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 and rare club in the driving world. Names like Lamborghini, Porsche, Ferrari, and McLaren come to mind when discussing supercars. These supercar manufacturers’ brands are iconic and hold tremendous clout within the automotive industry. In 2021, over 35,000 supercars were sold worldwide. That’s a very small number when you consider over 66.7 million new cars were sold internationally in 2021 alone. That means out of all the cars sold, supercars only account for .0524% of all car sales internationally. This means driving a supercar or owning one puts you in a rarified air.

It is the same way when it comes down to the 2011 platform. Certain names within the firearm industry invoke a certain level of respect and are in a different stratosphere when it comes down to making 2011s. Names such as Staccato, Infinity, Nighthawk Custom, and Atlas Gunworks come to mind. These 2011s are the pinnacle of firearm craftsmanship.

Recently, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to drive one of these supercar pistol. The supercar that I had a chance to drive is the Atlas Gunworks Athena. This 2011 is built from 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 driving the amazing La Ferrari. The La Ferrari is a hybrid supercar with a 6.3L V12 motor pushing out 789 hp with an additional 161 hp boost from its electric motor. Creating a supercar with a 0-60 of 2.5 seconds. It is not only a speed demon but features a good balance rear-wheel-drive experience. The La Ferrari is made for speed and precision just like the Athena. The Atlas Gunworks Athena is powerful, and 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 supercar 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 pistol and to see what it brings to the table for the competition shooter and the average shooter like 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 pistols you can find on the market. The design of the slide just screams the epitome of style. The sleek and sexy lines effortlessly flow into the frame of the pistol. The frame has aggressive grip texturing that helps 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 red or green front sight, 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, fit, and finish inevitably enter the conversation. Fit and finish is the biggest factor in the sign of quality a 1911/2011 pistol. When I discuss fitment I am referring to the relationship and interaction between the slide, barrel, and 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 finishes that can have serious ramifications on the reliability, performance, and accuracy of your pistol. This relationship between the slide, barrel, and the frame has to work in perfect harmony to produce the accuracy and reliability that the 2011 platform can achieve. A competition pistol must be extremely reliable and accurate.

Atlas Gunworks can achieve this level of reliability and accuracy through its amazing CNC process and master gunsmiths. The company’s machinists use the most stringent standards to CNC machine the slide and receiver. While Atlas’s master gunsmiths endeavor to create perfect harmony between slide, barrel, and frame to achieve the ultimate fit and finish. It is this combination of man and machine that allows 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 Athena doesn’t budge. The silky smooth movement and interaction between the slide, frame, and barrel flow in perfect harmony. This interaction is poetry in motion and is effortless. 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. You are in awe of its movement to the point you can only say, “Damn, that’s sexy.”

This 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 its fit and finish. Now, let’s move forward and dive into my training sessions and my 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

Dryfiring the Athena

I use dryfire time as a way to become familiar or acquainted with a firearm. The first two training sessions lasted more than an hour or more. This time left a strong impression on 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 dominant 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 are applied.

The Athena also features ambidextrous thumb safeties. The thumb safety located on the left-hand side of the pistol is extended. Which allows for the safety to act as a natural gas pedal/thumb rest to help 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 you actively look to break your grip on the Athena.

Next, let’s discuss this amazing trigger within this pistol. The Athena features a clean and crisp trigger. The trigger in the Athena will amaze you and leave you speechless. The Athena’s trigger features a nasty short uptake, a solid but light wall, and a satisfying clean and crisp break. The trigger pull weight comes in at 2.5 lbs. It feels like if you sneeze on this bitch it has enough energy to pull the trigger. 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 firsthand. The trigger is easily one of the best triggers in the game. Bar none.

Finally, let’s talk about the racking/manipulating of the slide of the Athena. As, I stated before the interaction and movement between the slide, barrel, and frame are excellent. The build quality of the Athena 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 of this Athena are 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 dryfire training. I wanted to get an understanding of how this gun would behave once I started putting rounds down range.

50 Rounds At 10 yards

To start this range visit I conducted a slow fire session 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 uptake to your wall with a nice clean break at 2.5 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 Athena has a very (and I do mean very) responsive trigger. This gun can work if you have the skill set to bring out its full potential. It’s like hitting the gas pedal on a supercar. If you don’t have the experience how to handle all that horsepower and torque you will potentially crash an automotive masterpiece. You have to come to understand 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 a 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 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 the time at the range, I focused on failure drills, the bill drill, transition drills, and reloads. While shooting the Athena I noticed how smooth and effortlessly that Athena fell back on target. I was shooting 3-6 rounds as quickly as I could while maintaining accuracy on target. During those long strings of fire, the Athena 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. The first magazine of ten was put in a group smaller than a quarter. During the whole 50 rounds about the size of a dollar or half-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 to me. I don’t shoot beyond 25 yards much but, the confidence is built to know I can shoot that accurately at a 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 affect 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 an ad hoc gas pedal for the Athena.

During my initial investigation into this issue, I noticed that if my thumbs rode a little too close to the slide and it would cause this 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.

Final Thoughts

My initial impression of the Athena is a phenomenal firearm. The Athena is a supercar and is track ready out of the box. How Atlas can marry speed, precision, and accuracy in this firearm is quite impressive. The craftsmanship and build quality are impeccable. You can see the attention to detail, hard work, and care that is put into these 2011s. The Athena is shaping up to be a wonderful gun. I’m looking forward to spending more time with this firearm and continue running it through its paces.

Thanks For Reading

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article hit that like button and subscribe to the newsletter. If you have any suggestions, ideas, or comments. Feel free to drop a comment below. Be Humble. Train until only savagery remains. Remember to stay deadly ladies and gents.

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