U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- In recent years there has been this massive cry for innovation from the shooting community but when something that might qualify as innovative hits the market it often seems to be ignored.
Author's note: Since I am a heavy handgun shooter, this article is centered on handguns, not rifles.
When I was writing the review on the Grand Power K100 MK12 I got to thinking about how pistols like the Grand Power are ignored by most gun buyers and Glock remains one of the best selling pistols on the market. There seems to be no real rhyme or reason for the abandonment of firearms that are outside the norm other than people being reasonably ingrained in their ways.
You see the same when it comes to accessories that enhance a pistol's capabilities. All too often things like high output weapon lights and red dot sights are ignored for whatever reason. You will hear objections to these performance enhancing accessories like “Anymore than 200 lumens will blind you if you shine it on a wall” or “The batteries will die and I might get kilt in the streets.”
Funny enough the same objections were made when red dots on rifles started becoming commonplace, I don't hear any of the same objections when it comes to long gun red dots or high output lights on a rifle. I guess the shooting community just needs to warm up to the idea of innovative accessories that enhance the performance of your gun.
Tell me what your thoughts are on the aforementioned pistol mounted red dots and 600 to 1,000-lumen pistol lights? What are your concerns?
So back to innovation in pistols. I have compiled a short list of firearms that could be considered as innovative that were launched in the last several decades. I tried to limit the time frame to the last several decades and not dive into anything that might be considered historical. Some of the guns on the list are still in production but seem to have rather low sales numbers.
I do want to note that not all of the pistols mentioned below are good firearms, they just had some innovative features.
Steyr M Series:
The Styer M series of pistols arguably laid the groundwork for the Sig P320, Beretta APX, Remington RP, and other pistols that have a removable chassis system. While the M series doesn't reap the benefits of serializing the chassis, it is removable and can be transferred to another firearm.
So why does the M series not get any love? It is a wonderful pistol by all accounts and is just as reliable as you would expect a modern pistol to be. My guess? Steyr failed to market the pistol properly in America when it was launched in the early 2000's and never was able to recover. The gun is popular with shooters that I might describe as gun hipsters and saw very limited adoption as a service weapon. Unfortunately, the popularity seems to end there as best as I can tell.
The Medusa M47 was able to shoot over a hundred different cartridges according to Ian and by that respect was rather innovative. How were they able to get such a wide range of calibers? Phillips & Rogers developed a cylinder with small spring loaded fingers that held the cartridges in place.
Ian even gets into the issue as to why innovative guns fail at the 5:11 mark in the above video. Only about 500 of these innovative guns made it into circulation before Phillips & Rogers closed their doors forever. Sadly no one has revived the design and the innovative cylinder died.
Arsenal Firearms Strike One:
While the locking system in the Arsenal Firearms Strike One wasn't new, it was innovative when applied to a polymer pistol. The unique locking block that was reminiscent of the Bergman action keeps the bore of the pistol extremely low and makes the pistol very flat shooting.
I am not going to harp too much on why the pistol failed on its first go here in the US but will simply say that the importer that had exclusive rights to the Strike One in the USA did an awful job promoting the gun and getting it into gun shops. I have only seen one Strike One in person and that happens to be the gun that I own, that should tell you something.
Now the Strike One design is being revived as the compact Archon Firearms Type B to be released later this year. Archon also plans to offer a full-size gun that is more reminiscent of the original Strike One pistol as a Type A at some point, but no word as to when that might happen.
Heckler Koch VP70:
The Heckler Koch VP70 was the first pistol to use polymer as a frame material, beating the Glock 17 to market by over a decade. For whatever reason, the VP70 just wasn't appreciated by the shooting public. It was introduced in 1970 so you could argue that the pistol was facing some pretty stiff skepticism as a result of the M16's abysmal initial performance in Vietnam.
Other than the material used for the frame, there wasn't much else that was revolutionary about the VP70. Sure, there was a spring-loaded striker, but let's face it, that has been done before. The stock that turns it into a machine pistol? The Mauser Schnellfeuer 712 already kinda did something similar.
The pistol wasn't really adopted by anyone and as best as I can tell was largely overlooked in the gun shops during its production run.
Taurus 180 Curve:
The 180 Curve is sort of innovative and sort of not. While the outside shape is different than just about any other gun on the market, it is basically a Taurus TCP shoved in a curved frame. The gun might have been rightfully ignored, but it did take a novel approach to the struggles of trying to hide a gun with tight clothing like yoga pants or something of the like.
While there have been some guns that have changed the market as we know it like the Glock, HK USP, AR-15, the Henry Repeating Rifle, the Gatling Gun, Maxim Gun, etc. The success of the Hudson H9 tells me that there is some hope for innovative design in today's marketplace, but how much?
Why is it that so many interesting and serviceable firearms are left to rot in the dark corners of the gun case?
Are gun buyers serious about wanting to add guns to their safe that are truly innovative or are they just looking for something to talk about?
Tell me what you think.
About Patrick R.
Patrick is a firearms enthusiast that values the quest for not only the best possible gear setup, but also pragmatic ways to improve his shooting skills across a wide range of disciplines. He values truthful, honest information above all else and had committed to cutting through marketing fluff to deliver the truth. You can find the rest of his work on FirearmRack.com as well as on the YouTube channel Firearm Rack or Instagram at @thepatrickroberts.