Firearms|First Shots

By Drew Bryant
September 14, 2022,

The Ferrari Of Race Guns

Having the opportunity to drive or even own a supercar is incredibly rare. It puts you in an elite club in the driving world. Names like Lamborghini, Porsche, Ferrari, and McLaren come to mind when discussing supercars. These supercar manufacturers names are iconic and hold tremendous clout within the automotive industry. In 2021, over 35,000 supercars where sold worldwide last year. That’s a very small number when you consider over 66.7 million new cars were sold internationally in 2021. That means out of all the cars sold supercars only account for .0524% of all car sales internationally. Which means driving a supercar or owning one puts you in a different car stratosphere.

It is the same way when it comes down to the 2011 platform. There are certain names within firearm industry that invoke a certain level respect and are in a different stratosphere when it comes down to making 2011s. Names such as Staccato, Infinity, Nighthawk Custom, and Atlas Gunworks comes to mind. These 2011s are the pinnacle of firearm craftsmanship. Recently, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to drive one of these supercars. The supercar that I get to drive is the Atlas Gunworks Athena. This 2011 is built form the ground-up with performance in mind and designed to be pushed to the limits. A spectacle of design and performance. Attention to detail that is nearly unrivaled. The Athena is a quintessential race gun.

Experiencing the Athena is like a driving the the amazing La Ferrari. The La Ferrari is a hybrid supercar with a 6.3L V12 motor pushing out 789-hp with 161-hp boost from its electric motor. Creating a super car with a 0-60 of 2.5 seconds. It is not only a speed demon but features a well balance rear-wheel drive experience. The La Ferrari is made for speed and precision just like the Athena. The Atlas Gunworks Athena is powerful, smooth, and demands to be pushed to its limit. It’s a race gun through and through in every design choice of this firearm. It is a super car of the 2011 world. Which means driving one or owning one puts you in a league of your own.

As, I said before. I have the unique opportunity to experience and drive this fabulous supercar and to see what it brings to the table for the competition shooter and the average shooter as myself.

Atlas Gunworks Athena

The Athena is one of the signature pistols built and designed by Atlas. This pistol was designed from the ground up with speed, precision, and performance in mind. As Ricky Bobby would say, this gun likes to, “Go fast.” Through thoughtful engineering and design choices by Atlas this pistol excels in all those facets.

The design of the Athena is one of sleek aesthetics and functional design. This is one of the best looking pistol you can find on the market. The design of the slide just screams the epitome of style. The sleek and sexy lines effortless flow into the frame of the pistol. Where you have aggressive grip texturing that help lock in your grip. Acting as the best available race tires for the track. The Athena is a masterpiece of design, engineering, and function.

The Athena features: aggressive and sleek front and rear slide serrations, a 4.6” bull barrel, an aluminum frame with moderate grip texture, ambidextrous safeties, a black serrated rear sight, a fiber optic front, a Picatinny rail, and comes optics ready. The Athena is built from the ground up ready to use to hit the track from day one.

Fit & Finish

When you are discussing 1911s or 2011s and their build quality, along with fit and finish inevitably enters the conversation. Fit and finish is the biggest factor or sign of quality in a 1911/2011 pistol. When I discuss fitment I am referring to the relationship of the slide, to the barrel, and to the frame of the pistol. To achieve a level of precision, accuracy, and reliability out of this platform. Fitment reigns supreme at the end of the day. If not the pistol is unable to reach its full potential.

It is this attention to detail in this pistol’s fit and finish is not taking seriously reliability, performance, and accuracy will naturally suffer. This relationship between slide, barrel, and frame have to work in perfect harmony in order to produce the accuracy and reliability that the 2011 platform can achieve. It is essential that a competition pistol is reliable and accurate.

Atlas Gunworks is able to achieve this level of reliability and accuracy by their amazing CNC process and master gunsmiths. The company’s machinists uses the most stringent standards to CNC machine the slide and receiver are billeted out of steel. While Atlas’s master gunsmiths endeavor to create prefect harmony between slide, barrel, and frame to achieve the ultimate fit and finish. It is this combination of man and machine that allows for Atlas to achieve this level of quality and precision in their pistols.

The fitment of the Athena 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 flows in perfect harmony. How the slide, barrel, and frame interact is poetry in motion and absolutely effortless. This silky smooth interaction will leave you speechless. My first experience racking this slide is one of disbelief and amazement on how ridiculous smooth the movement of this slide is. You are in awe of its movement to the point you can only say, “Oooooo.”

