Thursday, 12 Dec 2019

Salient Arms International Strike One Review


Arsenal Firearms’ Strike One – the company having been renamed Archon Firearms because of concerns that it would be confused with Arsenal Inc, and its successor pistol having been named the Type B instead of the expected Strike Two – is a unique firearm on its own merits. It’s unique because it’s no longer in production, it’s unique because the company has a different name, and it’s unique because it uses a system of operation not usually seen in modern pistols.

Enter Salient Arms International and their take on the Arsenal Firearms Strike One. The pistol I reviewed had been further enhanced with a Bronze on Bronze camouflage cerakote pattern by Omaha Outdoors. I found it to be a very cool looking pistol, while some of my friends disagreed somewhat, but that’s okay because I don’t care what they think, STOP MAKING FUN OF ME, CLARK.


As always, our reviews start with accuracy, because if the pistol doesn’t shoot, who cares?

Despite not being able to use the Ransom Rest because there isn’t an insert available for a modified version of a discontinued pistol, I found it exceptionally easy to shoot small groups at 25 yards and beyond with the Strike One. I also did not note any ammunition which did not shoot at least acceptably well with the Strike One. It’s not uncommon to see a pistol “dislike” one particular type of ammo, even if both are accurate in combination with other ammunition or other pistols. With the Strike One, however, everything shot well.

It’s possible that some of the accuracy potential of the Strike One is realized through its use of the modified Bergmann recoil system. Like another fantastically accurate pistol, the Beretta 92FS, the Strike One does not have a tilting barrel. Now, the 92FS doesn’t have a Bergmann recoil system, but if you like the accuracy of that pistol, you’re likely to recognize some similarities in those terms in the Strike One.


This brings me to shootability. How well does the pistol shoot in hand, on the move, and under stress? Maybe a target pistol is exceptionally accurate from a carefully braced position, but it’s extremely difficult to use on the run.

Not so with the Strike One. I loved shooting this pistol, and whenever I would be at the range, I put a box or three of ammunition through it because it was so pleasant and easy to shoot. When I took new shooters to the range, I handed it to them and watched them make excellent hits at distances most would not believe.

The trigger of the SAI Strike One is not like that of other pistols, even other striker fired pistols. It broke very cleanly at around 4lbs with a positive reset, but it did not feel the way a 4lb 1911 trigger or a 4lb Glock trigger would feel. Instead, it felt as if it were hinged differently than anything else I’ve fired. The sensation was not unpleasant and it did not cause me to flinch at all.

My one complaint about the SAI modifications to the pistol would be the stippling. I know a lot of people love stippling, but I do not. There could have been modifications made to the grip which enhanced its effectiveness because even before stippling it was sort of large and inefficient, but after stippling, it seemed more like a smooshed banana than anything else.

This is a shame because of how low the pistol sits in your hand. Clearly, a lot of thought went into making the promise of a low bore axis a reality. I have never been one of those people who obsesses over a low bore axis, but in this case, I do think it made a bit of a difference in terms of low recoil and ease of control.

Of course, the pistol was helped in this regard by the fact that it’s significantly heavier than other pistols of the same or roughly the same magazine capacity. Unloaded, the Arsenal Strike One with SAI mods weighed an ounce and a half more than a Glock 19 with a full 15 round magazine of 147gr JHP ammunition and a slide-mounted Trijicon RMR.

Between the low bore axis, the recoil system, the quality of the trigger, and the weight, I found the Strike One to be an exceptionally easy to shoot pistol. This led me to explore how fast I could shoot it and keep rounds in a baseball-sized area at distances where I’d be lucky to stay inside the A zone with other handguns.


I don’t see the Strike One as a concealed carry handgun, in part because the grip is so long. Probably three-quarters of an inch could be removed from the grip and I’d still be able to wrap my average sized hands around the thing and not have my pinky slip off. It has a 17 round magazine capacity, but I think it’d be better off with 15 round mags and a shorter grip.

