Two “smart” gun companies will have products on the market later this year, according to a report. LodeStar Works and SmartGunz, LLC both plan to have handguns with electronic safeties available in the coming months.
The LodeStar Works LS9 is in its third prototype phase, while the SmartGuns model, the 1911 Sentry, a much simpler setup, is just about ready to go into production. The LS9 uses multiple different authentication systems in case one fails, while the Sentry only uses a single system for authorized users.
The LS9 has four overlapping methods of authentication, and will unlock if one of them is activated. It has a fingerprint reader on the trigger face, an RFID token reader, a PIN pad in the grip and Bluetooth capability to interact with a phone using an app. The Sentry uses an RFID reader tied to a ring the user must wear.
In addition to having multiple unlocking methods, the LS9 is a more modern design from a firearms perspective. It’s a double-stack, polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol chambered for 9mm Luger with a 17+1-round capacity. It also has a powered accessory rail for lights and laser sights.
The 1911 Sentry is just that, a 1911 with smart gun grips that house the power supply and RFID hardware. The Sentry has a starting price of $1,795 for law enforcement and the LS9 is expected to retail for about half at $895.
LodeStar says their LS9 is designed for new gun owners on the commercial market, while the Sentry is intended for law enforcement and corrections officers, where restricting access could be considered more important than straight reliability.
Of course, both companies say their systems are entirely reliable, however, any gun owner who has used a card reader, Bluetooth accessory, fingerprint reader or keypad knows that none of these systems are as predictable as a typical handgun.
Smart gun tech is a hot-button issue among gun owners since not only does it complicate firearms, with the strong potential of introducing malfunctions, it is also seen as an avenue for restricting gun ownership. Many politicians have argued in favor of mandating smart gun tech, increasing the cost of gun ownership as well as laying the framework to ban conventional firearms.
If any company comes forward with even a single commercially viable smart gun, gun control advocates are likely to jump on the opportunity to push for more gun control laws. And while most major gun companies today are opposed to developing this tech, there will always be outliers who continue the work.
With that said, there is already a market for smart safes and other electronic security systems for gun storage. Consumers should have a choice when it comes to the safety features they want in their firearms. Including the choice to omit smart tech from their guns.