2011-second-century-2

I try and review a firearm for its intended purpose. A tricked-out race gun is not a concealed carry piece. My integrally suppressed S&W 15-22 is not a big game rifle. In that vein, reviewing the Arsenal Firearms AF2011-A1 Double Barrel 45.ACP has been a challenge. I can’t figure out any practical use for this gun . .

The AF2011-A1’s gargantuan weight and size makes it impossible to conceal carry. The spread of the rounds when fired makes it pretty much worthless for hunting. Or target shooting. You will have, at best, one round in the target and one round not so much. But really, Arsenal didn’t make the AF2011-A1 for any practical purpose. They made it to be something your friends don’t have. Your buddy has a DoubleTap .45ACP? Neat. He’s got a Finnish Mosin Nagant with a shiny .308 diameter bore? Very nice. But he ain’t got this.

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Despite the inherent cool factor. I don’t like the way “this” looks. The AF2011-A1 is kind of subdued, with a black finish and black scales with a purplish accent. It’s all very tastefully done. But I reckon a double .45 should have flames engraved on it or lightning bolts painted into the handle or something equally stupid. If the only function of this gun is to say “Look at me!” then it might as well say it loudly.

The first time I spied the AF2011-A1 TTAG’s Dan Zimmerman was trying – and failing – to lock the dual .45’s titanic slide back. When he handed me the gun, a hard push/pull action did the trick. Then we shot it. After a few rounds downrange I tried to lock the F2011-A1’s double-wide slide back. No more mocking The Big D. It took three large adult men to do the job – and that was only if the hammer was cocked and the magazine was out. The AF2011-A1 is the firearm version of Mjolnir; only the worthy can wield it, and damn few are worthy.

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I took the double-.45 home and broke it down. It breaks down just like two 1911s. Not one gun with two barrels. Two 1911s. Two barrels, two bolts, two triggers, two magazines, etc. So really, other than the one hammer, one grip safety and one slide, it’s basically two 1911s welded together.

I used the supplied, and required, handy tool to disassemble the weapon. I coated it in Machine Gunner’s Lube. After re-assembly and a sturdy push/pull, the AF2011-A1’s slide locked back. It was still difficult, but it didn’t require the favored son of Asgard to make the weapon function. Unfortunately, after about 100 rounds of firing (50 trigger pulls), it was right back to stuck. Breakdown, lube, fire another 100. Stuck. Call it a day.

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The manufacturer left a card in the AF2011-A1’s case alerting impoverished owners that the gun isn’t “broken in” until they’ve loosed 1,000 rounds (or 500 trigger pulls). It goes on to warn owners not to load more than 10 rounds (that’s five each side) into the magazine for the first 1,000 rounds. I have no idea why. I’ve heard of manufacturers asserting that their gun shouldn’t be considered reliable until 500 rounds have gone through it, which I find unprofessional in and of itself. But I’ve never heard of anyone limiting owners to five rounds in the magazine before considering the gun broken in.

The good news: the AF2011-A1’s produced zero malfunctions using standard Winchester White box 230gr FMJs. The instructions  are clear: use the best ammunition possible. No surprise there. Two rounds go off at the same time; the consistency of the ammunition has a huge effect on the AF2011-A1’s accuracy. Most of the time, at 10 yards off a bag, the spread between the rounds was about 3/4 of an inch center to center. But every couple of magazines one round was as much as 4″ center to center.

How do you measure accuracy from a gun that fires two rounds at once? I shot consistent 5″ groups at 15 yards off the bag. At 25 yards, where I like to measure accuracy, the spread was too large and too inconsistent to yield any kind of “proper” measurement. If you try very carefully, you can get all 10 rounds into the 12″ by 12″ paper at 25 yards off a front bag. Interestingly, off the bag, just about all of the twinned groups were fairly horizontal. When you shoot standing with a two-handed grip, the rounds rarely hit the paper in a horizontal line. They were almost always at a diagonal, some more than others.

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I’m not exactly sure why the AF2011-A1 produced diagonal paper punches, but I’m very sure that the gun slips around in my hand. I have fairly large hands, but not large enough for this gun. The AF2011-A1 is a giant gun. It’s not a double stack magazine. It’s two side-by-side single stack magazines, with fat grips, and a metal divider between the two. That makes for a massive tectonic plate of a grip. As well as very cumbersome magazine changes.

