Back in April 2012 I was involved in a Zombie shoot in Dallas, TX the grand prize sponsor was American Weapon Systems.
After seeing the grand prize I contacted them and had a chance to talk with them about doing a test and evaluation of the ZA-15.
American Weapon Systems Forged Zombie Annihilator® Lower and Upper, Machined from Forged 7075-T6 Aluminum
AWS 16″ Mid-Length LW-50 Stainless Steel Barrel 1:8 Twist Polygonal Rifling, With .223 Wylde Chamber.
AWS Nickel Boron Coated M16 Bolt Carrier
Two Stage Trigger: Geissele
Magpul UBR (utility / battle rifle)
Magpul MIAD (Mission Adaptable) Grip
Magpul MOE Trigger Guard
Surefire 60 round high Cap Mag
Forward Grip: TROY Industries, Modular Combat Grip
Samson Low Profile Gas Block
MechArmor TacOps-1 Charging Handle
A2 Flash Suppressor
Samson FFS & FRS Quick Flip Sights
Samson manufacturing, Evolution series 12.37” Forend
Old Man Lefty and I had a few chances to take it out to the range and put it through its paces.
Safe-Zombie-SHTF (S**T HITS THE FAN)
I buy guns based on need such as a new hunting rifle for larger or smaller game, or based on performance like handling, ease of use, and how it feels to me.
As seen in past posts I do own a few different types of .223/5.56×45 rifles
Sig 556 DMR
Sig 556 SWAT
Smith & Wesson M&P-15
I have fired many different AR-15 Platforms from Colt, Daniel Defense, DPMS, STAG, AAC, and BCM.
The Smith & Wesson M&P-15 I own is stock. I have not made any modifications to it, outside of adding a scope.
The S&W M&P15 is a nice rifle that is well built. It has more felt recoil than the ZA-15.
The stock model M&P15 is boring and if you want a M&P15 you may end up changing quite a few parts just to get it to the point you like it.
The ZA-15 can be customized before it is even shipped to you so you know the rifle you are buying is going to be the rifle you want.
I have met a a few people who believe an AR is an AR is an AR but that simply is not the case. Not all AR-15s are made equally and this becomes very apparent when firing the ZA-15 next to the M&P 15. You can feel the time spent hand assembling the ZA-15 and it is obvious that this is not another factory line gun using the the same stock rifle with the same parts time and time again.
American Weapon Systems has built a very high quality AR-15 rifle and and you are going to pay for it. Depending on the build you are looking at $2000.
AWS builds the rifle to your spec to insure you get the rifle of your dreams.
The GEARS crew and friends shot about 1000 rounds of .223 and 5.56×45 though this rifle and it preformed exceptionally well under all the conditions we put it through .
The barrel of this rifle is chambered in .223 Wylde which lets you shoot .223 Remington and 5.56×45 rounds through with no problems.
The bolt carrier group is a full auto bolt carrier group which I am a big fan of because it reduces (by the bolt being heavier) the the speed the bolt carrier goes into full battery (the status of a firearm when the action has returned to the normal firing position. Bolt carrier group locked in the lugs of the barrel). The reason I like that is it slows the action down making the extractor have enough time to eject the spent brass reducing the chance of stove piping(the rifle is NOT full auto). A heavier bolt increases your control over your firearm.
I made this stove piping for the image by putting spent brass in the rifle like that.
AWS shipped us the rifle with a Surefire 60 round magazine which is fun to fire and just looks cool.
They have dressed up the rifle with the Zombie killer dust cover and all of the Engraved Biohazard Logo and Zombie Annihilator® painted in neon green so it shows up really well. While this doesn’t make the rifle anymore accurate or function any better it does make the rifle a nice conversation piece out at the range.
I personally do not buy firearms because of aesthetics. I don’t buy a gun just because it was branded with the latest trend, but that being said I am always excited by anything that helps the firearm industry. This is a well built gun and it has a fun factor thrown in that makes taking it to the gun range a exciting way to meet other shooters. Everyone wants to come see the Zombie gun and talk to you.
First I have to say I had no input about what went onto this rifle. They built the rifle and shipped it to me and when I opened it at my gun shop it was the first time I saw and knew what was on this rifle.
This model is engraved with ZOMBIE ANNIHILATOR and a biohazard symbol which makes this a GREAT zombie killer. Without the paint and engraving the rifle looks like a standard AR-15. More than that the gun has a number of features that make this a great gun.
