The $129 Single Shot Altor Pistol – Fires on Release!

Altor Corp pistol

Editor’s note: Clay, the author, did this review prior to his house fire and the hospitalization for his arm. You can read about about his troubles here. I texted with Clay yesterday and he’s out of the hospital but may need surgery on his arm.

Before we get into this week’s gun review, I want to remind everyone of what we do here. We cover all the Gucci new hotness, which often is priced beyond those of us sans trust fund. And we cover normal guns, which many of us know and love. But we also cover things off the beaten path. And today, we are stepping way off.

I got my hands on the all-new Altor pistol, a recent addition to the firearms world. Retailing for $129 in 9mm ($119 in 380 ACP), we are definitely on the cheaper side. The Altor is billed as a very inexpensive self-defense tool, and I can get behind that sentiment. The 2nd Amendment doesn’t have an asterisk that says “If you have a bag of gold coins laying around.” It is also finding popularity amongst farmers and ranchers, as a cheap tool laying around in case they need to dispatch an animal. Last but not least, it has also proven a hit with hikers, as a super lightweight snake shot option.

Barrel lockup

Now how is this pistol so cheap? Good question. Mostly because it is a single shot, with very few pieces. Six in total, which is staggering. And if we are being 100% honest, because the Altor to me resembles a factory-made zip gun. I’m not trying to be a negative Nancy with that analysis, just one author’s opinion.

Barrel

The way the pistol works is also different. It is a single shot, but the way you load is unique. The barrel twists off, and you slide your round directly onto the breech face. I was actually a little hesitant about this setup because the firing pin protrudes at rest. To fully seat the round, you have to manually pull the trigger back a little bit. Which, if you’ve shot a gaggle of open-bolt machine guns, is a bit unnerving. But, in testing with primed cases (no powder or projectile), I did find that the pistol would not fire with the safety engaged, which still allowed the firing pin to be partially retracted.

When loading, the firing pin must be manually retracted.

Now onto the trigger. Six parts total should have been a bit of a clue on this one. The trigger is basically a firing pin and a spring, with no sear or hammer. It works essentially like the release on a compound bow. You manually pull the trigger/firing pin to the rear, and it fires when you release it. It takes a little getting used to but works just fine after you do.

For the price, remarkable machining

The rest of the pistol is very simple. The grip/ frame is one piece of polymer, with notch and post sights built-in. While the sights are not adjustable, they are at least present. I would offer the very fair statement that they are functional and significantly better than the ones offered on the original 1911. For the price point, I think they actually did a remarkable job on the sights, which we will address again in a moment.

All six separate parts of the pistol.

The barrel is all one piece and contains the chamber for the cartridge. You have to again depress the trigger slightly to put the barrel on, which takes a bit of faith. But, once you do, the barrel locks up tight. Something I wasn’t expecting at this price, but the machine work is excellent. You don’t see a lot of guns at this price point with all stainless steel, but the Altor is.

fixed firing pin and spring

Performance-wise, I must say I was surprised. The Altor is billed as a short-range defensive weapon or a tool. Fair, so are a lot of other things. And I am sure you have seen me, and many others, test small defensive guns at ranges not exceeding 7 meters. I actually promised the manufacture that I would keep any accuracy test at a short-range. They recommended 9 feet, which is 3 meters for you metric people. I find that a bit absurd, so I actually opted for 5 meters.

the way it works

Now momma also didn’t raise a fool. I used a B/C zone piece of steel, so we could all have a couple of hits and go home. But then something amazing happened. At 5 meters, those shots were stacking on top of each other. Better than I have seen with guns that cost twice as much. So much so that I had to step back and do what I actually promised Altor I wouldn’t.

functional safety

At 25 meters, I actually did get hits. And on the same B/C zone, so not exactly a huge target. The mechanical accuracy is in the gun, no doubt about that. And considering I was still on my first 10 rounds of a release trigger I’ve never shot, that is no small feat. I was rather shocked.

barrel lock up when assembled

The release trigger takes a bit of getting used to, but I don’t actually dislike it. It is 100% smooth and even in pull. In regards to accuracy, it takes pretty much all the movement out of a trigger. It does feel like you have a microsecond delay after you release it before the gun goes bang. But you get used to it rather quickly, and it did work every time.

