Since its introduction, the Armatix IP1 “smart gun” has gotten oceans of free publicity from hopeful media mavens and gun control advocates, proclaiming the era of personalized firearms is finally upon us. Armatix’s advent has been the cause of much consternation from the gun control crowd, baffled as to why “smart guns” aren’t yet available commercially (click here for an in-depth analysis of that question). Back in April . . .

Armatix announced, once again, that it would be releasing their vaporware IP1 “smart gun” to the market next year. Some time. But for real. This time. We’d tried to plunk down the cash the last time the IP1 was supposedly available, trying to get our hands on one. We wanted to see what it would take to break it, to determine if it was reliable and secure enough to bet your life on should things go bad.

Thanks to an article from WIRED it looks like one security researcher has done the legwork for us. The researcher — who goes by the nom de guerre “Plore” — found a couple of different ways to circumvent all of the so-called smart gun’s “security” features.

Armatix’s claim to fame: the gun will only fire when the correct watch is worn near the firearm. As I predicted to Robert and Dan way back when, a simple frequency generator is all it would take to jam the signal between the watch and the handgun rendering it inoperable.

In other words, your attacker can flip a switch, leaving you completely defenseless for about $30 on eBay (including shipping from China).

If remotely disabling the gun isn’t bad enough, it’s even cheaper to make ut fire without the watch being present.

When the watch isn’t in the vicinity a metallic block moves into place preventing the firing pin from moving, thus disabling the firearm. When the watch comes into close proximity to the IP1, a small motor moves that pin out of the way, allowing it to go bang.

It’s a simple solution, but there’s one problem: the firing pin block is made of a magnetic metal. Placing a $15 magnet against the side of the gun is enough to override the block and enable the gun.

But wait! There’s more! There’s also a range extending hack.

A repeater system can enable the gun to function even when the watch isn’t physically located near the handgun. That’s cool and all, but when you can just grab a couple magnets and achieve the same result, why bother with remote electronics?

Still unanswered: questions about the IP1’s reliability.

Can the handgun and its electronics stand up to the jarring of thousands of rounds sent down the pipe? What about water resistance? Will it still function if dropped a couple times or otherwise lightly damaged?

We just don’t know. And given the fact that the New Jersey poison pill law is still very much in place, we’re not likely to get the chance to find out any time soon, no matter what Armatix’s PR flacks say.

I’d love to see a properly functioning, secure, and reliable smart gun. If someone wants to buy one, I say let the market decide (as long as they’re not mandated – anywhere). But until we see verifiable proof of such a product, I’m not going to trust my life to something just because someone calls it a “smart gun.”

92 Responses to Armatix IP1 “Smart Gun” Hacked with $15 Worth of Magnets

  1. Any gun that can be disabled remotely will never see use in a police department. Period. Any gun that police won’t use because of how unreliable, or easy it is to stop… is a gun that will not see widespread use among civilians. Period.

    • Unless of course, government mandates their use. But that takes us back to the old adage about government programs… Ideas so liked and wanted by everyone, we had to make them mandatory.

      • Good luck with that ‘concept’ … there are between 150 million and 250 million handguns in the US, with more being added by the day. Even if the ‘government’ waves it’s magic wand tomorrow and ZERO new non-smart handguns are sold, all that’s going to happen is that MY non-smart handguns are going to go up in value.

        • I did not know that. My department, and as far as I know every department in PA (and the rest of the Northeast for that matter) are unionized. Can you give me some examples? I’d be interested to research how said departments are run without unions.

        • Guardiano, Virginia is a ‘Right to Work’ state. Fairfax County PD has no mandatory union, for example.

          State law says you can’t be required to join a union as a condition of employment, nor can you be prohibited from joining one as a condition of employment.

      • Do not underestimate the epic stupidity of voters that enable the epic stupidity of the government.

  2. “In other words, your attacker can flip a switch, leaving you completely defenseless for about $30 on eBay (including shipping from China).”

    ^this x 1000

    any self defense device that operates on wireless frequency is just BEGGING to be hacked. NO THANKS!
    most people just don’t realize how unsecure anything wireless is. by its very nature, someone can attempt to hack it from a distance and you will have no idea until its too late.

