Gun Review: Arsenal Firearms Strike One

Patrick R
by Patrick R

A while back I made a comment in one of the Disqus threads about wanting to test the Strike One pistol, much to my surprise a few weeks ago Lorri from Sooner State Arsenal contacted me and asked if I would like to review the Strike One. I jumped at the chance, I would have been foolish to say no. I have been drooling over the chance to get behind one of these guns as soon as I saw a photo of one. I seem to have a thing for strange looking pistols, the Arsenal Firearms Strike One certainly fits the bill, it is rather unconventional looking.

Before we get too far into things, here are the specs from the Sooner State Arsenal website.

Type Geometric Lock, Semiautomatic Hammerless Pistol
Action Short Recoil, In Line Barrel, Patented Locking Block System
Calibers 9mm
Trigger Automatic Safety, Safe Action Only
Safeties Single Arc Trigger Safety, With Firing Pin Automatic Safety And Disconnector
Magazine With Ambidextrous Push-Button Release, 17 or 10 Rounds (9mm), 13 or 10 Rounds (.40S&W)
Frame Reinforced Polymer Cerakote in Jungle Green or Desert Earth Tan
Slide With Front And Rear Cocking Panels, Rebated Ceiling Cerakote in Jungle Green or Desert Earth Tan
Sights Fixed Back Plate/Sight, Adjustable Front Sights
Total Length 8.27 Inches
Barrel Length 5 Inches
Total Height 5.63 Inches
Total Width 2 Inches
Total Weight 1.94 Lbs
Special Features Frame bears 360 degree integral beveled magazine well, underbarrel integral Picatinny rail. The pistol comes with dedicated security lock contoured foam case, double magazine, with gun oil and complete kit, User’s Manual and international 1 year Warranty.

To expand a bit more about why it is so unconventional looking I should probably mention the locking system that the designer used. Instead of the Browning tilting barrel locking system that you know and love, it is based around the Bergmann system, a system that hasn’t been used in almost a hundred years. The designer of the pistol used a Y shaped block that slides over the barrel. When the pistol is fired both the barrel and the locking block recoils with the slide for about the first 1/4 inch, then the locking block falls and allows the slide to finish its rearward travel.

By using the Bergmann system it allows the entire slide assembly to remain compact, keeping the bore axis low. Before any naysayers jump in with their “bore axis doesn’t matter” rhetoric, we will dive into that later. I am rather excited about a pistol that refuses to toe to the John Moses Browning line and still remains a viable choice.

As you might expect with a polymer pistol in today’s market, it is striker fired. No real surprises there right? Wrong.

The Strike one even has a slightly different take on the striker system. Instead of the normal chunky engagement surface found on your average striker fired wonder nine, the Strike One uses a unique rotating striker/sear arrangement. The striker has a much smaller and triangle shaped engagement surface that allow it to slide into the swinging/rotating sear. You can see the sear on the right side of the frame, nestled into the rail. The unique striker arrangement provides for a very strange trigger pull that is reminiscent of a double action revolver but with a lot of grit. Looking at how the trigger works I think with some polishing this could be fixed to make it feel more like the pull on a fine revolver, minus the stacking of course. Sooner State Arsenal does offer a trigger job that I declined. I felt the $125 was a bit on the stiff side for something that should be done at Tanfoglio when the gun is being put together.

Something that many reviewers forget is that this pistol wasn’t designed as a range toy, it was designed to be a military pistol for the Russian Federation. For a combat gun the trigger is pretty darned acceptable. I did find the reset to be rather long feeling, that may just be a byproduct of the striker design.

Something that I wish that Arsenal Firearms had imported it with the Russian “Strizh” markings. The gun is pretty cool as it sits, but the hat tip to the pistol’s intended purpose as a Russian military firearm would have put it over the top. I really hope that Arsenal Firearms brings out a special edition Russian trials gun.

