Many eagerly awaited the release of the Archon Firearms Type B 9mm, semi-automatic handgun. I bought one a couple of months ago and as of now have about 2500 rounds through it. Does it live up to the hype and the $850 MSRP?
If you are not familiar with Archon Firearms, here’s the 60 second history. Archon is the US component of European gun manufacturer, Arsenal Firearms Group (AFG). AFG is known for its innovative firearm design. Their full-size 9mm handgun, the Stryk One was released in 2012 and if you were cool enough to shoot one, you probably loved it.
AFG used the successful design of the Stryk One and built a compact version called the Stryk B. Apparently US copyright laws forced AFG to change the name to Type B and create a US distributor which brings us back to Archon Firearms.
The Type B is a polymer-framed, semi-automatic, compact handgun chambered in 9mm. The Type B’s unique slide cuts break the stereotypical, striker-fired slide appearance. Just like a pug, you’ll either think it’s amazing, or hideous. I love pugs and also think the Type B looks aggressively elegant.
Looks aren’t everything, so on to the gun’s specifics.
What are the Type B’s specs:
In my gun reviews, I often compare the gun’s specs to that of the Glock 19; because the G19 is so common that most people have an idea of its length, weight etc.
As you see in the chart, the Type B is about 0.4 oz heavier. A little extra weight can help reduce the felt recoil, but on the other hand, a heavier gun isn't as easy for some to carry every day. If you currently carry anything close to a G19, the Type B will not feel overly cumbersome.
The aggressive forward and rear slide serrations look neat, but are super practical, allowing easier slide manipulation. The slide’s finish is Tenifer QPQ coated. I'm told this finish is similar to other finishing processes commonly used on today's handguns however this seems more durable when compared to the Parkerized finish on some other guns I have owned.
The slide and overall length are somewhere between a Glock 19 and Glock 17. How much-added accuracy is provided with a slightly longer sight radius can be debated, but the added 3mm is unlikely to turn you into John Wick.
A longer barrel length will, however, provide more muzzle velocity if everything else remains equal. For most (me included) an increased sight radius and muzzle velocity is nice, but probably not a driving factor in choosing the Type B.
Concealing a gun with a longer barrel/slide (within reason) is also not an issue. It is the butt of the grip (height) that is the challenge.
Here the Type B and Glock 19 grip lengths (heights) are nearly identical with the Type B being 0.08 inches longer than the 19. So again, with the right holster belt combination, concealing this gun is not going to be difficult.
Grip Module/Frame and Mags:
I confirmed with Archon that the Stryk One's 17 round magazines will work just fine in the Type B. They are also developing a collar which would slide onto the 17 round mags, making them fit flush with the Type B.
I also found a couple of companies that sell +2 magazine extensions for the Type B. So if you want added capacity, you have options.
It’s easy to overlook the fact that the gun comes with 4 mags, but if you are serious about training, the standard two included mags that most guns ship with are just not adequate. Plus, they include a silver paint marker and the baseplates are designed so you can mark your magazines.
This way they don’t accidentally disappear into your buddy's range bag.
Grip texture is important to me. Shooting a gun with poor grip texture is sorta' like having poor eyesight. You don’t really notice how bad it is until you put on glasses and see all you have been missing. Grip texture aids in controlling the gun, which is critical to quick, accurate follow-up shots.
Archon uses what they call ‘grip mapping technology’. This doesn’t just provide a rough surface but uses directional texture to counter the gun’s natural movement during the shooting cycle. It makes sense to me, and while it looks super aggressive, it is not rough at all.
Granted what constitutes too much or too little texture is a personal choice. My preference is to go as aggressive as possible considering the intended use of the gun. For what it’s worth, I love aggressive grips and use granulated Talon Grips on my EDCs.
The grip module has an oversized trigger guard making it accessible while wearing gloves. The trigger guard has a noticeable undercut, facilitating a pain-free, high grip. It is equipped with a standard Picatinny rail for your weapon-mounted light (WML).
The grip has an open, obstruction-free magwell that isn't flared but facilitates smooth magazine changes.
The Type B’s 10 mm long beavertail is super flat and allows for a high grip without fear of slide bite. There is a precariously placed, protruding bar in the beavertail. This is deliberate and is intended to ‘activate the tendon between the thumb and index fingers' on the primary hand.
I honestly don’t know how to test if it does what it claims to do or makes a difference in grip.
