In the beginning of October 2021, I was fortunate enough to attend the annual Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous in SE Idaho. Rendezvous time is one of my personal favorite times of the year. If you’re invited, you get to talk one on one with whichever manufacturers are present. Zev was there and brought out all of their toys for the media to look at. When I saw, and briefly shot, the Zev OZ9 Elite, I knew I’d be asking for a sample to beat on and test.
The Company Behind the Zev OZ9 Elite
If you’ve heard of Zev Technologies before, then you have a taste for the finer things in life. Zev is a company that started small in Centralia, WA, but has grown into a much larger company since.
In the summer of 2020, I was given the opportunity for a private tour of their manufacturing facilities. It’s actually a very impressive operation. Every employee that I saw had a smile on their face, and that in itself says a lot about a company. It’s there and then that I learned that the American Dream came true for this company.
Many say that a Zev looks like a tricked-out Glock, but they couldn’t be more wrong in that assessment. Glock is like an old Chevy Chevette—it’s ancient, reliable, and aesthetically looks like it fell out of the ugly tree. That’s where the comparison ends.
Zev designed their pistols to be bold, beautiful, and deadly. Owning a Zev pistol is like owning the Maserati of handguns. They aren’t cheap by any means, but you definitely get what you paid for.
Zev is a very successful company because they listened to their customers and have given them what they’ve asked for—function, reliability, and ease of use. They also make the majority of their pistols to order, which is why you don’t see them at every corner gun shop.
A Manufacturer That Pays Attention
The engineers at Zev took customer suggestions and married that with their own ingenuity to create one of the finer striker-fired pistols on the market. I was recently able to get some hands-on time with their OZ9 Elite Pistol.
This model has a nice-looking black slide and bronze-colored “optimized match grade” barrel. The OZ9 is offered in a few different models and configurations, such as full size, compact, and sub-compact. You can even get the super-sized competition model as well if you so desire. The model they sent for me to play with is their full-size (duty) variant.
Zev is one of the companies that pioneered the whole modular, removable, internal components movement. That’s right, you can treat your Zev pistol-like adult legos and further customize it to your own needs.
You can remove the serialized internal components, which Zev refers to as the “frame,” and place them into what they call the “grip,” which is the polymer lower, or grip module. This allows one to run a 4.5” upper in a sub-compact lower, for less profiling when carried concealed. Or, you would run a full-size upper on a compact lower. I’m sure you get the picture on this.
One thing you will notice right away is that Zev doesn’t skimp on details. The slide on this OZ9 Elite has front press check serrations to make life easier. They also have rear serrations for better gripping when racking in your first round or performing remedial action.
The slide has two small cutouts on either side directly behind the muzzle. It also has a cut out on the top, removing some weight, and showing off its rather attractive bronze-colored 4.5” match grade barrel.
The Trijicon rear sight is blacked out, while the front sight is a red fiberoptic type for optimal visibility. If you prefer different iron sights for whatever reason, the OZ9 line of pistols from Zev all accept Glock pattern iron sights. Zev has also included an ornate removable top cover plate for mounting your choice of optics on the OZ9 Elite.
The Grip Module
The “grip” is actually a lower polymer receiver and is swappable for other Zev grips as noted above. The texture on the grip is a nice balance of aggressive stippling, but not enough to be uncomfortable or remove skin during aggressive training. There are stipple strips for your support thumb along the grip, just under both sides of the pistol.
This model came with a custom magwell already installed. It helps make the OZ9 Elite truly one of the more comfortable pistols to shoot. The trigger guard is enlarged to accommodate those shooting with gloves.
Now, about the trigger, WOW! Zev installed their PRO flat-faced trigger into the OZ9 Elite. I noticed that my finger literally marries itself to the trigger face with no slippage at all. It’s a smooth 4lb press back and then you feel the break. The trigger resets itself fast, as if it’s springing forward to be pressed for the next freedom seed to be sent downrange.
If you want to make your shooting experience even better, pop off the optics plate cover and add a Trijicon RMR (RM06) on top. One simply cannot go wrong with an RMR for an optic.
