In John Scalzi’s military science fiction series Old Man’s War, protagonist John Perry joins the mysterious Colonial Defense Forces, essentially a space force from Earth sent around the universe to fight aliens. It sounds ridiculous in almost every way, with elderly Earthlings receiving new, improved bodies, with the exception of a considerable amount of plausible technology.
Colonial Defense Forces soldiers are issued guns that can only be fired by the soldier the gun is issued to. After much fanfare and a lot of “smart gun” hype, Biofire says they have now brought this concept to life.
The Truth About Guns highlighted the announcement of the Biofire Smart Gun last week. Biofire CEO Kai Kloepfer, a gun-owner and self-described gun enthusiast, unwittingly began his career in “smart gun” development with a high school science project.
After the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, he wondered how a gun with “smart” technology could help avoid similar incidents. Over the next 11 years, Kloepfer secured investors and recruited a number of engineers to bring his idea into being.
“Smart guns” have been incredibly contentious, mostly due to a New Jersey law. The law mandated that once a “smart gun” became commercially available, all handguns sold in New Jersey would have to have “smart gun” technology. That was, of course, absolutely preposterous and a gross violation of the Second Amendment.
As such, it stifled smart gun development for years as no one wanted to trigger the law. Biofire actively opposed the mandate law as it stirred up dislike for “smart guns” and discouraged investment in their development. The law has since been repealed.
So what is a “smart gun?” There isn’t really a single definition, but the general consensus seems to be it’s a firearm with some type of biometric capability that ostensibly prevents unauthorized use. While some have tried in the past, no one has produced anything that actually worked. Until, potentially, now.
When Biofire first approached me about this product I was extremely skeptical. While I haven’t had the chance to actually examine one, I have watched a videos such as the one from Forgotten Weaponsthe one from Forgotten Weapons and seen enough to conclude the Biofire Smart Gun appears to actually work, though it still has a way to go before it’s ready for prime time.
The Biofire 9mm pistol has two forms of biometric identification – facial recognition on the rear of the slide and a fingerprint sensor. Only one of the two forms of authentication has to work for the gun to unlock.
Rather than work from an existing firearm platform, Biofire engineered their 9mm pistol from the ground up. It functions largely like a traditional striker-fired pistol with a slide, slide catch, trigger, and a traditional magazine (10 or 15 rounds).
The Biofire Smart Gun is larger than your typical 9mm with a rather futuristic aesthetic that’s similar to the SilencerCo Maxim 9 and the Hudson H9. The biometric technology runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery which itself poses an interesting question. Could you transport it in checked luggage? No one’s yet it tried.
The slide and 4.7” barrel are stainless steel with a glass filled nylon grip. Factory specs cite a 5 lb. trigger and weight of 2.4 pounds. The gun itself measures 8.7” in length, 5.7” in width and 1.6” in height.
The sights are non-adjustable. The front sight illuminates to indicate whether the person holding the pistol has been “authorized” to shoot it. Green indicates it’s ready to fire. The Biofire Smart Gun also features an integrated red laser which the user can program to immediately turn on when the gun is unlocked.
So how does a gun “authorize” a user? The Biofire pistol is USB-C rechargeable through any standard outlet, but a new pistol is programmable by an electronic smart dock. While there are accessories that house the pistol and dock, the dock itself isn’t a landing place for the pistol.
Think of it instead as a digital remote the size of a small notebook with a USB cord. From there you can enter your name and program certain settings. According to Biofire, “The Smart Gun and Smart Dock together are a closed system that protects personal information with defense-grade data security…Users’ biometric data never leaves the firearm, which has no onboard WiFi, Bluetooth, or GPS.”
If you want to have another person be able to shoot the pistol, you can create extra or temporary users. The gun will only unlock in an authorized users’ hand. Biofire’s media kit says that “Integrated IR sensors in the grip keep the firearm armed while an authorized user is holding the gun, removing a need to continuously authenticate their biometrics.”
Kloepfer insisted his “smart gun” needed to be reliable. It needed to unlock quickly and flawlessly for the correct user every time and it needed to function reliably.
