By Bob Owens
The single greatest truth about so-called “smart guns” is that those who are pushing the technology are those that would never use a smart gun, and those that use guns have next to zero interest in the technology.
The general theory behind “smart guns” is that they can be tied to some sort of sensor technology that allows them to only work for authorized individuals. Most people only know of “smart guns” from a recent James Bond film. Unfortunately, like the Bond film, so-called smart guns are fantasy objects that do no exist in an viable form in the real world.
Consumers purchasing a handgun are looking for several key performance metrics.
Reliability: A handgun purchased for self-defense need to be as close to 100% reliable as possible. It must be able to be fired by either hand or both hands, sometimes at odd angles with less than perfect grips, and cycle reliably every time. While every defensive handgun user might have a slightly different definition of “reliable,” a minimal baseline is several hundred rounds of uninterrupted performance without a failure to feed, fire, eject and reload. My personal minimum baseline in a carry gun is 500 rounds without a stoppage or malfunction due to problems with the weapon.
Power: For a handgun to be used for self-defense against criminals, most agree that the bullet it fires must be able to penetrate 12″-18″ of ballistics gelatin. This is because in real life defensive gun uses, people often have to shoot through the outstretched arm of their assailant (who may be holding a weapon) and still punch through the rib cage or skull to reach the vital organs inside to physically force the attacker to stop fighting.
Ergnomics: People look for handguns that naturally fit their hands, with controls (slide stop, magazine release) where they can easily be manipulated, and they look for guns that naturally point towards the target without a need to regrip the gun.
Now, let’s compare that Glock 19 to the most advanced and commercially viable “smart gun” on the market the Aramatix iW1/iP1 combination, using those same four performance metrics of reliably, power, ergonomics, and price.
Reliability: The Aramtix system is composed of a battery-powered iW1 watch/sensorand a iP1 handgun which also uses a battery. For the system to operate, both batteries must retain a charge, the user’s PIN code (just like you have for credit/debit cards) must be entered into the watch, and the watch must be held within ten inches of the gun to fire.
This system, which requires the handgun to be within ten inches of the watch, is guaranteed to fail 50% of the time in practical combat by design.
Put in the kindest possible terms, the iW1/iP1 isn’t reliable, and isn’t that “smart” as it still allows a bad guy to use the gun, as long as he is in close proximity to the watch.
Power: The electronics powering the iW1 are extremely fragile, and can only withstand the recoil of a .22LR cartridge. The .22 LR is a small diameter bullet most often used for pest control, small game hunting, and practice. It is a consensus opinion among the vast majority of firearms experts that a .22LR pistol is inadequate for self defense.
Read more: Bearing Arms