Every now and then a pistol is introduced that changes the gun world, influencing how all other pistols are designed and manufactured. Colt’s Model 1873 Single Action Army (the Peacemaker) revolutionized the revolver, Colt’s 1911 revolutionized the magazine fed semi-automatic, and the Glock 17 introduced in 1982 revolutionized polymer pistols. I believe that the Laugo Arms Alien will bring the next revolutionary changes to the pistol world as we know it.
That’s a big statement. How could a brand new company that no one has heard of really improve the fundamental design of the modern pistol? Read on, and I’ll explain.
Who is Laugo Arms?!
If you go to their web site, you’ll see that Laugo Arms produces only one firearm — the Alien. Don’t let that fool you. These guys are not new to the firearm world. Prior to starting Laugo Arms they designed the M8A SMG Laugo, which was picked up and manufactured by CZ as the Scorpion EVO 3, a sub-machine gun that’s popular with military and law enforcement agencies around the world.
Unsatisfied in their relationship with CZ, they struck out on their own in 2017, moved their operation to Prague, and started Laugo Arms Czechoslovakia.
What makes the Laugo Arms Alien revolutionary?
I’ll give you the list of features (as listed on their website) and then go into details about most of those features, below.
- The lowest bore axis
- Fixed barrel
- Low center of gravity
- Gas piston delayed blowback
- Slide is reciprocating on the sides only
- Exchangeable non-reciprocating upper part of slide
- User friendly striker fired controls
- Robust uncomplicated military grade construction
- High level of modularity and easy customization
All of these features are sought after in a pistol, and they aren’t all unique to the Alien. Many modern pistols have SOME of them. But having all of these features in a single firearm is 100% unique to the Alien.
The Lowest Bore Axis
What is bore axis?
The bore axis of a firearm is the longitudinal axis which goes through the center of the gun barrel. In a rifled barrel the projectile will spin around the bore axis as it goes through the barrel. – Wikipedia
Pistol bore height is measured from the bore axis to top of the hand on the grip. This image from Gun News Daily comparing the Glock 21 (1.27 inches) and the Sig Sauer P320 (1.78 inches) does a great job of illustrating bore height.
The Laugo Arms Alien bore axis is -0.1 inches, which means that the center of the barrel is actually lower than the top of your hand on the grip — which equates to very little muzzle flip after a shot — making it easier to stay on target when firing multiple shots.
Here is a front view of the CZ Shadow 2 (left) compared to the Laugo Arms Alien (right).
Fixed Barrel and Gas Piston
What do they mean by a fixed barrel? Most semi-automatic pistols have a barrel that moves after you fire a round. There is a strong spring and rod below the barrel that keeps the barrel in place and cycles after each shot. A lot of pistols have a barrel that actually angles up slightly during that cycle; Glock, Springfield, CZ, are three examples. But the Laugo Arms Alien has a barrel that is fixed (attached) to the frame of the pistol, so it free floats much like a sniper rifle would. Instead of using a spring and rod to return the barrel, the Alien uses a gas piston and a spring ABOVE the barrel to cycle the slide to grab the next round. And the barrel does not move with the slide.
The use of gas pistons is not new technology, but it’s much more common in sub-machine guns that have higher rates of fire than the typical pistol.
Both of these features add to the speed and accuracy of the pistol.
Here is a nice video that shows the disassembly of the Alien, and gives a great look at the fixed barrel and gas piston in the pistol.
Slide is Reciprocating on the Sides Only
For a lot of people, the Laugo Arms Alien is the first pistol that they have seen that has a slide that only moves on the side instead of the whole top of the pistol. But I’ve actually seen it before in a Smith and Wesson Model 41, a competition level .22 caliber pistol designed just after World War II. The first time I shot it I was really impressed with how stable the sights were after each shot. Of course it was a very small round, but the idea is that after a shot is fired a much smaller portion of the pistol’s mass moves back and forth. It is the same with the Laugo Arms Alien. A very stable sight picture is the result, allowing multiple shots without a lot of time spent aiming between shots.
Many pistols these days are coming with what are called “lightening cuts” in slides — either new from the manufacturer, as a custom modification from a machine shop, or purchased after the fact through a third party. Lightening cuts are an attempt at reducing the mass on the slide. If it is designed that way by the manufacturer, lightening cuts can be very dependable. But when a pistol is customized after the initial purchase, sometimes a stronger recoil spring is required because of the different weight.
Exchangeable Non-Reciprocating Upper Part of Slide
This is my favorite feature of the Laugo Arms Alien. The whole upper part of the slide is non-reciprocating, meaning it doesn’t move at all. Additionally it can be quickly and easily removed (by pulling a single pin) and switched out with another one. This means that you can own and choose from multiple uppers, each with a completely different type of sight on it. Set the zero on each sight once, then you can easily switch between them whenever you want. The whole switching of the upper part of the pistol only takes twenty seconds or so.
Another benefit of a stationary upper is that expensive red dots will last much longer since the electronic components are no longer jarred back and forth as they are on a traditional slide.
User Friendly Striker Fired Controls
The Laugo Arms Alien is a striker fired pistol, with the hammer of the pistol being internal instead of external. This is typical of most newer semi-automatic pistols, making them easier to carry concealed or in an open-carry holster. But what is not typical is that the Laugo Arms Alien has an INVERTED hammer that is a part of the pistol upper — the part that is easy to change.
So, I’m thinking that (in future versions of the Alien) I’d like to see Laugo offer a varied selection of trigger pull weights on their changeable uppers. That way you could have a low pound trigger for competition shooting on one upper, and then change to a higher pound trigger, for carry, when you leave the range.
Final Thoughts on the Laugo Arms Alien
With so many incredible features packed into one pistol, I think this small company is going to grow very quickly. Right now they only advertise their initial (sold out) limited edition Alien, with a numbered run of only 500 pistols at $5000+ each. I bet every major firearm manufacturer in the world bought one of those initial 500 for the purpose of reverse engineering. My prediction is that you will start seeing other pistols similar to the Laugo Arms Alien from these other firearm makers over the next five years, and the pistol world will be changed forever because of it.
The Alien is definitely a game changer in the gun world, with design features that appeal to all types of gun owners. Even my wife — a solid believer in the “quality over quantity” philosophy of gun ownership — is ready to pay big bucks for one of these pistols. It will be interesting to see what else Laugo comes up with. I’m sure they will continue to make big changes to the status quo, and I’m hoping that will include something revolutionary that even the average firearm enthusiast will be able to afford.