‘Smart Pistol’ Push May Shift to Police Market


Marketing of the so-called smart pistol may shift to U.S. police departments and law enforcement agencies after a controversial roll-out to commercial stores, according to a news report.

Safety advocates want to sell the Smart System iP1 made by the German gun-maker Armatix GmbH to cops, according to an article by Michael Rosenwald in The Washington Post. As he writes:

“The idea: If the technology is good enough for police officers, it should be good enough for consumers. Armatix is developing a 9mm smart gun targeted at the law enforcement market. The company hopes to offer other controls besides a watch, including a version that responds to voices.”

The James Bond-style, .22-caliber pistol is designed to improve safety by only working when it’s in close proximity to a wristwatch.

When the RFID-equipped watch is activated by a PIN number and placed near the gun — like when a shooter grips the handle — it sends a signal to unlock the pistol, activating a green light on the back of the grip. Otherwise, the firearm stays locked and the light on the back remains red.

While the iP1 could revolutionize safety, gun-rights groups such as the National Rifle Association oppose it out of concern that the government will mandate for all firearms to be similarly equipped with the technology.

The outcry from gun owners was so fierce that the first store to sell the weapon, The Oak Tree Gun Club near Los Angeles, ended up pulling it from its shelves. Another outlet, Engage Armament near Washington, D.C., did the same after the owner received death threats.

The Washington Post article gives an interesting look at the man behind the high-tech weapon, 58-year-old German gun designer Ernst Mauch.

Ernst Mauch

The designer spent almost three decades at the gun-maker Heckler & Koch GmbH, where he helped create the HK416 assault rifle — the same weapon used by U.S. commandos in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, according to the article. After leaving the company several years ago, he joined a much smaller German gun manufacturer, Armatix GmbH, where he helped launch the Smart System iP1, it states.

The Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, a community group that advocates for gun safety, is working with Mauch to meet with U.S. police officials in September, according to the article.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Jeff

    If a cartridge fails to fire you can clear it and move on, still able to defend. If this fails you are a police officer staring at at low-life with no compunction against killing you with nothing more useful in a gun fight than your pecker in your hand. What do you think the over/under is on how long before the first grieving police widow files a lawsuit?

    I say let the secret service use them for ten years first, then release to the general public/law enforcement.

  • blight_asdf

    I’m not sure what the point of this is.

    It is unlikely a suspect with gain control of a LEO’s gun: I suspect the number of incidents where this has happened is astronomically low, and does not justify the expense of a “smart” gun.

    The “smart” gun was originally devised as a way to ensure unauthorized users could not fire the weapon (e.g people who steal a gun by breaking and entering into a home, or kids accidentally stumbling upon a gun and shooting themselves or others).

    The issues with Law enforcement and firearms are often that they are too quick to escalate to deadly force, and this is something a “smart” gun cannot do anything about.

    • Ben


    • Bernard

      Just from a quick Google search I found results like “‘Lackadaisical’ U.S. Park Police lose hundreds of guns, watchdog group says,” “LAPD Officer Shot with Own Gun, City News Service,” “New York Officer Disarmed and Killed During Disturbance.” Sure it’s not an epidemic, but it does happen.

    • guest

      They made it, they found no willing civilian market for it, and now they’re trying to stick contract-buy groups like law enforcement with this albatross.

    • ColdWarVet

      There are many officers that are killed with their own firearm. This I can atest to being a LEO officer for 25 years. Stats show most police gun battles are within 5′, last 2-3 shots. More police officers are shot because of hesitation. There is the hesitation about taking a life even if justified. This is from being brought up with a regard for human life. Second, subconciously they are concerned about being criminally prosecuted, sued, and other things than come with an officer involved shooting. They also have to worry about bystanders. So your horses petut comment about too quick to escalate to deadly force is a comment an uniformed moron would make.

    • Tiger

      Sorry Blight. Cops being killed by their own gun happens enough folks developed retention holsters.

  • Juramentado

    First generation anything is typically buggy. But if anyone can make it happen, Mauch is probably the guy who will. I get why he wants to do it, but at the end of the day, it will take a lot longer than he thinks.

    Reliability isn’t just one of the showstoppers, it’s the whole concept of bio-tagged weapons. What happens at unit level when the guy next to you falls, and your weapon’s down? Will you be able to pick up his and continue the fight? What about someone at home who needs access to the weapon (like a family member in danger), and you happened to forget leaving the token because it doubles as your wristwatch? I’m sure there are ways around this, but Version 1.0 of the gun isn’t a production ready item; it’s really more a Proof-of-Concept. What he hasn’t drawn at a larger level is the use cases, and without that, you can’t overcome the market resistance.

    • blight_asdf

      On the plus side, it means “family packs” of guns because each person can only use one gun.

