Firearms|500 Round Update

By Drew Bryant
August 17th, 2022,

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had the opportunity to spend more time behind the wheel of the Ares. During that time I have become more acquainted with the nuances of this pistol. Which has allowed me to gather a better sense of what this pistol brings to the table for shooters. The more I shoot the Ares the more it strengthens my initial impressions. This pistol was built from the ground up for speed, precision, and reliability. Those three characteristics is what I am looking for out of a duty/edc focused pistol.

In this portion of the process I wanted to test the reliability of the Ares. The 1911/2011 platform can have reliability issues if appropriate attention to detail is not taking during it’s fit and finish. For such a well built and expensive gun as the Ares is my hypothesis would that it is extremely reliable.

To test this theory of reliability I will be taking a page from Aaron Cowan from Sage Dynamics. I decided to do a mini burndown of the Ares. Instead of shooting 500 rounds of ammunition as fast as possible. I will shoot 250 rounds of ammunition at a accelerated rate of fire. The goal is to push the Ares harder to see if the accelerated rate of fire will induce any type of malfunction. I will also be testing how the Ares handles defensive ammunition after I have completed shooting the burndown.

Before, we jump into the burndown let’s take a look at my dry fire training sessions to the lead up of the burndown.

Dry Fire Training

Firearm: Atlas Gunworks Ares
Time Spent: 6+ hours
Drills & Equipment: Dry Fire Drills on Mantis system, Draw stroke practice w/target acquisition & transition, Magazine Reloads

The main goal of these dry fire sessions was to become more acquainted with the trigger. Understanding how to manipulate this trigger effectively will dictate your speed and accuracy with the Ares. The MantisX system allowed me to hone in my trigger manipulation. The system also allowed me to do Cadence Drills, Timed Benchmarks, Primary and Secondary hand drills as well. These drills allowed me to work on my trigger control, speed and accuracy on target.

Next, let’s step into the burndown and see what the Ares can do under a little stress combined with an accelerated rate of fire.

Before, I dive into the analysis of the burndown i’m keeping my eye out for a couple of things. First, I’m looking for how the gun functions under a higher rate of fire than it is normally use to. To see if this higher rate of fire will cause any malfunctions or weakness in the design of the gun to rear it’s head. Second, I’m looking to test the Perfect Zero tuning that Atlas puts into all of their pistols. I will go over Atlas’s Prefect Zero in greater detail later in this update. So, let’s get into the burndown.

The Burndown

Firearm: Atlas Ares
Time on Range: 1.5 hours
Rounds: 350; 250 (Burndown) 100 (Defensive Ammo)
Drills: Rapid Fire Drills with Reloads and Target Transitions (i.e. Bill Drill)
Ammunition: Sellier & Bellot 9mm 115 GR FMJ & Speer Gold Dot 9mm 124 GR +P

For the burndown I took 250 rounds of S&B 9mm and shot it as fast and accurately as possible through the Ares. Challenging the pistol to a higher volume of fire to see if that would cause any malfunctions. While conducting the burndown I did not experience any malfunctions or deficiencies with the pistol. The Ares was reliable…boringly reliable. Which is good when you need the Ares for protection in those critical moments. You need to know that this pistol will work every time when you need it. No questions asked. At, the end of the day the Ares ran like a well oiled machine.

A couple of takeaways from the burndown that I noticed. First, the harder I ran the Ares the smoother the gun seemed to run. The Ares likes to be ran hard. The interaction between the frame, slide, and barrel was on another level when this gun is running on all cylinders. The way the all the moving parts interacted with each other in perfect harmony and was smooth as glass. It was pretty ridiculous experience. Yet, ridiculous in the best possible way.

The best way to describe the effortless operation of the Ares is to use the analogy of a supercar on the track. Like any supercar the first few laps are used for the driver to get the car up to racing temperature. That’s for both the engine and the tires. This allows the engine to reach its peak temperature for optimal performance. For the tires to heat up and gather the proper grip. Once that engine reaches optimal output and those tires are stuck to that asphalt like glue that driver can push that vehicle to its full potential. This is the exact same concept that is happening with the Ares. The more I shot the Ares and the hotter, smoother, and more efficiently the pistol ran. I personally believe Atlas 2011s like to be pushed hard in generally, they are workhorse pistols.

Ported Barrel & Cheat Codes

Second, thing I noticed was how incredibly flat this Ares shot. I do have the ported version of the Ares which aides in the flat shooting of the pistol but, man did this pistol shoot incredibly flat. Due to the ported barrel the Ares has reduce muzzle rise which meant the pistol was back on target lighting quick. The sights where easy to track on target even during short or longer strings of fire. The Ares shoots like a nail driver. The speed and precision you can shoot it with makes it a pretty filthy shooting experience. When I was shooting a Bill Drill or a longer string of fire the Ares just stayed on target. Just putting rounds on top of rounds. It felt like I was playing Contra with the cheat codes enable. Everyone remembers the legendary Contra code: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A and then press start. I felt like that cheat code was engaged while shooting the Ares.

