Range Test: What’s So Smart About This Gun?

America’s 1st Freedom magazine’s staff has shot the Armatix iP1 — a so-called “smart gun” touted by some gun-control groups to be the end-all answer to gun safety. However, when range tested by the magazine’s team under rigidly controlled circumstances, they found a number of problems with the handgun.

Midsouth Shooters Supply has received permission to excerpt extensively from the story, “What’s So Smart About This Gun?”, the full version of which you can read on the NRA’s America’s 1st Freedom website. It was written by by Frank Winn, Guns & Gear Editor for the America’s 1st Freedom magazine. Following are some of the most important parts of the review:

The Armatix iP1 has a theoretic ability to prevent unauthorized use. It could set in motion state laws (such as in New Jersey) that will mandate similar technology on all firearms. Photo from Armatix.
The Armatix iP1 has a theoretic ability to prevent unauthorized use. It could set in motion state laws (such as in New Jersey) that will mandate similar technology on all firearms. Photo from Armatix.

Since the introduction of the Glock 17 in 1984, it’s unlikely that any firearm has come to American shores amid more hoopla and anxiety than the Armatix iP1. Hoopla, because the iP1 is touted as a “game-changer” in terms of firearms safety through its theoretic ability to prevent unauthorized use. Anxiety, because it could set in motion state laws (notably in New Jersey) that will mandate similar technology on all firearms, whether safety benefits are real or imagined, and quite independent of whether the technology actually works.

Our tests dealt mainly with the touted—and highly controversial—“smart” capability. Basically, this is a mode where the RFID electronics in the pistol are “paired” with the large wristwatch controller, and firing enabled. Pairing consists of selecting the correct mode on the wristwatch, entering an authorizing PIN, and bringing the pistol within 10 inches of the watch while the iP1 is held in a firing grip (backstrap “switch” pressed).

If the pistol and the watch communicate successfully, LEDs mounted in a translucent housing below the beavertail glow green, and the Armatix is ready to fire. A mechanical, trigger-mounted safety must also be in the “off” position to fire. Interestingly, this smallish safety control cannot easily be disengaged by a right-handed shooter with the pistol in a firing grip. The left hand must be employed….

Actual shooting proved interesting. After about 20 minutes, and under the ministrations of an IT pro with actual Armatix training, successful pairing was finally achieved with some difficulty. It’s our belief that arming would normally not take anywhere near this long, but don’t expect speed either….

Despite a decent single-action trigger, the longest string of fire any of our shooters achieved was nine shots (capacity is 10+1). Some shooters experienced three or four misfires while shooting a single magazine of ammo….

The second problem was the pistol’s double-action press. It would be easily off the scale of any weight or spring-based measure we’ve ever used when testing pistols.…

This brings us to problem three: Being able to thumb the hammer back implies you can thumb it forward. Again, nobody tried—and for good reason. The deep slide recess that forms a channel for the arc of the hammer travel allows little purchase for any thumbing of the hammer. It’s clearly a potential safety issue if an activating grip is maintained, merely nervy if you trust hammer-drop safeties….

This is about all we could discover in our test, which could not include many expedients we would normally employ on a brand-new design, including dropping, induced stoppages and clearing, fouling, and—most important for a firearm with embedded electronics—immersion….

Another worrisome detail is that the Armatix patent documents contain specifications for satellite-based or other at-a-distance “kill” switches (the Armatix “Target Response System,” for instance). Certainly, this should give pause to many who might otherwise find disabling technology appealing. Asking “who” has that shut-off switch in their control is certainly reasoned. “Why” is perhaps more troubling.

Clear here to read the entire piece.

Some of the other issues raised in the story are more safety problems in operating the Armatix and whether the device can be hacked. Even if the technology were improved, is the Armatix 22 LR pistol a firearm concept you’d consider buying? 

12 thoughts on “Range Test: What’s So Smart About This Gun?”

  1. Non of my handguns have manual, or magazine safeties.
    My safety is my trigger finger. If I need to fire, I don’t want
    to have to wonder if things are going to work.

  2. I would not purchase and advise buyers not to purchase. Looks to me by the time the firearm is activated in a need to situation you would already be DEAD!

  3. Like the Glock that was adopted by a huge number of LEO’s, I believe this particular piece of technology should be perfect for all Law Enforcement Officers…..esp. those that work for the Federal Government, SWAT teams, executive security services and of course, those that provide security for New Jersey and Kalifornia politicians. Better yet, make it mandatory. If they can live with this new technology, then maybe the general population should consider it. If for, ohhhhhh, some odd reason law enforcement decides to bypass this new technology, then maybe we non-“professionals” should also.

  4. I won’t lie, it looks cool. Sell the design to a real gun company, deport whatever Bill-of-Rights-Hating people designed it, remove all the stupid gadgetry, and sell it as a fun 22.

  5. I do not think so. These people are out of thier minds. Its time to go to washington and demand that they are removed from office. NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ITS TIME!!!!!!!!!!

  6. They are crazy if they think this will solve people who are going to commit shooting crimes. The #1 problem is that they have taken away harsh punishment for the people that do commit murder with guns or other means of lethal force. If the liberals would allow the court system to reinstate lethal punishment for the people that kill with firearms or any other means it would say that it would help a lot more than a firearm that nobody wants. Enforce the laws on the books instead of making new ones is the answer.

  7. Why in this age of computers do people think that every thing has to be under there control. The only thing that makes any sense is to try to stop the weapon from being fired by unauthorized people. Remer that according to many political figures is everybody is unauthorized . But they all have people around them caring guns to protect them. If general population loose the ability to protect themself I feel that the force protects them should not be needed either.

  8. Did the article mention if 2 or more of the pistols were fired side by side simultaneously? I’d be curious if the rfid signals from one watch would mess up the ability of other pistols to fire when needed.

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