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Worth the Wait

First, you’re not experiencing déjà vu. This is, indeed, the Arsenal Firearms Stryk-B first announced at SHOT Show 2017. Second, the Archon Type B, as it’s now known, was worth the wait.

It’s a modern chassis gun that improves on the current state of the pistol world by serving up a non-tilting action with an extremely low-bore axis, resulting in a pistol that’s not only accurate, but noticeably faster on the bull’s-eye than its Browning action-derived competitors.

BACKSTORY
Archon’s Type B is the successor to the Strike One, an innovative, full-size service pistol introduced in 2012 by the Russian-Italian joint venture Arsenal Firearms. The striker-fired, polymer-gripped gun featured a low-bore axis and a novel, non-tilting action, harkening back to a floating locking block system first used in the century-old Bergmann-Mars 1903 pistol.

While the Strike One’s performance and feature set turned heads, and even reportedly earned a place in the Russian military, the design was a bit too Euro to catch the attention of the American market. Plus, nobody wanted to deal with the risk and red tape of importing the pistol into the U.S. But, Adrian Chavez, one of the principals of Salient Arms International, recognized the potential of the pistol’s design and formed a partnership with Arsenal Firearm’s owner Dmitri Strechinski, introducing the company to the American market as Arsenal Firearms USA.

Fast-forward to mid-2016. Arsenal Firearms USA worked with Arsenal Firearms on a compact version of the Strike One, blessing it with features that’d appeal to American self-defense, competitive, and mil/LE shooters. The resulting first fruit of its trans-Atlantic partnership was the Arsenal Firearms USA Stryk-B, released in January 2017.

One of the few ways to take a striker-fired pistol out of action is to get crap in the striker channel. Archon recognizes this and made the slide internals easily accessible to the end user for maintenance.

One of the few ways to take a striker-fired pistol out of action is to get crap in the striker channel. Archon recognizes this and made the slide internals easily accessible to the end user for maintenance.

Without wading into the deeply boring and inconsequential, before shipping guns to dealers, Arsenal Firearms USA decided to change its name to Archon Firearms in mid-2017. It did so to extricate itself from a complicated, three-way, international licensing deal over the use of the name Arsenal that went sideways just as the company was ready to start selling the pistols.

It’s now spring 2018, Archon’s Type B is in production at RUAG Ammotec’s plants in Germany and Hungary, and RECOIL has spent weeks shooting one of the first production samples imported to the U.S.

 It’s not obvious, but the Type B has a trigger safety. As the trigger moves rearward, a block on the back of the shoe drops, allowing the trigger full travel.


It’s not obvious, but the Type B has a trigger safety. As the trigger moves rearward, a block on the back of the shoe drops, allowing the trigger full travel.

DESIGN
What Archon calls the “frame of the gun” is the railed chassis that holds all the controls and sits in a glass-reinforced, polyamide grip module. As we expect, the frame is the serialized part.
“One of the biggest challenges was the internal frame,” says Chavez. “The original Strike One had a metal internal frame,” he says, “but it was a MIMed part that was then machined to spec.” On the other hand, he says the Type B’s steel frame “is machined from bar stock. It’s a very, very expensive piece,” but the fully machined steel part and process give the pistol greater durability and accuracy.

Frustrating, though, is the use of roll pins rather than spring-retained pushpins to secure the frame in the grip. Swapping grips is still doable, but since it involves (gasp!) punches and a hammer, Archon says it’ll likely only sell grip modules through authorized Archon armorers that’ll install them for free in an effort to prevent warranty claims for accidental grip damage. While the chassis construction is cool, everybody’s doing it these days. What really sets the Type B apart is its non-Browning action, non-tilting barrel and super-low bore height.

Archon calls the Type B’s locking block system the “AF Speedlock” (AF refers to Arsenal Firearms). The system uses a cam-activated, floating, U-shaped locking block that locks the barrel, slide, and frame while firing, but drops during recoil. As the block drops, the barrel unlocks and slides straight back about a ¼ inch and stops while the slide continues its full stroke.

In theory, since there’s no off-axis barrel movement, the slide and barrel lock up more consistently, leading to enhanced accuracy. Another benefit of the short stroking barrel is reliability, since the low barrel and high mag means the bullet’s feed path is almost a straight shot from the mag to the chamber.

Building on the accuracy provided by the AF Speedlock, the gun also features a bore axis height that’s about 25 percent lower than a Glock 19. Conventional wisdom says a low bore axis is a good thing, because having a higher grip on the gun reduces muzzle flip.

Archon overcame the limitations of the Browning-style, tilting action by using a floating locking block.

Archon overcame the limitations of the Browning-style, tilting action by using a floating locking block.

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