The Franklin Armory Providence: Non Semi-Automatic ‘Digital’ Action – SHOT Show 2019

Franklin Armory is one of my favorite companies, not because of the products they make (although they are awesome), but because they continue to push legal boundaries in order to preserve the 2A. That said, Franklin Armory’s Providence is a new product that not only benefits those in the good ole US of A but our friends across the pond as well.

Shown with the trigger half pulled, the bolt is also half back (in the extraction and ejection phase). The Providence is not only functional but aesthetically pleasing as well.

The highlight of the Providence is the fact that it is not semiautomatic, but still fires one round per pull of the trigger. The technicalities of this fall in a grey area but as I mentioned, this is one of Franklin Armory’s specialties. They have dubbed this action the “digital action” not because it is electronic, but because it operates by the power of your finger (digit). As of SHOT Show 2019, all of the legal aspects have been submitted to ATF for review and are yet to be confirmed. But from the looks of things thus far, the future is bright for the Providence.

A closer look at the digital action while halfway through a trigger pull.

Currently, the Providence is still a prototype with a pending patent. It is going to launch in 9x19mm Parabellum, but is expected to be available in 45 ACP and possibly 10mm eventually. The firing sequence begins as you begin to pull the trigger. As the trigger is pulled back, the extraction and ejection phase begins. Mid trigger pull, the bolt slams forward driving a round into the chamber. Upon completion of the trigger pull, the carrier and fixed firing pin fall and detonate the round in the chamber. The action cycle has been completed at this moment and nothing happens until the trigger is reset and pulled again.

The other side of the Providence reveals a non-reciprocating charging handle.

One of the biggest worries that I immediately had when I learned about this gun was the trigger pull. After using the Providence myself, I can say that Franklin Armory has somehow made an excellent trigger. By the time the gun is released around October of 2019, the trigger pull isexpectedd to be around 4.5 pounds.

Not only is the action impressive, but the gun itself is attractive and feature packed. It includes an FST MLOK compatible handguard, it will accept many common stocks and braces with a Picatinny mount, and it will take Glock mags.

The other upside is that the Providence never has a live round in the chamber until it is about to be fired.  It is 49-state legal with California pending and it is quieter with a suppressor than traditional semiautomatics. Franklin Armory hit a home run here.  Visit FranklinArmory.com to learn more.

Specifications and Features

  • Not a semiautomatic
  • 49 state and EU legal
  • Comes in rifle and pistol versions
  • Offered in 9mm and 10mm (eventually .45 ACP)
  • 4.5 pound trigger
  • Convertible magazine types
  • <$1,500 MSRP
  • Shipping this year around October

The Providence comes with a three-pronged flash hider.

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About the author: Riley Baxter is an avid and experienced hunter, shooter, outdoorsman, and he’s worked in the backcountry guiding for an outfitter. He also get’s a lot of enjoyment out of building or customizing his firearms and equipment. Check out Riley’s Instagram @Shooter300

{ 51 comments… add one }
  • Frank February 7, 2019, 4:59 pm

    Why do law abiding gun owners keep cowering down to these socialist political correct donkeys?
    Do not stand down and fight for your inalienable rights.

    • Cymond February 8, 2019, 3:47 am

      Maybe because they don’t want to go to prison?

      And unless you have an unregistered full-auto, then you’re “cowering down” too!

  • J smith February 7, 2019, 10:09 am

    I doubt most gun grabbing politicians honestly care how the weapon functions, so don’t get too caught up in that thought, thinking this will stop they’re banning and gun grabs.

    I would rather you make a pump action rifle that takes d-60 or AR pattern magazines in general. Ala Remington redesign with high/low cap mag options with commonly available mags. Or, a lever action that takes mags of all capacity. Both a pump and lever action are widely accepted and are quickly reloaded especially when you train with them. Doubt that assertion, go watch a cowboy shoot. Get rid of the tube magazine common in lever actions so a low or high cap mag can be used and these should be acceptable in most states. Yes, I get it a lever using a magazine is a problematic design because of the lever. But a FN PS90 top feed design might be feasible. Pump actions taking magazines has already been proofed. 870’s with mags, 760’s with mags…expand the designs, calibers and take AR pattern mags.