      Family packs available at your nearest Costco…

  • Juramentado

    For heaven’s sake – someone fix the damn content filter – the offensive term had letters before and after it. Jeeper’s crow.

    • Mitch S.

      You have to be careful.
      If you bring a w*r*i*s*t*w*a*t*c*h to the c*o*c*k*p*i*t someone might get pregnant!

  • Rob C.

    Its not a bad idea as long any problems or loop holes in the technology are worked out. But i don’t think they should force everyone to the things though. I don’t know alot details on how they handle if the weapon is stolen and if there could be a method for the blackmarkers to disable the security lock out. Or if the clunky watch of theirs batteries die or in the gun at bad moment when user desperately needs it.

    The consumers should decide if this is what they want.

  • DougieR

    It might seem counter-intuitive, but firearms are actually extremely simple devices really…just look on google for all the illegal ones in Brazil and Australia made by basement machinists. Their mechanical nature also provides a level of reliability that we just haven’t reached yet with electronic systems either, and don’t even get me started on the “internet of things” and the Pandora’s box of troubles that opens.

    Although it might happen in the future, there are some things that really don’t need a digital revolution. For the time being, firearms are one of them.

  • Nick

    Trivial to create/buy a jammer for it. First time one of those things fails to fire they all get tossed.

  • Kim

    One important question: Who will dare sell it in the US, if it results in death threats? Or worse yet; death threats becoming reality?

  • lance

    They cant make this crap work well now the push is not by Cops or Solders but by fascist gun banners who want to make guns so expensive and with computers in them unreliable no one will buy them. There time when you may need a weapon from a fallen comrade and with this tech you cannot do that. There times when the computer will fail and you wont have a working weapon. Sorry the author here seems to want to make liberals happy, reality its not working.

  • Bob

    I think that the real concern about this technology is that it’s existence is being used in states such as California as a political weapon to ban or restrict the sale of regular firearms. If that were not the case, everyone would be content to allow it to succeed or fail in the market based on its own merits. Personally, I would never bet my life on a firearm dependent upon electronics and a battery.

  • SMSgt Mac

    About that so-called ‘safety organization’, the Industrial Areas Foundation:

    “The IAF was founded in 1940 by the late Saul Alinsky [1909-1972], who created ‘People’s Organizations’… The modern IAF has taken Alinsky’s original vision, refined it and created a sophisticated national network of citizens’ organizations” IAF: Fifty Years Organizing for Change, IAF Publication, 1990, p.7.

    Yeah ‘Safety’! “Propagandize” much?

  • Dickie Cockpit

    A gun’s job is to fire when the trigger is pulled. Smart guns are a leftist’s wet dream weapon. CA is prepared to require this technology on all gun sales as soon as two models are offered for sale. If you care about 2nd amendment rights fight this with all you are worth.
    Mauch has turned into a big wristwatch.

  • Joe

    Only outlaws need fear the law abiding.

  • CDS

    Heck, what happens if the officer finds it’s necessary to draw the pistol after getting in a scuffle with the suspect and the watch was ripped off and is lying in the grass 10 yards away or is damaged, itself?

    What if the battery fails part way through your shift and someone decides to pull a knife on you at the end of your shift?

    The internet takes a dump, and we can get by. Productivity may be impacted, but nobody’s going to get hurt. Your Metro Smart Card fails, you can just go get another one. RFID inside your video game cartridge fails, the store loses an item **IF** the one where the RFID tech has failed is ALSO the same one someone tries to shoplift.

    If a cop’s gun fails for any reason, the cop is likely going to DIE, along with anyone he or she happens to be trying to protect.

  • rtsy

    I’m surprised there’s so much controversy over this system. It basically personalizes the gun to the owner. I’d imagine people would be happy about that instead of crying about an additional feature.

    It could be a lot worse when you’re talking about putting electronics into a firearm. It could be a gun with a GPS chip and a camera pointed at the shooter.

    Imagine the selfies.

  • ohno

    If anyone wanna makes police pistol useless… They will drop an EMP grenade. So it will fry the pistol circuits?

    • Muttling

      EMP grenade????? Care to provide a reference to a REAL weapon that you are referring to instead of some Hollywood make believe weapon?

    • Kevin Smithwick

      Can you tell me where and how I can get EMP grenades.

    • Tiger

      Will you kids stop carping about EMP?

  • hibeam

    What we need are smarter people. Then they could find jobs. Start by getting Big Government out of the education business.

  • Muttling

    This is silliness. Police are trained in sidearm retention and most use holsters which prevent the weapon from being pulled out at an off angle, as a result it is extremely rare for an officer to be shot by his/her own sidearm.

    This is just a sales pitch by an industry that is only interested in making money.