At this point, the gun is still really just a prototype and Biofire hasn’t released accuracy numbers or malfunction rates. By the time the gun is set to ship later this year, Biofire says they expect their gun to be comparable to a GLOCK 19 or SIG P320 in terms of reliability. We shall see.
That said, the company is being realistic and doesn’t intend the Biofire Smart Gun to be a replacement for other guns currently available, just an additional option. It isn’t designed for concealed carry or match use. It’s intended specifically for people who want a quickly accessible home-defense gun.
It takes time to unlock a safe, even a biometric one, so many people choose to keep their home defense gun on their nightstand, in plain view. That poses a safety concern if you have guests or children. Biofire believes that’s the problem they’ve now solved.
My concern is this may promote unsafe habits with traditional firearms. For example, a child thinking that because their parents’ “smart gun” can’t be fired if they pick it up may assume that all guns have that feature. Ultimately, education, firearm safety, and proper training will still be incredibly important and necessary, whatever firearms a person owns.
The Biofire Smart Gun is no substitute for training and it isn’t a fix for stupidity. Still, it may be an intriguing piece of technology with noble goals in mind.
In terms of finally creating something new and bringing what has been science fiction into reality, I applaud Biofire, certainly for their persistence, and assuming the finished product works.
Again, what’s been shown to the public so far is still a prototype, if an impressive one. They’ve built a new weapon system from the ground up rather than customizing or following an existing model.
I was invited to see and shoot the current iteration. However, the amount of time I’d have with the gun, the number of rounds fired and the kind of ammunition were going to be limited. I declined the invitation. I’d rather wait until they have a finished product that’s ready for real world testing and evaluation rather than waste time on something that really isn’t quite there yet.
I am also still incredibly apprehensive about “smart gun” technology. While Biofire has assured me the gun will unlock as you grab it, I am still wary about trusting my life to something that’s so dependent on electronics.
The dual, redundant biometric system is key to its reliability in varying circumstances. Biofire says the gun has a four-month battery life on a full charge, which takes one hour. They also say they’ve tested it in temperature extremes and under a variety of conditions.
As far as the now-gone New Jersey problem, the company has publicly stated they will take a stand against any future “smart gun” mandates. They’ve said . . .
Biofire’s focus is on building better, faster, safer firearms that solve the issue of safe storage versus instant access. We believe our Smart Gun should always be a choice, not a requirement, not a mandate, not a must. Though we’re not aware of any current political conversations about smart gun mandates, Biofire will be the first in line to fight against any future mandate.
That’s reassuring, but politicians will be politicians. The very existence of a commercially available biometric gun will almost inevitably open the door for reincarnations of what New Jersey tried to do.
I’m still apprehensive because of the always uncertain political climate, but the reality is that “smart guns” were always going to happen at some point. I’d rather the first maker be an ostensibly pro-2A company like Biofire than someone else.
This pistol is currently available for pre-order at smartgun.com with a refundable $149 deposit and several color choices. It comes in both left-and right-handed versions at a cost of $1,499.
Nope. Not a chance.
Not to mention, I can buy a pretty nice home defense piece for $1500. Or a $600 Glock and $900 worth of ammo.
Not in this lifetime for me either.. ALL can be hacked now.
The Biofire Smart Gun: It’s Still Just a Prototype, But It Seems to Be a Promising One…
for government regulation and control.
a “smart gun” in combat is an absolute absurdity…it’s a place where soldiers often pick up what’s available and continue fighting…
C’mon, it’s a tranny gun.
You *do* like trannies, don’t you?
As stated in the article, this is not designed with combat or concealed carry in mind, but for home defense.
Regardless of what it is designed for.. It’s a stupid idea.
It should be good for school or prison security where there are a lot of people around who aren’t supposed to have access to arms and where there is the risk of losing retention in a struggle.
It will also be good for bringing firearms to the wider non-gun culture population of prospective gun owners who don’t have the muscle memory and training to handle a traditional firearm safely. You know those people aren’t going to seek training anyway and will be as careless with it as they would be their phone or pepper spray.
AKA Alec Baldwin.
“I am still wary about trusting my life to something that’s so dependent on electronics.”
The author should not be driving a car that has been built within the past 20 to 25 years then. My 8-year-old base model Ram pickup truck has more electronics than any gun. Travelling by aircraft should also be out.