Photo credit: VitalyKuzmin

The Strike One ships with 2 – 17 round magazines (provided you live in a “free” state) that are reminiscent of a Beretta 92FS, but with the magazine catch cut much higher on the mag body as a result of the low bore axis. I noticed that the walls of the grip were a bit thick and could have been made a touch thinner in order to accommodate a wider magazine. While I wouldn’t feel under gunned going into a fight with 17 in the mag, I sure would have loved to see this gun touting a 20 round capacity given it’s massive grip length.

You can also see the full length rail located at the bottom of the Strike One’s frame. Due to the size of the gun it seems as though you have a full mile of mounting space for lights, lasers, bayonets, a second handgun, or even a small tank. In reality it allows you to mount a full size light onto the Strike One without it protruding in front of the muzzle.

Taking the pistol down is accomplished by clearing the pistol, pushing the captive pin out to the left of the firearm, pulling the trigger, then sliding the slide assembly off the front of the pistol. You can see here that the full length slide rails are paper thin in an effort to keep the amount of bulk at the top of the pistol to a minimum. The slide rails are nicely machined and provide a glass smooth surface for the slide to ride on.

Another gripe I have about the Strike one is the dainty (there really is no other word for it) slide stop. Seeing as this isn’t a concealed carry piece I don’t understand why they didn’t include one that was a bit chunkier that would be more accessible with gloves or under stress. I feel that the controls on the Strike One were a bit understated for the guns intended purpose.

The magazine release suffers from the same fate. The frame of the pistol has a protrusion that prevents the user from unintentionally dropping the magazine. It does get in the way of hitting the mag release though. Strike One does include an ambi mag button and the stock one is also reversible so all you wrong handed people can rejoice. Unfortunately the Strike One manual doesn’t include any instructions on how to change it out but it isn’t hard to figure out.

Ian from Forgotten Weapons ran into an issue as a result of how the magazine catch is retained. While shooting a match with the Strike One he pushed the mag release with such vigor that he pushed it through the frame of the gun. I was able to replicate the failure without much issue but didn’t find it to be a problem during normal shooting. I imagine that if I were running against a clock it is something that might be a long term issue. The mag button problem is easily fixed by pushing it the opposite way.

I figured I would field strip the gun before it got too dirty. You can really get a feel for how the Bergmann locking piece slides over the barrel in this photo. The pistol comes apart almost like a Glock would, except it has one extra piece wrapped around the barrel. I really appreciated the stainless finish on the barrel and locking piece as it made the Strike One very easy to clean.

Something that really impressed me was the nicely crowned muzzle. I don’t know how much of a difference this makes when compared to a typical pistol muzzle, but it sure does look nice. (Forgive the dark photo, my cell phone isn’t near as good as the DSLR I normally use.)

Using my trigger pull gauge the Strike One measured out to be just over a 5 pound trigger. I touched a bit earlier about the gripes I have with the trigger. As I said, the trigger is gritty and strangely long. It isn’t exactly the feel that one might expect when picking up a polymer striker fired pistol (I admit, I may be a bit ruined by the typical ‘Glock’ type trigger). I do have to say that after even two range trips I found myself quickly acclimating to the Strike One trigger, every mag I loaded up I found myself to be slightly faster and more competent than the last one.

The Strike One is nicely presented in a well made lockable Negrini case. The pistol that I received shipped with a spare magazine, a bottle of “wonder oil” that I want to talk about more in a minute, and a basic cleaning kit.

There was a note stuck into the Strike One owners manual that detailed the break in process. More or less that process consisted of taking the Strike One to the range without cleaning the factory lube off, shooting 100 rounds, removing the slide, placing a drop of wonder oil on each rail, reassembling the gun, then shooting another 400 rounds. I thought that a polymer pistol having a break in was a little ludicrous, I am a used to a poly framed gun just working without fussing with it

One feature about the case that I really liked was that it is a lockable case. I don’t know that it is airline compliant, but for those that want to be able to secure the pistol without threading a plastic covered cable through their gun will surely put it to good use.

