Firearms|1,000 Round Review
By Drew Bryant
October 28, 2022, theloadoutblog.com
It’s a rare opportunity to own a supercar. Let alone be in the driver’s seat of one. Having the ability to drive a supercar is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that very few people have the chance to enjoy. Driving a supercar is to experience the symphony of man and machine working in perfect harmony. To experience speed, performance, and precision on an ungodly level. To feel how a perfectly balanced suspension handles during tight corners as the tires hug the asphalt. While the lateral G’s hugs your body to the seat. To experience the breathtaking acceleration down the straightways and coming out of hard corners. This is the adrenaline-filled experience only a supercar can provide.
Automotive names such as Lamborghini, Koenigsegg, Ferrari, and Pagani are at the pinnacle of automotive engineering, innovation, and excellence. These supercar manufacturers’ names hold tremendous clout within the automotive world. 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 different car stratosphere.
This type of experience when it comes down to supercars also applies to the 1911/2011 platform. Certain names within the firearm industry invoke an exceptional level of quality that deserves our respect. These manufacturers are in the 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 be in the driver’s seat of one of those supercars. The supercar that I had a opportunity to drive was the Atlas Gunworks Athena. This 2011 is built from the ground up with performance in mind and designed to be pushed to its limits. A spectacle of design and performance. Attention to detail that is nearly unrivaled. The Athena is a quintessential race gun. Let’s take a closer look under the hood of Athena.
The Athena is one of the flagship pistols from Atlas Gunworks. This pistol was engineered from the ground up to be a competition pistol. When putting all the elements together everything about the Athena has a supercar vibe to it. A vibe that I am very much in tune with.
The Athena has a supercar heritage running through its build and design language. The Athena is one of the most aesthetically pleasing 2011s on the market. With its geometric front and rear slide serration design. The front serrations are slightly skeletonized to reduce weight and provide balance to the pistol. The Athena is a sexy pistol to look at. Which only solidifies that supercar vibe. At least in the realm of looks.
The Athena features aggressive front and rear slide serrations, a 4.6” bull barrel, an aluminum frame, a moderately textured grip, adjustable rear sight, a fiber optic front sight, and a slide that comes optics-ready. The Athena being optics-ready gives the end user the ability to add the red dot of their choice. The versatility of being able to run irons or red dots is essential for the modern pistol.
My time with Atlas Gunworks Athena, allowed me to gather an excellent impression of what this pistol has to offer to the end consumer. At, the end of the day the Athena is a wonderfully handcrafted 2011 that surpassed my expectations again and again during the evaluation process. The Athena is shaping up to be a strong contender to the throne as the best competition 2011 on the market.
In-depth Breakdown of the Atlas Athena
Now, since I’ve given you an introduction to the Athena let’s take a closer look at this amazing pistol. As, Garand Thumb would say, “Let’s go tip to butt.”
Barrel, Slide, & Iron Sights
First off, let’s start with the barrel. The Athena comes with a match-grade 4.6” bull barrel. That bull barrel is machined in-house by Atlas Gunworks and provided expectational accuracy during my time with the Athena.
Next, you have the slide of the Athena. The slide features aggressive, geometrical, and aesthetically pleasing front and rear slide serrations. The design of the serrations is sexy yet effective. There were many times while shooting the Athena in which my hands were sweaty and I was able to effectively manipulate the slide with no issues.
The Athena features traditional iron sights. This pistol has blacked out and adjustable rear sight. Which leads to a bright red fiber optic front sight. The Athena comes optics ready from the factory which allows the end user to mount their red dot of choice.
Frame, Safeties, & Trigger
Moving down from the slide we will head to the frame. Atlas uses an aluminum frame on the Athena. Atlas calls the grip texture moderate on the Athena. When you lock your grip on this pistol it is there to stay. The moderate grip texture has sticky and tacky-like lifting chalk. Once your hands are locked in. They are locked in. The grip texture is perfect in the competition environment. Allowing you the ability to lock your grip in even with sweaty hands.
Next, let’s talk about the safety of Athena. If you continue to inspect the frame of the Athena you will notice the removal of the traditional grip safety that the 1911s are known for. Now, you have a normal back strap with ambidextrous safeties.
The ambidextrous safeties have a smooth and fluid motion to them. While also having a nice tactile feel with an audible click. The safety selector on the left side of the pistol is more prominent. In turn, acting as an ad hoc gas pedal to help you lock your hands in as a shooter. The right-hand safety is a low-profile safety. The larger safety presents a problem when trying to find a holster that will accommodate the Athena.
Finally, we have the trigger. The trigger within Athena is amazing. The 1911/2011 pistols are known for having some of the best triggers in the game. This trigger is clean and crisp. The Athena has an amazing trigger. The Athena is easily in the conversation for the Top 5 of 2011 triggers currently on the market. The Athena features a wonderful short uptake to its wall with a clean and satisfying break at 2-2.25 lbs. That includes an amazing and filthy trigger reset. A reset so filthy it will make you yell out, “Daaaaammmmmnnnn,” like Craig and Smokey from Friday. Yes, people, it’s that impressive.
