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

Armatix iP1 smart gun

America’s 1st Freedom magazine’s staff has had a chance to shoot 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 shot by the magazine’s team under rigidly controlled circumstances, they found a number of problems with the handgun.

Armatix iP1 smart gun
The German company Armatix makes the 22 LR iP1.

Cheaper Than Dirt!’s The Shooter’s Log 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. The article 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:

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.

Click here to read the entire article.

See our previous reporting on the Armatix here, here, and here.

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?

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (33)

  1. I’ll buy it when the US Justice Dept mandates all police in the uS to have one for carry while on duty. Absent that, it’s not for me.

    1. I would never buy this crap even if it was the only legal gun to carry.

  2. the life of a loved one is completely ignorant on gun safety, technology, reliability or just doesn’t want others to have a way to protect themselves. And for that logic we need to get rid of all means of transportation, pencils and spoons.

  3. @Andy, if your gun is stolen, would you want to be able to disable it remotely? Or do you respect criminals second amendment rights?

  4. What ever happened to knowing Gun safety and responsibility? U can’t expect Google cars to compensate for all driver scenarios, why do we keep wanting to hold guns or manufacturers to bare all responsibility for our actions? This POC excuses for safe guns are never in a million years more reliable than my colt 1911.
    And why do u need some remote killswitch if it only works with the owners, this guns are fingerprinted to the owner, and this gun is supposed to be regulated to the max!
    All about this bad taste reflects unsafe at best very retarded response in an emergency, do u tthink the bad guy is going to what for u? U can’t expect speed from this type platforms, and speed is just as important as having self defense!

  5. @Genaro, I wouldn’t mind possessing such a technology, *if* it was reliable, secure and fails toward my usage, rather than “safe”.
    That said, tiny caliber, uses RIFD that is infamously insecure and it’d fail useless if the system failed.
    I simply want a firearm that only I or my wife could use if someone entered our home, but if a burglar found our defensive weapon, it fails to operate for him. That is nearly what this does, but in an insecure manner.

  6. Anyone who thinks this agenda is good for any individual protecting his/her life, or the life of a loved one is completely ignorant on gun safety, technology, reliability or just doesn’t want others to have a way to protect themselves. And for that logic we need to get rid of all means of transportation, pencils and spoons.

  7. Better be able to prove to me that there is no special signal frequency that the government can use to disable the weapon before I would even think about considering it.

    1. Says right in the article that a “kill” switch is in the patent documents. Either satellite based or other “at-a-distance” methods. Huge red flag flying there.

  8. Ever heard of an RFID jammer? This would be a really easy way of disabling this gun. If criminals used this they could move unchallenged (at a good distance depending on jammer power) in a state where law enforcement officers use this type of weapon.

  9. RFID skimmers have been around for awhile, so I can see where some enterprising criminal would come up with a way to bypass this tech just as easily as they steal RFID data today, rendering the tech useless for its intended purpose.

  10. I think the police should be the first to test this technology. If they find this workable, THEN and only then should it be considered for the populace.

    1. No, I think the Obama regime Secret Security detail would most benefit from a buggy, overpriced gadget. I’m sure the Emperor would not impose on us that which he wouldn’t use for his own security.

    2. I disagree. I think that the agents & police guarding our federal government officials should be the first large scale test these “smart” weapons. After a few years of real world testing we can talk about whether it’s appropriate for the rest of us.

  11. While I find this interesting, based on having to use a computer every day, all day, it worries me greatly that here we go down another road of promise vs reality. Does it not occur to anyone that, by and large, IT don’t like human interaction? With a weapon, nothing is more important than the interaction with the human holding it. So now we have a weapon, designed by folks who really don’t care much for human interaction. The whole thing requires machine interaction to work. Really! …..and someone believes I am going to trust my life or my families’ lives to this. Boy are they mistaken. Even if it was way, way cheaper than a quality firearm, as a physician who is now a data entry clerk, I wouldn’t spend the money. FAIL!

  12. No one with an above room temperature IQ is going to willingly choose .22lr for a self-defense caliber. 10 inches is not much range. I can envision numerous scenarios where I would need to move my firing hand 10 inches or more from the handgun, thus breaking the wireless link between the watch and the gun. Based upon my experience with bluetooth devices this would mean a delay in re-establishing the link and once again be able to fire the gun. Any such delay would be absolutely unacceptable during a self-defense situation.

  13. All the while you are trying to use this pistol to protect yourself an armed intruder to your home has had the opportunity to empty his weapon and shoot you and yours and exit laughing with all of value to you including your lives! What idiots to think this is a viable alternative to our Second Amendment rights which “Shall not be Infringed”!

  14. Put me at the top of the list to buy one of these……………….right after the entire Secret Service, FBI, and all California, New Jersey and NY Police Departments are outfitted with these and nothing else. If they are willing to put their lives on the line, and the lives of the politicians they are assigned to protect on the line, then I will consider one, but not until then.

  15. Lou, if the government tracks us with our cell phones, the government’s SOL as to my comings and goings, I don’t carry one with me.