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The AF2011-A1’s grip is an expanse of flat space, right where your hands must curve. It sits awkwardly in your hand. Moreover, the grip safety is far too inset and difficult to engage. Using a good grip, with my right thumb resting on top of the safety, I couldn’t engage the Arsenal’s grip safety. I had to lower my grip on the gun entirely to get the safety to engage. That put my already awkward grip lower on the gun, increasing recoil and reducing muzzle control. Rounding the grip would have been a little bit of work. Making the grip safety work correctly would have been no work at all, and dramatically improved the AF2011-A1’s function.

Ultimately, the AF2011-A1’s lack of shootability ruins it. I had to fight the gun at every turn, constantly fiddling with it. I was happy to give the oddity back when the review was complete. No one else who put a (reduced) magazine through it wanted to fire it again. The “neat” factor of the gun is ruined the instant you shoot it. The reverse of just about every other gun in the world.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Type: geometric lock, semi-automatic double barrel hammer pistol
Caliber: .45 ACP (also available in .38 Super)
Trigger: double hammer with single spur, double independent or single trigger
Capacity: 2 single magazines, paired with single floor plate, 8+8 rounds
Frame: 39niCrMo steel machined from casting
Slide: 39niCrMo steel machined from solid
Overall Length: 8.6″
Barrel length: 5″
Total Width: 2″
Weight (unloaded): 4 lbs.
Price: $4,000


Ratings (out of five stars)
:
All ratings are relative to other similar guns. The final score IS NOT calculated from the constituent scores.

Accuracy: * *
Eventually I got to one-foot groups at 25 yards off a front bag.

Ergonomics (Carry):
As the French would say insuportable.

Ergonomics (Firing):
It’s like holding the business end of Thor’s hammer. Despite my meaty paws, I couldn’t get a comfortable, efficient grip.

Reliability: * * * *
The manufacturer’s instructions to limit round counts in the magazine and the general unpleasantness of shooting this thing means I didn’t spend the minimum of 500 rounds needed to determine reliability. There were no malfunctions during my 200-round test.

Customization: *
New grips (only two required)?

Overall Rating: *
Even for its intended purpose – a neat trick to show your friends – the AF2011-A1 doesn’t cut the proverbial mustard. Never mind the price. It’s no fun. One star awarded for doing something different.

80 Responses to Gun Review: Arsenal AF2011-A1 Double Barrel .45ACP

  1. Thinking why ….then this….”Your buddy has a DoubleTap .45ACP? Neat. He’s got a Finnish Mosin Nagant with a shiny .308 diameter bore? Very nice. But he ain’t got this.”

    My chuckle for the day.

  2. 2 inches wide? And 4 pounds? I did see this on Larry Vickers TV show-I guess it’s more of a “can you make it” and not of any practical value. Has this made an appearance in any movies yet?

  3. The reason this fails is that they have managed to make two 1911s less fun that actually shooting two 1911s.

  4. How about a handgun or carbine based on Metal Storm? Swapping barrels = changing magazines. I could see a few ways it might be made to work…

  5. I have recently spoken (through a highly reliable medium named Rare Medium) to John Moses Browning concerning this so-called “1911”. He was appalled, and called it “an abomination”. That’s the final word.

  6. So if a .45 kills a mans soul, just what in hell will this do?
    Rip a hole in the space time continuum?
    I kind want it…

  7. Man, talk about silly.

    Honestly, it makes me wonder about their ‘Strike one’ (although that’s probably totally unfair…. but still… this is just silliness. Complete and total silliness)

    • I’ve been testing out a Strike One for about a month now. Review is 2-3 weeks out. The short version is that it’s pretty dang awesome except for the trigger reset.

      • …and I already blew the “gun budget”/for the month. Oh well. The wife doesn’t look in the safe all that often…

      • Did not DZ already review Strike One last year (4 stars as I recall – in need of aftermarket support)?

      • What would be interesting is if they would have turned it sideways and shot it gangster style and see the spread pattern. Now if they could some how make it an over under instead of side by side that would maybe be useful because the spread distance wouldn’t matter has much because you could aim it straight where side by side you can only split the difference or aim one barrel but an over under would be a straight on aim with a bonus hit in the same line and the accuracy and control would improve it would’ve narrower and better balance. I think that it would be a good project to try to make. At least it makes more sense than side by side to me

  8. It would be “Better” if it had select fire trigger (s) allowing firing of one barrel or both barrels.

    • They’re connected, so firing one barrel would mean ejecting a live round from the other side. However, firing just one round doesn’t provide enough power to cycle the action anyway so in actuality it causes a jam. The sears are designed to release completely simultaneously so both rounds are fired at the exact same moment. My guess as to the cause of JWT’s sometimes-diagonally-spread impacts are one round is leaving the barrel slightly later than the other (since the hammer is a single piece, I’d “blame” this on a large deviation in projectile velocity from the inexpensive ammo, or one primer/powder that’s slower to ignite), and the pistol recoils up and left as it does for most right-handed shooters.

