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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.