    As for Progressive insurance, they track acceleration, hard stops and high speed driving. There’s no GPS tracking in them, which I verified when I disassembled their device. Insurance companies can and should offer a steep discount for people who don’t drive around like maniacs and I’ll happily keep that company. Besides, they only keep the device in your car for a short time, then it goes back to them.

    As for this gun, no, it’s a beta and not worth getting, plus the caliber is rather light. When they come up with something that isn’t trivially breakable like RFID, is reliable as an 1911 and can take down an intruder in two shots maximum, I’ll get it and happily leave it out.
    I won’t have to worry about my grandkids coming over and getting injured and I’ll still have something for home defense that nobody else can use. Which, if a burglar comes in and is fiddling with it to try to use it, gives me time to get out my AR and drop a half dozen rounds into him, just on general principle.

  16. The people who want to destroy our Republic desire to add so many safeties to our firearms that the poor will not be able to afford them.
    I would never consider buying one of these or any other that has these features. As we speak our government knows everywhere you go and when you go. They do this with mobile phones.

    We have Communist insurance Companies ( Progressive) that want to put a device in your car that records everywhere you go and what speed you drive there. They want to leave us with no privacy at all.

    You can be sure that someone can make this gun inoperable besides the owner.

  17. This is BS what’s next a computer chip in all newborn babies that have a control switch to shut them down to. We are all just numbers anyway .. so I don’t see that, that is out of the question.. closer and closer to being a communist country…they seem to be junk anyway and wouldn’t know why anyone would trust it with their lives and their families lives..

  18. At about $1800,$1400 for pistol and $400 for watch, a pop for a .22 will discourage even the very few who will want one. And a jam-o-matic to boot. Not a pistol I would want for defensive purposes. Nor for plinking either. Maybe if New Jersey wants to enact laws requiring them, that fine state should issue the Armatix to all of their State law enforcement officials.

  19. How to improve sales? Have it sync to Apple’s iWatch! People buy all sorts of spit that will sync up to anything Apple makes.
    Seriously though, this is the best the minds of H&K could come up with?! First problem, someone will likely shoot the person standing next to them as they try to release the safety with their left hand.
    Second problem, with even a 10 second delay, nobody would carry this. You’d be shot while you are asking you assailant to count to 10.
    Third problem, IT’S A 22! My CO2 pistol does the same damage.
    Last problem, what reputable gunsmith would service this without laughing their ass off that you paid $1,900. I hope you pony up for a nice holster.
    I’ll support a smart gun when it reads my fingerprint like my iPhone does.

  20. I’m sure they will get the bugs worked out eventually. I think anyone that wants one of these guns should have the right to purchase one. For me, I think I’m gonna go out and buy me another pistol or two while I can still get them without the RFID technology.

  21. There is no way I would want to own one of these. IF you had the time in an emergent situation to go through the pairing then you should have time to run (this instance is only if it is yourself in trouble and not people at large.) Anyone who would trust an unknown stranger or GOD forbid the Government to have a kill switch to disable the weapon would get exactly what they don’t want to happen.

    If there is ever is an EMP strike on the country then It will make a Great Paper Weight and that is all. It is great to Trust people but you MUST remember to Verify otherwise you could end up dead.

  22. As far as I’m concerned they can simply bury these white elephants right now and save all the ink and time reviewing them. I would never spend a dime for one these death trap devices. How could anyone trust their life to such a piece of tripe.

  23. Personally, I’d love to have a pistol that only I could fire and grant temporary access to chosen others.
    That said, it has to be reliable, accurate, and able to be used 100% of the time when I want or need to.

    In this test, nothing was said about the ammunition, which is unusual in a firearm review. That may account for the jamming, as one should evaluate a firearm with both cheap ammunition and top of the line ammunition.

    My first glance at the pictures showed one thing I intensely dislike, I want my hammer where my thumb can use it. For those who like concealed hammers, good for you, this is something that isn’t optional for me.

    As for immersion testing, that is unnecessary, save if the firearm is advertised as water proof. It should withstand rain and dropping it into a mud puddle though.

    Overall, a decent first try. I’d avoid easily read and cloned RIFD though, there are better schemes out there, complete with rotating crypto handshake sequences that’d make hijacking the firearm essentially impossible.
    So, I say, nice try, better luck next time.

  24. Sounds like a P.O.S. to me. Gun control advocates will be all over this piece of crap, only with one idea in mind; to make it so difficult to use this weapon in self defense, that the person depending on this weapon will give up in frustration and not use the weapon. Gun grabbers have no concern about a persons ability to defend themselves against home invaders or muggers. They only want one thing; a disarmed population, except for their own body guards, of course. Sometime ago, expatriated myself from a country that wants it’s people to be subjects instead of citizens. Love America, but despise what had been done to it by Liberals and Obama & his ilk. Just wait, Hillary will be the next Prez and it will be another 4 years of “You ain’t gonna believe what happens next”, in the U.S., at least as far as gun ownership is concerned.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.