That being said, the only drawback to the RMR is the battery is located underneath the optic itself. Granted the battery will last up to 4 years, it’s still a pain to change out batteries. If that doesn’t bother you, then you’re in business, because the RMR is one tough pistol optic.
Military “cool guys” and SWAT Teams the world over wouldn’t be using the Trijicon RMR on their duty pistols if they didn’t work.
Holding the OZ9 Elite in one’s hands, you can tell it feels balanced. The weight is exactly where it needs to be in order to get the job done. The extended beavertail is also a very nice touch. One can get a very nice, high purchase without worrying about any slide bite.
Something I noticed about the Zev OZ9 Elite, there is minimal felt recoil. I hate to compare a Chevy Chevette and a Maserati, but I shot the Zev next to my old Glock 17 (gen4) for comparison. My Glock has more felt recoil and didn’t feel anywhere near as nice to shoot. It also didn’t feel as balanced in the hand as the OZ9 Elite. Zev knew exactly what they were doing when they brought this pistol to the market.
The OZ9 Elite came factory equipped with two 17 round Magpul Pmag’s. I ran these, as well as my Glock mags through it and didn’t have any issues at all. As a matter of fact, of the 250(ish) rounds that I fired through it, there was not one stoppage to note. This is a positive attribute, especially given the 29-degree (F) temperature outside during testing.
From the average defensive shooting distance of 21 feet, the OZ9 Elite did very well. The best accuracy for my drills came from the Hornady “American Gunner” 124gr. XTP +P loads, making a 1.2” grouping on a paper plate. That right there is proof that the gun paired with the right shooter will do its part to stop a threat dead in its tracks. Pun intended.
Shooting at my Birchwood Casey AR500 ½” thick steel Silhouette target w/ hostage flapper was a hoot. Given the resulting splatter on the hostage flapper, that bad guy would have all sorts of additional cranial ventilation.
The OZ9 Elite with equipped Trijicon RMR is a force to be reckoned with. The equipped sights were tall enough to co-witness with the red dot, which made for tight shot groupings and repeated accuracy during some of my drills.
Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in FPS by Caldwell G2 Ballistic Precision Chronograph at 5 feet, and accuracy in inches for best five-shot groupings at 21 feet (Defensive), standing, unsupported. Ambient Temp was 29 degrees F.
|Federal Syntech Defense 138gr. SJHP||1061 FPS||2.0”|
|Federal Syntech 124gr. TSJ (Training)||1059 FPS||2.5”|
|Red Army Standard 115gr. FMJ||1188 FPS||2.3”|
|Hornady “American Gunner 124gr. XTP +P||1109 FPS||1.2”|
When buying a Zev OZ9, you’re not just buying a classy, top-shelf pistol, you’re buying peace of mind as well. I can absolutely see an OZ9 working its way into my EDC holster. These things are some seriously nice pistols. Don’t let the price tag scare you away. This is one of those times where you truly get what you are paying for.
Any Zev pistol in your hands will make you a happy shooter, I’m sure. The Zev OZ9 Elite put a smile on my face. Those who joined me at the range during testing also commented on how nice it was behind the trigger, with one of them looking like the Joker himself after a magdump.
Bottom Line, you simply cannot go wrong owning a Zev pistol. Buy the OZ9 Elite or any other Zev pistol with the utmost confidence.
For more information, please visit ZevTechnologies.com.
Zev Technologies OZ9 Elite Specs
Magazine Type: Magpul PMAG 17 GL9, Qty: 2
Trigger Weight: 4 pounds
Sights: Optic height iron sights w/ red fiber optic front sight
Barrel: Optimized Match Grade Barrel
Barrel Length: 4.5 inches
Weight: 27.1 ounces
Overall Length: 7.75 inches
Height: 5.5 inches
Safety: Striker Fired
Optic: Trijicon RM06 (RMR)
MSRP: $2235.00 (w/ optic)
The Zev Technologies OZ9 Elite Is the Maserati of EDC Pistols – Personal Defense World is written by Bill Foster for www.personaldefenseworld.com