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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As the French would say insuportable.
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.
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.