  9. You’d be better off just dual-wielding (Call of Duty style, lol). That thing is no more than an expensive movie prop

  10. I would guess that the diagonal grouping of the two rounds would have to do with the recoil impulse and muzzle flip coming slightly out-of-sync, causing a bit of sideways torque on the pistol. The bores aren’t in the center line of the gun, so the recoil is going to want to push the gun one way or another. If the second bullet leaves its barrel a millisecond after the first, the gun’s already started to move up and to the side a bit. On a stable rest, you can counteract those forces much better.

    Also, this is the dumbest f–cking thing I’ve ever seen.

    • Nah, it’s the bullets colliding in flight, with their spins causing them to bounce apart on a diagonal, clearly!

      …of course, that would assume that both the gun and the rounds were perfectly crafted so that every shot had both bullets leaving the barrel at the exact same time and at the exact same velocity, so maybe that’s giving them too much credit.

      If I saw one of these for $500 or less I might pick one up as a curiosity. For 4 grand? No, thank you!

  11. Like the saying goes, “there are guns you show your friends, and guns you show your enemy”.

  12. When you look at the picture before you read the headline and think you need to call your optometrist.

  13. JWT,
    I believe the diagonal stringing is due to the bullets not firing exactly simultaneously. Even with the best lockwork, you would still have to consider the variances in primers, powder charge and such. a ten thousandth difference fired from a rest might be no big deal, but off hand, well… you know how it works, a tenth of an inch at the trigger is a foot at 25 or something like that.

    So even if you cannot feel it, one chamber goes off a tiny bit earlier, one bullet is moving a touch faster then the other. In Jerry Miculek’s video you could see the difference, it looked like he was pulling two triggers and tripping two hammers. Since you have one hammer, it comes down to firing pins and ammo variance. A talented handloader might be able to rein it in a bit, but I agree, this is more of a “Hey y’all, lookit this!” gun than anything with true purpose.

  14. I think you guys are missing “the point” of this gun. This gun is really about engineers and machinists showing off their craft. In order to get two bullets to hit next to each other, not only do the two barrels have to be perfectly aligned, but the gun also has to fire the two rounds at the exact same moment in time. If one bullet is touched off earlier or later than the other (i.e. the timing is off by a few thousanths of a second) the recoil of the first round is going to send the second round skyward. Is it a novelty gun? Sure it is. But you wouldn’t complain about a Formula one race car not having truck space for your golf clubs, would you?

    • ” But you wouldn’t complain about a Formula one race car not having truck space for your golf clubs, would you?”

      Obviously many would. 😀

    • You’re right, of course, but in addition to being a triumph of engineering, it is incredibly f’ing stupid and easy to mock.

  15. I thought this was made strictly for the same reason Black Range Rovers and MB G550s are made–so no one doubts your status in the Moscow mafia.

  16. For the longest time I was convinced this…thing…was an April fools joke. I guess the joke’s on me.

    So instead of making one decent 1911 for 1/3 rd of the price, they made one useless $4k paperweight. Gee, thanks.

      • Or stopping a large crazy person coming at you it would stop real quick. Or possibly a bear you shot with a bow & arrow and it wasn’t a kill shot and now you just pissed him off. I think this might stop that mad bear! Also with the hole it made it would save a lot of gutting time lol

    • Boat anchors come in all sizes and shapes. Oops! Not enough weight even to make a boat anchor out of it! Trigger guard would make a fine loop to tie a rope through though.

  17. At least the German double-barreled bolt-action rifle has some practicality to it.

    And I thought it was only the Germans who would make something simply because they can.

  18. Thanks for the blunt and honest review, one of the reasons I come to this site. These are transparently retarded – nice to see somebody say so publicly.

  19. ” Unfortunately, after about 100 rounds of firing (50 trigger pulls)”

    Wait doesn’t this count as a machine gun under nfa?

    • Exactly what I was wondering – my understanding of the definition of a machine gun was a weapon that fired more than 1 round with each pull of the trigger; this does that; I ASSUME that they got a ruling that it applies to more than 1 round PER BARREL but that is just an assumption on my part. I’d be curious to hear more on the subject from someone better informed.