Nothing wrong with a healthy dose of skepticism but to specifically point at trusting Electronics with your life is ridiculous because most of us already do that and we do it in ways that typically kills far more people than firearms do.
and no I’m not interested in a smart gun… even if I was I couldn’t afford one.
Well yes, but a car is not what you grab when your life counts on it. That’s the point they are making.
No thank you.
“After the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, he wondered how a gun with “smart” technology could help avoid similar incidents.”
“an ostensibly pro-2A company like Biofire”
Keyword: “ostensibly”, as in someone whose conclusion from a shooting was that the problem was the gun.
…yeah, the Aurora movie shooting was a nutjob with a purchased- not stolen- firearm.
I suspect he’s mixed up Aurora with the Sandy Hook shooter, who did steal the firearm he used (and also murdered his mother) but it’s a weird mistake to make.
Blaming the gun is never just a mistake.
Not understanding how the inventor concluded that a “smart” gun, of any kind, could have prevented the “Dark Knight” shooting. Or would prevent one if the product is commercially viable.
What it would have done is guarantee that even if you were able to wrestle it away from the shooter you couldn’t hold them at bay with it. I guess you could use it as a bludgeon. The best bet is to be armed yourself at all times.
“After the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, he wondered how a gun with “smart” technology could help avoid similar incidents.”
Wait a second… the shooter there shot people, if he had this ‘smart gun’ he would have still been able to shoot people.
So you want to avoid what? It certainly would not have helped avoid the Aurora, Colorado incident ….nor will it help avoid any such similar incidents. Even this guy doesn’t get it. its not the gun, its the person. You created a gun that can be shot by the person it recognizes, if that person is a ‘mass shooter’ the gun still recognized them and they can still shoot people and such a gun does absolutely zero to stop that from happening.
Because he couldn’t say “After the shooting, he wondered how he could cash in by exploiting people’s unreasonable panic.”
probably useful if you have kids around…
Until you try to use it in that maybe a 1-2 seconds (usually less when it comes to actually needed to pull the trigger) you have to defend those kids like in about 70% of defense situations and it takes ~3 seconds minimum (from grab to unlock) to unlock the gun if it unlocks the first time – then its a tombstone inscription “Here lies little Johnny, the left wing used a smart gun to kill him.”
then its not so useful if you have kids around.
Supposedly this one doesn’t have the delay. Judge it by its own merits, don’t just assume.
the democrats want this
so for that reason
im kneejerk 100 percent against it
i dont care if it works or not
i dont care if its affordable or not
if the last 8 years should have taught us anything
its that the democrats havent been right
or told the truth about anything
they are not to be believed
they are not to be trusted
at any time
for any length of time
its like this:
the day that any democrat says
“dont worry-the sun will come up tomorrow”
thats the day we should all be heading for our bugout locations
Two ID points can still fail. Wearing gloves kills one and need to fire in CQ after just clearing holster (between hip to point below facial recognition) kills the other. There are multiple reasons a finger print reader can fail or be obstructed. If your physically grappling, you are likely to have shooting opertunity but not in line with facial recognition. It’s great to prevent unauthorized use/discharge but not at the cost of potentially failing to fire when life(s) depends on it.
Maybe, MAYBE, something like this could reduce stolen guns being used in crimes.
Pretty much all of the high-profile mass shootings have been done with legally purchased guns, including the catalyst even for this project, which means they’d be programmed to work with the perps prints and face so no change there.
Will it fire after you drag it thru the mud, the blood, and the beer? I freakin’ doubt it. If it can’t take abuse, it’s useless and dangerous.
It’s a nightstand gunm, it wasn’t designed to behave like a tt33
Exactly. And that is the problem. I have several firearms of various descriptions. All can, and do, serve double duty. This so called “smart” gun is a deliberately crippled firearm masquerading as a self defense weapon, nothing more. You couldn’t get me to take one, if you paid me 10x the MSRP.
Personally, I think getting paid $15k to take ownership of a gun I’d never use feels like a pretty good deal… if that bargain ever comes across your desk, pass it my way!
$1500 for a (probably mediocre) 9mm handgun??
