Arsenal Strike One: Russian Police Pistol Comes to the West

The Strike One pistol originated around 2011 as a collaboration between Nicola Bandini and Dimitry Streshinskiy as a pistol to replace the Makarov in Russian police use. By 2014 is was progressing very successfully through testing and trials, and had gained some international interest, and that’s when (allegedly) bribery negotiations went badly and the gun disappeared from Russian official consideration. The company behind it (Arsenal Firearms, out of Italy) pivoted to international commercial markets, and it was released in the US and Europe instead. It has since gone through several iterations and importers, and is currently being manufactured in parallel as the Arsenal Strike One in Italy and the Archon Type B in the Czech Republic.

Mechanically, the gun is mostly interesting for its non-Browning operation system. It is a short recoil action using a vertically traveling locking block, similar to (but developed independently of) the Bergmann 1910. This action allows it to have a very low bore axis, and the fire control parts are similarly unorthodox in pursuit of that low axis. The version in the video today is a Strike One Speed, and it is indeed a flat-shooting, very nice pistol!

Disclosure: This pistol was provided for filming by American Precision Firearms, the importer for Arsenal Italy.


  1. “(…)disappeared from Russian official consideration(…)”
    According to
    this was due to result of tests done by ЦНИИТОЧМАШ, more precisely it worked okay in normal test and low-temperature test, but it was found that said fire-arm jammed frequently during “dry” test (i.e. after removing grease).
    ЦНИИТОЧМАШ is also responsible for development Serdyukov automatic pistol so they would be happy if competing would fail, though it should be remembered that “dry” test is not new in Soviet/Russian practice of fire-arms testing. provides another potential reason, it is describing 7Н31 cartridge with armour-piercing bullet, note following passage
    Сегодня смело и «безболезненно» патронами 7Н31 могут «питаться» лишь тульские ГШ-18 и ПП-2000. Из сторонних производителей попытку включить такой патрон в возможный боекомплект оружия пыталась компания Д.Я. Стрешинского для нашумевшего когда-то пистолета «Стриж».
    which states one can “boldly and painlessly” use said cartridge solely in adjective(Tula) GSh-18 and PP-2000 and company of D.Ya.Streshinskiy is attempting to add said cartridge to cartridges which could be used in Strizh.
    If this attempt was not successful, then it would be valid concern for armed forces of Russian Federation, as it would happen to situation similar to Klin which was consuming PMM ammunition, which could be stuffed into ordinary Makarov and must not be fired from it.

    • With a longer slide, it could allow for lots of free recoil travel too (the Browning action binds past a certain point).

      It bears repeating that bore axis has everything to do with the FCG and nothing to do with the locking mechanism (especially not this one!).

  2. Strikes me, as someone who’s had some seriously filthy weapons presented to me through fate and circumstance, that this mechanism isn’t particularly robust or all that self-cleaning.

    I think they’d be very wise to include full lubricating coatings on the locking block, a set of sand cuts, and some way for that locking block to push filth and nastiness out of the mechanism. I could see this thing locking up under even limited mud conditions that got stuff into that locking mechanism. Not to mention all the fiddly bits in the slide rear.

    Sometimes, the necessary compromises to get things like “low bore axis” aren’t all that much of a holistic improvement…

    • Unfortunately, it was a daring design idea, but nothing more. This whole story only confirms the genius of John Browning.
      I know a designer who worked on this system for more than a year after the failure in the Russian Federation. He was able to fix some problems, but was not allowed to completely redesign the mechanism.
      The locking scheme used looks nice. But a large number of shots or too powerful cartridges can cause problems.

      • I gotta be absolutely honest with you… I think that even the revered John M. Browning got a few things wrong on his later pistol designs.

        I have experienced the following failures with the M1911A1: Dirt, filth, and God alone knows what else going into and preventing lockup of the barrel locking surfaces when they were filled in with said things, along with the slide’s receiving cuts also being filled. Then, there was the way the barrel link mechanism also got filled in with crap and then subsequently would not function. On a Glock or other later Browning-design derivative, the locking surface is the barrel hood/slide interface, and any funk that builds up there gets flung aside when the barrel goes into lock. You also don’t have issues with that happening where the ramp goes, because there is plenty of room for the filth to be pressed aside by the operation of the mechanism.

        Even the later design, the Browning HP, shares some of these issues.

        That said, there’s probably no design that can’t be funked up to the point where it will no longer function, but the later Browning-derived designs are a lot more robust about it all than the early ones.