Overall the Athena is a wonderfully built firearm and it shows by the attention to detail and engineering put into this pistol. The Athena has supercar DNA all over it. When you hold the Athena it screams speed, performance, and quality. It invokes a certain level of confidence in the end user. At, the end of the day Atlas Gunworks has built a wonderfully handcrafted 2011 experience.
Fit & Finish
The biggest factor in the quality of any 1911 or 2011 is its fitment. When I discuss fitment I am talking about the relationship and interaction between the slide, barrel, and frame of the pistol. To achieve that level of precision, accuracy, and reliability out of the 2011 platform…fitment is key. If not reliability and accuracy will naturally be diminished or in question. This relationship between the slide, barrel, and frame has to work in perfect harmony to produce the accuracy and reliability that the 2011 platform can provide. A competition pistol must be reliable and accurate. It is what a competitive shooter demands from their pistol.
The Building Process
This reliability and accuracy are achieved by Atlas’s amazing CNC machining process that features stringent standards of quality of components. Along with the artistry of their master gunsmiths. It’s 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. I don’t know if I can find anything that can rival it. There is no play or extra movement anywhere on this pistol. No excess or unnecessary movement between the frame and the slide. No matter which direction you attempt to manipulate it the Athena doesn’t budge. That silky smooth movement and interaction between the slide, frame, and barrel flow harmoniously and effortlessly. This silky smooth interaction will leave you speechless. Speechless in the best way possible.
My first experience racking this slide is one of disbelief and amazement at how ridiculous and smooth the movement of this slide is. The profound level of quality and attention to detail is something to be marveled at and to be respected all at once. 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 Athena slide you will experience the attention to detail and love Atlas put into their pistols.
Now, with those initial thoughts on the Athena complete, let’s dig into the review.
1,000 Round Review
I had a month with Athena. During that month I was able to dry-fire it extensively and conduct a 1,000-round review. During those thousand rounds, I learned a lot about Athena and the capabilities of this pistol. The biggest takeaway from this evaluation was that the Athena is a highly accurate and extremely reliable pistol. Also, it is a leading option for the best out-of-the-box competition pistol money can buy. I do have some caveats when it comes to the Athena, yes. Which I will discuss later on in this review. Overall, the Athena is an extremely capable, reliable, and accurate pistol. The Athena falls into the supercar category of pistols.
1,000 Round Breakdown
During my review process, I shot about 250+ rounds per outing. The first outing with the Athena was to gain familiarity with the gun. Just a get-to-know-you time. The second outing was a 250-round mini Burndown Sage Dynamics style with 50 rounds of defensive ammunition. The last outing was about 400 rounds where I worked on the draw from holster, speed, consistency, and transitions of targets.
First Range Visit & Impressions
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 of how this gun would behave once I started putting rounds down range.
Initial Rounds With The Athena
To start 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 2-2.25 lbs. If finishes off with that filthy short reset, I mentioned earlier. The trigger kept all the same characteristics from dry fire to live fire. Having that flawless transition was nice. No, need to reeducate yourself on the nuances of the trigger. That isn’t always the case.
The Athena has a well-tuned and very responsive trigger. This gun can burn the house down 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 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 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 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 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.
My initial impression of the Athena is a great one. This firearm 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 amazing firearms.
Now, let’s discuss The Burndown. When doing the burndown I am looking 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. To see if this higher rate of fire will cause any malfunctions or weaknesses in the design of the gun when it decides to rear its ugly head during that 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.
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 pistol. The Athena was reliable…boringly reliable I might add. Which is good when you need the Athena to run smoothly in the middle of 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 well-oiled machine.
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. 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 is quite impressive.
Atlas & Perfect Zero
Next, 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 control. If the fundamentals are applied correctly the Athena should fall right back on target. When I was shooting longer strings of fire the Athena just stayed on target. Just putting dropping rounds on top of rounds. It makes me feel like I’m playing Contra again on the Super Nintendo 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. Shooting the Athena made me feel like the Contra cheat code was enabled.
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 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 control.
At the end of the day from 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. The time I hope to have with the Athena one day.
Final Range Visit
On my final range visit, I shot about 400+ rounds. This range day was just to push my limits with the gun and have some fun. I ran plate racks, dueling trees, and shot steel anywhere from 3 to 25 yards.
The final range visit was to lock in my final thoughts on the Athena and what value it brings to the end user.
The more I shot the Athena the more I was impressed by its build quality, reliability, and accuracy. This is a pistol with supercar DNA. It is power, dynamic, and agile. Able to blaze down the straightaway and able to handle tight corners with ease. This pistol is meant to be pushed to its limits and so is the shooter. Its supercar pedigree cannot be denied.
When shooting the Athena there wasn’t a shot I didn’t feel like I couldn’t take with the Athena. This is such a wonderfully designed pistol from the ground up it invokes a level of confidence in the shooter. I never had this type of confidence or swag with another pistol. I own a couple of 2011s and I am confident with them but, this Athena is on another stratosphere.