As a home defense gun, the Strike One could excel, and similarly it would be great for competition use (although I don’t know in which category of competition it would fit). There’s nothing about it that would cause me to tell a law enforcement officer not to use it on duty, though from what I hear about police salaries, only cops in Palo Alto or Marin County could afford to buy this pistol without some serious scrounging under the couch cushions.


After firing several thousand rounds through the Strike One, I observed no parts breakages or maintenance issues. I did not add lubricant to the pistol except at the very end, after lots of firing and after the abuse portion of the test, which we’ll get to. Though I failed to read the manual to discover how Salient and Arsenal want the pistol lubricated, I found that a single drop of oil on the locking block area made the previously difficult to rack pistol – difficult due to dirt and debris – as smooth as it was when I first pulled it from the box. Upon disassembly, the locking block is a separate piece which looks like it might be possible to reassemble backwards, but it can’t be inserted into its slot in the barrel the wrong way, so it’s a pretty idiot proof design.


Going into the abuse test, I knew – I just knew – that the pistol was going to malfunction. Not only does it have a big opening in the slide, but it has a flashy titanium nitride barrel, and everyone on the Instagram loves to bash Salient, it seems. There was just no way that the gun was going to keep shooting without a single malfunction the way it had for the previous cases of ammunition.

I was wrong.

The dust test was the first place I was expecting it to malfunction. I didn’t go easy on the pistol, blowing a ton of loose dirt into the pistol and especially into the big hole in the slide. However, it chugged through the dust test without issue.

It also went through the water test without any problems. Keep in mind that many pistols malfunction multiple times in each of these tests. This pistol didn’t malfunction once in either.

But then came the mud test. This was bound to be the place where the whole house of cards came crashing down, where the big gaping hole in the slide allowed in big chunks of mud and stopped the action for good. Nope.

After firing 3 rounds, I attempted to fire a fourth and felt that the trigger couldn’t be pulled normally, so I went to clear the pistol, but found that I couldn’t rack it with my wet and muddy hands. I stopped the recording to look at the pistol again, then wondered if it wasn’t just that the trigger was now heavier due to dirt and debris – after all, I was used to the pistol having a 4-pound trigger.

I then restarted the camera recording without having cleared the pistol or racked it at all. The same round was in the chamber in the same position it was in when I attempted to fire it the first time. I then pulled the trigger harder and was rewarded with a bang, then pulled it again to hear another bang.

The Salient Arms International Arsenal Firearms Strike One Bronze on Bronze Camo then became only the third of a few dozen pistols to make it through dust, mud, and water tests without any malfunctions – the other two being the Sig P320 TACOPS and the Glock 22 Gen 4. An honorable mention goes to the Glock 19 Gen 5, which had a minor malfunction on the last round of the last test. I don’t consider the heavier trigger to be a malfunction, because I find the same issue with every Glock, including the G22 Gen4 that fired every time I put enough pressure on the trigger.

I had a problem racking the slide of the Strike One after the abuse tests, so I disassembled the pistol. It’s important to note that this can be accomplished without racking the gun, so be sure to clear the pistol before you pull the trigger for disassembly. I then applied a drop of oil to the locking block and reassembled the pistol, as noted in the maintenance section above, and it went back to being easy to manipulate. I would recommend that owners of Strike One pistols keep this area lubricated, even though, apparently, such lubrication is not totally necessary for reliable function in harsh conditions.


This is an expensive handgun. After Salient’s mods and the cerakote job, you could buy this pistol or you could buy a good AR-15 and a good 1911 and still have money left over.

Sometimes when you read a review of an expensive handgun, you see excuses made for the pistol. “Well, we had some malfunctions, but that’s to be expected with a hand built target pistol like this.”

Not so with the Strike One. There are no apologies to be made here. If you pick it up and like the way it feels in your hand, you’re likely to love the way it shoots. I’m never one to say that spending money can make up for a lack of skill, but I’d grudgingly admit that the Salient Strike One can help make a decent shooter look like a pro in very little time.

The cost puts it out of reach of many shooters. Those who can afford it, however, should strongly consider this pistol instead of yet another custom 1911.

The post Salient Arms International Strike One Review appeared first on Omaha Outdoors.

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