Pawn Shop Finds – The Terrible Zip Gun

    This month’s edition of Pawn Shop Finds is by far one of the worst and most interesting pawn shop finds I have found yet. Last week, I was up in the bad part of town in Muskegon Heights which is not known for being the nicest part of West Michigan. I came across a decaying pawn shop that had a variety of “gently” used goods including guns. I was rather excited since it was a business I’ve never had the chance to check out.

    The Sale

    As I stepped into this older pawn shop, I smelled a very distinct musty smell with a hint of mold. A very friendly older gentleman leaning against the counter. I said hello and began looking at the variety of used handguns in the glass case. There was everything from the well used Hi-Point C9 to old Smith & Wesson Model 10s with their finish almost completely gone. At the very end of the counter, there was a little brick that looked just like the USFA Zip Guns that epically failed. I’ve heard a number of horror stories behind these guns where they malfunctioned or blew up in the shooter’s hand.

    As soon as I realized what it was, I knew I had to steer clear of everything else and try to buy that Zip Gun. The price tag on the gun said it was $149.99 but let’s be honest, there was no way I was paying that for a broken ticking timebomb. I countered with an offer for $100 but he was a shrewd negotiator. He countered with $110 and after a few more counteroffers we settled on $106.99 as the final price. For this gun, it was probably still too much but with its production history and the fact its rather rare, I was fine with the price.

    Range Time

    The track record for the USFA Zip Gun is about as bad as you can get. The guns are known to be horrendously unreliable and in some cases will blow up in the shooter’s hand. It was made to take Ruger 10-22 magazines and that’s honestly really cool. It’s a handheld mini bullpup pistol that takes Ruger magazines, so how bad could it be. To cock the pistol, you have to push a charging stick right by the muzzle which made me nervous but it’s functional. My first few shots through the gun were great. The little .22 LR pistol cycled the first few shots but then transformed into a glorious jammomatic.

    I’m not sure if something broke but I didn’t make it through a full magazine without at least 6-7 malfunctions. I tried cleaning the gun quickly and lubed the action. I also tried just about every type of .22 LR ammo I could find. Whether it was Federal Bulk ammo or any type of CCI, it just wouldn’t function 100%. These guns were not known for their reliability but it was worse than I was expecting sadly. I tried shooting roughly 100 rounds through the gun and it probably worked correctly only 30-40% of the time sadly.

    Overall Thoughts

    If I’m honest, this Zip Gun is one of the most interesting and hands down one of the worst guns I have bought yet. The Zip gun was only made for about one year before they went bankrupt. Honestly, I can completely understand why it was only made one year. The gun refuses to work but since it was only made for one year in limited numbers, I think its a rather interesting find. I plan on keeping the Zip Gun just as a cool find since it was only $106. The gun was a complete failure and they are known to be completely unreliable but it’s kind of special.

    Think of it as something that’s so bad, it’s kind of good in ways. USFA tried to design something completely new and different and in that sense, they definitely succeeded. I’m glad I found an example to keep as a cool example of past designs that failed. I have been waiting for one of the cheap pawnshop finds to completely fail on me. I hope this is the one that doesn’t work and I continue to have good deals. I’ve had great luck so far but there was always bound to be one that just didn’t work. I think the Zip Gun is what I was waiting to buy and have it fail miserably. Let me know if you guys have ever shot or owned a Zip Gun in the comments below. If you have questions feel free to ask on my Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there!

    I’m an avid shooter and love educating whether it’s at my job or in the shooting community. I’m an average joe that really loves talking with other people about firearms and other passions
    .I’m active on Instagram on @fridgeoperator @just_pistols @thedailyrifle.