Alchemy Arms Spectre - Why'd It Fail?


PDA
Joshua M. Smith
11-30-2008, 06:40 AM
Hello,

I was looking through some old gun rags I have laying around. I came across an ad for an "Alchemy Arms Spectre," which looked like a 1911 crossed with a Glock.

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b191/WabashShootist/Guns/alchemyarmsspectre.jpg

I think it looks kinda' cool, and it could be had in .45acp.

What I'm not understanding is, why did this design fail? The Springfield XD has a pivoting trigger, something some 1911 enthusiasts hate, and it has only the grip safety.

The Spectre thing, if it functioned well, looks like it should have been at least as successful as the XD.

I can't find much about these on the 'net? It looks like Alchemy Arms has gone under (no web page any longer), and the only real info is on someone's blog, here: http://bewaryandcarry.blogspot.com/2005/05/alchemy-arms-spectre.html

What can you tell me about this thing, and what happened to it?

Thanks,

Josh <><

If you enjoyed reading about "Alchemy Arms Spectre - Why'd It Fail?" here in the FamilyFriendsFirearms.com archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join FamilyFriendsFirearms.com today for the full version!
Nathan C Lewis
11-30-2008, 06:56 AM
"Why'd it fail?", gee I don't know Ollie:D. I would guess that because they are so damned ugly might have had something to do with their demise:). Some years ago I saw 1911's for sale in Africa I think, they were called 'Falcon' or something like that, and I have not seen them anymore either, I guess a lot of guns (like other things) come and go, Nate

Joshua M. Smith
11-30-2008, 08:27 AM
This thing had all the features of the Springfield XD, when the XD was still some unknown gun being made in, what, Croatia?

I guess maybe it's because it wasn't a big name.

From its looks, it was probably a better gun, if it functioned.

Josh <><

Marinesg1012
11-30-2008, 09:33 AM
I dont know but they do look nice I would like a range day with it.

budroe
11-30-2008, 10:32 AM
Josh, the XD was designed by Zastava Arms of Croatia, formerly of Yugoslavia. Zastava is much better known world-wide than S.A. Before S.A. purchased the rights to build the XD, Zastava had sold them all over the world. I have one of the original models tested by the Croat Army.

I'm not sure why Alchemy Arms and the Spectre pistol failed, but would imagine like a lot of small companies they just didn't have the financial backing to keep the company running. The Bren Ten was a highly touted pistol Dornaus & Dixon developed. They probably could have sold thousands in the first couple years if they could have produced enough. While an interesting design, the gun had problems. Worse, the company had money problems forcing them to shut down production after only a couple years. Think in the long run only a few more than a thousand of these 10MM's were built. There's a lot more than the design of the gun that goes into a successful production.

bobotech
11-30-2008, 11:19 AM
I can tell you why it failed. The 1911 has features that appeal to people because they are 1911s. Single action trigger, single stack, real hammers, metal frame, metal slides, and a very distinctive look.

Now the posted you showed looks like someone wanted a 1911 with glock features. That would appeal to very few people. Most people who like glocks like glocks and aren't big time 1911 fans and most 1911 fans aren't big time glock fans. I'm not saying you can't own both but usually people lean one way or another.

If I wanted to get a 1911, i sure as heck would NOT choose a polymer framed 1911 (that is polymer, right?) with no hammer.

If I wanted a glock, I sure as heck wouldn't want a single stack polymer pistol.

Tried to appeal to both sides of the coin which made it less appealing to all. Unique idea but not everyone wants unique.

The XD is a completely different animal. Its MUCH more of a glock than the Alchemy gun. Has double stack, striker fired, proven long term manufacturer, etc. The Alchemy was unproven, single stack.

In a nutshell, if someone likes chocolate ice cream and someone else likes beef jerky doesn't mean tha beef jerky flavored (with beef chunks) chocolate ice cream is a good idea.

The big point of failure in my book is single stack vs double stack, that has huge appeal to most glock lovers (even I love double stack pistols over single stack).

CA357
11-30-2008, 11:45 AM
I think the answer has been posted already. Lack of adequate capitalization dooms many new companies. No matter how good the product or the service, if you can't keep the doors open, it's over.

Please don't ask me how I know this. ;)

macktruckturner
11-30-2008, 07:10 PM
I'm guessing it was a lack of funding. Polymer-framed 1911s do still exist (KZ45), but they're far from being as popular as their metal-framed forefathers.

Joshua M. Smith
11-30-2008, 10:29 PM
If I wanted to get a 1911, i sure as heck would NOT choose a polymer framed 1911 (that is polymer, right?) with no hammer.

From what little I can find, that is not polymer, but rather aluminum alloy.

Thanks for the replies. I still think it looks kinda' cool. Might end up with one if I can find one in a few months...

Josh <><

Bren
11-30-2008, 10:50 PM
They didn't make it due to poor sales.

I've held them and thought they where ugly as hell and my thought was "some things just shouldn't breed". :psycho:

If you like them then buy a Taurus. Bwahahaha!!!!