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 Athena 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.

We have talked about the Athena and it’s fit and finish. Now, let’s move forward and dive into my training sessions and first impressions of the Athena.

Initial Dry Fire Impressions

Dry Fire Information

Firearm: Atlas Gunworks Athena

Time Spent: 2hrs (Over two different sessions)

Drills: Dry Firing w/Mantis X10, Target Acquisition and Transition, Draw Stroke Practice, and emergency and tactical reloads

Dry firing the Athena

I use dry fire time as a way to become familiar or acquainted with a firearm. While also becoming familiar with the manual of arms of the Athena. During these first couple of dry fire sessions lasting an hour the Athena left a strong impression upon me.

Let’s start with ergonomics. The Athena just feels good in your hand. The Athena features a 1911 grip angle. The angle allows for that pistol to fit comfortably into your hand which helps facilitate a high purchase on the grip of the pistol. Giving you maximum leverage with your dominate hand. The grip just molds and melts into your hand as if the Athena becomes an extension of your body. The grip texture on the frame has an aggressive yet moderate texture that allows for excellent grip even with sweaty hands. The Athena also features ambidextrous thumb safeties. The thumb safety located on the left hand side of the gun is extended. Which allows for the safety to act as a natural gas pedal/thumb rest to lock in your grip. The aggressive yet moderate grip texture combined with gas pedal/thumb safety allows for the ultimate grip. Once your hands are locked in they aren’t going anywhere. Unless…unless you actively look to break your grip on the Athena.

Next, let’s discuss this amazing trigger within the Athena. The Athena features a clean and crisp trigger. The trigger on this firearm will amaze you and leave you in awe. The Athena’s trigger is nasty short. Like you sneeze on this bitch it has enough energy to pull the trigger. The trigger is easily one of the best triggers in the game. The Athena’s trigger is easily in the Top 5 of 2011 triggers on currently on the market.

The Athena features a incredibly short uptake to its wall with a clean satisfying break at 2 lbs. The reset on this Athena is filthy. The first time you experience it will make you quietly whisper, “Ridiculous” to yourself. It’s so good it will make you angry and make you wanna slap somebody because it’s so good. It’s that impressive people. You have to experience this trigger first hand.

Finally, let’s talking about the 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 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 Athena is insane. Insane in the best possible ways.

Range Time & First Impressions

Range Information

Firearm: Atlas Gunworks Athena

Ammunition: Sellier and Bellot FMJBullet

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 On Range

During my first range visit with the Athena I shot 250 rounds of ammunition. This was also time spent becoming familiar with the firearm beyond my previous dry fire training. I wanted to get an understanding how this gun would behave once I started putting rounds down range.

50 Rounds At 10 yards

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 when shooting was the amazing trigger of the Athena. That incredibly short pre-travel to your wall with a nice clean break at 2 lbs. If finishes off with that 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 Athena 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 50 round slow fire I put a half dollar size group at 10 yards. During the initial magazine the group size of was right around the size of a quarter. The first 50 rounds out of the Athena did nothing but impress.

Final 200 Rounds

For 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.

The second thing that I noticed was how accurate this pistol was. When I was shooting the first 50 rounds at 10 yards and the grouping I put together was amazing. First magazine of ten was put in a group smaller than a quarter. During the whole 50 rounds about the size of a dollar coin. I did do a little shooting at 25 yards and beyond on steel. I was consistently able to hit steel at 25 yards and beyond. Which is very impressive for me. I don’t shoot beyond 25 yards much but, the confidence it built to know I can shoot that accurately at distance. This gun is amazingly accurate.

The One Drawback

The one negative I experienced on the range was that my thumb placement on the slide would effect the cycling of the slide. This occurred very infrequently but, from time to time my thumb placement would slow the slide down enough it wouldn’t feed the next round. I was using the ambidextrous thumb safety as a ad hoc gas pedal for the Athena.

During my initial investigation into this issue I noticed that if my thumbs rode to close to the slide it would malfunction. Or if my thumbs rode too tightly next to the slide the gun would malfunction. I had to find that sweet spot. Once I found that sweet spot I had no issues. I had to work through that problem during my initial 250 rounds with the Athena.

My initial impressions of the Athena is a great one. This firearm is a super car and is track ready out of the box. How Atlas is able to marry speed, precision, and accuracy 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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