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 are what I look for in 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 taken during the firearm’s fit and finish. For such a well built and expensive gun as the Ares is my hypothesis is that the Ares will be 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 an 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 in the pistol. 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 that lead up to the burndown.

Dry Fire Training

Firearm: Atlas Gunworks Ares
Time Spent: 6+ hours
Drills & Equipment: Dry Fire Drills with the MantisX system, Draw stroke practice w/target acquisition & transition, along with 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 on the manipulation of the trigger. The system also allowed me to do Cadence Drills, Timed Benchmarks, and 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 used to. Second, to see if this higher rate of fire will cause any malfunctions or expose a weakness in the design of the gun that would cause a malfunction. Third, I’m looking to test the Perfect Zero tuning that Atlas puts into all of its 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 whenever 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 ran. The Ares is a pistol that is comfortable being pushed to its limits. The interaction between the frame, slide, and the barrel was on another level when this gun is running on all cylinders. The way all the moving parts interacted with each other in perfect harmony and were smooth as silk. It was a pretty ridiculous experience but, 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 a 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 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 believe Atlas 2011s like to be pushed hard general, they are workhorse pistols.

Ported Barrel & Cheat Codes

The second, thing I noticed was how incredibly flat this Ares shot was. I do have the ported version of the Ares which aids in the flat shooting of the pistol but, man did this pistol shoot incredibly flat. Due to the ported barrel, the Ares has reduced muzzle rise which meant the pistol was back on target lighting quick. The sights were easy to track on target even during short or long strings of fire. The Ares shoots like a nail driver. The speed and precision you can shoot the Ares are utterly ridiculous. When I was shooting a Bill Drill or a long 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 enabled. 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 Meets Perfect Zero

It isn’t the Contra cheat code that allows me to shoot this effectively. It’s the adherence to the fundamentals of marksmanship and the 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 the 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.

Atlas can achieve the Perfect Zero by fine-tuning all of its 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 ammunition. That can be 115-grain range ammo, 124-grain +P defensive ammo, or 147-grain subsonic ammo.

Ares in slow-motion

Think of it like fine-tuning an 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 as 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 an accelerated rate of fire my sights were falling right back on target. That is because I was applying the fundamentals of marksmanship. I would instantly notice when my fundamentals weren’t properly in play because I could see my sights deviate from my sight 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 fundamentals of marksmanship which allowed me to improve as a shooter.

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

Ares & Defensive Ammo

Ares Ammunition Comparison

For this test I shot 100 rounds of defensive 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-grain Hornday Critical Defense and 124-grain +P Speer Gold Dot.

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

When it came down to an increase or a perceived increase in recoil, I didn’t witness any. The Ares shot just as flat with the normal 115-grain range ammunition versus the defensive ammunition. From a perception standpoint, it seems like the defensive ammo from Hornady shot a little softer. At the end of the day, I feel like it was equal to the traditional 9mm range of ammo.

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. 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-grain +P ammunition. It was a small increase. It didn’t have the usual snappiness that 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 you 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 become 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 the 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.” The same rule applies here with the Ares. “It’s not the gun, it’s the shooter.” It’s the shooter’s job to bring out its full potential.

Thanks For Reading

Thank you for reading. If you enjoy this article hit that like button and subscribe to the newsletter. Feel free to drop a comment in the comment section below. Be Humble. Train until only savagery remains. Remember to stay deadly ladies and gents.

1 Comment »

  1. I like the way you describe the feel of the trigger. It made me smile. I am in the process of getting a 4.25 inch version of the ported Ares. Because there is little information about this new product I might suggest you go through your article one more time to make it is flawless. Like shooting, people judge on the results not the intent. There are a few errors in the context that take away from the effort and I wouldn’t want your effort to be tainted. Thank you for taking the time and effort to write about this gun. It helped me to make that decision.


Leave a Reply