The single greatest truth about so-called “smart guns” is that those who are pushing the technology are those that would never use a smart gun, and those that use guns have next to zero interest in the technology.
The general theory behind “smart guns” is that they can be tied to some sort of sensor technology that allows them to only work for authorized individuals. Most people only know of “smart guns” from a recent James Bond film. Unfortunately, like the Bond film, so-called smart guns are fantasy objects that do no exist in an viable form in the real world.
Consumers purchasing a handgun are looking for several key performance metrics.
Reliability: A handgun purchased for self-defense need to be as close to 100% reliable as possible. It must be able to be fired by either hand or both hands, sometimes at odd angles with less than perfect grips, and cycle reliably every time. While every defensive handgun user might have a slightly different definition of “reliable,” a minimal baseline is several hundred rounds of uninterrupted performance without a failure to feed, fire, eject and reload. My personal minimum baseline in a carry gun is 500 rounds without a stoppage or malfunction due to problems with the weapon.
Power: For a handgun to be used for self-defense against criminals, most agree that the bullet it fires must be able to penetrate 12″-18″ of ballistics gelatin. This is because in real life defensive gun uses, people often have to shoot through the outstretched arm of their assailant (who may be holding a weapon) and still punch through the rib cage or skull to reach the vital organs inside to physically force the attacker to stop fighting.
Ergnomics: People look for handguns that naturally fit their hands, with controls (slide stop, magazine release) where they can easily be manipulated, and they look for guns that naturally point towards the target without a need to regrip the gun.
Price: People expect to pay a mid-range price for all the above features, with $400-$800 being the most common range for a quality defensive handgun.
A handgun that fits the “sweet spot” of these four factors for many users and which is one of the most popular handguns in the United States as a result is the Glock 19. Glock handguns can fire thousands of rounds between stoppages if properly maintained, the 19 is chambered in 9×19 (AKA, 9mm Luger), a very popular defensive handgun caliber that offers adequate penetration and performance combined with low recoil and good magazine capacity (15 rounds, plus 1 in the chamber), all in a package with good ergonomics for roughly $550.
Now, let’s compare that Glock 19 to the most advanced and commercially viable “smart gun” on the market the Aramatix iW1/iP1 combination, using those same four performance metrics of reliably, power, ergonomics, and price.
Reliability: The Aramtix system is composed of a battery-powered iW1 watch/sensor and a iP1 handgun which also uses a battery. For the system to operate, both batteries must retain a charge, the user’s PIN code (just like you have for credit/debit cards) must be entered into the watch, and the watch must be held within ten inches of the gun to fire.
This system, which requires the handgun to be within ten inches of the watch, is guaranteed to fail 50% of the time in practical combat by design. There are many instances in realistic scenarios where you may need to switch gun hands, and/or have your hands apart like in the photo above, where a Gunsite Academy Close Quarters Pistol (CQP) has his left arm in a position to protect his head (not the watch exposed at his wrist) and his right hand down by his waist, where he would be holding his gun in a close retention position to shoot it defensively. In such a scenario, the Aramatix iW1/iP1 would fail 100% of the time, by design. If the student needs to switch hands and fire his weapon one handed, the gun will once again fail, by design. Further their is nothing at all that would prevent a bad guy from using the gun against it’s original owner in a struggle over the weapon, if the pistol is within 10 inches of the watch.
Put in the kindest possible terms, the iW1/iP1 isn’t reliable, and isn’t that “smart” as it still allows a bad guy to use the gun, as long as he is in close proximity to the watch.
Power: The electronics powering the iW1 are extremely fragile, and can only withstand the recoil of a .22LR cartridge. The .22 LR is a small diameter bullet most often used for pest control, small game hunting, and practice. It is a consensus opinion among the vast majority of firearms experts that a .22LR pistol is inadequate for self defense.
Ergonomics: The iP1 lacks even basic checking to the grip so that the weapon can be retained if a shooter’s hands are wet or sweaty.The magazine release appears to be a grotesquely over-sized paddle that extends halfway down the trigger guard. It is very likely that the magazine could be released accidentally.
Price: The iWi/iP1 combo costs $1,800 or more than three times what a consumer could expect to pay for a high-quality defensive handgun that is reliable, powerful, and has better ergonomics.
So why would someone buy an Aramtix system, when they could by a much more capable defensive handgun for 1/3 the price from anyone else in the firearms industry? The simple fact of the matter is that they wouldn’t.
“Smart guns” are in idea only championed by people who will never buy a handgun. consumers don’t want them, and therefore the industry has no interest in making them.
The National Rifle Association (made up of gun owners) and National Shooting Sports Foundation (made up of firearms manufacturers) do no oppose smart gun development, they simply oppose anti-gun politicians who are attempting to force citizens to adopt this technology that neither the military, nor law enforcement, nor average citizens want.
“Smart guns” are unreliable, ineffective, expensive, and in a word, dangerous.
They have no viable commercial market.
Quit trying to force them down our throats.