Winchester lever action rifle

21st Century Cowboy

It was common practice in the late nineteenth century for cowboys to carry a rifle and a pistol chambered in the same caliber. This made sense from a practical point of view: if your rifle and your pistol used the same type of ammunition, then you only had to carry that type, and your preparation for contingencies was simplified. Further, provided that type was centerfire pistol ammunition, the cost of your preparation was reduced, since centerfire rifle ammunition has historically been more material intensive and more difficult to manufacture.

The twenty-first century American finds him or herself in a much more complex environment. Self-defense is a trickier proposition now, with legal wrangling frequently making what should be an unambiguously legitimate activity as much about publicity and perception as it is about thwarting criminal aggression. Since around 2000, defensive carbine concepts, usually taking the form of an M4-type weapon chambered in 5.56 NATO, have become popular. There are problems with the 5.56 NATO cartridge, however.

In the first place, the 5.56 NATO cartridge needlessly carries for hundreds of meters beyond the very short engagement distances typically encountered in self-defense situations. Additionally, 5.56 NATO is more expensive than the most popular NATO pistol cartridge. New production, brass cased, 124 grain 9mm NATO can be purchased for about $0.16 per round, and its tactical/duty-round equivalent (JHP) can be obtained for less than $0.21. Compare that to $0.275 per round for low-cost 5.56 NATO, and $0.64 at a minimum for match ammunition in this caliber. And with law enforcement, federal agencies, and the military either sticking to, adopting, or in many cases re-adopting 9mm NATO, it will most likely become even less expensive than it is in today’s already competitive market.

Among the ballistic and physical-property advantages of 9mm NATO is its excellent response to sound-suppression, thereby reducing the footprint and impact of training, casual shooting, and pest/varmint elimination on private property. Additionally, most 5.56 carbines are larger, bulkier, and unwieldier than their 9mm counterparts, requiring more space to store and employ. And not surprisingly, they are also heavier, occasioning increased target acquisition times and slower cadences of fire.

Zenith’s ZF-5 platform is built on an operating system and to design specifications that have been time tested and proven over decades of hard use by elite forces worldwide. The ZF-5 is supremely reliable, easy to shoot, and quick to employ. Recoil is minimal, and modern accessories such as rails, optics, and lights are easily adaptable. The iconic three lug mount featured on the ZF-5 allows for quick fixing of a variety of effective modern suppressors. Collapsible, fixed, and folding stocks are available, enabling mission-specific configurations that give consideration to length of pull, portability, and concealability. Finally, that the ZF-5 is chambered identically to your handgun, in the cost effective and controllable, yet proven-lethal 9mm NATO round means you stand to benefit from diminished logistical and budgetary footprints.

Sometimes looking back for good ideas is forward thinking.

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