    • Kevin Smithwick

      Officers rarely discharge their weapon, in the 25 years my father has been in Law Enforcement he has never fired on a suspect. I say this as someone from Southern Texas even with the drug cartels and human smugglers killing people gun battles are rare.

  • amauyong

    Actually this idea/application has merit…

    Can someone suggest implementing it on hellfire missiles, surface to air missles etc…mandatory for all the worlds military…

    Thus when a terrorist manage to get a surface to air missile…it jus won’t fire cos it is a “smart” weopon which will only activate for its own actual miltary owner.


  • moondawg

    One recalls that in Judge Dred, the Judges had pistols like this. A bad guy capured a Judge’s pistol and was going to shoot her with it. When he pulled the trigger, the pistol exploded and blew his hand off.

  • xpoqx

    Idk if it had come up yet but what happens when the watch runs out of batteries and dies, what happens if it broken in the line of duty during a shootout? What happens if an EMP fries it? Normal guns don’t have these problems.

  • ttt

    These things make for good sound bites until YOU are the one it fails to work for that one time you need it. If you include batteries dying at any point when you least expect it, rain, extreme cold/heat, shock, vibration and inconsistent maintenance…few who actually count on a weapon in an instant would likely trust this. I wouldn’t buy it, except for my enemy.

  • Leo Johnson

    Yesterday when I first read this article I began wondering about the battery in the watch.If the battery in the watch “Dies” without the rearer of the watch knowing that it had “Died” would the gun still work.Knowing what I know about battery powered watches when they “[Die” theyre Dead.

  • BlackOwl18E

    Sounds like it’s just leaving the door open for some criminal hacker to see if they can disable these guns by remote, leaving our officers defenseless.

    • Tiger

      Worry more about big brother having the off switch……..
      Same way On Star can shut down your car. THe government could turn off the guns of the people.

  • Bob

    What happens when criminals begin to understand that by smashing your watch they just disabled your firearm? And what about the Government? What happens when they figure out how to send out a signal that disables EVERYONE’S firearm? There’s a better solution to this. Guns can now be made that are matched to the owner’s palm print. No palm print match, no firing of the weapon by a criminal who wrestles the gun away from you. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate safety check?

    • blight_asdf

      I’m skeptical of fingerprint systems. If you’re in a fistfight and get blood or grit on your hands, a palm or fingerprint scanner may not work under less than ideal conditions. And then you die.

  • Dec

    I suppose all you need to do to disable the gun is (1) find out the frequency of the signal used, and (2) create a device to mimic or overpower or otherwise interfere with the signal. That way, you can choose to disable it when it’s in the police hand, and enable it when you are holding it.

    Got to do something to counter the police state under Obama and GW Bush.

  • Andy

    All cops should be equipped with bio-enhanced, single-shot, .22 short muskets.

  • Martin

    This is not a new idea. Anybody remember the magnetic ring that went on the gun hand
    to release the sear when fired. No ring no shot. That was a big bust.

  • Brian

    Math is wonderful, if applied properly, but you are using the wrong algorithm.

    Here’s the “math” from another perspective – 10 inches, 25 cm. An aggressor takes a wild swing with a blade, and you reflexively use your strong hand, and get badly slashed. Assuming that you have already entered the PIN on the watch, you must use your weapon in your off hand, and may well be unable to keep the weapon in close enough proximity to the weapon for it to arm, and get it into a usable position.

    Next mathematical application of a 10″ measurement – instead of your strong hand, you used your weak hand, and cannot enter the PIN at all. You now have a small club against a blade.

    One more mathematical scenario, the other individual has your weapon, raises it toward you, and you reflexively hold up your hands to shield yourself, bringing the watch within 10″.

    For many people, the gun is a way to protect oneself against those stronger, faster, and more aggressive than themselves. At this time, this not-so-smart technology does not favor those who may already be on the losing end of surprise and/or conflict. Other proposed systems have no real benefit, except to introduce more points of possible failure in an encounter or engagement.

  • Joe

    There isn’t a policeman on the beat anywhere in the country who would carry this gun. When he draws, it might not fire, and if it does, it is a .22LR.

    If Bloomberg were smart, he would pay someone to become a licensed dealer, import these, then sell one to Bloomberg himself in order to trigger the law.

  • chuckiechan

    So for home defense I just need to attach the wristwatch to the handle, rather than wear a watch to bed?

    Speaking of watches, do I have to wear a Walmart looking watch to carry my CCW?

    And speaking of the watch, if I’m wearing it, doesn’t that mean I can be presumed to be armed?

    And finally, when the battery dies on the job so to speak, do I die with it, or does it unlock the gun?

    I’ll stick with my PPK, old school, thank you!