Watch the video below to see how the trigger works and the gun recoils.

Recoil is also remarkably light. I was expecting more since the gun weighs a mere 10.5 ounces. In retrospect, absolutely no moving parts in a pistol I guess will do that. Even with full strength 9mm, this is a gun you could shoot all day.

Now it isn’t all sunshine and roses. It’s a single shot, so that round better count. The manual of arms is a bit odd, and even violates some safety rules if we are being fair. And the trigger lock is a bad joke, even if most of us toss those before we even get out the door of our FFL.

Trigger lock. 9mm round for reference

But, I will begrudgingly admit, the Altor does everything it says it will do. It is priced for literally anyone and does exactly what it says it will do. In this age, that is a bargain by any calculation.  

Be serious. Trigger locks are a Clinton era joke, but this one is hysterical.

For more information visit Altor Corp website.

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About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website, Off-The-Reservation.com

{ 48 comments… add one }
  • Peter Brown February 28, 2020, 12:25 am

    A waste of money.

    • Leigh Roger Rich April 14, 2020, 5:22 am

      Only $100 chump change

  • Lance February 27, 2020, 2:13 am

    They should call that trigger lock “The Chastity Belt!”

  • Dee February 25, 2020, 12:10 am

    All BS aside, I bet it’s stupid quiet with some 147 grain rounds and a decent can. Granted it would still just be a novelty item, it could still be a neat little host.

  • Alan February 24, 2020, 10:58 pm

    Yanno, this might be the perfect insides for a cane or walking stick.

  • Gerald Leroy Clauson February 24, 2020, 9:22 pm

    Release triggers have been used on trap and skeet shotguns for decades.

  • Gerald Leroy Clauson February 24, 2020, 9:20 pm

    Accurate for such an odd weapon. Might be fun. Looking at the design, if I were a holster maker, I would make a cane holster for it. The pistol would be the cane’s grip, perhaps with a twist quick detach mechanism. The cane couldn’t be hollow, like a barrel, or it might violate NFA regulations. But as a holster, with the cane being solid.

  • Mark February 24, 2020, 5:49 pm

    They will never let me have one in CA. I would own one if I could.

    • Rocky1 February 25, 2020, 11:11 am

      I believe single shot pistols are legal in California. I know all single action revolvers are exempt from the roster. Single shot AR 15 pistols are legal, so I would assume this one is legal as well. If the bore is smooth that could be a problem, but with rifling it should be fine. Check with your FFL.

      • Robert March 11, 2020, 4:04 pm

        Is this gun legal in ny?

        • Leigh Roger Rich April 14, 2020, 5:29 am

          Just ordered a 9MM from CTD. Nice review. Fun to see if any accessories comeout

  • Kyle February 24, 2020, 5:18 pm

    Talk about a dead mans switch. Imagine if someone was being held hostage with one up against the head. Sniper takes bad guy out and he releases trigger. oops

    • gary h February 25, 2020, 10:16 am

      Apparently you are unaware of how a release trigger works. Google is your friend.

  • Doug Panzer February 24, 2020, 4:37 pm

    C’mon people…no need to minutely analyze this gun, and compare it against any number of “competitors”. Buy it because of its novelty appeal, or just because you like it and want one. At its price you don’t need to do much rationalizing; just get it. Or don’t…in that case walk away, but there doesn’t seem to be any need to shower it with criticism.

    • Jason February 24, 2020, 8:34 pm

      I couldn’t have said it better myself.
      Take it for what it is people!!!!
      Im suprised of the quality. Hell, look at a Cobray!

  • Todd February 24, 2020, 12:28 pm

    Fires on release?

    Eleventyseven kinds of stupid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Todd.

  • Kane February 24, 2020, 11:47 am

    Try NOT to mistake it for your hair dryer.

  • Mike in a Truck February 24, 2020, 10:53 am

    I think I’ll get one. Just because. Reminds me of the “guns” we made as kids. Very illegal.Fired .22 short. That’s what boys do when left to thire own devices with access to Gramps’ well equipped shop. We used them mostly for frog hunting and the deputies left us alone. Yes we were a different country then.

