Smart guns made a splash earlier this month when a widely shared Reuters report announced that SmartGunz and LodeStar Works would be releasing their first “smart” firearms later this year. We got a chance to catch up with SmartGunz founder Tom Holland at SHOT Show 2022, and he shared more about his new product and his motivations for bringing it to market.
Holland didn’t bring a working model of the 1911 Sentry to the show, but he did tell us that the gun is currently being field tested by a law enforcement agency working in the corrections field, and he hopes to bring the product to the general public in April of 2022.
The 1911 Sentry is a basic 9mm 1911 that can only be fired when an RFID ring is brought within range of the sensor located in the grip. Each ring is matched with a single gun, so only the possessor of the ring can fire the weapon.
A battery located in the magazine powers the mechanism, and that battery can be recharged either by plugging it in or by placing it on a wireless charging pad. When the battery power drops below 20%, the light on the gun turns red.
Other smart guns have been shown to be easily hackable, but Holland said the 1911 Sentry is different.
Wired Magazine, for example, demonstrated that the Armatix IP1 could be “hacked” using magnets. Holland told us the 1911 Sentry overcomes this weakness by using a passive rather than an active RFID sensor. The sensor is only active and potentially hackable when the ring is within range of the sensor, reducing the ability of non-authorized users to interfere with the gun’s operation.
Holland admitted that all electronic devices are susceptible to EMP attacks, and that includes the Sentry 1911.
Smart guns have been a political football in recent years as anti-gun politicians push laws and policies that would mandate gun makers to implement smart gun technology.
New Jersey, for example, passed a now-repealed law that would have banned traditional firearms by requiring gun stores in the state to sell only smart guns. A more recent New Jersey law requires gun stores to sell smart guns, and President Joe Biden wants to mandate that all guns sold in the U.S. to be “smart.”
Holland told us he does not support these laws, and his company will never lobby for them. In fact, he argues that smart gun mandates have “set us back lightyears” in developing smart gun technology because they’ve catalyzed gun owners against the technology.
“Options are great,” he said, “but never mandate anything.”
We didn’t get a chance to test the reliability of the 1911 Sentry, but the gun feels and operates like any other 1911. Holland said they wanted to use a tried-and-true firearm design, and they’ve been advised by engineers at Kansas State University in developing the RFID mechanism.
SmartGunz will sell the 1911 Sentry to the general public for $2,195 and to law enforcement for a reduced $1,795.