How accurate is it?? What are the ergonomics?? How reliable is it??
Those are the questions any rational gun owner would ask. For $1500, I can buy a damn nice, very accurate and/or very reliable handgun, and a butt-ton of ammunition to practice with. Or an absurdly good handgun, without ammunition. The limiting factor in my shooting has never been the quality and accuracy of my firearm. My $950 Kimber shoots better than I can – Jerry Michulek would embarrass me with my own gun.
Does it work reliably when wet/covered with blood? Could a friend who came over for a Scotch pick it up if I was shot and continue the fight? What happens when the battery fails? Does the facial recognition work if you’ve gotten clobbered in the face by a baseball bat, but managed to work through that and get to your gun?
And, for $1500, that gun seriously needs to be able to come in and wipe my butt when I’m on the toilet. I’m guessing this gun doesn’t come close to qualifying. A stupid, overpriced, idea whose time will never come. Try again . . . or, better yet, don’t bother. If there is a perceived demand or need for this technology, it will be filled . . . by someone who understands how a market works. This company clearly doesn’t.
Hard pass on this abortion of stupid technology.
As for reliability, none. In the Forgotten Weapons video it could not even make it thru 10rd mag without a failure using their handpicked ammo. Likely will never hit the market, was promised as far back as 2016 but never appeared. I can’t imagine their circuit boards holding up even for 100’s of rounds. I guess if you don’t want to practice with it or use your choice of home defense ammo it would be okay lol.
About what I expected. What the anti-gun idiots don’t understand is that there are very valid reasons why “smart guns” have never been a thing. The technology this gun is based on has been around for at least 20 years, probably longer.
The idiots who are marketing this “technology” have never looked at the obvious question of “what would I want my firearm to be able to do?”. Personally, I want a firearm that is at least as accurate as my shooting capability, won’t jam/FTF/misfire, doesn’t have parts I have to check for functionality before I attempt to use it, and doesn’t require a detail cleaning if I haven’t taken it out in the field. My suspicion is that this weapon achieves zero of these requirements.
Like I said, a poor attempt at a goal that . . . no one except anti-gun idiots care about. IF anti-gun idiots bought guns, they might be a potential market. I have a Ruger, a Kimber, two Glocks, a SIG, a Beretta, and a Smith & Wesson, so I am NOT a fanbois of any particular brand, but I wouldn’t even have this on my “possible” list. Maybe I’d try one if I could do it for free, but it AUTOMATICALLY misses a couple of my essential requirements for a personal defense weapon.
It’s always going to be a hard pass for me.
So, has anybody changed his/her mind in the intervening week? I didn’t think so.
Dont like it. At all. Dont give the govt any more ideas. Everything will be required to be a smart gun.
I like my guns dumb thank you very much.
Some of my gunms thought they were smart enough to swim.
Bet they jumped right out of your canoe because they thought the water looked inviting. I’m thinking of starting a salvage company to dredge creeks, rivers, lakes, and near-offshore ocean bottoms for gunms. I could clean them up and resell them for a pretty penny. From what people post here and on other gun blogs, there should be MILLIONS of guns down there.
I’m gonna be richer than Elon Musk.
Can i USB charge it on my night table?
Swap the laser for a 200-300 lumen flashlight and mill a red dot mount in place of the rear sights and they would actually have something I could see being viable in the “nightstand gun” market, but as is, this isn’t even a good prototype. It reeks of being made by people who know what guns are, but haven’t ever actually used one.
The sights are laughably horrendous and need to be replaced with something better. Might as well use a red dot.
And a laser is not a replacement for the horrible sights. When seconds count, hunting the distance for a small dot just won’t cut it.
that want all guns to be smart guns
are also the same exact people
that are literally going to the mat
to push puberty blockers on 10 year olds
without their parents consent
and insect protein on everybody
so thats about all that any of us
really needs to know
about smart guns
The best thing about my gats is they’ll work after an EMP. Hear that China? Russia?? North Korea??? So he!! NO!
I believe a person would have to have other thing also after such an attack, but keeping these thing a secret could be difficult.
New Jersey law is but a small facet of a much larger diamond. So small in fact that it’s barely worth noting when introducing something like this. It becomes meaningless.
