By Drew Bryant
August 3rd 2022,

History & Evolution

Atlas Gunworks is a small firearm manufacturer based out of Vermont that focuses on building wonderfully handcrafted 2011 pistols. The 2011 is the modernization of the legendary and iconic 1911 pistol. The 1911 is so iconic that it has a rich visual lexicon within American culture. Appearing in iconic American films, tv shows, and video games. The 2011 shares all the same mechanics, features, and ergonomics of a 1911 pistol. Now, with increased magazine capacity (aka double stacked 9mm), an optics-ready slide, a 1913 Picatinny rail for the mounting of weapon lights, and reduced recoil. That recoil reduction is because 2011s are mainly chambered in 9mm instead of .45 ACP.

The 2011s designed by Atlas Gunworks keeps its 1911 heritage while evolving the 2011 platform into the future. An Atlas 2011 is an amalgamation of old-school American muscle with the precision engineering of a Swiss watch. It’s this blend of performance and engineering that takes Atlas’s 2011s to the next level.

Atlas Gunworks 2011s are well known by shooters within the Limited and Open Divisions of the International Practical Shooting Sports Confederation (ISPC) and the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA). Atlas pistols are designed and engineered from the ground up to be shot fast and accurately as the shooter’s skillset will allow. Atlas’s reach has grown over time within the firearms community. As a result, Atlas’s brand recognition and visibility have grown exponentially as well. The company has an amazing reputation for building wonderfully handcrafted 2011s.

Now, Atlas seeks to bridge the gap of speed, accuracy, and reliability into a duty/everyday carry(EDC) capacity with the new Atlas Ares. The Ares is the company’s latest entry into its duty/EDC pistol lineup. I was able to procure a Test and Evaluation model of the Ares. I had the opportunity to put the Ares through its paces and see what Atlas’s new handgun has to offer. In this article, I will be going through my first impressions of the new Atlas Ares Let’s dive in and see what this God of War has to offer.

Atlas Gunworks Ares

The Ares is Atlas’s latest and most aggressive entry into the duty/EDC market. This pistol was designed from the ground up with thoughtful choices for the end user that allows this pistol to excel.

When it comes down to the design of the Ares the company took a minimalist approach. The utilitarian design is tame when compared to the company’s other more aesthetically pleasing 2011s. Which is a positive and not a negative for duty-focused Ares. For a duty or EDC focused pistol it’s substance over style.

The Ares features aggressive front and rear slide serrations, a crowned bull barrel, an aluminum frame, a moderately textured grip, adjustable rear sight, a fiber optic front sight, and a slide that comes optics-ready. The Ares is also available in ported and non-ported variants. You can also purchase the Ares in a 4.6” or 4.25” barrel length. During this Test and Evaluation, I had the ported 4.6” version of the Ares.

Fit & Finish

The biggest factor or sign of quality in an 1911/2011 is its fitment. When I discuss fitment I am talking about the relationship of the slide, to the barrel, and the frame of the pistol. To achieve that level of precision, accuracy, and reliability out of this platform…fitment is key. If not reliability and accuracy will naturally be diminished. This relationship between the slide, barrel, and frame has to work in perfect harmony to produce the accuracy and reliability that the 2011 platform can provide. A duty must be reliable and accurate. It is what you demand from a pistol in that role.

This reliability and accuracy are achieved by Atlas’s amazing CNC machining process that features stringent standards combined with its master gunsmiths. It’s this combination of man and machine that allows Atlas to achieve this level of quality and precision in their pistols.

When it comes down to the fitment of the Ares it is exceptional. There is no play or extra movement between the frame and the slide. No matter which direction you attempt to manipulate it the Ares doesn’t budge. The silky smooth movement and interaction between the slide, frame, and barrel flow harmoniously and effortlessly. This silky smooth interaction will leave you speechless. My first experience racking this slide is one of disbelief and amazement at how ridiculous and smooth the movement of this slide is. The profound level of quality and attention to detail is something to be marveled at and to be respected. This attention to detail to the fit and finish of the Ares shows the level of passion put into their firearms over at Atlas. Once you rack the Ares slide you will experience the attention to detail and love Atlas put into their pistols.

Now, let’s dive into my training sessions and first impressions of the Ares.

Initial Dry Fire Sessions

Dry Fire Info

Firearm: Atlas Gunworks Ares
Time Spent: 2 hrs (Over two different sessions)
Drills: Dry Fire w/Mantis X10, Target Acquisition and Transition, Draw Stroke Practice, and emergency and tac reloads

During my initial training with the Ares it was getting familiar with the firearm. It was me just saying, “Hello” and becoming familiar with the manual of arms of the Ares. Even during my initial dry fire training sessions I had a positive experience with Ares that left a great first impression.

First off, The Ares feels good in the hand. I have always been a fan of 1911/2011 grip angles. The grip angle on the Ares doesn’t disappoint here either. The angle allows for that pistol to fit comfortably into your hand which helps facilitate a nice high purchase on the grip of the pistol. The grip itself has an aggressive yet moderate texture that allows for you to lock in your grip on the Ares. As, Macho Man Randy Savage once said in the Spider-Man movie, “You’re going NOWHERE!” Once your hands are locked in your hands aren’t going anywhere unless you actively look to break your grip on the Ares.

