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Preview – Strike One

From Russia (Via Italy) With Love
Slavic Vaporware No Longer, the Strike One is Slowly Making Its Way into the USA

Perhaps from watching Red Dawn too many times as a kid or being too heavily influenced by Cold War propaganda, I honestly just don’t trust the Russians. Keep this blatant prejudice in mind as I felt quite skeptical when first hearing about the Strike One pistol, developed by Arsenal Firearms in Mother Russia. It’s actually built and proofed in Italy, but why miss a chance to take a stab at the people who killed Jed and Matt Eckert? This handgun’s designers claimed an innovative locking mechanism, the likes of which we’d never seen, resulting in an obscenely low bore axis.

Two years after we first heard about it, we still hadn’t seen one. Well, guess what? It’s real, you can touch it — we have one, and we shot the crap out of it.

Any discussion of an innovative polymer-framed pistol leads inevitably to a comparison to the mighty Glock, so let’s take a short cut and start there. The Strike One is a full-sized handgun almost identical dimensionally to the long-slide Glock 34/35. The gun’s size, especially the length of the grip, makes it an unlikely concealed-carry choice for all but the most determined, so it’s logical to assume a more compact version for the U.S. concealed-carry market will be along at some point. When it comes to actually shooting the Strike One, its size and long sight radius transform from liability to asset.

Arsenal-Strike-One-01Arsenal-Strike-One-Barrel

Unlock and Load

What sets the Strike One apart from virtually every handgun on the market, especially in the polymer-frame defensive category, is its departure from the near-ubiquitous Browning operating mechanism. Instead, the Strike One uses what could be considered an adaptation of the Bergmann system, designed by Louis Schmeisser around the turn of the previous century. While the Browning design works by allowing the barrel to tilt downward at the breech to unlock it from the slide, the Strike One incorporates a vertically mobile locking block under the barrel to keep things in battery. When the Strike One is fired, the barrel travels rearward a short distance before the C-shaped block descends downward into the frame. With the locking block out of the way, the slide can travel to the rear without any vertical movement of the barrel. The result is a handgun with an extremely low bore axis and a fast-cycling operating system that seems to minimize muzzle rise. The Strike One’s bore axis is 40-percent lower than that of the G17 (which is no slouch in that department), and its cycling time is faster by a fraction of a second. Impressive. Because the barrel remains in the same plane during cycling, we would imagine the Strike One would make for an excellent suppressor host, though we did not have the opportunity to test this theory.

The unique locking mechanism isn’t a noticeable component of the gun unless you shoot it or take it apart — from a control standpoint, the Strike One works like most other striker-fired handguns on the market. The mag release and slide stop are where you expect them to be, and there’s no external safety. Even with average-sized hands, the mag release and the bolt stop can be reached without shifting your grip on the gun. An ambidextrous mag release comes included with the pistol, but we left it in the box.


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The magwell is wide and has a smooth beveled edge to funnel magazines into the gun, and the steel and polymer mags appear to be made by Mec-Gar of Italy. The dust cover is railed to accept a light, laser, or even a bayonet if you’re enough of a mouth-breather to think that’s good idea.

Arsenal-Strike-One00Arsenal-Strike-One-vs-Glock-Gen-4-17

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