In September of 2019 we were fortunate enough to get our hands on an Archon Type B. I was very excited about this pistol as it offered many of the advancements of nearly mythical Arsenal Firearms Strike One had, plus further refinements and downsized to America's favorite ~4" barrel and 15-rounds of 9mm. (Fans of these two platforms can seen them compared head-to-head here)
Just like when the Strike One was announced, there was a flash of fanfare and media coverage, most of which missed the finer points of the gun that made it not only unique, but an honest improvement over the standard striker-fired, polymer-framed compact pistols everyone was accustomed to. Arsenal Firearms priced their Strike One a bit high for most, and when that company fell apart Archon seemed to come to the rescue with a lower-priced, right-sized, modernized alternative. Highlights from Archon's own description include:
AF-Speedlock locking mechanism.
Match-grade traditionally rifled barrel coated in black nitride.
Three stage recoil rod with uncaptured main spring (for ease of service and tuning)
Inner-frame milled from billet steel featuring full length rails.
Integrated beavertail with featured contour to activate tendon in hand for better grip.
Metal magazine release that is easily reversible for left-handed shooters.
Innovative Grip Mapping texture designed to actively fight the direction the gun wants to rotate during recoil.
Full metal magazine with baseplate designed for ergonomic loading with grid pattern for ease of marking.
For the non-gun-geek, but curious I'll break some of those down. If you'd like to see the tabletop video again it's linked here and offers a better look at the internals.
AF-Speedlock: This is a different system than the classic Browning tilting barrel you're used to in Glocks and 90%+ of the common pistols out there. Unlike the Bronwing system, the AF Speedlock only moves the barrel rearward and forward. There is no drop or tilt to the barrel. As a result, weight shifts in the hand only straight rearward and forward, producing a much smoother recoil impulse. Additionally, since the barrel does not drop or tilt it must sit lower in the hand to receive ammunition (why the Browning system tilts). The AF-Speedlock produces a TRUE lower bore axis in the hand which means recoil is felt more through the firing hand and arm and less over them. It likely sounds like a tiny detail, but the combination of less shifting of weight in the gun and less leverage for those forces to act on the shooter makes for a MUCH smoother shooting experience.
Three-stage recoil rod: If you've ever seen any of our excited rants about the DPM spring system this is the same concept, but included instead of aftermarket. You've likely seen two-stage recoil systems on pistols before, adding a third stage only enhances the effect. Each stage is progressive, making it easy to start racking the slide, and stiffening as the slide nears the end of its travel. This also dampens the recoil sensation, once again making for a flatter shooting experience.
Innovative Grip Mapping: At first glance it looks like simple cubes, but they are angled differently to grip your hand against the directions a firearm tries to recoil. The front strap bites against upward, backstrap against downward.
SEE ARCHON TYPE B LISTINGS HERE.
SEE ARSENAL STRIKE ONE LISTINGS HERE.
These pistols really a step above the rest as a complete system. So much so that they warranted a video in our Wonderfully Different series.
So what happened to them? There was a media blitz of both the paid and unpaid media and then they vanished. Little has been said about them since. Who is Archon Firearms and how did a pistol like this just appear out of no where? I have theories that may answer some of those questions, or at least give us some understanding.
I believe the base of the answer comes from who Archon Firearms is. The pistol is produced by RUAG. Chances are you've heard that name before, or used some of their products. RUAG is a massive joint-stock defense company headquartered in Switzerland, but with manufacturing facilities in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Switzerland, Sweden, and the United States. Their ammunition brands include RWS, Norma, and Geco. The Archon firearms are known to be comprised of parts from multiple countries. Our example has a German frame, Hungarian slide, and US barrel while others seen on the internet have a German slide and Hungarian frame. Regardless of which country made which part, the guns are being assembled with parts from multiple countries, each of which have had their own regulatory changes both before and certainly during Controlavirus (thank you Kit Badger for that term). Factory shut downs, labor shortages, union laws, and of course shipping have all been on a rollercoaster since the 2018 US launch of the Archon Type B.
One the topic of getting guns built and moved, distribution seems to be a problem with major distributors (who your local shop orders gun from) don't seem to carry the gun, and a Google search doesn't offer a vendor until page three! Online vendors like KYGunCo, Bud's, and Classic Firearms list them, but as out of stock, so maybe the problem is the guns just aren't being made. I'd like to think that if demand was there Archon and RUAG would find a way to meet demand.
Too Good for the U.S.? So how is it that an evolved firearm like the Archon Type B isn't in demand, especially after a year like 2020 when anything with a trigger was selling? The media certainly did its job of letting us know about the guns, do the people really prefer simpler, higher-recoiling, less-advanced firearms? Possibly. One major drawback to not only European manufacturing, but multiple nations' involvement in the manufacturing is cost. Combine that with the cost of excellent packaging, the pistol case included, four magazines, and parts that required truly new tooling and the Archon Type B was not an inexpensive pistol. Initial pricing had the gun around $899 which even through the chaos of 2020 was more than most pistols. Is the price too high? The pistol seems fairly valued to me in the way that a Porsche costs more than a Volkswagen. Both will do their job, one just does it faster and in a more enjoyable way.
What Do You Think? Let us know in the comment section what your theories are, what rumors you've heard, or simply what you opinion on these amazing pistols is. Despite all the media noise from 2018 there really hasn't been much about these guns, even Archon's own website lacks basic specifications and the company "About Us" page was blank as of the date this was written.