By Bas Martens
The Z-008 III of the Zbroyar company in Kiev, Ukraine, can best be described as a bolt-action rifle with AR-looks. We have seen that before. But the Z-008 is not just a fashionably dressed repeating rifle. The weapon has been specially designed in this configuration and is full of gadgets.
The Ukrainian firm Zbroyar (which translates as “weapon maker”) is a private company established in 2004. The company in Kiev focuses on guns for sports, hunting and military use. Production, assembly, finishing and surface treatment are largely done in-house, using modern CNC machines and with a quality comparable to or better than many Western European companies.
At present, Zbroyar produces three types of weapons: the Z-15 (based on the AR-15) in 5.56x45mm (.223) NATO or .300 Blackout caliber, the Z-10 (based on the AR-10) in 7.62x51mm (.308) NATO caliber and the Z-008 III. The Z-008 III is the subject of this article.
The Z-008 is not restricted to any specific caliber. The construction of the gun, with a separate barrel extension, makes it relatively easy to change the barrel (and therefore caliber), which makes it a good choice for long-range shooters.
The Z-008 is a bolt-action rifle. The Roman numeral III stands for the third generation of the gun, as Zbroyar previously made several conventional Z-008 bolt-action rifles. The weapon is completely built in Kiev. Only the AR-stock and pistol grip are aftermarket parts, made by Magpul on the rifle pictured here. The magazine of the illustrated gun is also by Magpul, but of course there is a wide choice in this area.
The Z-008 is a fascinating combination of bolt-action rifle gun and AR. The weapon has the ergonomics of the latter, in terms of the position of the double-sided safety and single-sided magazine catches. The aluminum handguard with its mounting rails and the design of the construction with an upper and lower frame have also been copied from the AR. But since this is a bolt-action rifle, there is no gas block, cocking handle or forward bolt assist. The right side of the solid aluminum ‘upper’ has two elongated openings. The front one is the ejection opening (without a hinging lid), and the rear is for the bolt handle.
The height of the upper part of the receiver is almost the same as that of a semi-automatic rifle, which means it is almost seamlessly continuous with the handguard. To give the upper sufficient rigidity, the top part contains a steel cylinder, of which only the back is visible when the weapon is disassembled.
Unlike a semi-automatic, the Z-008 trigger mechanism is an integral part of the upper frame. The Z-008 comes standard with a single stage trigger mechanism designed at Zbroyar, but the construction is such that it can be exchanged for one of the main brands for an aftermarket trigger.
The Z-008 bolt has a narrowed bolt head with three locking lugs. The front of the bolt has the extractor, which has been mounted from the rear. It is a Zbroyar design, comparable to a Sako style extractor. The ejector is a spring-loaded plunger in the bolt head.
To maintain the best possible fit between the bolt and frame, Zbroyar added two extras. First, the body of the bolt has been extended to the rear, by means of a detachable end cap. A longer bolt automatically means less play. But as the bolt now travels further to the rear, the buffer and buffer spring had to be removed from the stock, which now has an empty tube with room for the rear part of the bolt. A second characteristic is a steel U-profile, put in the left lower side of the upper receiver. The axis of the bolt handle protrudes from the opposite side of the bolt. This notch runs in the U-profile and secures a tight guide. The U-profile bends upward at the point where the bolt handle is turned downward. This prevents wear to the aluminum upper and aids in primary extraction when the bolt is opened.
As far as operation is concerned, the Z-008 is simplicity itself. Insert the magazine, operate the bolt and the gun is ready to fire. The magazine housing is asymmetrical. The right wall is shorter than the left, making it easier to insert a magazine in a prone position. The magazine is a standard AR-10.
The firing pin is cocked when opening the bolt. A tooth on the bottom of the firing pin locks in the rear of the bolt body. If the bolt is completely closed, this tooth is released but is then caught by the trigger sear. This is similar to 99% of all other bolt-action rifles, comparable to the reliable operation of the mother of all modern bolt-action rifles, the K98. A small notch with a red ring protrudes from the right side of the upper receiver, giving visual and perceptible evidence that the bolt is cocked. The gun has an ambidextrous safety catch, but only the left side of the receiver is marked with “FIRE” and “SAFE.”
Like the AR, the upper and lower receiver are connected with two cross-pins. When the rear pin is pushed out to the right (it won’t fall out), the lower receiver pivots open. For normal maintenance, that is enough. A special pin now blocks the mechanism to ensure that the weapon cannot be fired.
With the stock out of the way, the bolt can simply be pulled out to the rear of the receiver. To dismantle the bolt, one must first remove the end cap, which is fastened with a bayonet catch. If the cap is turned clockwise, it can be pulled from the bolt body. Next, the firing pin case and firing pin can be pulled rearward out of the bolt. The bolt head is attached to the bolt with a solid crossbolt, in turn fixed by a pin. If this little pin is removed, the crossbolt can be taken out and the bolt head separated from the bolt. The front part of the bolt has a smaller diameter than the rear and the bolt head. It is fitted with a synthetic sleeve, which reduces friction when operating the bolt.
We fired the Z-008 III, equipped with a Tier-One Spartan III silencer and a Kahles K 624i 6-24×56 scope, at a 100-meter range, with Lithuanian GGG Ammunition. That distance is almost an insult for the rifle, with a group of roughly half an inch. The bolt runs very smooth, cartridges fed without any problems, and the trigger is excellent. The European importer, the Dutch company PIROSPORT, also specializes in custom-made barrels. It prepared a first run in 6.5x47mm Lapua, but the Zbroyar ZB-008 III can be made in any caliber of the .308 (short action) family, like .243 Win., 6mm BR, 6.5 Creedmoor, .260 and the 7mm-08. The gun is being used as a military sniper rifle as well.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N8 (October 2017)|