    • Hell…. hacking isnt that new, or limited to wireless/digital.

      When telephones went to automated switches instead of boards & operators, it evidently take long for bored/disgruntled/autistic people to game time Ma Bell’s dime.

      Way back in 8th grade, my sidekick/minion had an older cousin home on vacation from college, who got stoned & started talking about how to make free long-distance and 900# calls with a rotary phone. All a guy had to do was use the right sequence & timing of number & clicks, hook-presses, dial holds, the right switch, etc!

      Turned out he & his sliderule gang had a married drinking buddy, who was moonlighting as a telephone linesman and had let the secret slip.

      So they trial & error’d for months, did mad math, filled spreadsheets, and he finally bound the results in a “highly-guarded” (and supposedly expensive-to-open) heavy duty manilla folder.

      Of course, we challenged him to prove it; he eagerly broke out the folder and did just that, connecting with an unimpressed Jewish-Bronx-sounding girl on a phone-sex line, without any preambles.

      While I laughed & my buddy drooled embarrassingly about a universe of free dirty talk opportunities, I scoped out where ‘ol boy kept the stash suitcased…. right on top, tucked into the sole Hustler among a stiff stack of travel-Playboys.

      I only had to wait until they got cottonmouth/munchies, while fiddling with a model airplane kit. When it happened, I snatched out the folder, whipped out some carbon paper I kept in my desk, got a copy of the essentials, and calmly went back to building Rudel’s Stuka.

      My girlfriend since the previous year was thrilled she didn’t have to wake up at midnight, run her phone out the window, and huddle for hours whispering on her back porch’s roof. She lived only a couple miles down the road but in the next county over, and I gladly lost sleep rather than run up even a minute of LD on the Old Man’s phone bill again.

      Out of pity, I later wrote out the one demonstrated code on a slip of paper and gave it to my friend…. who promptly went incommuncado for days, yet his phone was constantly busy (oddly, as both his parents worked 3rd shift at the plant).

      I only hacked the rotary for that one summer; free long-distance wasn’t good enough next year, and I wasn’t a junior with free wheels or beer. And unlike my chronically dehydrated friend, I found memories are a lot less work than make-believe.

    • Maxine Waters and Chuckie Schumer don’t carry evil, inanimate objects, but their security detail does. Maybe their protective detail should use ’em. Include Shannon Watts, too.

  3. No different that ANY other electronic toy on the market like “smart phones” (a contradiction in terms). If it has software it CAN be hacked. I will keep my old fashioned mechanical bang stick thank you. Oh one more thing, trying to legislate HOW I exercise my rights is UN constitutional at BEST.

  4. i said this ages ago when it first came out xP

    i wish i had been able to get my hands on one to play with it, though the magnet certainly was unexpected for me

    • It shouldn’t have been a surprise. It’s one of the first things security researchers try when they go up against anything involving a lock.

      I mean, it’s an easy fix- just replace the ferric steel pin with a mangalloy or other non-ferromagnetic metal (or for that matter, a solid polymer pin) but it shows gross negligence on the part of the company that they didn’t even think to test that.

  5. Um, the firing pin block is not motor driven, its magnetically driven. There’s a tiny electromagnet that activates to move the firing pin block. That’s why a magnet works to defeat it. It’s in the wired article.

    • “Um, the firing pin block is not motor driven, its magnetically driven. There’s a tiny electromagnet that activates to move the firing pin block.”

      So it’s a linear electric motor.

        • Not really. Totally pedantic though.

          By definition an electric motor is “a device that converts electrical energy into mechanical energy”.

        • “By definition an electric motor is “a device that converts electrical energy into mechanical energy”.”

          So a solenoid is an electric motor?

        • Yes, a solenoid converts an electrical impulse to mechanical energy/linear motion. We think of motors moving in circles, but they don’t have to. And yes, I’m being a pedant.

  6. Look at that thing. It’s all slide. Frame mounted de-cock, with a hammer, but a slide mounted safety, and the center of the bore is a good 2″ above the hand.
    Who? Why?

