Archon Type B. Picture courtesy of Arsenal Firearms
Last January, my longtime dream came true, and I finally managed to go to the 2018 Shot Show. The number of tactical beards, tactical pants, and other tactical products was overwhelming. Only by day three I finally remembered that I had some people to find and talk to.
I was looking for something on the ground floor when a strangely familiar name on the booth came up – “Archon Firearms.” “Hmmm – I thought – where do I know it from?” The booth was quite big and towered among smaller stands typical for the ground floor. The design of the booth was also quite familiar, so it did not take me a lot of time to remember that just before New Year “Arsenal Firearms” had a dispute with Arsenal USA and renamed itself “Archon Firearms”, and STRYK B pistol became Archon Type B.
Driven by nostalgia and curiosity, I came into the booth. A beautiful girl greeted me and offered a quick rundown on their new compact Archon Type B pistol.
Usually, in this situation, I politely listen and ask questions. However, it was my third day of the Shot Show, so, naturally, I did not have a chance speak to any females for at least three days and lost most of my manners and common sense when I saw her.
So, trying to impress a girl, I said something along the lines of: “Thank you very much, I am very familiar with this pistol. I was there when the concept for this pistol was born. I did a lot of testing for the initial prototype myself. I was there to see the rise and fall of Strizh (Strike One) in Russia, from the very beginning to the dismal end.”
“Russia?” – She said – “Are you sure it was designed in Russia?” Despite my best efforts, the girl was not impressed. She was kind enough to take a picture of me with Archon Type B pistol, and I was on my way thinking: “This is what being old feels like. Youngsters question everything you say and have no respect”.
I kept walking down an aisle on the ground floor, observing all of the amazing, revolutionary and groundbreaking products, and suddenly all the memories started to come back to me.
It was another grey and cold day in Russia sometime in 2011, just another day at work in the “Object” shooting range where I worked as a firearms instructor.
Promotion video for Strike One pistol shot at the “Object” shooting range:
That day, I walked into our biggest shooting bay and found a very unusual group of individuals there. Two of them I knew reasonably well – they were famous and very respected and accomplished firearms and tactics instructors from a Russian Tier 1 counter-terrorist unit. Two other people I never saw before and they were speaking English.
I came close to say hello, greeted the guys from the unit in Russian and, trying to show off, greeted mysterious foreigners in English. There was a moment of silence, and then the tall “foreigner,” who apparently spoke perfect Russian, greeted me, started a conversation and soon, asked me to be their translator for the day.
Very soon, I learned that the tall gentleman is Dmitri Streshinsky, founder of Arsenal firearms and another one is his business partner Nicola Bandini.
Next couple of hours were amazing. Russian instructors were telling about their experience with different handguns, their requirements for a future duty pistol, and preferred methods of carrying.
Several drills were demonstrated, including the famous shoot-the-target-when-someone-stands-next-to-it, also called “confidence drill” (my part in this drill was quite trivial – I was the guy standing next to the target).
A similar confidence drill was later demonstrated in one of Strike One promotional video:
After this meeting, I thought I would never see Dmitri again, but about a year later, I was working at an entirely different shooting range, and one day something unexpected happens.
Two guys came in, bought 600 rounds and when I asked them what pistol should I bring for them, they replied – “Don’t worry, comrade, we do not need your pistols.” They brought the first prototypes of what would later be known as STRIKE One. To my surprise, all the requirements those Tier-1 instructors had were met in this pistol.
After a short conversation, I learned that they did not have their own proof range for test firing and offered help with testing (who doesn’t like free ammo, right?). In the next 20 minutes, I shot 600 rounds with two prototypes they brought in.
2012, author of the article shooting the prototype of Strike One pistol in full semi-automatic mode (before it was cool):
The pistol had a few failures to go into battery and some misfires. Typically, for a Russian R&D project, it would take several months to address problems like that, along with repeat the testing to see if the issues were resolved.
However, those engineers were back in a week. I gladly fired another 600 rounds, this time with nothing but a few misfires – primers on Russian ammo are very hard, so having a few misfires was not a big deal.
And a week later, they came again. We shot 600 rounds of Russian ammo and 600 rounds of Geco in about 40 minutes. Zero stoppages of any kind. Needless to say, I was impressed.
Another version of Strike One that captivated everyone’s attention at that time was a select-fire pistol with KPOS-type PDW-conversion kit. The rate of fire was crazy, but at that point, it just added more fun to the testing.
Dmitri Streshinsky, the founder of the company, shooting select-fire variant of Strike One:
At that point, it looked like Strike One was unstoppable. The pistol was reasonably reliable, ergonomic, looked cool and the Russian government really wanted to introduce an “indigenous” handgun to replace the Glock in the Special Forces.
High-ranking politicians and opinion leaders were flocking to our range to check out a new pistol. Strike One was on the news regularly, and even Russian prime minister checked it out and fired several shots during his visit to TsNIITochMash (Wikipedia link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TsNIITochMash)
In other words, the marketing campaign was incredibly effective and should be studied by anyone who wants to sell anything on the Russian market.
On the summer of 2013, the final chapter of the marketing campaign took place. During Larry Vickers’s visit to Russia, his crew filmed some special forces training, creating one of the most popular gun videos that ever existed – “INSANE Russian Counter Terror Confidence Drill” with over 4,5 million views to date.
Tactics and drills aside, the above video featured Strike One pistol. If anyone is wondering – no, it was not a standard issue pistol for the unit featured in the video.
The last public appearance on Strike One pistol in Russia was the annual ARMS & Hunting exhibition in October 2013. Arsenal firearms presented the prototypes in 22LR and less-lethal 10×28 (Russians are not allowed to carry real handguns and have to settle for less-lethal pistols shooting rubber bullets in odd calibers).
What followed was very unexpected – there was complete silence. The pistol disappeared from the news, there were no more demonstrations at Special Forces competitions, and it just suddenly felt like it never even existed. In early 2014 I learned that founder of the company had to leave Russia, never to come back.
I know why it happened, but common sense tells me that the time to tell that story has not come yet. All I can say, that it had nothing to do with technical characteristics or performance of the weapon.
The rest is part of history that I do not know too well. The pistol was released worldwide, had moderate success with reviewers but never really took off due to too high of a price and lack of the accessories.
Another well-made promo video of Strike One from the old days:
Another point, raised by an expert I respect a lot, is this: “The bore axis is really low, which is great, but the mass and the width of the slide is huge, which pretty much negates the advantages of extremely low bore axis”.
The new version, Archon Type B, has a lighter slide, which might help with recoil control, but to be sure, you have to shoot it, and no one knows when that is going to happen.
I hope that this little walk down the memory lane will help to clear out some of the questions that Strike One and Archon Type B owners had. In conclusion: the pistol was, in fact, developed in Russia, but it never became a standard issue weapon in the Russian Military or LE units due to certain political issues in the Russian military-industrial complex.
Is Archon Type B a good pistol, after all? It is up to you to decide. Thanks to Second Amendment, Americans can answer this question themselves.