the company also had to sell its production equipment for the Colt Single Action Army replicas.

The plan was then to use the revenue garnered by the ZiP .22 had it been successful to repurchase the production equipment needed for the Colt Single Action Army replicas. However, the USFA ZiP .22 flopped terribly and only brought expenses for the company.

The Double Down

It was proposed that the ZiP .22 be used for a modular weapon system, and the company had doubled down on that claim by producing attachments to make the modular system happen.

However, because the USFA ZiP .22 terribly failed, its production of the attachments never continued and the overall production of the ZiP .22 was halted in 2014.

Three years later, the USFA company also shut down due to its inability to make up for the losses garnered through production of the ZiP .22.

Only fans of oddities and weird product designs ever truly bought and kept the gun, but gun enthusiasts themselves would never use it due to its lack of reliability and poor design.

Wrapping Up

Such a gun as the USFA ZiP .22 was never meant to succeed, especially if manufacturers would rather focus on gun design rather than performance and reliability.

Although the USFA suffered major losses due to the ZiP .22 never being able to live up to its promise, it learned a valuable lesson from it.

Other companies also could use the failure of the ZiP .22 as a lesson to always place performance ahead of design.

These days, people value functionality more than design, something that a lot of companies should always keep in mind.

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