You’re hands ain’t going nowhere!

Next, the trigger is clean and crisp. It’s an excellent trigger. Easily in the Top 5 of 2011s triggers currently out there on the market. The Ares features a wonderful short uptake to its wall with a clean and satisfying break at 3lbs. That includes with amazing and filthy trigger reset. A reset so filthy it will make you yell out, “Woooooooooo!” like your the Nature Boy Ric Flair. Yes, people its that filthy and impressive.


Finally, let’s take about racking of the slide. As I stated before the interaction and movement between the slide, barrel, and frame is excellent. The build quality of the Ares shines through during this time. Once you experience the buttery and silky smooth movement of this slide it will spoil you. Where you naturally compare this excellent slide fitment to all other 1911/2011s on the market. The quality and fitment on this Ares is insane. Insane in the best possible ways.

Range Time & First Impressions

Range Info

Firearm: Atlas Gunworks Ares
Ammunition: Sellier and Bellot FMJ
Bullet Weight: 115 grain
Muzzle Velocity: 1280 ft/sec
Distance shot: 3-25 yards
Targets: Steel Targets & Standard ISPC
Rounds fired: 250+ rounds
Hours at Range: 2+hrs

First Impressions

During my first range visit with the Ares I shot 250 rounds of ammunition or more. This time was to spent to get familiar with the pistol beyond my pervious dry fire training. I wanted to get an understanding how this gun would behave once I started putting rounds down range.

To start off this range visit I conducted a slow fire of 50 rounds at 10 yards on a standard size ISPC target.

The first thing I immediately noticed was the unusual or odd recoil impulse after my first shot. I had never shot a ported handgun before. I was naturally expecting less recoil since the firearm was ported. Those ports act as a built-in compensator to help reduce recoil. That reduction improves the Ares ability to stay on target due to the reduction of muzzle flip. This reduction in muzzle flip allows you to acquire your sights faster allowing you to engage the target sooner. Yet, that first initial shot felt like it had just as much recoil or more potentially than a non-ported handgun. I know this is all a perception thing on my end. It is still an interesting development nevertheless.

Upon my second shot I honed in on analyzing the recoil impulse. What I noticed was that the recoil impluse was much less than the first shot. The more I shot during the first 50 rounds the smoother and seemingly softer the recoil impulse became. The recoil impulse with a ported barrel on the Ares is definitely much less which makes this Ares a complete pleasure to shoot. I plan on shooting 124gr +P defensive ammunition through the Ares to see how it handles and how flat it will potentially shoot.

The second thing I noticed was the clean and crisp break along with it’s filthy short reset. The trigger kept all the same characteristics as it did when shooting. That isn’t always the case. The Ares has a very (and I do mean very) responsive trigger. This gun has the capability to burn the house down if you have the skillset to bring out its full potential. It’s like hitting the gas pedal on Supercar. If you don’t have the experience on how to handle all that horsepower and torque you will potentially crash that automotive masterpiece. You have to come to know this trigger inside and out. Allowing you to discover your strength, weakness, and nuances for you to grow as a shooter. The Ares will show you if you are as good of a shooter as you perceive yourself to be. This trigger is an handicap or an asset depending on your skill level.

During the rest of time at the range I focused on failure drills, the bill drill, transition drills, and reloads. While shooting the Ares I noticed how smooth and effortlessly that Ares fell back on target. I was shooting 3-5 rounds as quickly as I could while maintaining accuracy on target. During those longer strings of fire the Ares front sight post would fall right back on target. I could immediately tell when I was doing something mechanical wrong. I would either pull a shot off center due to jerking my trigger, anticipating the recoil, or relaxing my grip. I would see the error in how my front sight reacted and where that flyer landed on the target.

Also, during this range session I had moments where I struggled with hitting the magazine release from time to time. Sometimes I would have to rotate my right hand over a little more to completely hit the magazine release to drop that magazine. I like to think I have big hands. As, I said before it was a inconsistent issue. It could be handle with continued dry fire practice of magazine reloads. I also had this problem when trying to reach the slide stop/slide release. I had to transition to using my left thumb to hit the slide stop/slide release after reloading. Inversely, I could have power stroke the slide to accomplish the same effect. Training accordingly to your strengths would be key. This was a minor adjustment that was easy to make at the end of the day.

Final Thoughts

My initial impressions of the Ares is a great one. This firearm is on beastmode 24/7 and is ready to do work. How Atlas is able to marry speed and precision is in this firearm is quite impressive. The craftsmanship and build quality is impeccable. You can see the attention to detail, hardwork, and care that is put into these 2011s. The Ares is shaping up to be a wonderful gun. I’m looking forward to spend more time with this firearm and continue running it through its paces.

Thanks For Reading

Thank you enjoyed this post, hit that like button, share it a friend, and subscribe. If you have any suggestions, ideas, or comments. Please feel free to drop a comment. Be Humble. Train until only savagery remains and stay deadly ladies and gents.

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