  • Louis C February 24, 2020, 10:48 am

    Good gawd, why on Earth would anyone spend money on something like this when they can purchase a Hi Point for pretty much the same coin?

    • Connie February 24, 2020, 2:22 pm

      Should carry warning label “This is not a hair dryer.”.

  • Irish-7 February 24, 2020, 10:39 am

    Reminds me of a zip gun that an SF Medic (SFC Allen) made from a pen flare and .22 LR bullet. This was in January 1984 while supporting the final phase of the “Q” Course in the Uwharrie National Forest, NC. The Green Berets used us (82nd Airborne) as guerrillas to train and conduct an operation. I was injured and spent a day with SFC Allen. Perhaps you served with him, Clay? Maybe before your time? Either way, you are in my thoughts and prayers. I’ll drop a donation in the GoFundMe site later today. God Bless, Get Well, Good Luck!

  • Rob February 24, 2020, 10:36 am

    Just my observations as a farmer. To say this gun would be useful to me is misinformation. I need a weapon with more than one round. Why you might ask? (just one example) If I have to put down a rabid raccoon that is charging me, I would have to wait until the animal is uncomfortably close to fire. Then (God forbid) if I would happen to miss… I guess I’d ask the raccoon to wait while I disassemble my gun to reload. A hammer would be much cheaper, more effective, and useful for other things.

  • Greg February 24, 2020, 10:29 am

    First, I don’t see any retailer selling this. This means you will have to order it from an online seller. Add 20 or so dollars for shipping and another 20-50 for a FFL transfer. Now you are at 200 dollars. A lot of good options at your local retailer for around 200 dollars.
    Second, it fires on trigger release. What if you are stupid and pull the trigger in response to a perceived threat that you are getting ready to engage. Now, the threat surrenders or runs away, or was never a threat. (Maybe you are just stupid) , what do you do with the trigger?
    Third, it is just one shot.
    Just my 2 cents

  • David Bailey February 24, 2020, 10:19 am

    Fires on release of trigger? Makes me think of a dead man’s switch on a terrorist body bomb. I don’t think I could get comfortable with that. Anyone else?

  • Zupglick February 24, 2020, 10:17 am

    Only have one question.
    Why?

  • John W February 24, 2020, 10:06 am

    Basically a single shot derringer. Limited uses, but effective incertain scenarios. Abraham Lincoln comes to mind.

  • Roland February 24, 2020, 9:49 am

    This is a ridiculous waste of money it is like a joke novelty. I bought a Taurus Spectrum 380 for under $140.00 semi auto plus 2 mags 1 six round and 1 seven round . If the readers of this article have 120 to 130 dollars to through away they can just send it to me.

  • David February 24, 2020, 9:12 am

    How hot does the barrel get?
    Once it is loaded, can it be shot without the barrel?

  • srsquidizen February 24, 2020, 8:48 am

    Cool. Attach an electrical cord and you can hide it in plain sight on your tool bench…until somebody tries to warm their boots with it.

    • Saran Wrappe February 24, 2020, 11:30 am

      That is a genius idea! Took me a sec to grasp the concept then DING!

  • Jeffrey L. Frischkorn February 24, 2020, 8:42 am

    Most interesting and I suspect the author is correct n saying this could make for a good “glove box” gun for a farmer or a rancher – or a trap out on the line.. That being said, it would have been very nice had the author included the handgun’s specifications beyond just its weight… For that I went to the Altor web site.. Here I found the pistol is one inch “thick,” is 6 1/2 inches long, and 3 1/2 inches high… The barrel is four-grove with a LH twist of 1:10.. Very, very importantly – and the author should have done more homework on this – the Altor is NOT legal in California, Maryland, nor Massachusetts.. Given how several other states are moving toward further restrictions, this “factory-made zip gun” could be banned elsewhere, too,

  • Edward February 24, 2020, 8:20 am

    To be honest, I don’t see the point of this handgun, even at 129 bucks. A single shot gun shouldn’t be carried for self-defense purposes. Not even as a backl-up gun.

