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.
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.