  7. Love the watch thingy! Nothing like wearing a big, ostentatious device on your wrist that SCREAMS “I’m carrying a concealed weapon that might, just maybe, work well enough to kill your ass, if the .22 lr hits a good spot. Oh, by the way, did you know I’m carrying a concealed pistol?”

    • You vastly over-estimate both the situational awareness and firearms knowledge of well over 99% of the people who walk amongst us.

      • I dropped two dollar bills about 40′ apart in front of a busy movie theatre to prove this point – that most people are clueless. The bills got stepped on plenty of times, waiting for an aware individual to pick them up. No takers. After 15 minutes I picked up my own money.

        • In keeping with your experiment, this summer I’ve been experimenting with open carry. I’m not being inconspicuous with it, either. I’m carrying a thoroughly Evil Black Phosphated Kimber 1911 Government, in a leather holster on my belt. I’m wearing a 1.5″ leather belt that should scream “I’m carrying!” to those who know carry leather. Sometimes I carry strong-side, sometimes reverse-draw on my left side.

          I’ve walked into grocery stores, banks, retail shops, fire houses, ambulance barns, you name it.

          So here’s my results to date:

          Number of people who spotted the 1911 and remarked on it? Two (2). One of whom was my mother in law. (“Is that a gun?” “Yes.” “Oh.”). The other is a fellow gun-guy EMT, who didn’t even have to see the whole gun to ask “Whatcha packin’?”

          Most people don’t even see it. I don’t call attention to it, I dress and act as if I’m where I’m supposed to be, dressed as I’m supposed to be… and people just don’t notice. This includes cops. I’ve had cops walk up to me, talk to me, ask me how’s it going (because they recognize me from fire/EMT duties), but never notice the 1911 – until I made mention of it. Then they’re embarrassed they missed it – “Oh, yea… uh, yea, uh, uh, uh…”

          It’s utterly amazing to me how situationally unaware most people are. I think I could walk an elephant painted pink down Main Street at lunch hour and never be noticed if I act as if a) everyone does this, and b) “I belong here with this elephant.”

        • You’re lucky I wasn’t there… LOL

          I’ve picked up $20 off the street once or twice in my life, and I’ve never stopped looking since. 🙂

        • A dollar bill? They won’t see it.
          A fountain? A friggin FOUNTAIN??? They don’t see it.
          Most people simply assume that someone, anyone, will make sure their path is clear; if not, someone will pay.
          Cities will be sued if a tree root lifts a sidewalk slab, simply because someone couldn’t be bothered to watch where they walk.
          Now, *I* would have seen the bill, probably. I actually scan the ground ahead. I don’t like tripping on things.

      • Well, I can’t tell the difference between $300 sunglasses and the $15 knockoffs.
        Then again, I don’t give a rat’s ass.

  8. I had to wonder how long before one of these guns was hacked to either disable with the watch present or to work with the watch’s absence.

    When copywrite protections that took years to develop are broken within days or hours after release (or at worst a few weeks), it was only going to be a matter of time before the smart gun was hacked.

  9. [Devil’s advocate]
    Design stupidity aside, Armatix could replace that part with stainless steel to solve that whole nasty issue of magnetics.

    The idea of “smart guns” is to prevent the gun from being fired by unauthorized users, e.g. children or thugs. Neither are likely to use the “magnet hack,” considering the circumstances they normally operate in.
    [/Devil’s advocate]

    p.s. I resist anything that makes a self-defense weapon more complicated than it absolutely needs to be. That’s part of the reason I own a few Glocks. Simplicity is good.

    • Except they can’t because it has to be magnetic for the gun to work. Watch the video in the wired article.

    • While not as immediate I can disable it permanently with 30 seconds of a dremel plus the time it takes to pull the gun down. I looked over the patents, and like TTAG would drool to get my hands on one to make them look like idiots. (post the youtube video on the internet a few days after release.)

      That said, polymer or nonmagnetic parts would not do the trick. The way the actuator works is based on magnetism. There may be a way to shield it from “extra” magnetism but it’s not baked into this design.

