Printer Friendly

Pistols of the 2012 IWA show: James traveled to Nuremberg for his first visit to the big European trade show in many years. He found some intriguing sidearms, some of which may make it here one day.

The IWA Show is viewed by many in the United States as the European counterpart to the SHOT Show, but I'm beginning to wonder if the situation soon will be one where the SHOT Show will be described as the American counterpart to IWA. It has been a number of years since I last attended the IWA trade show for sporting small arms in Nuremberg, Germany and to say I was impressed with the changes upon my arrival this year would be misleading. I was overwhelmed!


The IWA show from my last visit has expanded significantly and while the SHOT Show still has more square footage in terms of display space, the IWA show has more than 1,100 companies from more than 100 countries and an attendance of more than 35,000. It is a big show. It is also a show where one can find products that for various reasons are not seen in the United States.

Every time I go to one of these things I always try and find something I consider the pick of the show, something that really strikes a nerve within me for its innovation, originality or cleverness of design. Without question at the 2012 IWA show that would be the STRIKE ONE pistol. This handgun is extremely new in that at the IWA it still had yet to reach production status, but having said that, it offered some interesting and advantageous features.

The STRIKE ONE from Arsenal Firearms was designed by Nicola Bandini and it is a single-action semi-auto pistol. It is recoil-operated, but the barrel and unlocking cam assembly is different from anything seen previously. Additionally, it offers a major mechanical advantage over just about any pistol previously seen in that it has an extremely low bore axis in relation to the shooter's grip or the height of the gun.

The cam slot under the barrel is part of what the manufacturers call the locking block. It is a horseshoeshaped piece that fits around the barrel and has the cam slot at its bottom. Bandini emphasized this piece operates off an engineering principle called "1 degree of liberty mechanical law."

I've never heard of such a thing and my major concern here is this is some sort of variation on the old Blish Lock principle we saw with the original 1921/1928 Thompson submachine gun. Yeah, the Blish Lock worked on naval guns, but it never translated: well for small arms. With that as a stated reservation, I still liked the looks, the layout and the feel of this new design.

Bandini argues this feature achieves a couple of things; the first is the cam link or locking block encounters far less force than the standard barrel during unlocking and, secondly, the gun as a whole has far less vertical mass movement on the operating pin or what many of us refer to as the slide lock crosspin.


One thing is for sure. this gun sits lower in the hand than any I've ever worked with and for me it felt extremely natural. Truthfully, I hope this gun is half as good as they say it is, because it is so interesting and fresh in its design.

The gun is a single-action semi-auto, but it has no manual safety. The trigger does not have a safety lever in its middle nor a two piece configuration; rather it is designed to be pulled through an arc, and therefore won't operate if the top portion of the trigger is depressed.


The STRIKE ONE has a totally ambidextrous magazine release system with the release buttons on both sides of the junction where the trigger guard, meets the grip frame. The magazines are metal tubes with female notches cut for each side and depressing either button will release the magazine from the frame.

The frames on the pistols seen at TWA all had light alloy Ergal frames, but the maker insists the first production models will feature polymer frames. The magazine capacity is listed at 17 rounds of 9xl9mm or 9x21mm ammunition. The STRIKE ONE will eventually be available in the following calibers: 9x19mm, 9x21 IMI, .357 SIG and .40 S&W.

Arsenal Firearms also had on display a gun that was the rage on the internet immediately following the IWA show here in the United States and that was the "Double 1911 .45." It looked for all intents and purposes like someone welded two 1911 Government Models together side by side, but it actually wasn't that simple. In fact in terms of the engineering involved it was a masterful piece of work. Its practical effect will remain somewhat limited in this country for one specific reason which I will explain in a moment.

The "Second 2011 Century" double .45 1911, as it's called, actually has one massive frame that mounts a single slide that is shaped like two slides, with opposite facing ejection ports; two barrels, two triggers, and only one sear. The customer will determine on which side of the pistol the sear is positioned.

The hammers, while looking for all the world like two individual hammers, are actually one piece and either sear releases them to strike the firing pins in each respective slide. The gun, as can be expected, is heavy and I handled it without magazines or ammunition. I can't image what the thing would weigh when fully loaded with 16 rounds of 230-grain hardball.

The problem with this gun for the United States is the BATFE's definition of a "machine gun," which states that any firearm which discharges more than one bullet with a single pull of a trigger qualifies as a machine gun. That means if your double barrel shotgun discharges both barrels when one trigger is pulled they view it as a "machine gun" by definition.

