Evaluate: ZEV AR15 Billet Rifle With Carbon Fiber Barrel
ZEV is a weapons manufacturer best known for its high performance and very aesthetically pleasing custom glocks. In addition to custom glocks, ZEV has recently started manufacturing its own complete firearms, ranging from high-performance pistols to semi-automatic precision rifle arenas and a few in between.
A few months ago I was able to get a hands-on version of the ZEV 6.5 Creedmoor Gasser, and it honestly exceeded my expectations. I didn’t have a single complaint in any category, from top to bottom. So when I had the opportunity to take another ZEV rifle with me for an unattended test drive, I jumped on it.
Let’s take a moment to check the specifications (according to ZEV):
ZEV AR15 Billet Rifle with Carbon Fiber Barrel Specifications:
- The top and bottom ZEV billet receivers are precision machined from 7075-T651 aluminum for strength and lightness, complete with an integrated trigger guard, flared magwell, and finished in true black Type III hardcoating, Class 2.
- The ZEV Wedge Lock handguard offers a continuous top rail over the entire length with M-LOK mounting system for maximum user customization and control.
- The ZEV Slide Lock rechargeable handle enables two-handed handling with an elongated and structured lock for superior grip and ergonomics.
- Proof Research Match-grade 16-inch carbon fiber barrel with a chamber in .223 Wylde with a 1: 8 twist and a medium length throttle system. Capable of constant sub-MOA accuracy with high quality factory ammunition.
- ATC’s exclusive ZEV Sniper Gray AR Gold Trigger features a 2.5 pound pull with a quick reset and a clean break that is second to none.
- Ambidextrous controls for the safety selector, bolt release and magazine release.
- Fixed, low profile gas block.
- SureFire WARCOMP flash hinder with closed tines to aid recoil management and reduce muzzle flash. Serves as a mounting adapter for all SureFire SOCOM Fast Attach Suppressors.
- H3 carabiner buffer increases dwell time and reduces port pressure to ensure reliable extraction and a smooth recoil impulse.
- Mil-Spec carabiner tube offers six adjustment positions for the buttstock for customization and comfort.
- Mil specification hidden castle nut with Magpul ASAP QD end plate with integrated ambidextrous QD loop attachment point.
- Complete with Magpul furniture and a PMAG magazine.
- Rifle Weight – 6.57 lbs.
The ZEV AR15 is the same size as your standard AR15, but differs greatly in weight. The carbon barrel of the rifle saves just under a pound of weight compared to the standard M4 model, and that in a rather critical area. With such a variety of cool attachments for ARs, the front of many guns get heavy, and with a support arm almost fully extended while you are firing, you will definitely feel it in your deltoid. This may seem like a bit of a problem to young or super fit marksmen, but for those of us who have had multiple shoulder surgeries (thanks Marine Corps and Jiu-Jitsu) we accept help wherever we can.
There are several ways AR15 manufacturers can reduce the weight of their rifles, some more practical than others, and I think adding a carbon barrel is a pretty clever way to do it.
As mentioned above, the ZEV AR15 is about a pound lighter than a standard M4, which is easy on my old shoulders. For short ranges, I prefer a heavier weapon because of its advantages in handling recoil, but the longer I am on my feet with the platform, the lighter I want it to be. I know I can’t have both, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it. This rifle was treated appropriately on recoil, especially with the SureFire Pro-Comp muzzle brake. Without a muzzle brake, it would be a bit stubborn in my opinion.
Apart from optics, I didn’t have any attachments on the weapon and found the weapon very manoeuvrable and easy to use. I don’t think this weapon, at least in its configuration, was geared towards the match shooter, but rather who would be holding it for long while it was moving or waiting for movement commands.
The ZEV AR15 has a two-handed magazine and bolt release, which I like, and a two-handed safety selector which I don’t like. The left magnetic trigger is about an inch and a half below the left bolt trigger and is almost flush with the magwell notches, easy to index with the trigger finger of a south paw. The right bolt release is located at 10 o’clock from the standard magazine release and can be easily indexed with the trigger finger of an Orthodox shooter. Well done ZEV.
Now for the security voter. As an Orthodox shooter, my right index finger is right in the way of the right selector switch. The problem occurs when you walk from the safe into the fire; the selector hits my hand near my first MCP index joint and completely stops the selector. To get into the fire from a safe shot, I have to pull my index finger and part of my hand completely off the gun. Then, as soon as it is “on fire,” the selector awkwardly pushes my pointing MCP joint away from the weapon. The same would be true if you were to shoot this weapon left-handed as the security selectors are identical. This is a pretty annoying problem for me that I should address right away.
The trigger is great. Super clean, light and crisp. It feels a lot like a sniper rifle trigger that I have a thing for. The reset is surprisingly subtle. So subtle that I thought I was going to have an AGV on the second round I fired. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad, but I think it’s worth mentioning.
The trigger shoe is flat, which is fine. I’m not a fan of curved or flat shoes, but I know some people are. I think it looks cool though!
Except for the security selector, I really liked the ZEV AR15. It’s nice and light, handy and, above all, it looks cool. I think if you are the type who spends a lot of time wearing a carabiner and want to extend the life of your joints, then you should consider the ZEV AR15.