.40 S&W chambered AMT On Duty.

Arcadia Machine & Tool was a company made famous by the hit 1980s sci-fi action/horror film, Terminator.

Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Cyberdyne Systems T-800 “buying” an AMT Hardballer 1911.

AMT was founded in 1977 in Irwindale, California and making their claim to fame by developing a number of guns in stainless steel like the movie-famous Hardballer above. Other than the Hardballer, AMT made a number of guns.

But by the late 80s, AMT knew that their little pocket pistols and hand cannons wouldn’t keep them out of the poor house.

The law enforcement market was ripe for conquest and AMT saw a chance to get in. They did so with the On Duty Pistol a double stack DA/SA and DAO 9mm and .40 S&W chambered duty size handgun.

Original Sales Photo by famed gun photographer, Ichiro Nagata.

They pushed it on gun rag covers and in ads.

January 1992 issue of GUNS Magazine, reviewing AMT’s On Duty pistol.

Alas, the gun was a flop.

Made from 1991 to 1994, the On Duty was plagued with problems. Small production numbers, lack of quality control, and a high price for a handgun that was competing against brands like GLOCK, SIG Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Beretta, Heckler & Koch, and others.

Original Sales Photo by famed gun photographer, Ichiro Nagata.

The MSRP for the On Duty was a high-for-the-time $700. That hurt it, especially since AMT had a bad reputation of lackluster quality control. They were looked down upon due to a significant number of them not working right out of the box. About the only quality part of that gun that was consistently reliable was the magazine.

Why? Because they were made by Mec-Gar of Italy and patterned after the S&W Model 5906 (9mm) and Model 4006 (.40 S&W).

Notice the difference between the control levers on the .40 S&W and 9mm models.

The gun was an interesting design and it could have been a viable contender…if it had been made by someone else. It had a lot of features that were popular back in the early 1990s.

It was advertised as eventually being released in .45 ACP, but due to setbacks, that never happened.

AMT’s original sales flyer for the On Duty pistol.

In the end, the gun never went anywhere and when AMT finally closed their doors, the design died with the company. No one else bought it and brought it back into production.

The AMT On Duty joins guns like the Browning BDM and FN HP-DA as other interesting entries in the high stakes early 1990s LE Duty Gun market, when beat cops as a whole were switching from six-shot wheel guns to higher capacity Wonder Nines and barrier penetrating .40 cals.

29 COMMENTS

  1. A company that gets bought by another that in turn gets bought by another. Through a series of buy outs, things get lost as technology changes and peoples’ needs and desires evolve.

    I worked for a company like that once that is now long gone.

  2. Bottom line is that AMT was crap.

    They never made it to a finish product stage with anything.

    Even their government models were poor quality and final finishing was left to the schmuck that bought it.

    Good riddance.

    • More hatin’ on stuff no one has actually handled? I currently have a 6″ Automag II (22WMR) that will chow it’s way through mag after mag of Winchester 40 grain- as specced in the manual. Also own an IAI (Irwindale Automag) 30 carbine pistol that will feed and extract ANYTHING it is fed. Their Hardballers could be made to run well with proper lubing (50/50 mix of Lucas stabilizer and ATF) and a polished feed ramp, and were certainly less of a disappointment than the likewise all stainless Colt Delta Gold Cup (10mm) I owned that took two trips back to the factory to run… and never got to a point where I trusted for a carry gun. I bought a lot of early Stainless pistols back in the day from shooters at my gun club, and yes I’ll agree that they were generally fussier than their carbon steel brethren….but that’s okay as one man’s (misunderstood) trash is another one’s treasure.

      • I’ve handled several AMTs.

        Hard baller ( a couple) backup (4 or 5), 22 mag auto (one was plenty).

        Gritty, rough, galled surfaces, poor feeding – poor ejecting.

        If you got a good one – great. I had plenty of experience with AMTs and OMC. They were crap.

        And the market bears that out.

        • Yep, had an AMT 1911, never could get it to be reliable. Glock or my Dan Wesson CCO have never given me problems, out of the box.

  3. I bought a hard baller in .45 acp because that’s what was said at its best.
    Traded it back after a couple of weeks. Total crap.

    • AMT was in too early on the stainless steel craze. I have a Hardballer that I had given to me that is susceptible to galling- if I remember correctly the company lit tells you to use a mix of regular oil with vegetable oil on the sliding surfaces between frame and slide.

      • Yep white lithium and veg oil and it will still lock up TIGHT! At least mine did twice…sold it.

  4. Never shot an AMT- only seen a few. An accquaintance had one and said it was junk. Interesting bit of history…

  5. The 380 I had jammed, and the 45automag hurt my wrist. I shoot 44 magnum one handed but the grip on the auto mag didnt fit me.
    Also had a hard baller and that’s about all that would feed in it. As much as I would have liked to have liked AMT they just wasn’t cutting the mustard for me.

    • “The 380 I had jammed,…”

      Strange, the ‘AMT.380 Backup’ I had ate every round I fed it with *zero* complaints.

      But it would slide-bite as viciously as an angered woman… 🙁

      • It probably jammed on me because it had chunks of possum fat and hair in it, I dont know? You’d think the grease would have lubricated it enuf to overcome the resistance of the hair.
        As you said , and as I said, ” Had” . We dont say ” had” on the gunms worth keeping.
        Anyway I dont.

    • That was the ” Javelina”, a 10mm long slide. The 30 carbine is the Automag III, followed by the 45 WinMag Automag IV, and the mythical 50AE Automag V , none of which were 1911 designs.

  6. They obviously had a lot of lemons. In my case I am/was lucky I guess. Having/had a DAO 380 backup, an IAI Hardballer longslide and a later Galena 5″ 1911 (successors to AMT brand) they all run/ran fine.

  7. Looks like I cross posted with Peanut Butter Fan.

    I’d still be interested in getting one of those.

  8. Knew someone with the original AMT Backup .380. The frame actually cracked. A stainless steel pistol in a mouse caliber and it cracked the frame on the ball ammo of the era.

    So, yeah, quality control was kinda’ in short supply for AMT.

    • The first new gun I ever bought was the Daewoo DP-51.

      Great gun.

      I named it “Mr.Woo”. It spoke in short, angry barks… 🙂

  9. I had an AMT Skipper which was a .45 Commander size version of the Hardballer and I could hit anything with it and fast, when it ran. If you didn’t keep it well lubed with white lithium grease it would lock up tight, and I don’t mean simple FTE or double feed, I mean you had to take a block of wood to the back of the slide and hammer it closed before you could work the action to eject the fired case. After that happened a couple of times, I got rid of it.

  10. I have an Automag 3 and love it. Mags are hard to find and expensive, but with the exception of weak mag spring problems (from age) it has been great. As an added bonus the .30 carbine, while a lousy rifle caliber, is a hellatious pistol caliber.

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