Joshua M. Smith
12-01-2008, 12:51 AM
I've held them and thought they where ugly as hell and my thought was "some things just shouldn't breed". :psycho:

Oh! I get it! Like a Hawaiian girl and Kenyan man!

Bad things happen :lool:

bobotech
12-01-2008, 01:30 AM
Asked a buddy of mine what he thought of the gun. He said that it had zero appeal to him. Was ugly and didn't look like a true 1911 should. He stated that he would never consider one.

Dframe
12-01-2008, 09:15 AM
I dont know but they do look nice I would like a range day with it.
+1

Cliff47
12-02-2008, 09:40 AM
There was one of those at a local gun show earlier this year. I picked it up (after getting the approval of the owner), but it just did not feel right in my hand. If a pistol does not pass that "feel" test, I remove it from my desired list pronto. It is a full-metal frame, but somehow it just don't look right.

You might check out www.wadesguns.com (http://www.wadesguns.com). I think they are a local seller of the Specter. Might even have one in the rental case at the range.

Dframe
12-02-2008, 02:41 PM
There is no simple explaination for the failure of a new gun design. Just WHAT causes the public to accept and buy new products is a whole different study. There have been MANY good designs that failed to capture the imagination of the general public.
The Dardick comes to mind.

NavyChief
12-05-2008, 10:56 AM
The Dardick comes to mind.

Ya' mean this... ??

At a casual glance, the Dardick looks like just a butt-ugly pistol:

The Dardick (http://airbornecombatengineer.typepad.com/airborne_combat_engineer/2006/12/49_years_ago_th.html)

http://airbornecombatengineer.typepad.com/photos/weapons_fireams/dardickclean.jpg

Dframe
12-05-2008, 02:12 PM
Yup. Magazine fed revolver. Well made and inovative. Just never caught on. Probably because of its looks. Little did they know, really ugly guns (glocks) would be popular today. Of course if the glock had come out in 1959 it probably would have failed as well.

flysalot
12-05-2008, 06:00 PM
They prolly got sued by some liberal lawyer for ripping off Glock and not paying royalities!

biskit134
12-08-2008, 01:08 PM
"Why'd it fail?", gee I don't know Ollie:D. I would guess that because they are so damned ugly might have had something to do with their demise:). Some years ago I saw 1911's for sale in Africa I think, they were called 'Falcon' or something like that, and I have not seen them anymore either, I guess a lot of guns (like other things) come and go, Nate

Could it have been Griffin? These 1911s were from South Africa if memory serves me correctly. My brother has one, and I can say that it is very well made. It is accurate, the finish is parkerized (don't know if factory), it has nice grip panels, and it will feed a bank bag on nickels...

Bren
12-09-2008, 03:26 PM
Yup. Magazine fed revolver. Well made and inovative. Just never caught on. Probably because of its looks. Little did they know, really ugly guns (glocks) would be popular today. Of course if the glock had come out in 1959 it probably would have failed as well.

I don't see anything "innovative" about that gun other than a novelty. The Glock would have made it in the 50's because it was "innovative" and much more useful and reliable than a gangly mag fed revolver! :up:

bluedlightning
12-09-2008, 06:49 PM
The major fault of the Dardick was flimsy construction and a cartridge called a "Tround" which was triangular in shape, which allowed it to be loaded backwards!

gmcfixer
12-12-2008, 05:00 AM
The Spectre failed for a couple reasons, main one being money, they didn't hit the market like gangbusters so they didn't last. Second it was a alloy framed piece of garbage that did not shoot well, it did not shoot accurately (althou some gun writers gave it high reviews after recieving their free gun) and it was uncomfortable to shoot if memory serves me well. I can remember hearing folks talking of wear issues right off the bat too due to poor quality alloys and bad QC. But this all relies on my memory .....

Dave Z

TGreene
12-30-2008, 07:59 AM
I probably know more about the Spectre's than anyone other than the manufacturer... I'm also the person that took the photo of the 2 pistols in the first post for Alchemy's marketing and publication purposes. Those 2 belong to me (I sold the black one), and as they were photographed, I was showing off a .40sw and a .45acp as signified in the 2 clusters of ammo.


A little about them:

Frame is milled T6 Aluminum which is then anodized
Slide is Stainless Steel - available in polished or anodized
Adjustable 1911 style trigger
Magazines are modified double stack Witness mags
Key lock is for the magazine block safety
When Alchemy Arms first arrived on the scene at Shotshow in 2001, my partner and I fell in love with their concept, and placed an order for 27 to be custom built, engraved, and serial numbered specifically for us. Since we were having Richard Heine install his Straight-8 night sights on them, our Serial numbers all began with "CAH-xx" to signify Castle Arms / Heine. The "xx" was a number beginning with 01. Number 26 was given away at Pasa Park's 26th Annual Meeting by Dick Metcalf, President of Pasa Park and editor of Shooting Times magazine.

Unfortunately, Alchemy wasn't quite as far along in their QC as we had all hoped, and their tooling left a bit to be desired. Most of what we initially received had to be shipped back to be reworked or completely s****ped, and then they were slow as molasses in getting a quality final piece to us... They finally began trickling in at a rate of 2-3 per month.