        Y’all haven’t lived until someone hands you a 1911 that was recovered after a bridging exercise that saw it fall into Texas caliche silt, and then once recovered, allowed to dry solid. I swear to God, that thing was more of an archaeological site than a handgun, when I started. Every single cavity on that poor thing was packed solid with concrete-like fine dried silt that even a Dremel with a nylon bristle brush wouldn’t take off. After soaking in a detergent/water solution for 24 hours. Mind-boggling.

        • George Nonte recommended taking any grips (wood, plastic, whatever) off and then putting the thing into a pot of boiling detergent water. And then watching the crap that floated to the surface after five minutes or so.

          Yes, I’ve had 1911s and P35s gunked up to the max to deal with, too. It’s one more reason I tend to prefer revolvers.

          My choice as to JMB’s overall best design? The Model 1917 heavy machine gun, cal. 30. Yes, it’s a heavy MG, water-cooled and designed for a level of sustained fire not really attainable by air-cooled MGs no matter what sort of barrel(s) they have.

          Honorable mention; the Winchester Model 1897 and Model 12 shotguns.



          • I didn’t try boiling water, and probably should have. I did find that hardened caliche doesn’t respond well to the usual solvent tank treatment down in the motor pool, and that soaking it in water didn’t do much to loosen the hardened soil.

            I’ve often wondered what would have worked better on that poor thing… A sonic cleaner? No idea. Every bit of the caliche had to be scraped out with dental tools. I’d literally be running the Dremel with the nylon brush on it over the parts, and the crap would just laugh at it. The experience was enlightening.

            What had happened was that sometime before my tenure as the unit armorer, they’d gone on an exercise to Fort Hood, where a flash flood carried off the commander’s Gamma Goat, with him in it, sleeping. He’d barely gotten out of it before it sank, taking his web gear and everything else he’d owned with it. Then, at some point several years later, someone found the lost M1911A1 sticking out of dried caliche on a riverbank all by itself during a period of drought, and it wound up returned to us. Whereupon I was told “You need to clean that thing before you can turn it in…”

            I speculate that the reason it came back was precisely because nobody wanted to deal with it, and instead of turning it in to depot, the easy path was “return to unit, let them turn it in as excess”.

            Took a month’s worth of spare time on the tool bench to get the damn thing ready to turn in, before they’d accept it. I worked through two or three sets of the worn-out dental tools we used to get from the post dentists. I ain’t kidding about that sucker being an archaeological site, because that’s about what getting all that crap out took. All I had was WD-40 and elbow grease. I wish I’d thought of boiling it in something, but with the way that caliche had hardened into concrete, it was entirely immune to any of the solvents I had access to. It was a really depressing morning when I put it into the parts cleaner down at the motor pool, ran it for a cycle, and precisely none of the soil came off the damn thing. Between the surface corrosion and the caliche, that sucker was solid.

            I’m honestly surprised, looking back, that anyone even bothered cleaning it off enough to find the serial number.

          • @Kirk;

            I feel for you. I’ve had to clean up ones that have been thrown in ponds, creeks and etc. by perps who thought that was a surefire way to get rid of evidence. Imagine some sheriff’s deputy who brings in one to be “processed” after it’s been hauled up by one of those Edmund Scientific magnets-on-a-rope, and then left in a box to sit for a week to ten days in the sheriff’s office before being handed over to the “lab guy” (me). Often the ten days was spent right in front of a heat register to “dry it off quicker”.

            Caliche has nothing on well-dried Ohio river mud. Hence the boiling detergent water.

            We eventually got it through most departments’ heads that when they recovered evidence, bring it to us RTFN. But it was an uphill climb.



          • Looking up caliche, Wikipedia says it’s held together by calcium carbonate, so no surprise that solvents didn’t work. Even boiling is unlikely to help: most salts dissolve more easily at higher temperatures, but for calcium carbonate it’s the other way around (thus scale forming in hot water heaters). You’d need an acid: turns the carbonate into carbon dioxide which froths off. Hydrochloric acid (aka muriatic acid) is probably the most accessible one, but of course dissolves steel too. Still, there’s a fair chance it’d work, as in chewing on the carbonate a lot faster than the metal. And it sounds like in this case if it did destroy the weapon that’d have been fine too. Anyway, phosphoric acid would be kinder to the steel. Or there are things like CLR remover (lactic acid in today’s kinder-and-gentler formulation, though it used to be something stronger).

          • @ Norman;

            If caliche is mostly calcium, the thing to use would be vinegar, believe it or not. Vinegar is acetic acid and reacts strongly with calcium.

            Kirk could probably have gotten 45% industrial vinegar from quartermasters. If not, PX cider vinegar or white vinegar is still 7%.

            To see what vinegar can do,


            clear ether


        • Weapon reliability is a very complex issue. Soldiers want their weapons to be reliable in all conditions. Weapon designers say, take a stone axe. Any construction is either a compromise or a failure.
          Soviet tests during World War II show interesting things. For example, the Finnish Lahti pistol was designed for Finland. He tolerated shooting well in cold weather. But his problem was sand. The Finns did not plan to fight in the Sahara.
          Browning HP was more universal in this sense. It turned out to be more reliable based on the sum of all tests.
          The Strike One was offered as a service weapon, but it is still more of a sporting pistol. I’m not sure it could pass any country’s serious military tests.

  3. I think the real granddaddy of this system is Mauser’s, the C96 being the first dropping-block semi-auto handgun. Of course it locked from the bottom, impinging on the barrel extension and the internal bolt. Bergman (through Schmeisser, his designer) offered a dropping block that reached up around the barrel and unlocked from the top. That the two designers could adapt this to the Browning slide and spring layout is admirable and interesting.

    Not said during this video: Is it a true single-action (explains the nice trigger) or is it a half-cock a la Glock et al?

    It couldn’t be a service pistol if it couldn’t hold up to dirt, of course it has to be a police or competition pistol and kept clean. (Though of course we never thought the Luger would hold up to the InRange mud test.) Might the tolerances be tight enough to keep external crud out?

    • It’s a true single action and not “Glock-style” (half-precocked half-DAO).

      The sear moves sideways out of the path of the fully cocked striker; there is no rearward motion as with a Glock.

    • I’d submit that the InRange mud tests aren’t exactly realistic, in that they posit merely dropping the weapons into the mud and then being fired while the mud is still liquid.

      You want a real test, then you need to have the weapon carried and fired under typical rainy conditions, kept good and wet, with lubricants washed away. Then, it needs to be muddied, allowed to dry, and muddied up again, with thorough penetration of the working mechanisms…

      Ian’s and Carl’s imaginations simply don’t reach out to the kind of crap that can happen in the field. You really don’t grasp the full ramifications of “mud” until you’re dealing with something that got dropped into the slimy clay morass of a West German bridging site, recovered, rinsed off in a vain attempt to get most of the crap out of the weapon, and then had it dropped into the slop repeatedly while the schmuck carrying it was tasked with something like carrying the far shore bearing plates across the gap.

      I’ve seen the trigger mechanism housing on an M16 literally filled with clay, along with the magazine being filled with it as well, including the blanks that were in it. You go to pull back the charging handle, find it won’t come back, then clear the drain hole in the buttstock screw and do it again, only to get a steady stream of wet clay come out like it’s being extruded…? Yeah. That’s mud, baby. What Ian and Carl show in their videos is only the teensy-eensy tip of the spear, the best-case scenario.

      It can get so, so much worse.

      • My point was, my memory is that every handgun they tested, including the 1911 (and Glock), failed, except the much-maligned Luger. They surmised that its tolerances were tight enough to keep mud out of the working parts. Incidentally most long arms they tested, including the highly-vaunted AK, failed. AR15s usually passed. Would the Strike One pass, even with an ejection port? Probably not, but worth trying. Of course the tests aren’t totally realistic — they routinely block up the barrels, the most problematic ingress in every gun.

  4. Simply…

    A detail in “Separate Locking Block”…


    Not as strong as “Mauser C96 and Bayard 1910″…

    Not having clear, short working path as “P38 and Nambu”…

    Having all known defects of “Both side slide locking”…


    Straight single action firing system unsafe for chamber loaded carry…

    In short…

    Better to tried by someone and… Someone has done it…

  5. Despite the similarities to previous rising block breechlocked pistols, the Strike One is effectively a Browning action that separates the “tilting part” demanding it to a separate block.

    The same designer had just presented a pistol that does the same thing with the rotating barrel (Steyr-Beretta system), the barrel only moves linearly, while a separate block rotates, locking and unlocking it.
    That’s incidentally the same principle of the Breda 30 action.

    • I’m reminded of the old engineering saying that if nobody else does it “that way”, there’s usually a very good reason.



      • Many times the reason is “the usual way is good enough, it’s simple/cheap, it had been done so many times in so many variations that it’s hard to make it wrong, while, with any other solution, you have to start from a blank sheet and figure it all on your own”.

        For example, take the 5.7X28mm FN.
        for some reason, it doesn’t work well with browning systems. The usual system is not good enough.
        So, all the manufacturers, bar S&W, dusted off the Revelli rotating block to shoot it.
        So the Revelli system doesn’t work well with other calibers?
        No, it works just fine. It is that, to shoot other calibers you don’t need it.

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