The same standard would apply here, and therefore I doubt seriously if we ever see any of these things on this side of the Atlantic. Still, it remains an engineering achievement and a demonstration of some remarkable design work even if it makes no sense at all.


European Revolvers

Czechpbint is the national importer of ALFA PROJ revolvers that are made in Brno, Czech Republic. Their line of revolvers are based on the traditional double-action, swing-out cylinder style that most of the world has accepted and worked with over the past century. They started out manufacturing the gas guns that are described as free, which means there are no restrictions or police requirements for possession as they do not require a firearms license, but then they also use the 6mm ME-Flobert short ammunition, which is essentially a blank cartridge. They also make a line of revolvers that fire a 9mm rubber bullet meant expressly for Russia and others areas of the former Soviet Union.

Established in 1993, the firm quickly moved into revolvers chambered for. the .22 LR and .22 WMR cartridges as well as the .32 S&W round. Next, they developed revolvers for the .38 Spl. and .357 Mag., but their more popular revolvers for the domestic Czech market are chambered for the 9x19mm auto pistol round due to the fact that 9x19mm is so much cheaper in the Czech Republic than the .38 Spl. or .357 Mag. ammo. The 9x19mm revolvers produced by Alpha feature six shot cylinders and the spent cases are ejected with a full moon clip, which also aids in rapid reloading.

Made In Slovakia

Grand Power pistols are imported into the USA by STI of Texas. The K100 Mk7 is their latest version of the K100 that was introduced in 2002. It features'a _traditional double-action semi-auto trigger mechanism, a frame-mounted manual safety, a polymer frame; four different size backstraps to fit various hand sizes, a rotating barrel locking system, fully ambidextrous operating controls, and a magazine capacity of 15 rounds. This pistol has acquired a reputation for durability due to the fact that much of its steel components are treated with tenifer technology and/or carbon nitrite.


This same firm that produces the Grand Power K100 is also the manufacturer of the Diamondback DB380, which has proven popular among many in this country wanting a small .380 caliber self-defense pistol.

The Russians

Baikal of Russia had a number of pistols on display: some of them to my surprise were intentional dummies. These were pistols that were exact duplicates of actual product line pistols but were totally incapable of firing a live round. For instance the MMG P-446 Viking is a full size dummy model of the MP-446 Viking self-loading pis-tol and the MP-446 is similar to the 9mm Yarygin pistol adopted by the Russian military in 2003.

The MP-446 Viking is a recoil operated, semi-auto pistol with a traditional d.a./s.a. trigger mechanism, a frame-mounted manual safety which together with its hammer-fired mechanism that allows either cocked and locked single-action firing or traditional double action firing. The magazine capacity is 18 rounds of 9x19mm ammunition and the frame is available in either steel or polymer formats. A version is also available with a fully adjustable rear sight.

I asked about the polymer revolver they had on display many years ago and they laughed saying essentially, "We don't do revolvers any more!" So apparently that prototype didn't work all that well.

Another 9xl9mm pistol produced in Russia was the GSh-18 Sport from the people at Tula. It is a striker-fired design, again with an 18-round magazine capacity, but with a design that features a comfortable grip and a very low bore axis. This one really felt good, but due to the language difficulties it was hard to learn about it production availability or pricing. It remained my 2nd favorite pistol of the show.

Steyr Is Back

The Steyr Model M has been revamped and the result is a slightly larger pistol. It is called the Steyr Model L-A1 Full Size Service Pistol and it comes with a longer barrel and a 17-round magazine capacity in 9x19mm. This pistol will also be available in .40 S&W and .357 SIG as well. I was given a brief demonstration of the pistol by the man responsible for the redesign, Friedrich Aigner, and the bottom line is they have built a pistol that is approximately the same size as the Glock 17, but with a lmm longer barrel and slide.


As for the internal trigger safety that operates with its own key on the right side of the polymer frame, they have a new option where the button that operates this lock can be replaced with one that operates off a common handcuff key for police officers. This new gun felt very balanced, if slightly muzzle heavy, but the sights on the model I handled were more traditional and not the Steyr diamond trapezoid seen previously.

Smith & Wesson In Europe

Representatives of Smith & Wesson were happy to announce the Belgian police had selected a specially modified version of the M&P pistol in 9xl9mm as their duty pistol. The big difference between their gun and the guns sold commercially in the United States is a frame-mounted safety was mandated (and that option is available in the States), no tritium sight inserts as tritium is illegal in many European countries so they use a glow-in-the-dark insert that shines for a few minutes after being illuminated with a flashlight, and finally a loaded chamber indicator that pops up like the old loaded chamber indicator on the original 1904 Luger, only this one doesn't read Geladen.

