The most radical pistol design of 2012 wasn’t at the SHOT Show; it was at the 2012 IWA & Outdoor Classics show in Nuremberg, Germany earlier this month. What was this new pistol? The double-barrel 1911 from Arsenal Firearms.
The striking new handgun, the AF2011-A1, is a 1911-style handgun that fires two rounds with each stroke of the trigger(s). While the AF2011-A1 looks like someone welded two 1911 pistols together, the manufacturing process is much more involved than that. The net result, however, is essentially the same.
The pistol can be configured with either dual triggers that work independently, or with two triggers that are permanently attached to each other. The independent trigger option will have a single sear group set up for either right- or left-handed operation. The joined trigger option can be had with a single sear group or with two sear groups.
The magazine is configured with dual, single-stack columns attached to a single floorplate. The column bodies, springs and followers are standard 1911 magazines, while the custom floorplate hold them together at the correct distance to be inserted as one unit.
Interestingly, Arsenal Firearms states on their website that the entire development time of this pistol was only six months. While not impossible, it is impressive.
The AF2011-A1 clearly has many custom parts (the slide and frame, for example), but many of the internal parts are interchangeable with any off-the-shelf 1911 parts. Arsenal Firearms states the following are some of the standard 1911 parts which can be swapped and used in their gun:
• firing pins
• sear groups
• inner parts of the mainspring housings
• recoil springs and recoil springs rods
• magazine bodies and inner parts
• grips and grips screws
Arsenal Firearms claims the accuracy of the AF2011-A1 is very good. According to company literature, the pistol will group all 16 rounds (eight double-shots) into “…the size of an orange at 15 yards…” and into “…a watermelon at 25 [yards].” While not a tack driver, it would seem adequate for self defense work.
The AF2011 will be available with a “mirror finish Deep Blue” or with a “White Ash Nitrite” finish that claims a surface hardness of 3400 HV (Vickers scale.) By way of comparison, tungsten carbide has a hardness of about 2200 HV.
AF2011 Future Models
Currently, the double barrel pistol is being made for the .45 ACP, although Arsenal Firearms expects to ship a .38 Super version later in 2012.
One of the even odder caliber variations is the “mix-calibre” version that the company is working on. In this model, one half of the gun would be chambered in .45 ACP, while the second half would be chambered in .38 Super. According to the company, the two-caliber pistol will “…break new barriers and offer to the self defence shooter or the hunter an unprecedented opportunity of a high penetrating and powerful stopper at each pull of the trigger.”
Arsenal Firearms is also working on a long slide version of the AF2011. This variant is expected to be introduced in 2013 and will likely not carry the “-A1” designator. According to the company, the long slide pistol is being designed for the sport shooter and hunter.
Arsenal Firearms Srl may not be familiar to many gun owners. Arsenal Firearms Srl is part of the larger group of companies called Arsenal Firearms Group that has companies based in Italy, Austria, Russia and other countries.
Arsenal Firearms Srl is an Italian company and is the main manufacturing facility for the Arsenal Firearms Group. Arsenal Firearms Srl partnered with Fratello Tanfoglio to produce the AF2011-A1.
Another of the company’s pistols, the AF-1 Strike One, will be manufactured at the Arsenal Firearms Slr plant. However, a Russian variant of the AF-1, the Strizh, will be manufactured in an Arsenal Firearms Group plant in Russia.
Breaking Old Paradigms
There are so many questions that come up with a radically different pistol design. For example, would such a gun be allowed in competition shooting? Will the gun be reliable? How accurate can the pistol be? How will the ATF classify such a pistol when Arsenal Firearms submits it for importation into the US?
While I can’t speak to the effectiveness of the multi-barrel pistol for hunting, competition and self-defense, I can say it is stepping way outside of the current pistol paradigm. Frankly, I’m happy to see there are companies that are willing to invest in non-traditional designs.
Improving old designs incrementally moves the industry forward. But real innovation frequently comes only from people with crazy ideas and the willingness to try. The AF2011-A1 isn’t likely to revolutionize the firearms world, but the thinking, engineering and manufacturing processes used to produce this pistol just might.