    • The idea of “smart guns” is to prevent the gun from being fired by unauthorized users, e.g. children or thugs. Neither are likely to use the “magnet hack,” considering the circumstances they normally operate in.

      “Thugs” might not be likely to use the magnet hack in their normal M.O., but I bet you they know a nerdier friend or two who could not only use that hack, but make it permanent, turning the smart gun into just another “dumb gun” out on the black market for thugs to use.

    • Uh, yes, kids WILL figure this out once they’re aware of it. That’s what kids DO. LOL

  10. The people responsible for developing this thing had to know it could be defeated or at least would be defeated.
    I’d like to know their true motivation for pursuing a known dead end.
    And if they truly are too stupid to realize this would happen they have no business engineering anything ever again.

    • I think they probably don’t care that it’s hackable.

      If they can convince enough people in high places that their thing is a Great Idea, they’ll open a virtually unlimited stream of government money. New Jersey’s poison pill law is their best friend.

      And they’re banking on a “smart” pistol being acceptable in places where regular old dumb guns are forbidden. It only has to be smarter than the average anti-gun legislator, and that’s not too hard.

    • That’s exactly what I was about to write just above–and deleted it after finally scrolling down enough. Well played, Joe R. Well played.

  11. The author would love to see a properly functioning smart gun?

    Why? We all know that once it’s done, the elites will get to work figuring out how to mandate the technology for all firearms. That’s the purpose of the smart gun. I for one would hate to see this tech ever come to full fruition.

    • I think he was trying to say that he has no problem with smart guns, in principle. I’ve got no problem with a gun like that being on the market, I definitely think it has its niche, so long as it’s an OPTION. Mandating such a gun is a bad bad bad idea but if that’s what someone chooses, who can judge that personal decision?

  12. Someone should build something that renders the smart gun fully operable at all times, and then mount it to the rail! Or maybe mount the watch to the rail.

    • I watched the whole video and the guy did that, but not with magnets. He found the frequency were the gun and watch synchronize on. with that knowledge he could either jam it and make the gun completely inoperable or he could enlarge the perimeter in which both gun and watch can synchronize and therefore make the gun work.
      That aspect of RF chips is also nothing new, that is how a German hacker group hacked credit and other cards and also some passports with that technology. It is also how car thief’s steel cars with keyless technology.

  13. Any security system known to man, another man or woman can hack, subvert, push through or simply go around.

    Just ask Hillary Clinton!

  14. 1. ) There is No such thing as a “Smart device” ! Including my “Smartphone”. Which is an Android based unit subject to malfunctions, hacking , viruses, and cell jamming.

    2.) Remove Globalist Politicians, Social engineers and architects who helped place such unconstitutional laws in place…Provide Cigarette (or Vaping device), blindfold, and Armarix IP1 to terminate Un American Globalist Riff Raff…And permanently stop the EU NWO/ Globalist Agenda to Destroy American Liberty, and Freedom !!!!

  15. This magnet trick is also a common issue with the solenoids on most cheap gun safe locks, including pistol boxes.

  16. From the ‘Wired’ article:

    ” “Could you imagine what the guys at Defcon could do with this [piece of shit]?” one poster wrote wrote in response to a negative NRA review of the Armatix IP1.”

    I propose a test that should be made before any ‘smart gun’ is mandated for ownership.

    1 – It must be made available for purchase on day 1 of the Defcon – Blackhat conference.

    2 – A one million dollar cash bounty will be made available to the hacker who is the first to defeat the interlock during the week of the conference.

    3 – Any gun that fails the Defcon – Blackhat conference test will be ineligible for smart gun certification.

    No gun will *ever* pass that test…

    *snicker*

    • That’s not allowed.

      Pfft, next you’ll be asking what happens if you can’t find your watch! Obviously the bad guy has to wait or, if he’s sporting enough, help you find it.

      • germanguy: “It is actually easier to just jam the signal completely. So why bother shooting the watch?”

        My first thought: because it’s more fun.

