Arsenal sells the double-barreled AF2011-A1 .45. Strike one. A swing and a miss. The only thing worse than the A1’s utter lack of utility — save it’s appeal as a wazzat? range toy — is its astronomical price. So when I encountered Arsenal’s Strike One striker-fired handgun at The Texas Firearms Festival, I was bit leery (despite Jeremy S’s four-star review). Well it does look odd . . .
The 9mm pistol looks like it was bitten by a radioactive spider in the GLOCK factory. Unlike everything else designed in Italy, there’s not a lot of style here: vertical cocking serrations on the front and back of a slide adorned (if that’s the right word) with a logo so subtle you can not blink and miss it. If the Strike One was a car it would be a Fiat 500 limo.
Though reasonably effective, the odd assortment of grip stippling on the Strike One’s big honking handle is about as aggressive as a Bichon Frise. And while some European football fans may appreciate the Arsenal logo at the bottom of the grip’s side — go Gunners! — I’m not sure the words “WARNING read safety manual before use” embossed on the opposite side add much to the gun’s aesthetic appeal.
Not to go all semi-otic, the Strike One’s use is its meaning. The handgun’s 7.25″ site radius lets you know that this bad boy’s all about the shooting. And shoot it does. Jeremy S. admitted that the Strike One is “more accurate and faster” than he is. Anyone familiar with my shooting prowess could easily guess that the Strike One exceeds my talents by a country mile. More on that in a mo’ . . .
The Strike One tested owes no small part of its shooting speed to the competition upgrade. For an additional $300, Arsenal’s gunsmith reduces the Strike One’s trigger pull from 5.5lbs. to 3.5lbs., polishes the sears, fits a lighter recoil spring and reduces trigger reset by 50 percent.
So equipped, the Strike One’s trigger is lighter than an Israeli supermodel’s breakfast. There’s no trigger takeup per se. It’s better described as a bit of slack. After you’ve sent a round downrange, the Strike One’s competition trigger seems to spring back to reset. At that point, there’s neither take-up nor slack. It’s a striker-fired handgun Jim, but not as we know it.
For owners looking to let loose the ballistic dogs of war or measure their skills against fellow shooters, the competition trigger’s advantage is obvious. For shooters relying on the Strike One for self-defense the trigger’s disadvantage is equally apparent — unless you figure the “surprise” part of “speed, surprise and violence” should apply to both defender and attacker. Pistoleros seeking personal protection are advised to stick with the factory set-up.
The Strike One’s action is based on the Browning short recoil tilting barrel system. “The barrel moves horizontally, without tilting,” Jeremy S. informed. “The locking piece drops to unlock the barrel after few millimeters of backward movement and then pushes it back in battery. It sits before the cartridge chamber and not directly below it.”
The design enables a limbo-low bore axis. As Foghorn explained, a low bore axis minimizes muzzle flip by keeping a gun’s barrel closer to your hand. The Strike One’s 12mm bore axis is the lowest I’ve encountered in a handgun since my torrid, ill-fated love affair with the now defunct Caracal.
With a handle roughly the size and shape of Florida and a muzzle that rises like my homemade pastry (i.e., not much) you can take full advantage of the competition trigger. Put the pedal to the metal and the Strike One’s 17-round mag isn’t emptied as much as deleted. Equally, you can double tap the Strike One at ten yards without obtaining a sight picture for your second shot, landing the second round within five inches of the first. Speaking of aiming . . .
The Strike One’s sights are my only gripe. They’re too small. I can’t quickly align the tiny gap on either side of the front sight. A colleague who shall not be named [ED: Nick Leghorn] correctly if unkindly identified the problem as age and ethnicity-related. If this was my gun, I’d swap out the factory sights for something larger that glows in the dark. That’s a pricey proposition. The Strike One’s rear sight is part of the tail cap; fitting Tritium sights requires an additional $310 factory mod.
Even without low-light sights I can envision carrying the Strike One for self-defense. Every time I
breathed on pulled the trigger, the Strike One’s bullets went exactly where I aimed them. I fed the gun 124 gr. American Eagle FMJs and Hydra-Shok hollow points without any issues– even before the firearm achieved its recommended 500-round break-in period. That said, Dan limp-wristed the gun into a couple of failure-to-feeds (admit it Dan). I reckon the modded Strike One’s gentle nature can lull a shooter into loosening his or her grip.
God knows there are plenty of excellent handguns out there; pistols that feel good, look cool and hardly ever fail. But there are precious few that make burning through your ammo this much fun (and fun is good). The soft-shooting Competition-modded Strike One is one of the fastest shooting, most accurate and least punishing pistols money can buy. Or, if you prefer, one of the most enjoyable.
Caliber: 9mm Luger
Barrel Length: 125 mm
Overall Length: 210 mm
Max Width: 33 mm
Weight: 2 pounds
Price $849 for the standard model, $1149 with the Competition upgrade
Available from soonerstatearsenal.com
Ratings (out of five stars):
Accuracy: * * * * *
The Strike One made me look like I could shoot like a pro. That’s quite an accomplishment.
Ergonomics * * * * *
Natural point-of-aim and plenty of purchase for both hands. Thanks to the Competition Pack, it’s as soft as a gentle breeze to shoot (should you want to shoot the breeze).
Reliability: * * * *
300 rounds without a hiccup — except for Dan’s brace of limp-wristed FTFs.
Customize This: * *
There’s an undersnout picatinny rail for lights and lasers and the factory Competition Pack is da bomb. Comp-Tac makes the only compatible holster, but it’s a good ‘un.
Overall: * * * * *
Jeremy S. gave the standard Strike One four stars. I give the Competition Pack model five. It’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on — unless you shoot naked.
[NOTE: The Stryke A, a new handgun using the same action, is currently in development. It’s scheduled for release in Q3 2016.]