Contra Cheat Code

Contra Meets Perfect Zero

It isn’t the Contra cheat code that allows me to do this. It’s the adherence to the fundamentals of marksmanship and wonderful craftsmanship of the Ares that allows me to shoot so well. One of the design principles woven into the Ares is what Atlas calls, Perfect Zero.

Perfect Zero is the concept that the gun fires, lifts, and returns to the same spot on target without any outside forces by the shooter. This is possible when the shooter adheres to the fundamentals of marksmanship. Which is proper sight alignment, sight picture, grip, and trigger control. If the fundamentals are applied correctly the Ares should fall right back on target.

Ares in slow-motion

Atlas is able to achieve the Perfect Zero by fine tuning all of their 2011s. First, Atlas takes a different approach and builds the gun around the ammunition. The Ares is built and fine tuned around shooting various types of 9mm. That can be 115 GR range ammo, 124 GR +P defensive ammo, or 147 GR subsonic ammo.

Think of it like fine tuning a engine on a Shelby GT500, Ford GT, or Porsche 911 GT3. Those master mechanics and engineers fine tune those supercars to get the most out of those engines. Same concept with Atlas’s Perfect Zero concept. Building and tuning the pistol to land your sights back on target at your original point of aim after every shot. The key to this proper application of the fundamentals of marksmanship.

When shooting the Ares during the burndown at a accelerated rate of fire my sights where falling right back on target. That is because I was applying fundamentals of marksmanship. I would instantly notice when my fundamentals weren’t correct cause I could see my sights deviate from my sight alignment and picture. Exposing my weakness and where I need to approve as a shooter during rapid fire engagements. The Ares was an absolute blast to shoot during the Burndown and allowed me to test my accuracy, recoil management, speed, and trigger control.

After, I completed the 250 round burndown. I allowed the Ares to cool off in the shade from the blistering desert heat and from its accelerated rate of fire. The final element I wanted to test was how the Ares would handle defensive ammunition.

Ares & Defensive Ammo

For this test I shot 100 rounds of defensive grade ammunition through the Ares. The Ares is designed to be a duty/edc pistol. So, it was only natural that I tested its ability to cycle hotter ammunition. During this part of the evaluation I used two different ammunition types. I used 9mm 115 GR Hornday Critical Defense and 124 GR +P Speer Gold Dot.

First, I shot 50 rounds of Hornday Critical Defense ammunition through the Ares. The gun handle the feeding and loading of the ammunition with no problem. The Ares functioned as it should…reliably.

Ares Ammunition Comparison

When it came down to increase or a perceived increase in recoil I didn’t witness any. The Ares shot just as flat with the normal 115 GR range ammunition versus the defensive ammunition. From a perception standpoint it seems like the defensive ammo from Hornday shot a little softer. At the end of the day I feel like they were equal.

Next, I shot 50 rounds of Speer Gold Dot through the Ares. When it came down to the feeding and loading of the ammunition the Ares handle it like a boss, yet again. Giving me the boring consistency and reliability I would expect from an Atlas Gunworks 2011.

In regards to recoil it was an increase with 124 GR +P ammunition. It was small increase. It didn’t have the usual snappiness the comes with shooting hotter defensive ammunition. The Ares still shot incredibly flat dude to its ported barrel removing that energy from being transferred to the Ares. Overall it was a pleasure to shoot with defensive ammunition. I could run the gun just effectively and fast with the defensive ammo as I could with the range ammo. Which feels like your cheating.

Final Thoughts

Over the last couple of weeks I have spent more time dry firing and live firing the Ares. The more time I spend, the more subtleties of its build quality and craftsmanship becomes clear to me. It’s nothing more satisfying than learning something new about a firearm. That can be either aesthetically or mechanically. It just brings a wonderfully mischievous smile to my face, like the Grinch.

At the end of the day from my testing so far the Ares is a beast that is ready for primetime. To reach its full potential you have to become fluent in the intricacies of its design. That means as the shooter you have to bring out its full potential. In the grand scheme of things I know I haven’t pulled out fhe full potential of the Ares. That takes time. As, Maverick says in the newest Top Gun Movie, “It’s not the plane, it’s the pilot.” Same rule applies here with the Ares. “It’s not the gun, it’s the shooter.” It’s the shooters job to bring out its full potential.

Thanks For Reading

Thanks 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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