Hot on the heels of our story from yesterday about so-called “smart” guns comes the announcement from German company Armatix that it is planning to follow up its failed iP1 .22-caliber pistol with a new model in 9 mm.
According to a report at Computerworld.com, Armatix says it will launch its new iP9 9 mm semi-automatic pistol in mid-2017, although it is unclear whether a prototype even exists at this point.
Armatix CEO and President Wolfgang Tweraser told Computerworld that he is in the process of establishing sales staff in several states, beginning with Florida, where his U.S. operation is based. The gun will be manufactured exclusively in Germany.If the company’s earlier iP1 was any indication, we’re not expecting much from the new Armatix.
If the company’s earlier iP1 was any indication, we’re not expecting much from the new Armatix. While the company still claims the technology was foolproof, I was one of the NRA representatives who shot the pistol at a range in California, and can personally attest to the following findings:
The pistol initially required a full 20 minutes to pair with the watch, even with the aid of an IT pro trained in its use. Without pairing, the Armatix functions like any other handgun, capable of being fired by anyone.
Once paired, a “cold start” still requires a minimum of seven push-button commands and a duration of 12 seconds before the gun can be fired.
While the gun holds a maximum of 11 rounds (10+1), the best our crew could manage was nine consecutive rounds without a failure to fire (and that happened only once). Three or four misfires per magazine were common, despite using various brands of ammunition.
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. Accuracy was nearly impossible.
The pistol must be within 10 inches of the watch during “start up.” This slows and complicates the use of the pistol if one hand is injured or otherwise unavailable.
All this malfunction comes at a high price: At $1,798 ($1,399 for the base pistol and another $399 for the enabling watch), it is more than three times the cost of proven, reliable pistols like Glocks and Smith & Wesson M&Ps, made in true self-defense calibers.
Unlike the iP1, the new Armatix is being made in 9 mm, a commonly accepted caliber for armed self-defense. And the company is also using different “smart” technology.
While the earlier iP1 used RFID technology, the new iP9 pistol—like the Kloepfer pistol we reported on yesterday—will have a fingerprint reader. Of course, such technology has its obvious limits, which typically include the same kind of problems we commonly experience with smartphone technology—inability to recognize fingerprints when hands are wet, dirty or wearing gloves.
Expected to retail for $1,365, it’s nearly three times the price of many 9 mm pistols that have proven reliable for decades.Another limitation to the iP9 is the high-dollar price tag. Expected to retail for $1,365, it’s nearly three times the price of many 9 mm pistols that have proven reliable for decades.
In Armatix’s defense, CEO Tweraser is speaking out against laws making the company’s technology mandatory—a great and valid concern of many Second Amendment advocates.
“There's always going to be pushback with new items. With the right education and explanation—that we're not here to replace conventional guns—I expect much less to none this time,” Tweraser said. “Even if you look at the latest statements from the NRA, they say, 'We have nothing against smart guns, we just don't want the government making the decision for us.’ I agree with them.”
The problem here is not so much with those trying to design guns utilizing “smart” technology, but with overzealous politicians who will try to mandate such technology, whether it is workable or not. And don’t just say such a possibility is sheer speculation or conspiracy theory.
After all, this has already happened. In 2002, “The Childproof Handgun Bill” was signed into law in New Jersey. The law stipulated that when “smart gun” technology becomes available in the American marketplace, within three years all new handguns sold in the state must be so-called “smart guns.” Such a mandate would, by definition, be a massive gun ban, as all handguns currently available would be illegal to sell.
New Jersey isn’t the only state to make such inroads. In 2013 and 2014, Massachusetts legislators introduced the Handgun Trigger Safety Act, which also would have required all handguns manufactured, sold or imported into the United States to incorporate smart-gun technology within three years of the law being enacted. Those proposals failed.
And don’t believe that gun-ban proponents don’t have such mandates in mind when they tout “smart” gun technology. And once purchase is mandated—if that were to ever happen—what will they do about all the not-so-“smart” guns already owned by millions and millions of American gun owners?
In the long run, we’ll have to get our hands on one of the new Armatix pistols and spend some time with it at the range before we can say whether we believe it is a functional, reliable, accurate semi-auto. Either way, we will continue to fight gun-ban advocates who would like to mandate such technology in order to limit the choices of law-abiding gun owners.