Some people have said they don’t like the feel, I didn’t feel any discomfort or even notice it was there. So maybe it makes a difference, maybe it doesn’t, but I find establishing a strong, natural grip is easy with this gun.
Modularity with the Fire Control Unit:
Similar to the fire control unit (FCU) of the Sig Sauer P320, the Type B’s trigger group is the serialized component of the gun. This modularity allows users to easily replace the frame using just one tool.
The grip is legally classified as a non-essential firearm component, so it can be shipped off without going through an FFL and customized in a variety of ways. Perhaps in the future, there will be different sized grips/slide combinations like the P320.
The slide on most polymer handguns rides along 4 small rails, two in the front and two in the back. The Type B’s billet steel FCU allows for full-length internal slide rails. Full-length rails produce a tighter lockup between the slide and frame for increased reliability and accuracy.
However, this is one of those things that is difficult to quantify. Also, it's worth mentioning that Glocks do not have full-length rails and they are exceptionally reliable and accurate. For defensive applications, the benefit gained from the full-length slide rails is likely not substantial enough to notice.
The difference may become noticeable to competition shooters or when shooting at distance. But any increased reliability is something that is welcome.
Factory Sights are Junk?
The number of guns sold as everyday carry guns, that come from the factory with sub-par sights is shocking. Sights are one thing that nearly everyone will change once they find the gun they are sticking with. However, the Type B actually has great factory sights.
The front sight is taller and narrower which I prefer, and the red, fiber optic dot stands out against any backdrop. Its tall and skinny form makes it look fragile. I wasn't too keen on trying to break the front sight off a gun I just bought.
So I talked to a good friend who said his front sight has held up just fine through upwards of 4000 rounds. And the dude has run the gun in many tactical classes and shoots where the gun has been roughed up.
The rear sight is not only blacked out but serrated which helps diffuse reflected light. It is made of durable billet steel and has a flat face. In my opinion, this is necessary for any everyday carry gun. The notch is rather narrow and shallow compared to other sights.
I find that this makes it a bit more challenging to find your front sight when looking through your rear sight. But once you do, the narrower rear notch means a bit more sight forgiveness.
There is nothing wrong with the Type B's fiber-optic sights, but my preference is tritium night sights with a large front dot. No worries, the Type B is ready for any aftermarket Glock 19 sight.
What About the Trigger?
The full metal, trigger shoe on the Type B is somewhere in the middle of flat and curved. The feel of the trigger is what you would expect to find on a high-end handgun. It has minimal take-up and then hits a predictable and well-defined wall before it crisply breaks.
And because there is no integrated trigger safety tab, you can run the trigger without anything poking your trigger finger. The pull weight measured a consistent 5.5 lbs compared to the factory Glock’s 6.3 lbs.
I don’t make a big fuss over trigger pull weight because there is a lot more that goes into a nice trigger besides pull weight, but it is a specification people like to know.
The reset is a minuscule 2.5 mm. Shorter reset distance means, all things being equal, your follow-up shots should be quicker. Terms like ‘shooting faster,' and ‘more accurately' require some context and the understanding that there are many variables that can make someone shoot faster or slower.
During bill drills, I was getting consistent .14 split times which are about .2 faster than with my G19. This is likely due to a number of factors, only one of them being shorter reset length.
I really liked this trigger and for some context; I would compare it to the trigger of the Sig X-Carry … but sorta' already broken in. I did notice, that because the trigger is metal and the internals are essentially all interconnected, the shoe can become warm after shooting a high rate and volume of rounds.
It never got uncomfortably hot, but after running through all 4, 15-round mags quickly, my trigger finger noticed.
How are the controls?
I have small hands, so for me, I need a responsive magazine release button I can reach without totally breaking my grip. I can reach the mag release and it's unbelievably responsive. The magazines actually have a good amount of force when released, rather than just dropping free.
The reversible magazine release protrudes out a good bit. The Type B has a raised bar just behind the mag release. This allows the button to extend, without fear of inadvertently being activated while carrying or from a firm grip.
I have carried it in a Brave Response appendix holster off and on for the last 3 months. At least under this small sample size, I experienced no inadvertent mag drops.
I mentioned the release is reversible, and it can be changed in about a second without needing any tools. Simply insert the magazine backward and the mag release button can be pushed to the other side. Remove the mag and you're done.
I saw one person who noted this as a design fault and something that caused him to eliminate it from any possibility of carrying as a defensive firearm. I understand some strange things can happen under stress, but fully inserting a magazine backward, and then pressing the mag release is not high on my list.