This article doesn’t give enough real information about it for me to be anything but skeptical. I see nothing here that suggests anything but China control.
The goal here is glaringly obvious, push “smart” guns, then ban all non smart weapons, for the children.
That was the gist of the NJ law. Once such gun were available anywhere, all FFLs in the state had to sell them. And if that succeeded, banning dumb guns would have been next.
I’ll give it a decade, and if (at a minimum) several major police departments and a government agency or two have adopted it (fully, not just “trials”), then I’ll consider getting one … if it’s the exact same make and model as those that have been extensively field tested. Not a “civilian” or “monkey” model.
Maybe. If it still looks good. And if I have a use / need case.
No, No, and hell no.
I thought we talked about this a few days ago. The idea has not gotten better since then.
This “review” reminds me of all too many Amazon “reviews”…
“I don’t own one nor have I ever held / used one…but, the company’s promotional literature and videos say it works… and that is good enough for me.”
What a load of crap!
This “review” is nothing more than mental self-flagellation…insidious propaganda at best. Without honest hands-on experience this “writer” should STFU.
Just to be clear, this is NOT a review. We didn’t title it a review, we didn’t use any of our review tags, and the author makes it quite clear that she hasn’t gotten her hands on a Biofire gun yet because she hasn’t been given the opportunity to shoot and test a production model.
She calls the current version a prototype, which it is. We don’t review prototypes and never have.
Mischaracterizing the article as a review and claiming the author should “STFU” says much more about you than it does about her. Feel free to get your gun-related information elsewhere.
Good Afternoon Dan,
I guess that I should apologize for striking a nerve. Not happening.
The author states that she was given the opportunity to shoot and test one but did not for her own reasons.
I stand corrected regarding my use of the word “review” in connection with the TTAG posting (and for that I offer a sincere apology). That does not change the fact that her expressed opinions reminded me of the previously mentioned Amazon “reviews” wherein people expound on items they have zero personal familiarity with.
My use of STFU may have been excessive in this instance. I should have been much more politic in stating that she wait until she had actual experience before commenting on the item.
I generally respect and enjoy the articles and reviews that TTAG offers. Most of your writers / contributors offer balanced and knowledgeable articles. I find your research into and reporting of DGU’s to be especially comprehensive. TTAG will remain one of my favorite sources of firearm-related news.
Thank you for your constructive criticism.
You are a more patient person than am I. She purports to give us an evaluation of a firearm SHE HAS NEVER FIRED. Effing stupid. I don’t care about your opinion if you haven’t fired the damn gun.
THEN WHY THE F*** IS SHE WRITING ABOUT IT????????????????
If we wanted your editors/writers’ opinion about press releases, we would torture you for them. Stop, already. Tell us what you know, not what you think about some company’s press releases. Jeebus, dude, this ain’t rocket surgery.
Let the secret service do the beta testing!
Skalzi is libtarb 2nd-rate hack SF writer. Old Man’s war and Redshirts were the only things he wrote that were even halfway readable. A Robert A. Heinlein he ain’t.
As for “smart guns” -not just no but HELL NO!
Scalzi can be preachy at times, but he has a few other good ones. Agent to the Stars comes to mind. He also wrote one called “Fuzzy Nation,” which is a nice reimagining of a great H. Beam Piper novel called “Little Fuzzy.”
Piper is one of my favorite golden era sci-fi writers – very underrated. He was also quite libertarian in his outlook, and a gun enthusiast as well. In addition to plenty of sci-fi, he wrote a mystery novel called “Murder in the Gunroom” where his passion for firearms really shines.
The reality is that absent evil Government intervention, smart guns are just another offering in a free marketplace. They are neither good nor bad.
If you want a smart gun, you should be able to buy one.
If you want a NON-smart-gun, you should be able to buy one.
I can see many instances where a smart gun could be a positive. None of these involve defensive or offensive firearms.
If I wanted a target gun and it was offered in a smart variant for no additional cost, I might be interested. If only to make it more difficult for a thief to use if it was ever stolen.
I guess that’s about the only instance I can come up with. But that’s ME. I have older kids who can shoot with me whenever they want to. There is no gun allure in my family, since I beg my kids to come shooting every weekend.
