An unconventional pistol in both appearance and function, the Arsenal Strike One 9mm is accurate, well-designed and impressive. A note about manufacturing: Arsenal Firearms, founded by Dmitri Strechinski, rebranded its U.S. subsidiary as Archon Firearms in 2018 due to a potential trademark dispute. The current iteration, called the Archon Type B, is available as an import and features a 4.3-inch barrel and improved trigger. Discontinued in the U.S., Arsenal has teamed up with Salient Arms International to sell its “Tier 1” package on the remaining Strike Ones still available in the U.S.
The mechanical design allows a very low bore axis, which is one reason the pistol feels good, shoots flat and is so controllable. With such a low bore axis, there simply isn’t very much leverage for the pistol to rise during recoil. While this is a noticeable advantage, there is much more to the gun.
About the Arsenal Strike One
The Strike One is a striker-fired, polymer-frame pistol with a steel slide. A service-sized pistol, it is pretty big, though still light and flat enough to carry concealed. The trigger action, slide lock and magazine lock are conventional. Manufactured in a truly grippy fashion, the frame allows excellent abrasion and adhesion. The pistol features a generous magazine well, and the all-steel magazines are sturdy, holding 17 rounds of 9mm Luger ammunition. The grip ends in a high tang and extension. This beavertail treatment makes it comfortable to handle and fire the pistol. The sights are of the three-dot variety. The rear sight is actually part of the striker cover, and the front sight rides in a dovetail slot.
Arsenal’s Strike One doesn’t use the proven locked-breech system. Neither does it feature the competing oscillating wedge of the Beretta. The geometric ring lockup has not been used — to the best of my knowledge — in perhaps 100 years. The ring moves with the barrel during early travel in recoil. Recoil is straight back with no tilt. This is reminiscent of the ring used in rotating barrel designs, but the barrel doesn’t turn at all. The result is straight-line recoil. This system may not be applicable to smaller firearms, but it works well in a service-sized pistol.
Trigger action/reset is the proven Glock type, with a couple of changes (including a more compact sear). The trigger is long and must be allowed to travel fully forward to reset. Reset is solid, and there is a low-audible click as the trigger resets, though you won’t hear it while wearing ear protection. The trigger is one of the pistol’s best features. It is smooth and fast in operation, resulting in excellent combat-style shooting. Trigger compression is 5.35 pounds.
Arsenal Strike One Specs:
Barrel length: 5 inches
Overall length: 8.27 inches
Height: 5.63 inches
Width: 1.3 inches
Weight: 26.5 ounces
Firing the Arsenal Strike One at the Range
The magazines are not difficult to load with even pressure as you reach full capacity. Since this is an unusual type of lockup, I wanted to confirm that the Strike One is reliable with a wide range of ammunition. Previous examples of delayed-blowback-operated pistols had refused to function with light bullet loads and were overly sensitive to differences in velocity. I collected a number of 115-, 124- and 147-grain loads. I completed the bulk of testing with Black Hills 115-grain FMJ, a clean-burning and accurate loading.
The Strike One is a joy to fire, is more accurate than a custom Hi Power and, at the least, gives the SIG P210 a run for the money. In fast combat shooting, it beats either handily. The sights are properly regulated, and the 9mm is reliable when you fire it from the retention position. Plus, the straight-to-the-rear barrel movement doesn’t feel different than most handguns. The pistol gets on target quickly and homes in on the X-ring.
I fired a few heavier loads using Hornady 115-grain Critical Defense, Black Hills 115-grain EXP and Federal 124-grain HST. The Arsenal Strike One functioned well through those, as well as with Federal 147-grain HST. The HST has a good balance of expansion and penetration. It was among the most accurate loads I tested. I also tested a +P loading: the Buffalo Bore 115-grain JHP. This one clocked a fast 1,357 feet per second in the Strike One. Recoil was not unpleasant but was noticeably heavier. The pistol exhibited impressive reliability with all loads. The flared magazine well made rapid magazine changes easy enough.
Firing at 20 yards from the MTM K Zone Shooting Rest, I achieved an average group of 1.5 inches. This is definitely an accurate handgun. I can find no drawback to the Strike One and a lot to like. As impressed as I am with the pistol’s accuracy, I would be remiss to underrate its overall combat ability. Comparing it to the Hi Power, P210 and a Walther PDP, it definitely outshot each by a measurable degree. The pistol is a good choice for home defense or uniform duty and, with proper holster selection, may be concealed. I don’t know for certain if this is the best 9mm I have fired, but it beats whatever is in second place.