    • Singer 2-32 February 7, 2019, 10:45 am

      I cannot remember the exact model but I believe troy arms or troy industries released a pump action AR. Looked nice aesthetically, only negative review it had was the price tag. MSRP’d somewhere around $1,199 or so…

    • Ejharb February 12, 2019, 7:04 pm

      If they made a ps90 style mag fed lever and or pump in 45acp with a 16″barrel I’d buy 1 of each and be a happy puppy

  • NavyVet1959 February 6, 2019, 8:47 pm

    Sounds like it is somewhat similar to firing from an open bolt. Of course, there will be *some* people who will start crying about the potential for this to be made into a “fully automatic” weapon. The only way to do that would be a method that would work on most other firearms — install an electrically powered trigger mechanism that would keep operating the trigger as long as you had the button depressed on the electrical unit. Something similar to the Gatling crank type devices, but electrically powered instead. Something like that could even convert a DA-only 6-shot revolver into a “fully automatic” handgun. About the only types of firearms that would not work with that sort of electrically operated trigger to give you “fully automatic” would be break action, bolt action, and pump action firearms.

    • srsquidizen February 6, 2019, 4:30 pm

      Now that even bump stocks have been declared illegal, concocting any gadget like that even for your own personal use might earn you a cozy suite at the Hotel Madoff.

  • Zupglick February 6, 2019, 2:40 pm

    And I don’t have to clean the gas system!

  • Harley Meiroff February 6, 2019, 2:16 pm

    It was nice when a firearms company came out with a new magic something that made your pride and joy shoot better or look neater rather than beating a stupid law written by more stupid politicians

    • Scotty Gunn February 6, 2019, 8:58 pm

      I love this, though. Creative design , and definitely jumps through a loop hole.

  • Click Bang February 6, 2019, 1:14 pm

    Does this need batteries ????

    • Cymond February 8, 2019, 3:48 am

      Did you read the article AT ALL?!?

  • Pistolero February 6, 2019, 12:03 pm

    With all the shot-disruptive mechanicals taking place at the moment of trigger-pull, they can save production costs by not using nice barrels; since the design won’t be conducive to fine accuracy anyway.

  • Greg February 6, 2019, 11:59 am

    I’m not sure creating a name for a new action is the best course of action. I know they have thought this through as a side step to semi-auto bans, but it seems more like a double action mechanism to me. If you CALL it a double action mechanism, then if the authorities try to regulate it, the authorities would only have a couple options, they could try to ban ALL double action firearms, which might create a nightmare for the authorities since they already banned everything else, or they would have to try to create a name for the new action, and since they are mechanically ignorant, they would be unable to accomplish this task. So personally I would lump it into the double action category to make banning this the same as banning a plain jane Smith and Wesson DA revolver. No point in making lawmaker’s job easier.

    • Seabee267 February 6, 2019, 7:12 pm

      You had my exact thoughts as I read the article.
      Seems to be a straight forward double action to me although I expect there must be some sort of enhanced leverage mechanism to cycle the bolt carrier with only 4.5 lbs of pull. Would be interesting to see the internals.

  • AK February 6, 2019, 11:56 am

    Shades of the old Dardick…..

  • davud February 6, 2019, 11:42 am

    keeping a step ahead of anti-gun people. when california bans the semiauto action sometime in the next four years, this rifle will be there, middle finger erect, same as all the other workarounds.

  • mrpski February 6, 2019, 11:27 am

    THANK GOD FOR STATES LIKE ARIZONA!

  • Evan February 6, 2019, 10:16 am

    Last year they came out with the AR musket, which was utter foolishness. Before that was the binary trigger, an accident waiting to happen.

    Finally, something good from Franklin. This seems like a viable weapon which dodges the inane and Orwellian gun laws in certain states without sacrificing what it is supposed to be in the first place. If I lived in a ban state, I’d be pre-ordering one.

    • johnnyraygun February 6, 2019, 1:34 pm

      “binary trigger, an accident waiting to happen”…., Not a very informed post.. All firearms are an accident waiting to happen, it is the responsibility of the guy holding the firearm to stop negligence.. Is full auto an accident waiting to happen? No, not to a trained user. I own a Binary trigger and it is no less, or more dangerous in a skilled operators hand. Also Franklin’s binary trigger has three options, safe, fire and binary. In binary mode, after one pulls the trigger for the first shot, the rifle can be rendered harmless by putting the weapon in either fire mode, or safe mode and then releasing the trigger, this will prevent the weapon from firing the second round. As safe as any firearm can be made .

  • Kevin McCarhty February 6, 2019, 10:14 am

    Wake up folks – YOU ARE MISSING THE WHOLE POINT!!! it is an impossible to regulate weapon system. Its not semi-auto, its not high power rifle, its not used by the military (yet), all the anti-gun talking points do not work with this. It makes nearly every anti-gun law on the books, and future copies currently in the House, Senate, and a few states – obsolete. It’s not something I would run out and buy – it is something you might have no choice to buy since all the rest are illegal…… this is a huge kick in the balls to the anti-gun movement. So yeah, I will buy one just to piss off the gun grabbers and support the company!

