TFB Review: Altor Pistol – Single Shot 9mm On A Budget

    It has been three years since the Altor Pistol was announced. We saw it at SHOT Show 2020. I still have the leaflet with dealer pricing from that SHOT Show. I wanted one the moment I saw it. Well, I finally found one at a local gun store and purchased as an impulse buy. It was just over $100 but I had grand plans for this little unassuming single-shot pistol. Let’s dive in and take a look at this little pistol.

    Altor @ TFB:

    Singe Shot Altor Pistol

    Altor Pistol in the hand

    The Altor Pistol is a simple firearm. It does not have a traditional trigger. Instead, it has a striker/firing pin that you pull back with your index finger. See the ramped section behind the “trigger” with the crossbolt safety? As you try to pull the “trigger” back, your index finger will ride along that ramp and it will slide down and off the trigger, thus allowing it to slam forward to hit the firing pin.

    See the “SAFE/FIRE” markings on the side of the frame? That lines up with a line along the barrel. You rotate the barrel so the line lines up with SAFE or FIRE. When the barrel is rotated to SAFE, there is a piece of metal that acts as a firing pin block. This piece of metal hits the trigger early so the firing pin cannot make contact with the primer.

    The crossbolt safety works behind the trigger. When engaged, it blocks the trigger from moving far back enough to build up enough potential energy to set off the primer.

    Loading the Altor Pistol is different from other single-shot pistols I have used. I thought it would be similar to my Braverman Stinger pistol. I was wrong. Rather than loading the cartridge into the barrel, the Altor Pistol has a sort of shell holder, like the style you see on reloading presses. You slide the rim of the 9mm brass into this shell holder. Then slide the barrel over the cartridge and the two lugs at either side. Rotate the barrel to lock it in place.

    One aspect of loading the 9mm round into the Altor Pistol that gives me cause for concern is the firing pin sticks out. As you slide the 9mm cartridge down into the shell holder, the firing pin gets pushed out of the way. But now you have the firing pin touching the back of the primer. There are no safety devices that prevent the round from going off if the firing pin hits it until you install the barrel.

    Threaded Altor Pistol

    Altor Corp makes a threaded barrel for their Altor Pistol and I immediately ordered one. It seems a bit pricey at $99. That is the same price as the entire Altor Pistol. A spare 9mm barrel is just $59. But where can you get a barrel threaded for just $40?

    Since the barrel is threaded 1/2×28, I wanted to test the efficacy of some muzzle devices I have on hand.

    Just to see what would happen, I put my golf ball launcher attachment onto the threaded barrel. Turning the launcher tube around 180º acts as a sort of barrel condom. Although the bore is exposed and not covered. It does act as a sort of trigger block.

    Now I just need some 9mm blanks to launch a golf ball.

    The real reason I wanted the threaded barrel was so I could suppress the Altor Pistol. Since the Altor Pistol lacks any real sights, I decided to use my Alpha Dog silencer. Which has a built-in Picatinny rail for adding accessories.

    To be silly I underslung the USFA ZIP22.

    Shooting The Altor Pistol

    Look how low my middle finger is on the Altor pistol grip

    Due to the trigger/striker design, you cannot choke up on the Altor Pistol grip. If you do, your fingers will get in the way of the striker traveling rearward and you will short stroke the firing pin. The Altor grip has a rectangular protrusion. That is a reference point to keep your middle finger below that point and keep the trigger/striker free to travel to the back.

    Below, my friend tried to choke up on the Altor Pistol grip and he had issues pulling the trigger back.

    Altor Pistol Fired Without Barrel

    One of the things I was curious about was what would happen if you fired the Altor Pistol without the barrel? Demolition Ranch had performed this experiment but he did not have a high-speed camera to film the explosion.

    I was inspired by the Slow Mo Guys when they shot a pinfire at a 9mm cartridge. Their case did not explode on them since the cartridge was unsupported by a breach face so the primer shot out the back. With the Altor Pistol, the 9mm cartridge is held in place so the primer cannot squirt out the back and all the heat and pressure will go into the case and bullet. I ran a couple different tests. I shot a primed case without any gunpowder. Then ran a 9mm loaded with only 2.5gr of powder. Then I shot full power factory loaded 9mm. For the sake of safety, I used a quick clamp to clamp the Altor to a barricade. I then looped a piece of string on the trigger and had my friend pull the string so he was nowhere near the unsupported Altor Pistol. As we expected the case failed. To my surprise, the Altor Pistol was free of any damage. I filmed it in slow motion and I also added some footage of the Altor Pistol being fired with the muzzle brakes. See the video below.

    Modifying The Altor Pistol

    Altor Corp has an elastic band that they sell to hold two extra rounds of 9mm.

    Image by Altor Corp

    Image by Altor Corp

    The bandolier can also help hold a flashlight onto the Altor Pistol.

    Image by Altor Corp

    I have my doubts about the efficacy of those bandoliers. I decided to go a different route with the help of John aka Mr. Snow Makes. John is a 3D-printed firearm enthusiast and likes oddities like the Altor Pistol. When I asked him to help me make a new pistol grip for the Altor, he immediately bought two of them.

    The Altor Pistol serialized component is the actual receiver/breach. The plastic grip is just a frame and not the firearm. The grip of the Altor leaves much to be desired so my idea was to have a grip that resembles the Nerf Jolt.

    With the barrel removed, the Altor Jolt looks like the Nerf Jolt.

    Before you say “guns should not look like toys”, know that I do not allow others to handle or use my firearms unless I am there watching them. Also, I do not let children have access to my firearms.

    If the Altor Jolt is not to your liking, keep an open mind to the possibilities. I collaborated with John on a grip that has built-in ammo storage. This will be more practical. It has Picatinny rails on either side and on top. We plan to use an inverted Glock 9mm magazine and shove it into the back of the pistol grip. Now the magazine acts as an inverted Pez dispenser. We can strip a round out of the magazine to reload the Altor Pistol.

    CAD by John

    John posted some videos on Instagram. Click here to see the fantastic failure. He later reprinted his prototype and it held up, can’t say the same for his knockoff optic.

    Final Thoughts On The Altor Pistol

    The Altor Pistol is the cheapest 9mm handgun that is brand new. At just $99 it does not break the bank. Granted you need to spend just as much to thread it. Since the Altor Pistol is a single shot, it is not entirely practical. I definitely would not use this as a self-defense tool. However, with a suppressor, it can be fun. Almost like a veterinary pistol on a budget. The recoil is rather pronounced especially since the pistol does not weigh much. If you were inclined to do so, you could file form 1 and chop the grip off entirely making an AOW. Although given how much it recoils, I do not think it would be much fun or feel great to fire it without the pistol grip. I think a custom suppressor that is thin and long so the Altor Pistol would look and function like a cane would be a pretty cool AOW.

    One nice thing about the Altor Pistol is that you can restrike the firing pin if the round does not go off. Most of the time when this happens it is an operator error. They did not pull the firing pin back far enough. Here my friend Vic tries to do a quick reload with the Altor Pistol. Not sure if this is faster than a muzzleloader. LOL


    The Altor pistol is a neat range toy. With a different grip, it has a bit more usability but just barely.

    Nicholas C

    Steadicam Gun Operator
    Night Vision & Thermal Aficionado
    Flashlight/Laser Enthusiast
    USPSA competitor

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]