The Athena is a supercar through and through. It’s a pistol that competitive shooters dream about owning and shooting. The Athena is at the pinnacle of 2011 competition pistols. Its pedigree is undeniable at this point and time. Supercar DNA runs in its blood.
Now, it’s time to discuss the caveats I have for the Athena.
Overall, I believe the Athena is a wonderfully crafted pistol. It was built from the ground up with a supercar. Just because it’s a wonderfully crafted pistol doesn’t mean it’s flawless. There is so much the Athena excels at. Dollar-for-dollar value it’s hard to find a competition in 2011 that is better. There is one main caveat I want to discuss with this pistol which is price and presentation.
I want to discuss the price and presentation of the Athena. Everyone knows that an exceptionally built 1911/2011 comes at a premium. It’s the naked truth and a part of the business. You get what you pay for in this market. Plain and simple. That’s the reality of the competition 2011 marketplace. The Atlas Gunworks Athena comes in at a premium price point. The Athena will set you back a cool $6,000.
Now, everyone can’t ball out like that and spend $6K on an Atlas Gunworks Athena. Damnit, I can’t even afford this amazing pistol. It’s too rich for my blood, unfortunately. Yet, again a caveat to this is I’m willing to save my pennies, nickels, and dimes to own one cause I understand the value it brings to me the…shooter. While some people will find it hard to justify $6K for a competition 2011 pistol, such as the Athena. Most people will call you a gun snob and elitist saying there is no reason for a $6k pistol. I believe most take this position for a few reasons: (1) the pistol is unattainable so bashing it is only natural (2) owning an Athena is a flex on the poor (3) they are hated because they could own it. Which begs the question who is the Athena for?
Who is the Athena For?
At the heart of it all, that’s a very complex question. I’m a firm believer that the Athena is worth every penny of that $6k price tag. The Athena is such an amazingly designed and engineered pistol I believe that this is the go-to competition 2011 pistol on the market.
For most shooters to pay $6k for a pistol no matter how phenomenal the design, ergonomics, or accuracy is a hard sell. When you have CZ Shadows, Staccatos, and others that can be priced significantly lower and still provide you with an awesome competitive shooting pistol. By buying one of these alternatives the shooter can spend the remainder of the cash on accessories and training to become a more proficient shooter.
At the end of the day, the Atlas Athena is for the discerning owners and connoisseurs of ultra-premium 2011 pistols who are looking for an unrivaled competition pistol at their fingerprints. The Athena is for the serious competitor who does this for a living. That is being competitive on the USPSA, ISPC, etc. That is who this gun is built for. This gun is meant to be driven and pushed to its limits. It thrives on the edge of performance. It is not meant to be a safe queen but, a speed demon on the track.
The final topic I wanted to touch on was the presentation. The Athena has a $6k price tag. I would want the presentation experience to be top-notch as well. The Athena comes with a pistol range bag by Atlas Gunworks with three pistol mags.
In regards to the presentation, I believed Atlas Gunworks is severely lacking. You can buy a Zev Technologies OZ.9 pistol. That OZ.9 will come with a small red Pelican pistol case, cutout foam inserts, and a user manual and warranty. That whole build will set you back about $2,000-$2,800. That’s a rough estimate. If I spend $2500 on a pistol and can have that type of presentation. I expect my $6k Athena to meet that bar and surpass it. I’m not saying the Atlas Gunworks pistol bag isn’t a well-built quality range bag, because it is. I just expect more with my investment. Atlas provides an ultra-premium 2011 experience. I’m looking for all parts of that experience to be made with the same attention to detail. Especially, at a $6k price tag. That is what sets apart the supercars from others an unrivaled user and customer service experience. Everything is balling.
During my time with Athena, it was an absolute blast and blessing to shoot. The more time I spent with Athena, the more I became transfixed by its precision, speed, and accuracy. The more I was able to bask in its remarkable build quality and craftsmanship. It is something unique, powerful, and ultimately satisfying to learn something about a firearm. That experience can either be aesthetically or mechanically. When it happens it brings a wonderful smile to my face. The Athena is a wonderfully handcrafted supercar from the gram over at Atlas Gunworks.
In conclusion, the Athena is a supercar in the 2011 pistol world. The Athena from Atlas Gunworks shares the lineage of precision, power, and speed of the world’s most famous supercar brands. Automotive giants such as Lamborghini, Koenigsegg, Ferrari, and Pagani come to mind. This pistol is on another level. Once you experience an Athena you will understand what I mean. This is a pistol designed for competition by competitors who know what it takes to design a winning firearm out of the box. The Athena needs speed that can only be satisfied by a shooter with the will to bring out its full potential.
Breakdown Of Strengths & Weaknesses
+ Amazing Fit & Finish (Racking the slide is an experience for all six senses)
+ Atlas Gunworks Perfect Zero Tuning
+ Can reliable run various loads of 9mm ammunition
+ Excellent Ergonomics & Recoil Impulse
+ Competition ready 2011 from factory to consumer
– Price Point (That $6k is steep)
– Overall Presentation (I expect a Ferrari experience through every aspect of this firearm)
– Designed for specific niche market
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.