    • JohnL February 6, 2019, 2:34 pm

      Thumbs up

    • JohnL February 6, 2019, 9:40 pm

      Thumbs up!!

  • Tim February 6, 2019, 10:06 am

    Srsquidzen: Back in the day many departments bobbed the hammers of their issue revolvers so they were double action only. We had no problems qualifying out to 50 yards which was the norm back then for a service revolver. Some of us practiced at much farther distances to ensure we could engage a shooter at longer ranges. Myself and many of my fellow officers could place rounds on a torso target at 75 and 100 yards with a double action only revolver. Now days most departments qualification is at 25 yards and some even 18 yards for plain clothes detectives. In my opinion now days marksmanship within the law enforcement field is not stressed enough in most departments.

    • srsquidizen February 6, 2019, 12:36 pm

      Of course you are right Tim–accuracy by a skilled shooter is possible with some DAO revolvers at far more than “bad breath” range. Even I can shoot DA fairly well with my old Model 10. Many of us non-LEO’s who can carry whatever we like will still take the easy way out and want a cockable hammer…even though a snag-proof revolver is one of the best guns to have in close-range defensive situations a civilian is likely to encounter.

  • Robert Shirley February 6, 2019, 10:06 am

    I would think there would possibly be issues with thid rifles theoretical ability to be modified to fire full auto, from an open bolt.

    • Kevin McCarhty February 6, 2019, 10:17 am

      Any mechanic with basic tools can convert most any semi-auto to full auto if they want. Go to amazon.com and look at the ’10/22 full auto Conversion Manual’ by Paladin Press. Its a whole book with 15+ full auto designs based on just one model of gun.

  • Texas Twostep February 6, 2019, 10:06 am

    For those asking what’s the point, the point is that many municipalities and even some states would not allow a 9mm semi auto carbine. This is for individuals living in those areas. For that, it is an amazing idea.

  • Kelly Lee February 6, 2019, 9:11 am

    A solution looking for a problem? Really, what’s the point?

    • Evan February 6, 2019, 10:19 am

      The point is that this is legal even in states with “assault weapon” bans. By virtue of not being semiautomatic, it skirts various laws. You can have it in the configuration it was meant for, still have a weapon that fires a shot and then requires no action other than a trigger pull to fire the next shot, and not run afoul of the ridiculous laws in, say, New York.

    • derposaur February 6, 2019, 10:25 am

      Not really, if you have been living under a rock, it’s obvious a lot of states are trying to push for flat out bans on pretty much every type of gun, lately anything semiauto. They are merely trying to regain our constitutional rights or temporarily ensure we can get them before they are inevitably removed by tyranny.

  • 2ND AMENDMENT February 6, 2019, 8:42 am

    What is the point of this? Why have a weapon that loads mid pull of the trigger.

    • Phil Whitehead February 6, 2019, 9:42 am

      Simple.
      To sidestep the classification of “semi auto” for the gun ban crowd. It creates a new classification of mechanism and will be hands off for the indefinite future.

      • JohnL February 6, 2019, 2:32 pm

        Yes, I live in CA and can not leave my daughter! I would buy this just to put a big smile on my face!

  • johnnyraygun February 6, 2019, 8:34 am

    I despise the words “Game changer” but this applies. The fact that the chamber is empty until the trigger is pulled is simply brilliant. This has safety written all over it. Look forward to more manufactures developing this technology.

    • Cam February 6, 2019, 9:41 am

      Me too, but I loved it when the guys at red jacket would say that as they hobbled together an AR using other people’s parts. It gave me a chuckle. Like those chowder heads had created something!
      At least these guys did make something original trying to get into a market that may be blocked currently due to unconstitutional laws.

  • srsquidizen February 6, 2019, 8:33 am

    A double-action revolver only rotates the cylinder and cocks the hammer when the trigger is squeezed. Even that makes them harder to hold on target. Which is why you buy a DA/SA, or a SA-only, if you intend to use your wheel gun for something beyond bad breath range. I’d like to know the magic they use if Franklin can actually build a rifle which, during trigger squeeze, does slamming around of parts a normal semi-auto does after the shot is history…AND can make it just as easy to hold on target as a conventional semi-auto.

