The First Stage
Built using chromed brass with a highly polished zirconium finish, the first stage is the standard jet-seat high-flow piston design found in all Atomic’s regulators.
The turret is fixed, with six low-pressure ports around the circumference and a seventh at the top, with two high-pressure ports set either side of the barrel.
All Atomic regulators available in the EU market are factory-sealed to prevent external contamination from sand, silt or salt crystals, with the added advantage that this provides anti-freeze properties.
The first stage is compatible with the use of nitrox mixes up to 40%.

The Second Stage
The main body of the second stage is constructed using high-grade polymers with internal components crafted from precision-machined brass with zirconium plating and titanium.
As is found throughout the entire range, the regulator is fitted with Atomic’s seat-saving orifice. This clever design lifts the valve away from its seat when the regulator is not in use, ensuring that it doesn’t become engraved and so extending its life.
A single adjustment knob for rapid de-tuning and the maker’s patented automatic flow control, combined with the Z3’s newly designed high-flow second-stage case, is said to significantly reduce breathing effort at all depths.
A black PVD-coated anatomical swivel is fitted to the second-stage hose joint to reduce restrictive head movement. The dual-material front cover is available in a choice of six colours and enables the entire front to be used in purging the regulator. The mouthpiece is made from dual silicon with tear-resistant bite tabs.

In Use
This is a good-looking regulator, I thought, as I set up my kit on our first day’s diving. The model I had been given featured the standard front cover with gloss-black inserts.
I know looks are less important than performance, but I was instantly impressed. The whole thing looked a million dollars as it caught the sunlight on the deck of our dhoni.
The six lp ports set around the fixed turret on the first stage gave me plenty of options for neat and functional hose-routeing.
Under water, I put the reg through what has become our standard set of tests. Starting with the purge, the large cover made the valve very easy to access and depress.
The action was progressive, starting with a light flow through to a full tonsil-rattling tornado, and it was easily controlled by varying the pressure applied, clearing any unwanted water from the mouthpiece instantly.
I turned the rapid adjustment knob to its minimum setting to de-tune the airflow, and still had a comfortable if slightly laboured breathe.
At the other end of the scale, the airflow became a little too gushy for my taste.
I found and settled on a setting somewhere in-between. It made the air delivery perfect for my breathing style and, once set, the Z3 proved as smooth as any top-end regulator I’ve used.
I inverted myself to check for water ingress. There was none, so I spun slowly horizontally to make sure, and the mouthpiece still remained dry. With the regulator adjusted to my preferred setting, I spat it out at around the 25m mark to check its resistance to freeflow, and the mouthpiece didn’t let a single bubble escape.
The exhaust ports are quite stumpy but didn’t push my exhaled bubbles in front of my face.
Nowadays all this is pretty standard fare, to be honest – what really separates regulators is how smoothly they breathe at depth. The Z3 was incredible in this department.
I own and regularly dive with Atomic’s signature T3 titanium model because that is, for me, the smoothest-breathing mechanical device I’ve ever put in my mouth under water.
The Z3 delivered air in exactly the same way, as smooth as silk no matter how hard I was breathing, and no matter at what depth.

Conclusion
The performance of this “economy” regulator was outstanding. Atomic’s smart choice of materials coupled with its standard design meant that under water I could hardly differentiate it from my own set, which costs three times as much.
I was left trying to justify spending the extra on the titanium model. Ah, I remember, it was for the weight-saving (that’s what I tell the wife).
The Z3 represents great value for money for an Atomic product. To be fair, it still costs as much as some other manufacturers’ top-end models, but after spending a week of intensive diving with it, I’m confident that it would hold its own against all-comers.
Everything about this successor to the highly rated Z2X screams quality – plus, you get a limited lifetime warranty with two-year or 300-dive service intervals.

PRICE £420
FIRST STAGE Jet-seat piston
PORTS 7lp, 2hp
CONNECTIONS DIN, A-clamp
SECOND STAGE Pneumatically balanced, poppet with seat-saving orifice.
OPTIONAL COLOUR KITS Grey, yellow, violet, blue, red, pink.
CONTROLS Automatic flow control (AFC). Rapid adjustment knob.
NITROX EAN 40%
WARRANTY Limited lifetime (not contingent on proof of purchase).
SERVICE INTERVAL Two years / 300 dives
CONTACT www.atomicaquatics.com
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