Review: ZEV AR15 Billet Rifle With Carbon Fiber Barrel
Cory Mince 09.25.19
ZEV is an arms maker that is primarily known for their high-performance and very aesthetically pleasing customized Glocks. In addition to their custom Glocks, ZEV has recently begun to manufacture their own complete firearms which expand from the performance pistol realm all the way to the semi-automatic precision rifle arena and a few things in between.
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A few months ago, I was able to get my hands-on ZEV’s 6.5 Creedmoor gasser, and it honestly outperformed my expectations. I didn’t have one single complaint in any category, top to bottom. So, when I had the opportunity to take another ZEV rifle for an unsupervised test drive, I jumped on it.
Let’s take a moment to review the specs (per ZEV):
ZEV AR15 Billet Rifle W/Carbon Fiber Barrel Specs:
- ZEV Billet Upper and Lower receivers are precision-machined from 7075-T651 aluminum for strength and lightweight, complete with an integral trigger guard, flared magwell, and finished in true black type III class 2 hard coat anodize.
- ZEV Wedge Lock handguard provides a full length continuous top rail with M-LOK mounting system for maximum user customization and control, integrated anti-rotation pin ensures a consistent and continuous top-rail with the upper receiver.
- ZEV Slide Lock charging handle permits ambidextrous manipulation with an extended and textured latch for superior grip and ergonomics.
- Proof Research match grade 16” carbon fiber barrel chambered in .223 Wylde with a 1:8 twist and mid-length gas system. Capable of consistent sub-MOA accuracy with high quality factory ammunition.
- ZEV exclusive sniper grey flat face AR Gold trigger from ATC features a 2.5lb pull with a short reset and clean break that is second to none.
- Ambidextrous operating controls for the safety selector, bolt release, and magazine release.
- Low profile fixed gas block.
- SureFire WARCOMP closed tine flash hider to aid in recoil management and muzzle flash reduction. Serves as a mounting adapter for all SureFire SOCOM fast attach suppressors.
- H3 carbine buffer increases dwell time and reduces port-pressure to ensure reliable extraction and a smooth recoil impulse.
- Mil-spec carbine buffer tube provides six butt stock adjustment positions for user customization and comfort.
- Mil-spec staked castle nut with Magpul ASAP QD end plate with integral ambidextrous QD sling attachment point.
- Completed with Magpul furniture and one PMAG magazine.
- Rifle Weight – 6.57 lbs.
The ZEV AR15 is the same size as your standard AR15, but it differs greatly in weight. The rifle’s carbon barrel saves you just under a pound of weight when compared to the standard issue M4, and it does so in a pretty critical area. With such a variety of cool guy attachments for ARs, the front of a lot of guns start to get heavy, and with a support arm near full extension while shooting, you will definitely feel it in your deltoid. This may seem like a minor issue to the young or super fit shooter, but to those of us who have had multiple shoulder surgeries, (thank you Marine Corps and Jiu-Jitsu) we’ll take help from wherever we can get it.
There are a variety of ways AR15 manufacturers are shaving weight from their rifles, some of them more practical than others, and I think the addition of a carbon barrel is a pretty smart way to do it.
As stated above, the ZEV AR15 is lighter than a standard M4 by about a pound, which is kind to my old man shoulders. For short range sessions, I prefer a heavier gun for it’s advantages in managing recoil, but the longer I’m on my feet with the platform, the lighter I want it to be. I know I can’t have it both ways, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to. This rifle handled adequately under recoil, especially with the SureFire Pro-Comp muzzle brake on it. Without a muzzle brake, I think it would be a bit unruly.
I didn’t have any attachments on the rifle except for an optic, and found the gun very nimble and easy to manipulate. I don’t think this gun, at least the way it is configured, was geared toward the match shooter, but more to who would be holding it for a long time while moving or waiting for orders to move.
The ZEV AR15 features an ambidextrous magazine release and bolt release, which I like, and an ambidextrous safety selector that I don’t like. The left side mag release resides about an inch and a half under the left side bolt release and is nearly flush with the magwell cuts, easily indexed by a south paw’s trigger finger. The right side bolt release is 10 o’clock from the standard mag release and is easily indexed by an orthodox shooter’s trigger finger. Nicely done, ZEV.
Now to the safety selector. As an orthodox shooter, my right index finger resides directly in the path of the right-side selector. The issue arises when going from safe to fire; the selector hits my hand near my 1st index MCP joint, completely stopping the selector. In order to go from safe to fire I have to pull my index finger and part of my hand completely off the gun. Then, once it’s on “fire”, the selector is awkwardly pushing my index MCP joint away from the gun. The very same would be true if you were to shoot this gun left handed as the safety selectors are identical. This is a pretty annoying issue to me that I would have to address right away.
The trigger is great. Super clean, light, and crisp. It feels very much like a precision rifle trigger, which I’m partial to. The reset is surprisingly subtle. So subtle, in fact, that I thought I would have a FTF on the second round I fired. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing, but I do think it’s worth noting.
The trigger shoe is flat, which is fine. I’m not partial to a curved or flat shoe trigger, but I know some people are. I do think it looks cool, though!
With the notable exception of the safety selector, I really liked the ZEV AR15. It’s nice and light, handy, and most importantly, it looks cool. I think that if you are a guy who spends a lot of time carrying a carbine and you’re looking to prolong the life of your joints, you may want to consider the ZEV AR15.