Firearms|500 Round Update

By Drew Bryant
September 28, 2022, theloadoutblog.con

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to spend more time behind the wheel of the Athena. During that time I was able to get more familiar with the nuance and personality of this supercar pistol. This time allowed me to put the Athena through its proper racing paces. As I articulated previously, the Athena is a supercar/race pistol. The Athena wants to go fast. The team over at Atlas Gunworks has designed and built this pistol from the ground up to be a fast, agile, and responsive pistol. Able to blaze during the straightaway, hug the curves during tight corners, and accelerate down the straightaway with its monster engine. This gun is meant to be driven fast. “If your not first, your last,” as Rick Bobby once said in Talladega Nights. That rule applies here with the Athena.

In this portion of the process, I wanted to test the reliability of the Athena. Reliability is key in a competitive setting. You need to know that your pistol can perform at a high level under an accelerated shooting cycle. The 2011 platform can have reliability issues if appropriate attention to detail is not paid during its fit and finish. For such a well-built and expensive gun as the Athena, I hypothesize that the pistol will be extremely reliable. I also wanted to test my speed and accuracy with the Athena. I wanted to push myself as a shooter to pass my limits. Could I keep up? Or would I crash and burn? Like Icarus whose wax wings melted when he flew too close to the sun. Only time will tell how it will all play out.

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 Athena. Instead of shooting 500 rounds of ammunition as fast as possible. I will shoot 250 rounds of ammunition as fast as possible. The goal is to push the Athena harder to see if the accelerated rate of fire will induce any type of malfunction. I will also be testing the Athena to see how it 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

The main goal of my dry fire sessions was to become more familiar with the manual of arms of the Athena and its trigger. The Athena is rocking a feather-light 2.5 lbs trigger pull. The Athena’s trigger is very light and ultra-responsive. This trigger is designed for fast and accurate fire at a any cadence of fire. You need a solid understanding of your trigger press, break, and reset for this pistol to excel. If not you could have a negligent discharge or pin your trigger to the rear. So, learning how to accelerate and decelerate aka throttle control is important with a highly tuned trigger like the Athena has.

The drills that I used to help me with my throttle control or speed with the Athena was my MantisX Training System. The MantisX 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.

That’s what I did on the dryfire side of the house to prepare for this test of speed and accuracy with the Athena. Now, was the time for the burndown and to see how fast I can go without crashing and burning.

The Burndown

Before, I dive into the analysis of the burndown. I am keeping my eye out for a couple of things during this process. First, I’m looking for how the gun functions under a higher rate of fire than it is normally used to. To see if this higher rate of fire will cause any malfunctions or weaknesses in the design of the gun. Which may decide to rear its ugly head during this time. Second, 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 article. Now, let’s get into the burndown.

Running & Gunning

For the burndown, I took 250 rounds of S&B 9mm and shot it as fast and accurately as possible through the Athena. 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 Athena. The Athena was reliable…boringly reliable at the end of the day. Which is good when you need the Athena to run smoothly and flawlessly during a match. You need to know that this pistol will work whenever you need it. No questions asked. At, the end of the day the Athena ran like a beast.

A couple of takeaways from the burndown that I noticed. First, the harder I ran the Athena the smoother the gun ran. The Athena likes to run hard…I mean hard. 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 was smooth as silk and is quite impressive.

The best way to describe the effortless operation of the Athena is to use the analogy of a supercar on the race track. Let’s use La Ferrari as an example. Like any supercar on the track, the first few laps are used for the driver to become familiar with the course. While also getting the car up to racing temperatures. That’s for both the engine and the tires. This allows the engine to reach its peak temperature for optimal performance. While allowing for the tires to heat up and gather the proper grip to handle the rigors of the track. Once that engine reaches its optimal temperature and those tires grip to that asphalt like glue. Then, the driver can push La Ferrari to its full potential. This is the same concept that is happening with this Athena. The more I shot the Athena and the hotter, smoother, and more efficiently the pistol ran. I believe Atlas 2011s like to be pushed hard in general. They are amongst the supercar of pistols.

Perfect Zero

Second, I want to discuss what Atlas calls, Perfect Zero. Perfect Zero is the concept that the gun fires, lifts(aka muzzle flip), 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 press. If the fundamentals are applied correctly the Athena should fall right back on target.

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 Athena is built and fine tuned around shooting various types of 9mm. That can be 115-grain range ammo, 124-grain +P defensive ammo, or 147-grain subsonic ammo.

Think of it like Ferrari, Pagani, Koenigsegg, or McLaren fine-tuning a V-12 or V-10 engine for one of their supercars. Those master mechanics and engineers fine-tune those supercars to get the most out of those engines. To push those engines to their mechanical limits of performance. 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 is the proper application of the fundamentals of marksmanship.

When shooting the Athena during the burndown at an accelerated rate of fire my sights were falling right back on target. That is because I was applying the proper fundamentals of marksmanship. I would instantly notice when my fundamentals weren’t correctly applied because 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 longer strings of engagements. The Athena was an absolute blast to shoot during the burndown and allowed me to test my accuracy, recoil management, speed, and trigger press.

After, I completed the 250 rounds of the burndown. I allowed the Athena 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 Athena would handle defensive ammunition.

The Athena & Defensive Ammunition

For this test, I shot 50 rounds of defensive-grade ammunition through the Athena. The Athena is a competition pistol/race gun. I wanted to test how the Athena handled hotter ammunition. During this part of the evaluation, I used a 9mm 124-grain +P Speer Gold Dot.

I shot 50 rounds of Speer Gold Dot through the Athena. When it came down to the feeding and loading of the ammunition the Athena 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 a small noticeable increase but, nothing crazy. It was a little snappier yet, it was such a well-built and balanced firearm it handled it like a champ. The Athena still was a well-disciplined pistol. A small amount more muzzle rise but that was it. Overall it was a pleasure to shoot with defensive ammunition. I could run this gun just as effectively and fast with the defensive ammo as I could with the range ammo with no issues.

Final Thoughts

Over the last couple of weeks, I have spent more time dry-firing and live-firing the Athena. 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 the intricacies, of a firearm. That can be either in its build or mechanical prowess. It just brings a level of joy to me.

In my testing so far the Athena 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 Athena. That will take time. To tap into the full potential of the Athena you have to be a little bit of Neo and John Wick combined. You have to believe that you are The One and have the skillset to shred through targets like a boss. Once you reach this masterful blend of skill and belief in your talents your potential with the Athena is essentially limitless.

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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