But who knows. Like I said in the first sentence. It should succeed or fail based on its appeal in the marketplace. Nothing more. Nothing less.
I can not get the same features to work on my Cell Phone there is no way that I would trust them on a self defense firearm!! And all this crap at $1500……….
“The Biofire Smart Gun: It’s Still Just a Prototype, But It Seems to Be a Promising One”?
What the *uck is this trash doing on this website?
Who the *uck thought it would be a good idea to promote this?
Coupling this post with Dan’s “defense” of it, my strong suspicion is that . . . TTAG was paid for it.
This site was sketch, at best, but this may be a tipping point. I can find idiots to give me uninformed opinions anywhere on the intarwebz. I see no need to follow a site that posts irrelevant, ignorant horses***.
The best place for smart guns just might be with paintball or maybe even in lasertag. Atleast to start with. But it’s a firearm that is in itself untested in real world conditions. That’s not even to mention the tech side of it. I’m happy to see more manufacturers come to market. Take it in steps. It’s the only way to ensure trust. There is already so little of that.
I’m trying to figure out the market for this gun. It seems very niche:
Buyers must have lots of expendable income…
…and see the advantages of owning a self-defense gun…
…but simultaneously worry a lot about the possible dangers of owning one…
…while being surprisingly willing to assume greater risks by being an early adopter…
…and at the same time liking guns enough to spend $1500…
…but not liking them enough to choose something more established and well-regarded…
…and not caring at all that this gun can really only do one thing.
Doesn’t leave a lot of potential buyers, in my opinion. Maybe I’m wrong!
“Doesn’t leave a lot of potential buyers, in my opinion. Maybe I’m wrong!”
IF you are wrong, it is by being too generous. This ‘article’ is a joke. The product is apparently a joke. TTAG is getting a quid pro quo for this, and it annoys me.
Amazing blog! we have decided to buy some firearms before purchasing these firearms, we consult with East & Jackson about the firearms and we bought some tools from them. We got some information from some blogs and our experience was amazing.
Believe it when I see it. Honestly they’ve gotten some big names behind it, but will it be vaporware or an actual, viable pistol?
As another question, if someone was in a persons house could they get the gun, scan them and then shoot them? A horrid question to ask, but just wondering how they’re going to prevent scanning another person’s face.
Great choice if someone wants one.
Not trying to overtly throw water on the Bio-fire parade, but in the article, it is stated the intended use for the firearm is home defense. OK..but when, usually, do statistics say you’ll generally need home defense? At night, of course since criminals love the cover of darkness. So if I grab this firearm in the dark, the face recognition isn’t going to work (unless it is infrared which wasn’t made clear) and now I rely only on the the grip reading my fingerprint correctly. Now, under stress, you sweat which likely will degrade the ability of the reader to “pass” the owner ID, and I have a high probability of toting a very expensive bludgeon that is no match for an armed criminal. As someone else mentioned, this best application of such a firearm is where there is alot of close quarter contact and likelihood of someone wrestling your firearm away from you and using it against you. For me, I purposely avoid areas like that, so I have no use for such an option.
/tinfoil hat on.
There is still an useful feature that could be implemented pretty easily, and would be a good reason for pushing the sale of this kind of gun: the remote disable by Law Enforcement.
Imagine a Red Flag order executable with a simple app from the LE headquarter.
Or an emergency order saying that in a certain area no firearms are allowed.
A click of a button and all the smart guns are bricked. No need to go around seizing them.
/tinfoil hat off
This is still a “science fiction” gun. Things like this have been in Star Trek. Or Babylon 5. But in the real world it is still a fiction.
I love it when TTAG gets paid to publish not-actual-information. There are few things more useful in this world.
A few years ago the gym that I belonged to installed a finger print recognition to take the place of membership cards for admission. As a cleanliness freak, my finger prints are really crappy. And I was always having to try multiple times to have my prints recognized. Even the my state’s Bureau of Criminal Identification had a hard time getting decent prints when I was getting my concealed carry permit. I wouldn’t trust such a system for a self defense gun.
Facial recognition might work. But would it work if you gained or lost weight? How about growing or shaving off a beard or mustache?