The slide stop is on the left side and is not reversible. It has a rounded shape and protrudes enough to be easily manipulated but not inadvertently engaged with a high thumbs forward grip. Those who use the slide stop during reloads will like the slide stop.
Breaking the gun down:
The gun is broken down by removing some tension off the locking block and pushing out the takedown pin. The takedown pin design is not my favorite, to be honest. A lever like on the Sig P320 or the tabs on Glocks and so many others I find to be easier. But it doesn’t require any tools to push the pin out so it’s a non-issue as far as I am concerned.
Like the Glock and many other semi-auto handguns, the trigger must be pulled as part of the disassembly process. I mention this because some find this to be a safety issue. I am not one of those people and believe that regardless of how your gun comes apart, it should be clear before you take it apart. But anyway …
Field stripping the gun is quite simple and requires no tools. However, removing the FCU is going to require a punch and hammer. A 2.3mm punch worked well on all the takedown pins.
I just hate taking a hammer and punch to my guns, so it would have been great to have been able to remove the FCU without needing any tools. But for the number of times one performs a deep clean or service, the pins are probably only a minor inconvenience.
First, you will see a 3 stage recoil spring with an un-captured mainspring. This allows a ‘tuning’ of the gun to meet certain recoil needs by swapping out spring weights. Once you remove the recoil spring and guide rod, you’ll find a black nitride coated, match-grade barrel.
Removing the barrel you will find that the locking block is not attached to the barrel. This is because the way this gun cycles is a bit different.
The action of the Type B does not use the popular Browning tilting barrel design. In a nutshell, with the Browning tilting barrel, the rear portion of the barrel will ‘unlock’ from the slide and locking block, by moving slightly backward and dropping down, while the front (muzzle) side of the barrel tilts up. This allows the slide to move to the rear.
When the slide returns into battery, the barrel returns to its horizontal position and again locks into the slide and onto the locking block. Info abounds on the internet if you care to get into the nitty-gritty of this type of action.
The Type B’s piece de resistance is the AF Speed lock system. This is how Arsenal Firearms describes the AF Speedlock:
“…a fork-shaped locking block is pulled downwards in the shot by means of a control cam, thus releasing the carriage. The barrel is guided on a straight line only a few millimeters to the rear, thus remaining almost rigid. This kind of locking system allows a higher level of accuracy compared to standard pistols with a Browning system.”
As you can see in the video, the barrel only moves slightly to the rear, never tilts and is quickly back in battery.
This won’t be the first time a manufacturer will make a claim that because of X widget or design, the gun is better, safer, more accurate etc. So does this type of barrel really make the gun more accurate?
Theoretically yes, and if you are someone who is so tuned into your gun's performance that you're adjusting MOA's due to different ammo, then yeah you'll notice. But the amount of increased accuracy is probably undetectable for most shooters.
Again, this alone won’t make you or I a better shooter, but any way to make the gun more accurate certainly can't hurt.
Because the barrel does not have to tilt down, it can sit lower in the frame of the gun. This matters because the higher we can get our grip, in relation to the bore axis the better we can manage the rearward recoil of the slide (there is also forward recoil of the slide as it returns forward.)
Again, there is always a ‘but’ to these claims. Being able to control recoil, or more specifically muzzle rise plays a role in shorter split times.
It stands to reason that if the muzzle does not rise as high, the sights will return to where they were before, and you would be able to shoot sooner. Arsenal firearms produced a video measuring the time it takes the slide to cycle and the angle of recoil for many popular handguns and compared it to the Stryk-1.
For sure the Stryke-1 is not the Archon Type B, but they use the same recoil system and are quite similar. Arsenal measured the muzzle rise angle of a G17 at 15.5 degrees compared to the Stryk-1's 10.0 degrees. Grip angle, the mass of the slide and frame and the distribution of that mass, recoil spring weight are also important factors in how the gun will react during recoil.
In the same video, the results showed a Glock 17 cycled in 0.052ms whereas the Stryk-1 took 0.046ms to cycle. Compelling and interesting data, but I don't have to equipment to come close to quantifying or reproducing anything like this.
Disclaimer: these numbers do not prove anything by themselves as it relates to the Type B or quicker split times, and can be influenced by other factors. But perhaps there is a bit of reduced muzzle rise and faster slide cycle times which in totality are part of that .2sec difference.
