Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Exclusive: We Test The Armatix iP1, The Not-So-Smart Gun

Thursday, November 12, 2015

In May 2014, NRA staffers secretly tested the Armatix iP1, the so-called “smart gun” that at the time was causing a furor among both media and gun owners nationwide. What we found was disappointing at best, and alarming at worst. 

NRA sent a team of firearm experts to an undisclosed range (at the request of our hosts) to do real-world tests of the iP1. To our knowledge, NRA is the only organization that has actually conducted real-world tests of the iP1 under range conditions.

Guns & Gear Editor and team member Frank Winn penned a review of the iP1 for America’s 1st Freedom. However, A1F withheld publication of the test results for fear that an honest review of the poorly functioning Armatix might be misconstrued as opposition to the technology itself. NRA was already being falsely accused of blocking smart gun development, and the expensive, small-caliber Armatix was failing on its own due to fears that sale of the gun would trigger New Jersey’s infamous mandate requiring similar technology in all guns.

In truth, NRA has never opposed smart guns, believing the marketplace should decide their future. Rather, NRA opposes government mandates of expensive, unproven technology, and smart guns are a prime example of that.

However, smart guns have been making a comeback in the news lately. On Oct. 22, theWashington Post reported on the recent activity of the iP1’s designer, German Ernst Mauch, as he attempted to rehabilitate the iP1’s reputation, as well as his own: “It’s operating perfectly.”To our knowledge, NRA is the only organization that has actually conducted real-world tests of the iP1 under range conditions. 

The Nov. 1 edition of CBS’ “60 Minutes” ran a smart gun segment that featured the oft-cited clip from the James Bond movie “Skyfall,” showing a bad guy foiled by Bond’s smart gun. Host Leslie Stahl interviewed Ron Conway, a Silicon Valley investor who funds 15 separate companies working on smart gun tech, who said: “This is going to happen outside the gun industry. Why they aren’t doing research and investing in this baffles me.”

Then on Nov. 3, Mother Jones magazine called smart guns, “The Guns the NRA Doesn’t Want Americans to Get.” In the article, Mauch is quoted as saying, “I still want people to understand that there is a huge potential for this technology. The technology was never in question.”

Of course Conway and Mauch want us to believe in smart gun tech: Conway would love to see his investments pay off, and Mauch is looking for a job after Armatix—having lost millions of euros trying to launch his iP1—fired him as CEO and banned him from the premises under the threat of criminal penalties. Mauch told the Post he resigned because he didn’t want to sue or attack the gun industry, but an Armatix attorney confirmed he was released “for internal reasons.”

Does the Armatix operate perfectly? Well, no; we found it to be troubling at best. NRA’s tests, conducted with staffers trained by Armatix, found a number of very serious problems:

  • The Armatix pistol initially required a full 20 minutes to pair with the watch, even with the aid of an IT pro trained in its use. Without pairing, the Armatix functions like any other handgun, capable of being fired by anyone.
  • Once paired, a “cold start” still requires a minimum of seven push-button commands and a duration of 12 seconds before the gun can be fired.
  • While the gun holds a maximum of 11 rounds (10+1), the best our experts could manage was nine consecutive rounds without a failure to fire (and that only once). Three or four misfires per magazine were common, despite using various brands of ammunition.
  • Although the Armatix has a decent single-action trigger, it has the worst double-action trigger we’ve ever tested, requiring more force than any other pistol we’ve fired.
  • The pistol must be within 10 inches of the watch during “start up.” This slows and complicates the use of the pistol if one hand is injured or otherwise unavailable.
  • The design of the Armatix’s hammer prevents it from being safely thumbed forward.
  • All this malfunction comes at a high price: At $1,798 ($1,399 for the base pistol and another $399 for the enabling watch), the Armatix is a more than five times the cost of other common .22s, like Walther’s excellent P22 ($319) or Browning’s tried-and-true Buckmark ($349), and four and a half times that of Smith & Wesson’s M&P22 polymer semi-auto ($379) or Ruger’s SR22 ($379). It’s also more than three times the cost of pistols like Glocks and Smith & Wesson M&Ps made in true self-defense calibers.

