The world is full of polymer-frame, striker-fired pistols. They have taken over the universe. So, what can be new? How about a new locking system? How about a grip shape designed to make your grip tighter? How about a grip-surface texture designed to work with your hand? How about the Archon Type B?
At first glance, the Type B is another polymer pistol, but one with an aggressive look to it. The slide is heavily sculpted, with cocking serrations fore and aft, the front of the slide top is recessed for working the slide or performing a press-check, and the ejection port is oversize, with a clearance cut at the rear to ensure total brass ejection. Sights are sturdy and generous, with a fiber-optic front and a robust rear.
The slide rides notably low on the frame, and the frame has a more-than-generous tang on the rear, with a rib below that. (More on the rib in a bit.) An accessory rail on the dustcover is present, along with aggressive, square, right-angled nubs adorning the frame where your hands grip. The axis of the nubs is such that when the pistol attempts to rotate up in recoil, the nubs bear directly against your fingers, resisting recoil movement.
Lifted where it joins the frontstrap is the trigger guard, allowing your hand to ride higher on the frame than it otherwise might.
With regard to the trigger itself, it is straight—sort of. There’s an angle in the blade, halfway down from the top of the trigger opening, and the angle is meant to slide your trigger finger down to the main trigger blade. That section is straight, and it is perpendicular to the axis of the bore when the trigger releases the striker. But straight triggers are not new. We were experimenting with them in IPSC competition back in the early 1980s. The idea is simple: Your finger has more sensitivity to a flat surface than it does to one that is curved and cups the trigger finger. You also have much less leverage to pull a flat/straight trigger in any direction except to the rear.
The magazine well is beveled for fast reloads, and the double-stack magazine has the requisite taper at the top, aiding speed reloads. Magazines hold 15 rounds each, and the Archon Type B comes with four of them.
The chassis—the assembly of the fire-control parts—is machined from billet steel, and pinned into the polymer shell. It will rarely need to be removed for cleaning.
So far, we have described many polymer pistols.
The locking system of the Type B is unlike any other pistol. The now century-old method, known as the Browning tilt-barrel design, has been near-universal in use. It requires a certain amount of internal height to accommodate the bottom lugs and the downward movement of the barrel during unlocking. The Type B instead uses a locking ring, or saddle, that rides as a “U” shape around the barrel. The locking ring has a kidney-shaped cam lug machined in it, but while the ring rises and drops, the barrel does not.
Moving a small amount fore and aft as the pistol cycles is the barrel, allowing the saddle movement to unlock and lock to the slide. But the barrel does not tilt, thus providing several advantages.
First, since the barrel does not have to tilt, it does not have to have the height of a Browning barrel. Thus, it can ride lower in the slide, the frame and in your hand. A lower bore axis is better for controlling felt recoil and muzzle rise.
Additionally, the lower-riding barrel also can dispense with a feed ramp. The Type B barrel has a ramp cut into the rear of the chamber area, but it does not have a feed ramp of the type we are accustomed to seeing. The magazine rides higher in the frame than it otherwise would, to meet the barrel location, and as a result, cartridges feed in an almost straight line to the chamber. Unlike traditional designs, where the fed cartridge has to navigate a complicated three-dimensional path, with at least two turns, the Type B simply slaps cartridges forward out of the magazine and into the chamber.
The low bore axis reduces the length of the lever arm with which recoil has to work, and thus reduces muzzle rise.
Now, the rib on the tang of the frame, what is that for? I have to admit, when I first saw the Type B, my initial impression was “Oh, that’s gonna hurt.” But it didn’t. Admittedly, being chambered in 9 mm has something to do with that, but there’s more to it. I recently had a chance to talk to the Archon crew, and what I found was this: The rib is there to work with your hand to increase grip tension. The rib pushes into the web of your hand, and the geometry of your hand is thus caused to clamp tighter on the pistol. You can see this by simply using a finger of one hand to press into the web of your other, and see your thumb and index finger begin to pivot toward each other.
Recoil was, as expected, minimal. Accuracy was quite good, and Archon also sent along a supply of its own ammunition for testing, both FMJ and JHP. Each Type B comes in a carry case with a lock, manual, four magazines and a silver marker to number them. That is a boon, compared to many pistols that ship with one or two magazines. And if 15 rounds seem just a bit light, I have word that Taylor Freelance is hard at work making magazine extensions to increase capacity. (I imagine others are as well.) Additionally, holsters are readily available from Archon as well as Legacy Firearms Co., QVO Tactical and others.
It isn’t easy to stand out in the modern world. Well, it is, but to do so in a way that actually matters is hard, especially in the firearms industry. Despite the fact that it may look like another polymer pistol and has many of the same features, the Archon Type B, with mild recoil, nice trigger, generous capacity and excellent ergonomics, stands out in a good way by adding a bit of variety.