They put the UBR (utility / battle rifle) stock on this rifle which is a bit bulky but has a great feature, the cheek rest, which does not move with the rest of the stock. This lets the shooter have a nice full cheek wield. It comes with a compartment which holds (6-7) .223 rounds. I didn’t want to take all of my EOtechs apart and pull the batteries out but it will hold a few CR123 batteries or a few AA or AAA batteries. The storage compartment in the stock is removable and the door is reversible.
Sling mount specs:
Front/Rear – Reversible QD swivel sling mounts fit up to 1.5″ push-button swivels (swivel not included)
Bottom – 1.25″ sling loop
[Found on the Magpul website]
The felt recoil is low and of the few people outside of the GEARS crew that shot it only one person disagreed, but everyone has their own opinion. Old man lefty made the comment that it had lower recoil than the Kel -Tec SU-16CA. Gun Bunny made an observation that you can hear the buffer tube (action) spring when the rifle is fired. This did not affect the rifle but it was a curious thing to hear.
The magazine they sent with the rifle was the 60 Round surefire magazine. Since we are out of Texas this magazine is legal (if you want your rifle to come with this magazine please check with your local laws). The magazine had no problems and functioned perfectly. Since I am not a competition or tactical shooter I do not have any comments about using this magazine in a competition or in a tactical situation. I fired 60 rounds in as fast as I could pull the trigger and the rifle shot normally. I did like having the 60 rounds to sit and shoot without having to reload or change mags.
Reloading took me 120 seconds to pull each round out of my loose .223 ammo box and hand load. All 60 rounds fed with about the same (felt) spring tension as the 1st round loaded. I did not use a maglula (speed loader) with this magazine because I do not have one at this time.
Since this a a standard AR-15 there are not any special things that have to be down to field strip this rifle.
From 25 –50 yards the rifle held tight groupings with 10+ shots in a quarter size hole. I did not test it at any longer ranges.
The Samson FFS & FRS Quick Flip Sights are spring loaded which makes popping them up fast and easy from the rifle hanging on your side from a sling.
The sights were on target when I got the rifle so I didn’t need to adjust them. They are an all metal construction so they are solid when you are walking around with the rifle from a sling and they fold so you are not getting the sights caught on your gear.
The standard ZA-15 comes with 18′” rail on the top (2) 1 3/4” on the left and right sides and one 4 3/4” rail on the bottom that has the TROY Industries, Modular Combat Grip.
The weight is around 11-12 pounds (unloaded) which is on the heavy end of the mid length 16” barrel AR-15’s weight. (for comparison my M&P15 comes in at just under 7 pounds with a 16” barrel). The rifle uses a heavy barrel for improved accuracy. I wouldn’t want to be firing from an unsupported or standing position all day with this rifle but with support this rifle is an okay weight.
AWS sent the rifle in a SFR 5013 Double Rifle Case which is a TSA approved case. By shipping in this case it protected that rifle better than the normal cardboard box and packing peanuts.
The TROY Industries, Modular Combat Grip AWS put on the rifle is nice. It unscrews so you can change the size for your shooting preference.
The Two Stage Geissele Trigger has a nice clean break when fired and one of the most smooth and clean triggers I have ever had.
The MechArmor TacOps-1 Charging Handle has a charging handle latch on the right and left side of the handle making it easier to charge the firearm left or right hands and while the rifle is in different positions.
I liked the Magpul MIAD hand grip because you can change the back and front straps. This allows you to find the most comfortable grip for shooting and reduce hand fatigue from shooting all day.
This made most of the people I showed this to at the range smile.
NiB-X NICKEL BORON:
While I did not have any issues with it, I would like to do more testing with the nickel boron before I make any more comments about how good or bad it is. Two different shooters and gun smiths I respect both have completely different takes on Nickel Boron so I need to test more for myself and my own understanding before I would recommend it.
- Low Recoil
- Easy to shoot
- Easy to clean
- Stock is adjustable for different shooters
- Candy cane breaking trigger pull (clean snap)
- Draws attention when at the range
Weight is heavier than I like.
OVERALL THOUGHTS & COMMENTS ON THIS RIFLE:
Overall I loved this rifle and would love to own this rifle.
The price is high but when you put all the parts together into one rifle the price is reasonable.
Great gun, fun to shoot and worth the price for the time and care American Weapon Systems puts into each gun.
While AR-15s and AK-47s are two of the most copied designs of guns that doesn’t mean they are all the same. American Weapon Systems is not a mass producer of AR-15s which lets them devote the time to customizing rifles to their clients wants and needs.