Although the Armatix has a decent single-action trigger, it has the worst double-action trigger we’ve ever tested, requiring more force than any other pistol we’ve fired.Unfortunately, the team was unable to test the durability of the electronics that supposedly make the Armatix “smart,” leaving several questions unanswered:

  • What happens when pistol/watch batteries fail?
  • Will the pistol’s poorly sealed battery compartment perform when rain-soaked?
  • What happens if you lose the watch or it breaks? Or when it goes (even more) out of style?
  • Will the gun/watch still function if dropped?
  • How many firing cycles will the electronics tolerate before failure?
  • How easy is it to hack the RFID connection to the pistol?

The biggest unanswered question, however, comes from the Armatix’s patent application:

  • Why does the Armatix contain “kill switch” functionality, allowing it to be disabled by third parties … a fact confirmed by such functionality at the test range?

The Post article claims the Armatix “passed rigorous testing and certification in the United States.” We’d sure like to talk to whomever conducted those tests, because we have tested the Armatix—and found it greatly wanting. Again, NRA only opposes the imposition of technologies via government force, and is happy for the marketplace to pass its own judgment. But if this is the technology upon which smart-gun proponents want the marketplace to base its decision, their rejection will be both swift and brutal.

Read Frank Winn’s unpublished, exclusive 2014 A1F review here.

BY Frank Winn

Guns & Gear Editor, America's 1st Freedom

TRENDING NOW
Beto Going All-In on Confiscation

News  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Beto Going All-In on Confiscation

Democrat Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke continues to struggle to gain any sort of traction for his campaign. With some polls putting him in 10th place, and his average sitting around 7th, some might say that it is desperation ...

Tell Your Lawmakers: No Semi-Auto and Magazine Ban!

News  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Tell Your Lawmakers: No Semi-Auto and Magazine Ban!

The Democrat Party is now so aligned with gun control that every major candidate running for its 2020 presidential nomination recently appeared in a propaganda video produced by one of the nation’s most active firearm prohibition groups. ...

NASCAR Takes a Hard Left

News  

Friday, August 30, 2019

NASCAR Takes a Hard Left

After decades of NASCAR drivers literally turning left for hours every race day (road course races excluded, of course), the governing body appears to be taking a figurative left turn, politically. K-Var, a retailer in outdoor and ...

House Democrats Continue Unprecedented Push for More Gun Control

News  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

House Democrats Continue Unprecedented Push for More Gun Control

As was continually threatened while Congress was on its six-week Summer break, House Democrats hastily convened a hearing on Tuesday to promote their latest batch of anti-gun bills.  The House Judiciary Committee’s markup of three bills, ...

Playing Games with Numbers

News  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Playing Games with Numbers

Stanford Law Professor John Donohue and Theodora Boulouta, a Stanford undergrad, wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times that claims their new research shows the 1994 “assault weapons” ban really did work.  Their finding is ...

NRA Files Suit Against San Francisco for Violating First Amendment

News  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

NRA Files Suit Against San Francisco for Violating First Amendment

On September 3, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors smeared millions of law-abiding Americans by unanimously adopting a resolution that designated NRA a “domestic terrorist organization.” Less than one week later, on September 9, NRA filed a federal lawsuit ...

San Francisco Board of Supervisors Declares NRA a “Domestic Terrorist Organization”

News  

Sunday, September 8, 2019

San Francisco Board of Supervisors Declares NRA a “Domestic Terrorist Organization”

On September 3, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution, “declaring that the National Rifle Association is a domestic terrorist organization and urging other cities, states, and the federal government to do the same.”The resolution was ...

California: 2019 Legislative Session Adjourns

Sunday, September 15, 2019

California: 2019 Legislative Session Adjourns

The California Legislature has adjourned the 2019 session resulting in the final passage of AB 12, AB 61, AB 879, AB 893, AB 1254, AB 1297, AB 1669, SB 61 and SB 172 which are now eligible ...

News  

Friday, September 13, 2019

NRA Statement on Texas Governor's Safety Action Report

The National Rifle Association released the following statement on Friday regarding Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's Texas Safety Action Report:   

“Pro-gun” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Turns on Second Amendment Supporters, Sides With Anti-Gun Lobby

News  

Sunday, September 8, 2019

“Pro-gun” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Turns on Second Amendment Supporters, Sides With Anti-Gun Lobby

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick uses his political website to claim he is “leading the fight for life and liberty in Texas, including … standing up for the Second Amendment.” He also proudly notes his prior NRA endorsement. But ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.