Is This the Worst .22 Pistol Ever Made?

The ZiP22 was a monumental failure, bringing down the company that went all in on the design.

The United States Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company, Inc. was revered for their clones of the Colt Single Action Army revolver. In fact, they were built in Hartford, Connecticut at the same site where Colt produced many of their classic firearms in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Over time they expanded their line, building M1911s and reproductions of the slide-action Colt Lightning Carbine.

All was fine and well until 2011, when USFA went all-in on an ill-advised project called the ZiP 22. The company ditched its proven product line in favor of the unsightly .22LR semiauto pistol, which they built in their "ZiPFactory." The gun sought to cash in on the polymer pistol craze, but there was just one problem: everything. Ian McCallum of Forgotten Weapons gives us a tour of a firearm in the video above that deserved to be forgotten.

The gun was ergonomically difficult.
The gun was ergonomically difficult.YouTube

If the name doesn’t remind you of a 1950 Mercury retractable antenna modified to fire a rimfire round, its reliability and safety should. To fire the strangely configured ZiP22, the user must first depress a plunger next to the barrel, forcing you to place your fingers right over the loaded barrel. It failed to fire so frequently that the builders saw fit to add another plunger—also next to the barrel—to reset the firing pin.

There are no ergonomics to speak of, at all.

At first glance you probably can’t figure out how you’re supposed to hold the pistol. The "Battle" configuration outwardly resembles a bullpup rifle, but it's sized to fit in the palm of your hand, which it does awkwardly. Users report that it’s surprisingly comfortable, for a brick. A second finger loop is located under the trigger guard, a necessary addition to gain enough leverage to pull the extremely heavy trigger.

The little pistol actually had a 5.25" barrel and was technically a bullpup, with the action located in the palm grip area behind the trigger. It had no slide and no extractor, being a pure blowback firearm and relying on the extractor present in the Ruger 10/22 magazines it used.

The ZiP22 could be attached to anything with a Picatinny rail...for whatever reason.
The ZiP22 could be attached to anything with a Picatinny rail...for whatever reason.YouTube

For some reason, the designers thought this would be the ultimate tactical tool, and included a removable top that can be customized with any number of accessories from night sights to Picatinny rails. They even made an adapter that let you attach the ZiP22 to anything outfitted with a Picatinny rail. USFA touted this as a way to add to the versatility of your rifle, though attaching it in such a manner would make it an illegal short-barreled rifle, and it's pretty confusing as to what advantage a .22LR pistol would be attached to say an M4 carbine.

The thought was that if a rifle ran dry and a soldier needed to immediately keep engaging a target (or was on their last mag), at very close distances, they would have a few rounds in reserve ready to go in the ZiP22, buying them enough time reload.

Ultimately, and seemingly quite obviously, it's easier in this rare circumstance, and more reliable and more effective to transition to a pistol.

The gun was designed to be semi-automatic, but in practice, it functioned more like a single-shot. The ZiP22 was a failed experiment that led to the downfall of the company that built it.

The "battle" configuration of the ZiP22.
The "battle" configuration of the ZiP22 with it's optional stock attached.YouTube