Zoli Factory Trip March 2023 by Max Cope, TSG Gun Room Manager
Zoli has been a key brand in our focus since we were introduced to them in 2021, presented to us by the renowned UK distributor Edgars Brothers. The first aspect that drew us to the brand immediately was the quality and genuine evidence of passion for this in the finished product. What other maker stands behind their gun to the extent of providing a life-time warranty on the barrels and 10-year transferrable mechanical warranty?
Our flight took us to Milan Bergamo and after a short drive we arrived at our accommodation for the night. Edgar Brothers had organised a stunning hotel located on the water’s edge of the 15-mile long Lake Iseo. We spent the evening in a rather lively and authentic restaurant with excitement building for the day that lay ahead of us.
The next day an amazing drive through mountains dropped us down into the world famous Trompia Valley – the heart of the Italy’s gun making industry. Upon arriving at the Zoli factory, nestled in the steep sided Trompia valley in Brescia, we were introduced to company president Paulo Zoli and Davide, one of the company’s longest serving employees. Immediately it was apparent that both held a deep-rooted passion for the brand and gunmaking.
Did you know that Zoli do not sponsor or pay anyone to shoot their guns? Paulo told us they would prefer that their guns are chosen because they are the best performing out of the competition. They have collected data that shows evidence that 80% of registered shooters have improved their scores since the move to Zoli, and most notably their scores have remained more consistent. This was most recently demonstrated by Matthieu Delmas securing a win with his Zoli XL-Evo at the Fujairah Mountain Shooting Championship 2023 with 176/200. The Fujairah Mountain has been labelled as one of the hardest courses in history with targets set by George Digweed himself. Some particular stands had clays at staggering 80-90 yards proving easy work for the Zoli fixed choked at ½ & ½ showing its excellent pattern quality.
After we ran through some custom options with the customer we paid a visit to the ‘wood room’. Here we found a stunning selection of blanks which were organised into graded racks. After a thorough look through all on offer we narrowed the customer’s options down to a choice of two blanks. The first of these was an upgrade of 1 grade, the second was an upgrade of 2 grades. Reaffirming the honesty of the team at Zoli, Davide suggested the customer should choose the lower of the 2 grades as this represented far better value.
Blank chosen and customer happy, we hopped in the car and ventured further up the valley to the stock maker’s workshop – positioned up the steep sided valley, overlooking much of the famous factories below. The master stockmaker selected by Zoli was Giacomo Guerini; a long serving employee of the Beretta ‘SO’ factory which is now set up independently and is regarded as one of the best in Italy. A ‘tri’ stock was fitted to the customer’s action and barrels and measurements taken.
We set off back down the valley for a factory tour with Davide. We witnessed every stage of the production process from the CNC milling of the forged steel actions, silver soldering and regulating of the barrels right through to the final fitments. We were blown away by the quality control department. Here we learnt that every single action and major component is tolerance checked to a staggering maximum deviation of 3 microns! A CNC control machine was underway with this using its stylus to measure every surface of a freshly milled action.
Next we ventured into the heart of Gardone old town for a beautiful three course lunch with Paulo and Davide. We really did get to know the two very well over the day which flew by! They were extremely welcoming and excellent hosts that were thoroughly honest at all times.
After our delicious meal complemented by local wine, we ventured once again to the stock maker. The blank had been transformed into something that very much looked like a gunstock! The customer mounted the gun and we made a few minor tweaks to the grip – it was absolutely spot on after this and yet again we had a thoroughly pleased customer.
The final options were specified back at the factory with some gold initials and custom trigger guard engraving being added. We said our goodbyes and made our way back to Bergamo airport, all in awe of the incredible two day trip in Brescia. We could not recommend the experience highly enough. We knew Zoli’s were made to an extremely high standard prior to our trip but now we had witnessed the passion behind this.
Zoli can make you all that you have ever wanted, with a special memory to go along with it – at a price that may also surprise you..in a good way!