  17. And just how waterproof and g shock is that hideously huge watch? Does the watch require batteries? And if they die does the gun default to the being able to fire mode or does it “protect” you by defaulting to can’t fire mode.
    When I worked in fire and police most of us did not wear watches, rings or Jewlery so that parts of our bodies did not get ripped off during dangerous activity.
    Seems I read very many years ago where Mas Ayoob was evaluating a handgun/ring system that did not involve any wireless or batteries. Anyone else remember this handgun and what happened to it! I still would not use one but am curious.

  18. This reminds me of when the music companies invested millions to develop a copy-proof CD, only to have some guy show the whole Internet how to defeat it with a Sharpie marker.

  19. If it’s good for us it’s great for the military the police any armed government employees and any security for politicians and celebrities.

  20. I do not like smart guns said Sam I am, I do not……….oh wait.
    Anyway, I WOULD NOT EVER buy, use or otherwise embrace a smart gun. The government, if in their infinite wisdom mandated it, I would simply ignore it or render the smart portion useless. I can do that kind of stuff.

  21. Remember people, Armatix is the anti gun lobby.
    They can only sell their crap if the can get laws that gorce you to buy them.
    Don’t let that happen.

  22. I’d love to see a properly functioning, secure, and reliable smart gun.

    Nope. I never want to see one, ever.

  23. Role with me on this one.

    Can we preempt this whole smart gun fad by releasing our own? Will just make a regular old striker fired poly pistol and an oversized watch to go with it. The thing will go bang every time someone wheres the watch. Granted it will bang every time someone does not where the watch but that could be called an anti hacking feature. If the go goes bang without the watch we could either call it a feature or a malfunction . . . and charge 3x the normal price for it 🙂

  24. I’m going to say again that a ” smart gun” will not be a fancy lock
    If you want lock your gun, buy a gun lock!
    Don’t want unauthorized users?
    Smith and Wesson and Bersa both sell guns with built in locks
    Keep the key with you alone
    No, a smart gun will have tracking point built in
    First round hits on moving targets while running away at full speed
    That is the future smart gun!
    Not a personalized lock

  25. I’m completely convinced that no matter what any company comes up with in order to call it a “safe gun” meaning only the person with the ownership, or whatever it takes to be the ONLY person who can operate that firearm, load it, shoot it whatever. There will be someone amongst the rest of the almost 6,000,000. billion remaining people that will figure out almost immediately how to defeat it. Give it up and let us do what we want. We’re law abiding firearm user/owners who are presently (at least I am) shaking our heads at the libertards breaking as many gun laws as possible. Me? I’m staying the hell out of their way. Some may be just hypocrites but I don’t trust anyone who forms a gang to break laws. Especially firearms laws.

    • Peter: “There will be someone amongst the rest of the almost 6,000,000. billion remaining people that will figure out almost immediately how to defeat it.”

      That’s a LOT of people, right there.
      Six million billion.

  26. I’m confused by the companies who waste money trying to create “smart guns.” Somehow they’re supposed to be safer? There are 6 billion people in this world are they so arrogant that they think they can create something that won’t be thwarted by someone from those ranks? Meanwhile, we need to worry about the libertards that have formed ARMED gangs all over the country and start fires, break laws, and threaten people? Hypocrites you think? I see them as armed gangs of thugs. I’m just going to stay out of the way of the Armed PC Gangs. They’ve been trying to disarm us for years they claim out of fear. Do they know how to use the firearms they are carrying? I know they can beat people up, start fires, break windows and other criminal acts. I’ve been quietly wondering though. Do those gangs have permits? Have they gone through background checks? Stay far away from them, the law is!

  27. “Smart” guns are pure SciFi BS. They don;t work now and probably won;t in the foreseeable future. And even if they do hit the market, I’ll guarantee you that the Democrat’s security teams won’t be authorized to use them. They are intended for the rest of us, not to protect the people trying to ram the concept down our throats.

  28. It’ll be a good day when the IP 1 is released. Why? Because the next day they’ll be in the discount bargain bin for $20. The gang bangers around here wouldn’t know a magnet if it stuck to them, so that’s not an issue.
    I could use another cheap .22 pistol and am not opposed to it having a fake brain.

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