After reviewing a couple hundred firearms for multiple websites, magazines, and of course YouTube some of them start to blur in memory. What stands out are those that were truly, "different". What does "different" mean?
As a gun guy, some might say, "gun nerd" I appreciate different designs. That goes well beyond brand, capacity, or silly companies that feel making something in another color is "different". Show me innovation, show me the effort to do something the consumer might not have been expecting, or even realized they needed. That's what inspired our Wonderfully Different mini series.
So far we've covered:
Walther P99AS 3 Trigger modes, one for every occasion!
Grand Power P1 Steel chassis (a decade before Sig), Truly ambi controls and a brilliant rotating locking system.
Archon Type B Bringing the mysterious "Stryzh" to America with a unique locking system.
Springfield Armory XDE The only DA/SA single-stack on the market.
Remington R51 Revival of an uncommon action and some 50's ray-gun styling.
ATI 410 AR Upper Convert your AR to .410!
ATI Omni Maxx Polymer Rifle An AR with a polymer upper and lower!
Zastava M90 AK reliability with American-friendly 5.56 chambering and AR mags.
ATI Galeo Recreation of the Israeli Galil
Advanced AR Parts from POF and ADM The AR has been around over 60 years, isn't it time we improve it?
22 TCM 9mm energy with .22lr recoil.
Primary Weapon Systems MK 111 Pro A piston system that works!
Diamondback DB9 Pocket gun in a real-gun caliber.
Sig P365 SAS Anti-snag to the extreme and finally the adoption of the Meprolight Bullseye sight.
Steyr Pistols Heavily influenced by Bubbitz, an alternate reality of the basic pistol.
Walther P5 Dual recoil springs, a different locking system, and left-side eject!
Smith & Wesson Shield EZ 380 Making everything easy in a soft-shooting caliber.
Walther CCP Gas-piston delayed action.
Lionheart Industries Regulus With "Double Action Plus" and refinements beyond your average handgun.
BB Techs BB6 The embodiment of so many of Wilhelm Bubbits' designs we've seen on so many other guns.
What do all of these firearms have in common? Not much aside from that they have little in common with most other guns. Understandably, the industry seems to prefer to produce the same basic designs that are time proven and in the same configuration that most other guns come in. The research and development is done (quite often by someone else and sometimes decades ago) and paid for. It's relatively easy and cheap to say, produce a striker-fired 9mm pistol based on the Browning action. The geometry, physics, and other science has all been calculated, tested, and proven several times over. Guns that are "Wonderfully Different" however require a bit more.
These guns are those that dared to break the mold and go outside what most consumers willingly consume. That's a scary thing for a company. R&D hours, testing, more testing, then tooling to produce something different takes guts! We appreciate that effort!
Take the Archon Type B or any 9mm Grand Power pistol for example. Completely different methods of locking and unlocking the action. Think about it, that's the riskiest part for a gun maker. The liability alone is enough to scare most makers away. Add to that the chance that a particular system operates best in a particular pressure window and the gun could easily unlock (action opening) too soo or not at all as soon as Joe Bob the shooter uses ammo other than what it was designed for. We saw this with early Grand Power Stribog A3 models which were designed for NATO-pressure 9mm loads. Fortunately for the shooter the only thing that happened to the Stribog A3s with improper ammunition were occasional failures to complete a cycle like what MrGunsngear experienced when he shot soft 115gr reloads through an action tuned for 124gr NATO. Fortunately that issue has been resolved as Grand Power had tunable parts already made for different load types.
Getting back on target, it takes a lot for a company to stray from the norm and we celebrate when they do. If no one was bold enough to challenge the status quo we'd still be using carrier pigeons to deliver messages. We just wish more consumers would recognize these efforts and not be afraid to learn something new. Just imagine if the Walther P5 had enjoyed more commercial success, we'd all (right-handed shooters) be able to quickly identify a malfunction thanks to the left-side eject and enjoy less muzzle flip thanks to a different action type.
In conclusion, if you're confident in your basic firearms knowledge, and a bit bored with the norm don't be afraid to try something wonderfully different!