SIG had a large presence in terms of show space at the IWA show and much of it centered around their lineup of handguns. Probably the newest thing they had on display was the 1911 Ultra Compact pistol. This micro 1911 pistol featured Novak sights, a dovetailed installed front sight, a small upswept beavertail grip safety and a skeleton trigger.

I found it amazing they were displaying this clearly concealed carry self-defense type pistol at a European small arms show. My, how things have changed. They also had the P-239, but I have already covered that pistol in my previous SHOT Show report.


Turkish Pistols ...

Turkey has two firms producing what appear to be good quality handguns in self-defense formats. The first is TISAS and their catalog illustrates a number of 1911 pistols that are available in either .45 ACP or 9x19mm caliber, with one model being available in .40 S&W. All of their 1911 pistols are built on the single-column magazine frame design and can be found either with or without dust cover 1913 frame rails.

They also offer a mid-size traditional double-action/single-action pistol that is also available in all three of the previously mentioned calibers. The magazine design for this series of pistols called the ZIG P06 through ZIG P34 is of a double column design and offers a 14-round capacity in 9x 19mm and nine-round capacity in .45 ACP.


Another line of pistols from TISAS appears to be modifications of a pistol borrowing much from the Beretta line of pistols in terms of the trigger work. I was unable to fieldstrip any of the Zigana model guns to see if they used the Walther/Beretta locking block under the barrel, but the trigger bar on the right side of the frame is covered by the grip and the slide sports a manual safety. All of their Zigana models operate via a traditional double action/single action trigger mechanism.

Samsun Yurt Savunma markets their pistols under the trade name, CANIK55 and their line of handguns fall into two distinct categories; the first would be those that are extremely similar to the CZ-75 in terms of design, manual safety location and operation.

A second pistol in their line up looks for all the world like the past Walther P99 polymer pistol with the top-of-the-slide decocking button or tab. They called this P99 look-alike the T-9. All of these models were available only in 9x19mm caliber.


Noririco hasn't been able to export handguns to the United States since the Clinton years, but Norconia, their German importer, had a full range of Norinco pistols on display. Most of their handguns are out and out knock-off copies of pistols currently manufactured elsewhere in the world, but they did have one pistol I had never seen before.

It was called the Model NP42 or the Hong Kong Army pistol. It was chambered in 9x19min and featured a polymer frame, a 15-round magazine capacity, a frame-mounted manual safety, a double-action/single-action trigger system (with a lengthy first-round double-action trigger pull) and an approximate barrel length of 4.37 inches. I was not all that impressed with the gun even though it only weighed 26.8 ounces empty, but it had a crude semi-finished appearance to it.

Other handguns they had on display were their own copies of the SIG P228, called the NC228, the SIG P226 which was labeled the P226 (some report these Chinese 'SIGs' are so close to the originals that some parts will interchange), a variety of 1911 types in .45 cal. in both single-and double-column magazine formats with capacities up to 14 rounds.



They even had a 9x19mm 1911 wide body with a magazine capacity of 15 rounds. Also on hand were direct copies of the Czech CZ-85, which they call the NZ85B in 9xl9mm and NZ98 in .40 S&W.

Their version of the Walther PP is called the PPN and is pretty much a straight out copy of the original Walther in .380 ACP. Their M93 is another straight copy of a pistol seen elsewhere, as it is a duplicate of the pre-war Colt Woodsman. All of which leads me to question if the Chinese can make a copy of the fabulous Woodsman, why can't Colt?


The IWA Show is an important part of the international trade in sporting small arms and is not at all as conservative as it was in years past. I missed by one day a special two-day exhibit they had for products meant specifically for law enforcement and military applications; including a wide range of full-auto individual and crew served weapons. This would have been unheard-of a few years ago. It is obvious to me that people around the world are interested in purchasing and owning their own personal firearms, particularly handguns, wherever they live and many of them in their preferences and wants are not all that different than shooters here in the United States.

With luck and good fortune, I will return for another visit next year when the IWA show is held from March 8 through the 13th, 2013.
COPYRIGHT 2012 InterMedia Outdoors, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:James, Frank
Publication:Shotgun News
Date:May 10, 2012
Previous Article:This time, the arms race is domestic.
Next Article:"Appleseed at six".

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters