Historically speaking, the AutoMag 180 pistol has been a reaper of investors. Between 1971 and 1982, no fewer than six different companies went bankrupt trying to make a profit building Auto Mags. However, we may have finally reached the end of that streak…
In 2015, all the existing tools, parts, and IP related to the Auto Mag was sold to a new company (Auto Mag Ltd). Similar to the previous companies lured in by the glamour of this massive handgun, these new owners saw the list of existing parts (including several hundred frames) and figured they could assemble and sell a few hundred guns and make a nice return. Also similar to previous companies, they completed the deal and then discovered that those existing parts had major problems. Fundamentally, the Model 180 was simply not a mature design.
Where the new company has taken a new path is that they have spent the past 7 years reengineering the whole gun to fix its shortcomings. They have made a couple dozen design changes, although without changing anything fundamental in the appearance or operating principles of the gun. They have done things like lighten the firing pin, strengthen the locking lugs, tweak the magazine geometry, and so on – the changes that should have been make back in 1971 before the first example was ever shipped.
I came into this review with pretty low expectations – so many people have tried and failed to make a proper Automag that I really didn’t think Auto Mag Ltd would be able to pull it off. And yet to my happy surprise, it seems that they actually have. The gun ran flawlessly for me (match footage coming tomorrow) and was actually a lot of fun to shoot.