A lower the bore axis typically results in a greater grip angle. This is a factor in how a gun feels or seems to point naturally when gripped. So it's worth feeling how the gun naturally points when presenting it.
Does all of this help manage recoil?
My feeling is yes, it does reduce a bit of the muzzle rise and actually makes the recoil feel different.
My best way to explain the ‘reduced recoil' is that it feels like the impulse is near the rear of the gun, rather than out at the end of the muzzle. It is similar to the recoil impulse of the Walther CCP with its fixed barrel design.
Manufacturers of self-defense, hollow-point ammunition use different angle profiles, and these can sometimes cause feeding issues. A benefit of the in-line barrel and tight lockup is that the round does not need to navigate as many angles during the chambering process.
Everything being equal, the Type B should be less picky about the types of bullet profiles it will reliably chamber. And that has certainly been the case for me.
Through my 2500 round experience, I have fired Federal steel case FMJ, Wolf aluminum FMJ, Gecko brass FMJ, Federal Hydra-Shok HP, and Speer Gold Dot HP ammo in 115gr and 147gr through the gun.
At about round 2000 someone who was shooting with me experienced one failure to extract with the Wolf ammo. And that was it.
The gun comes with a soft, waterproof case made by Malterra. The case is really functional and probably would cost around $50 alone. If you live in a cave and don't have access to YouTube, Archon provides a full-color owners manual so you can figure out how to care for your gun, take it apart and put it back together.
They throw in the obligatory lock and some gun top-shelf CLP cleaner/lubricant from EEZox. Not only does the lubricant work well, but it smells amazing.
Overall impressions/ is it worth it?
Pros: I am very impressed with the overall design of the gun. It addresses many of the important ‘must haves' for a defensive gun. The slide is easily manipulated, the factory sights and trigger have ‘upgraded’ feel and performance, the gun has been reliable with several different types of ammo.
The controls of the gun seem to be responsive enough, without extending and causing unintended issues. The grip texture is sufficiently aggressive for most, although my preference is even more aggressive. The factory sights are good to go with aftermarket options.
Standard 4 magazines and a super nice soft sided case is a useful surprise.
Archon does something that I am not aware of any other company doing. If you have to use your Type B in a legal self-defense incident, it is likely going to be seized by law enforcement. This could be a few months or several years.
Archon will send you a new Type B, as long as it was a legal shooting and there is police documentation. A pretty darn awesome perk of owning a Type B.
Cons: First and foremost is that the Type B costs more than a Glock 19 and most other similar handguns. While there is merit to saying that your life should not have a price tag attached to it, given the two guns side by side, does the Type B do enough to justify an extra $200 upfront, when the Glock 19 is an absolutely solid EDC choice?
That's difficult to answer, and if I am just looking at the gun itself, probably not. The Glock 19 is the dominant EDC gun for a reason. But there are other considerations to look at. First, the Type B comes with much better sights than the Glock, one more magazine, and a nicer case.
The trigger is leaps and bounds better than a standard Glock trigger.
Frame mods to increase grip texture and an undercut, and suddenly these ‘minor' Glock upgrades put you at, or above the cost of a Type B. However, the great thing is that the Glock 19 does not necessarily need any of these upgrades to be the standard EDC gun it has been.
The unknown, long-term reliability of the Type B is another ‘con’ if you will. The Type B is still relatively new and like many new guns, there are some unexpected kinks to work out. On that note, a close friend of mine has a Type B and at around 2000 rounds his sear cracked.
He sent it to Archon, they fixed it and had it back to him in only a couple days. The replaced sear looked a bit different from the original sear that broke. His gun was produced earlier than mine, and from what I can tell, the sear in my gun looks like the replacement sear in my friend's gun. So maybe Archon has changed the sear in later models.
Personally I have never had to send any of my guns back to Glock, but I have not heard anything but good stories of customer service. My buddy said the customer service he received from Archon was top notch.
We have all have experienced shooting a great group, and being plagued by the one flier. Well, Archon's only flier is the Type B does not come red-dot ready. I know, it is sorta nit-picky but I believe within five years, optics will surpass iron sights in popularity for carry guns.
Granted there are a couple of people who will mill a Type B slide for an optic, but an MOS system like Glock or a partnership with a major optic manufacturer would make the gun about as factory perfect as it gets.
Time will tell how durable the Type B is, but as of today, it seems like a great EDC gun if you can afford its upfront costs. And yes, I color-filled the slide.