  20. Setting aside for the moment (as we must) Jeff Cooper’s admonition that one can get into considerable trouble by asking what something is for, what indeed is the status of this… thing before the NFA?

  21. I would never own one of these but the slow motion video is worth a watch. Reminded my of a Matrix style death shootout made for Hollyweird.

    This is pretty much a cool gun for someone who has way too much time and money on their hands and they want something to show all their buddies when they come over…”Really? Well I bet you have never seen one of THESE before”….Cue eyeballs clicking on the range…

  22. It has vertical patterns because the firing pins, round placement, primer, load, and bullet are not exact. They are releasing at miliseconds apart. Unfortunately this leads to the first round walking the gun upward just before the 2nd round leaves the barrel. Other slowmo videos of this gun show one round trailing the other.

  23. Actually I find the gun a lot of fun. I have many 45 pistols and I get used to them rather quickly and sometimes shooting can become boring. But picking up this behemoth is a very different experience altogether. I previously shot a 44 Desert Eagle and quickly got bored with that. But not so with this gun. The grip safety is wide enough where the edges draw blood from the webbing on my hand after a couple of magazines. Gloves are required. Accuracy is a challenge with such a heavy gone after firing for a bit. I have managed to get both rounds and the 10 circle on a target at an indoor range, and like you say, sometimes they hit is diagonal. Time for a high-speed camera maybe? One thing for sure, you do have to use the best demo that you can find, and finish one box before you start another so you do not even cross lot numbers. You may also wish to buy stock in some of the ammunition manufacturers, you will shoot through 200 rounds while your buddy is finishing his first 100 rounds. It is definitely an expensive gun to shoot, but I for one am not tiring of it at all. I have the stainless version which looks a lot better than the blue. I have other unusual firearms as well, to include a 45 Long Colt buntline with an 18 inch barrel and a Serbu Super Shorty. Why by the normal stuff? Life’s too short. 🙂

    • Hello, & me too!

      Have had our AF 2011 awhile now (#83) & NO ONE hates to fire it!

      Currently about 700 rds into the break-in, excellent customer service
      & communications (Emails from Nicola Bandini himself) & at
      the $3800 I pre-ordered for, almost a bargain
      (Y’all know I didn’t really mean that)

      Had to send it back to have feed ramps polished/minor adjustments–
      been flawless ever since

      Recently fabricated HDPE grips I fitted to my hand & added a P-lite pad to the
      beavertail to stop getting a hole in my right thumb–friends hands fit too,
      even 3 Lefty’s!

      Thor, I’m not (57y.o. 6′ 184#) but this weapon kicks no worse than a buddy’s
      44 w/factory semi wad-cutters–it’s the weight–half a bowling ball

      Surprised someone named “Jo(H)n Wayne…” had so much trouble!

      Thanks,

      Jeff & family

  24. Jon,

    Could the diagonal pattern be caused by the spinning bullets torquing the gun such that the two spinning objects cause the two barrels to twist the frame, something like a gyroscopic effect? I would expect the inertia of a seven pound frame to prevent the torque effect, but, I’m no engineer.

  25. It’s a novelty toy…might be fun to play with and get some oohs and aahhs. The only practical use would be as a belly gun… I would think pretty devastating up close and personal like that. But it would be about as easy as sneaking up on someone with a tank.

  26. Wow, Truly and oddity at best. i would only buy one if I had more money than I knew what to do with. With that said, Ive been reviewing the Strike One, and will be buying one shortly. I only need to decide if I want the stainless model, or the black/olive drab… 😉

  27. Arnold Harris, Outspeaker

    My favorite is a 1943 Remington Rand Typewriter Company M1911A1 Colt.45 Caliber semi-automatic pistol, which was one of some millions made for the US Armed forces and our allies 73 years ago and which was still in use during my three years of US Army service in 1952-1955, late in the Korean War and afterward. As an experienced range shooter for many years, and even though I’m not the kind of old man who goes looking for trouble, those big FMJ .45 slugs are exactly what I want should need arise.

    My wife and I, along with one of our sons who lives with us, also have available a couple of Browning Hi-Power 9mm pistols. The slugs are a lot lighter than those used in the M1911A1s, but they carry 13 rounds per magazine compared with only seven rounds in the.45. Maybe — just maybe — those extra six rounds could come in right handy, depending on circumstances.

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