by Clay Turner, Creative Director and Frank Winn, Guns & Gear Editor - Thursday, November 12, 2015
In May 2014, NRA staffers secretly tested the Armatix iP1, the so-called “smart gun” that at the time was causing a furor among both media and gun owners nationwide. What we found was disappointing at best, and alarming at worst.
NRA sent a team of firearm experts to an undisclosed range (at the request of our hosts) to do real-world tests of the iP1. To our knowledge, NRA is the only organization that has actually conducted real-world tests of the iP1 under range conditions.
Guns & Gear Editor and team member Frank Winn penned a review of the iP1 for America’s 1st Freedom. However, A1F withheld publication of the test results for fear that an honest review of the poorly functioning Armatix might be misconstrued as opposition to the technology itself. NRA was already being falsely accused of blocking smart gun development, and the expensive, small-caliber Armatix was failing on its own due to fears that sale of the gun would trigger New Jersey’s infamous mandate requiring similar technology in all guns.
In truth, NRA has never opposed smart guns, believing the marketplace should decide their future. Rather, NRA opposes government mandates of expensive, unproven technology, and smart guns are a prime example of that.
However, smart guns have been making a comeback in the news lately. On Oct. 22, the Washington Post reported on the recent activity of the iP1’s designer, German Ernst Mauch, as he attempted to rehabilitate the iP1’s reputation, as well as his own: “It’s operating perfectly.”To our knowledge, NRA is the only organization that has actually conducted real-world tests of the iP1 under range conditions.
The Nov. 1 edition of CBS’ “60 Minutes” ran a smart gun segment that featured the oft-cited clip from the James Bond movie “Skyfall,” showing a bad guy foiled by Bond’s smart gun. Host Leslie Stahl interviewed Ron Conway, a Silicon Valley investor who funds 15 separate companies working on smart gun tech, who said: “This is going to happen outside the gun industry. Why they aren’t doing research and investing in this baffles me.”
Then on Nov. 3, Mother Jones magazine called smart guns, “The Guns the NRA Doesn’t Want Americans to Get.” In the article, Mauch is quoted as saying, “I still want people to understand that there is a huge potential for this technology. The technology was never in question.”
Of course Conway and Mauch want us to believe in smart gun tech: Conway would love to see his investments pay off, and Mauch is looking for a job after Armatix—having lost millions of euros trying to launch his iP1—fired him as CEO and banned him from the premises under the threat of criminal penalties. Mauch told the Post he resigned because he didn’t want to sue or attack the gun industry, but an Armatix attorney confirmed he was released “for internal reasons.”
Does the Armatix operate perfectly? Well, no; we found it to be troubling at best. NRA’s tests, conducted with staffers trained by Armatix, found a number of very serious problems:
Although the Armatix has a decent single-action trigger, it has the worst double-action trigger we’ve ever tested, requiring more force than any other pistol we’ve fired.Unfortunately, the team was unable to test the durability of the electronics that supposedly make the Armatix “smart,” leaving several questions unanswered:
The biggest unanswered question, however, comes from the Armatix’s patent application:
The Post article claims the Armatix “passed rigorous testing and certification in the United States.” We’d sure like to talk to whomever conducted those tests, because we have tested the Armatix—and found it greatly wanting. Again, NRA only opposes the imposition of technologies via government force, and is happy for the marketplace to pass its own judgment. But if this is the technology upon which smart-gun proponents want the marketplace to base its decision, their rejection will be both swift and brutal.
Read Frank Winn’s unpublished, exclusive 2014 A1F review here.
Email your comments/questions about this site to: 1stFreedom@nrahq.org
To advertise on America's 1st Freedom, visit nramediakit.com for more information
Get updates on America’s 1st Freedom features, NRA SHARP and American Warrior—delivered directly to your Inbox.