I mentioned earlier that the Strike One arrived with a cleaning kit, I must admit that it is more comprehensive than your standard poly brush on a stick that many other polymer pistols ship with *cough* Glock *cough*. As much as I appreciate Arsenal Firearms including this in the case, I would have rather they left it out in favor of a second spare mag even if they had to bump the price of the pistol up a touch.

At about 10 – 12 yards the Strike One grouped quite nicely. I am admittedly not one of the greatest pistol shots on the planet and was able to replicate this stellar group a couple times, if I am honest I was so taken aback by the group that I thought it was a fluke and tried a couple more times to be sure.

On to the shooting impressions.

I love it.

Seriously, it shot like a dream. I am going to admit right now that I bought the review gun (without talking to my wife so she couldn’t say no). The pistol does feel like it has about a third less muzzle flip and a third less felt recoil like Sooner State Arsenal claims. The camera footage told another story though.

Now the photo taken during full recoil looks exactly like every other pistol I have tested in the past. I felt less recoil, I was faster with the pistol, but the photos show the same amount or a touch less muzzle flip at the start of my testing period.

I asked Alex C. to perform his super limp wrist test because he has weaker wrists than I. The results were two full mags fired from the sissy position with exactly zero failures.

You can see exactly how limp of a wrist is required for the super limp wrist test. The amount that lets the pistol recoil is pretty significant. Thankfully the Strike One continued to perform flawlessly.

After Alex had his fun I grabbed the pistol and decided to film some double taps to see if Sooner State Arsenal’s claims held any water and the result was surprising. I took screen grabs of the frame right before the primer was struck and another frame that showed the pistol in full recoil. You can see that either I was doing an amazing job of controlling the recoil or Sooner State wasn’t full of it. As I said earlier, after each mag that I put through the Strike One I felt like I was getting faster and faster as well as more accurate.

I must admit that the pistol feels like it melts into your hand. When I picked it up for the first time it felt like no other pistol I had ever held. It is strangely thin in all the right areas and has bulk only where required. When I try to explain how the Strike One feels I can only repeat the phrase “it feels like it sits inside your hand”. Sounds insane right?

Another shot of the pistol going from just before the primer strike to full recoil. I was hammering the heck out of my Grizzly ar500 target in this photo as I was in most photos. Landing hit after hit on the IPSC ABC target was very easy from 15-20 yards. after the second range outing I was able to dump mag after mag into the torso target without a miss. Even hitting the little “bad guy” swinger was starting to get pretty easy from 15-20 yards.

After spending quite a lot of quality time with the Arsenal Firearms Strike One I have fallen in love. The pistol carries a rather hefty MSRP of $823. But I guess when compared to a new Glock that has a MSRP of about $600 the price isn’t that insane. You get a nicely machined and reliable pistol for the extra money.

I put north of 800 rounds through the Strike One over the several range trips that it made with me and experienced one malfunction, an honest to goodness dead primer with a good strike. My take away is this, I have to have it. Others may not feel the same way, but I need the Strike One in my life.

I have to admit, when I was contacted to do this review I had spent several months drooling over photos of the Strike One like I have over photos of the Russian GSh-18 pistol. When I was waiting for it to ship from Sooner State Arsenal I felt a sinking feeling once I realized that the Strike One might not live up to all the hype in my head and I may be sending the gun back with a bitter taste in my mouth. The Strike One disappointed me at first due to what I felt was a terrible trigger on a gun that boasts a price that is damned near a thousand dollars. After spending some time bonding with the gun the Strike One is currently my favorite pistol, beating out my Sphinx SDP Alpha and the rest of my ever growing pistol collection.

You can learn more about the Strike One from the Arsenal Firearms website here, you can purchase the Strike One from the sole importer of the Strike One, Sooner State Arsenal by clicking here. Arsenal Firearms Strike One carries a MSRP of $823 as tested.

Patrick R
Patrick R

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