  • kenneth L ELLIOTT February 24, 2020, 8:15 am

    WHO ELSE CAN SEE SOME ONES FINGER SLIPPING IN WET or damp weather or just cause its made for non shooters..this will end up killing by accident folks..you can get cheap second hand weapon better then a modern libberator..BAD IDEA MARK MY WORDS..

  • Pete A Fasanello February 24, 2020, 8:14 am

    Nice “throw down”.

  • Scott February 24, 2020, 8:00 am

    For only $20 or $30 more or sometimes even the same price one could buy a hipoint with a lot more capacity.

  • Charles Willoughby February 24, 2020, 7:56 am

    I have seen the SCCY 9mm 10+1 for under $160 so this does not seem to be a great deal.

  • John Hill February 24, 2020, 7:43 am

    I can’t believe y’all waste your time and effort. I’m showing this single shot pistol. If you use it as a defense weapon. You better hope you shoot somebody in the heart because if you don’t they’re coming after your ass. You better have a lot more bullets than one. I think it’s pretty much useless. If you’re going to spend a hundred twenty something bucks. All something like that. Just go all out and spend another hundred twenty bucks and get you a pistol that can shoot more than one bullet.

  • Frank S. February 24, 2020, 7:09 am

    I’d think a 410/45LC chambering would be better for a single shot, but you can shoot 9mm Flobert shells for snakes. While I see this in 9mm for $109 on the Cheaper than Dirt website, I’d much rather save a little and spend $183.70-194.04 for an SCCY. Almost twice as much, but much more useful with 10 rounds and a reliable semi-auto. I suppose the Altor is a lot eaiser to conceal and much lighter, but one shot? A Jiminez is around $150 in 9mm, a bit less in .380. That might even be a better choice, but I’d save another week/month and go with the SCCY first. I had a Lorcin .380 that was utterly reliable — but it had only about 200 shots through it when I sold it. Not something I’d put a couple thousand rounds+ through and still expect to be real reliable though… same for the Jiminez. Run a box through a year, get rid of it in 20 years.

  • Reginald Nunnally February 24, 2020, 6:33 am

    Is there a semi automatic pistol for under $200 you can recommend.

    • Meeester February 24, 2020, 7:12 am

      Kel-Tec PF9
      Kel-Tec P17

    • Arthur Smith February 24, 2020, 9:10 am

      Check out the Taurus line… at least two 9mm’s that go on sale in the $179 range and function exceedingly well.

    • MOUNTAIN MAN VINNY February 24, 2020, 9:23 am

      The Kel Tec pistol comes in 45, 10MM, 9mm etc. it is under 200 dollars…

    • Vic February 24, 2020, 9:24 am

      Remington, Ruger and Taurus have good 9mm’s starting at $200

      • Vic February 24, 2020, 9:29 am

        Oh, and the SCCY which is less than $200

    • kb31416 February 24, 2020, 10:22 am

      As others have said, Ruger, Kel Tech, etc. make good ones.
      I also saw a new company, SCCI at the NRA show, and if I did not need a new carry gun (and did not own Ruger stock(, I would consider getting one. That said, there is a factory shoot at a local gun shop coming up, and I will try the SCCI if they are there. They seem well made and at a compelling price point.

  • David Snyder February 24, 2020, 6:14 am

    WHY ? …why would ANYONE purchase this engineering nightmare ? It appears ill conceived and operationally dangerous. $129? You can buy a used derringer or small handgun for $125-200 that is safe to load, carry, and fire. If it wasn’t so poorly designed and potentially lethal to the operator, I’d call it a joke !

  • Rich K. February 24, 2020, 4:46 am

    Reminds me of the Vietnam era CIA “deer gun”, which was supposed to be a “modernized” (for that time) version of the FP45 Liberator of WWII – that is to say, a cheap, easy to manufacture pistol that could be air-dropped to pro-US resistance forces in large quantities.

  • Rich February 24, 2020, 4:46 am

    Thank you for your service. Get well soon.
    Lil pistol is a shooter. Thanks for bringing that one out. It’s just different enough…that I’ll have to get one. I have some Great Nephews-Nieces…this will be great, to break them into larger caliber, after the single six .22
    Good review…

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