    • George February 6, 2019, 11:10 am

      It’s patently obvious you have NO experience shooting double action revolvers. Take a look at the PPC revolvers out there that can shoot a single ragged hole in the target at 50 yards and do so consistently. This is even better because unlike a hand gun, you have 3 points of contact on the weapon. Even a mediocre rifle shot can outshoot an excellent pistol shot once you add distance to the equation. Ignorance of double action shooting is no excuse for a silly post like this. There was life before Block…

  • James Smith February 6, 2019, 8:02 am

    So , after the action starts moving, it behaves like an ” open bolt ” ?? How long is the trigger pull ? , is it direct mechanics, or spring assisted for the ” drawing back ” of the bolt ? Sounds wierd . I wonder what it feels like , and if there is a “delay”(compared to normal semi-auto’s ).

  • GaryH February 6, 2019, 7:57 am

    I don’t get it. Why would you want a spent round in the chamber until you pull the trigger again? How does it store the energy to eject the round between trigger pulls? What’s the point?
    More importantly-how do you do a function check? lol

    • Phil Whitehead February 6, 2019, 9:46 am

      That’s only the case if firing continues. Once done, remove the mag, pull the trigger once more and the last empty pops out.
      It’s brilliant…

    • al February 6, 2019, 11:34 am

      “Store the energy”?!?
      Where did you get that idea? As stated, it ejects the spent round with the trigger pull at approx. mid length.
      There is NO “stored energy” in a system such as this, the energy of the trigger pull is transferred to the system immediately, and on firing NO energy is stored, as it is all expended with the trigger cycle.
      Similar to a DAO, except that NO live round is in the chamber until just before the firing cycle.
      What you want in the chamber isn’t an issue, the chamber WILL have a live round for firing simply by pulling the trigger.
      The safety aspect after a firefight for example is tremendous, semi auto capability with DAO safety aspects in a rifle.
      Although the rules of safe handling must STILL be followed.
      BTW, MOST semi auto rifles only ‘store’ energy in the firing mechanism, such as the cocked hammer of an AR 15.
      The energy that ejects and reloads the chamber is spent immediately, not ‘stored’.

      • Cymond February 8, 2019, 3:55 am

        Lemme rephrase the “stored energy” question:
        How do they ensure sufficiently strong ejection, despite a slow bolt speed?

        • al February 11, 2019, 11:54 am

          I don’t know, and I would point out that it is an assumption as to the bolt ‘speed’ during the extraction/ejection cycle. The system is new to all, we simply don’t have the info.

  • Old OutdoorsGuy February 6, 2019, 7:45 am

    I guess I missed a step in the action movement of this mechanism but, if there isn’t ever a live round in the chamber until the trigger initiates the ejection and reloading of a round, why have a charging handle?? Is it simply for the ejection of the last fired casing?? I can not see any other purpose for a charging handle that doesn’t do anything but slide back once and not work after that initiation by manually pulling it back.

    What is the length of travel of the trigger before the weapon actually goes bang?? It appears, from the photos, that the trigger is already nearly bottomed out with the bolt still showing in the reverse movement of ejection

    • R. February 6, 2019, 11:14 am

      I suspect the charging handle pre-loads a spring, which assists with the case extraction and ejection.
      Otherwise, there would be no way the trigger finger could extract even a slightly stuck case.
      The recoil energy then resets the spring, like any other semi auto, but not the bolt.

  • Tim February 6, 2019, 7:24 am

    I love this companies innovation and this statement is coming from an old man. However once they notice this the anti gun crowd will demand this goes to. It just proves a point it’s not the function or what it does it’s the scary looks that trigger the anti gun crowd. They are such an emotional lot. I hunt yotes year around. When I have a bolt action rifle in the rack of my truck no one gives it a passing look. But when I have an AR I get the old stink eye from multiple people. Even some people that claim to be hunters. Never mind that the AR is just about the perfect varmint rifle. Inexpensive, accurate, impervious to wet and cold. I rearely carry a bolt gun anymore on yote hunts, especially in the snow.

  • Ransom Noble February 6, 2019, 6:06 am

    Our masters will simply rewrite the definition of semiautomatic to include this and revolvers.
    “A semi-automatic firearm is any firearm where a second action independent of the trigger pull need not be used to eject the spent cartridge and load a new one” They came up with the term “assault weapon” to describe anything that LOOKS scary. They”ll think of something to keep this out of our hands.

  • wrangler5 February 6, 2019, 3:48 am

    Interesting. Seems to be functionally similar to a double action revolver, except with a LOT bigger, faster reloading, and self-emptying (of fired cases) “cylinder”.

    • Greg February 6, 2019, 8:41 am

      That was my first thought also. It’s the mechanics of a revolver, made into a rifle. Very interesting. Can’t wait to see how well it does in the market place.

    • Scotty Gunn February 6, 2019, 9:02 pm

      It combines double action with open bolt.

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