During all of the time that had elapsed between when we initially placed the order, and when we actually began receiving acceptable quality pistols, I had taken to doing a bit of R&D on these myself, and had actually done a much better job of honing them than Alchemy did. 98% of the problems were related to the slides, so that's where I started.

To back up a bit and provide a bit of history; Alchemy was a sideline startup that was a spin off from an aerospace manufacturer that did a lot of Boeing contract parts. Because of their primary industry, they were used to very tight manufacturing and parts tolerances, which is pretty much the opposite of what we need in firearms, because tight parts have the uncanny ability to bind. Their foray into the firearms market began with manufacturing Glock accessories, and they grew from there...

Back to the faulty slides - Being primarily an AR collector that also really liked 1911's, I began looking at the friction areas within the slides, and discovered that their tooling had left burs at the base of the feed ramp and also in the recessed in cut that allowed the barrel to move independently within the slide. I polished the hell out of these areas with a special 1/2 belt air-driven grinder/polisher, and resolved those issues. Then I discovered that the ejector was too soft and would often begin to deform after a few hundred rounds, so I let Alchemy know that as well, and they began having them hardened to a different Rockwell rating which resolved that issue as well. -- I began all of this by duplicating the way I polish AR & 1911 actions to a mirror finish with 600 & 1200 grit Black Oxide sandpaper.

The earliest magazines were iffy at best since they were hand modified EAA Witness mags, but that too was resolved once they started having their own mags stamped out by the same folks that make Witness Mags... The modification was nothing more than a side cut that allowed for the Mag Catch.

It got to the point that William (CEO of Alchemy) would send me pistols to "play with" in regards to finite polishing when he was at a point where he was banging his head against a wall trying to figure out why something wasn't working. They had replaced a lot of their bad tooling to alleviate the problems that they were having, and eventually got to a point where they had run out of money for continued R&D and production, so they began courting some of the biggest names in the industry in hopes of a merger which apparently never happened. The last I spoke w/ William was during the summer of 2005, and I knew he was really struggling to stay afloat at that point.

Now for the good stuff!

While I knew that he was working on a 9mm version to compliment the .40 and 45's, I don't believe that it ever materialized beyond a few prototypes, or I'm sure that I would have received one... eventually.

With all of the honing and polishing that I had done to my pistols, they are absolute tack drivers. I also have a number of additional slides & barrels that I had worked on at different times, and most of them are also well refined. Some were beyond repair, but I kept them for the internal spare parts.

For the guys talking in terms of these basically being a single stack Glock, you're dead wrong. While the grip frame is machined to the same dimensions as that of a 1911, the mag well is machined to accept the double stack Witness mag.

The biggest thing that people tend to question is the Beaver Tail Grip Safety. Well, it is what it is and I love having it there. The biggest gripe that I've always had in regards to double action pistols, is that the slide has the ability to remove flesh from your thumb if your not careful. These not only alleviates that potential issue, but it's a 1911 grip safety.

Recoil is nearly non-existent, with the 45 having the recoil of a very light 40 load, and the 40 feeling like a 9mm... I can only imagine that a 9mm version would have the felt recoil of a 32. Because of the extremely low amount of felt recoil, double and triple taps were much quicker and far more accurate than with any other pistols I've owned... Had Alchemy been able to resolve their financial and R&D issues before their demise, I could see where these would now be standard issue with many LEO's and even Military.

My trigger is refined and adjusted to a #2.75 pull.

The Spectre frames were available in Stainless, Black or Greenish Bronze (my favorite), with any combination of Black or Stainless slide. Being fully interchangeable, you could have any possible color combination, though the Bronze/Black and Black/Stainless as pictured in the OP seemed to be the 2 favorites.

In an attempt to get some Military exposure, I was sent a pistol to give to my brother-in-law (as a gift from Alchemy) who at the time was pretty far up the food chain at Ft. Benning. He passed it around to several Range Officers who fell in love with it, as well as some of the Brass that he worked with. I had received several phone calls with questions from several servicemen on the base, and the ones that I was unable to answer, I forwarded on to William. My brother-in-law was then transferred, so I have no idea if anything transpired from the exposure at Benning. I do know that of all of the firearms that my brother-in-law owns, the Spectre is by far his favorite pistol and he had attempted to get clearance to take it with him to Iraq. I don't know if that ever happened or not.

I've owned dozens of pistols, and once properly honed and polished, the Spectre is without a doubt my absolute favorite! I've read everything from "it's the best" to "it's the worst", yet oddly enough never anything in between. You either love it or hate it, and I can only guess that the hate is based more upon either never having fired one, or having received a lemon that needed serious work. Had They (Alchemy Arms) not had to endure the issues they had, I honestly believe that the Spectre would have swept the market in unprecedented numbers, because it's truly everything that you would ever want in a defensive handgun. Seriously, imagine an ulta-lightweight 1911 that accepted double stack mags, and had the ability to change calibers in a matter of seconds with a quick slide & magazine change. The front end sported a mil-spec tac rail for a light or laser, and it accepted Glock sights.

Another very feature is the nothced "index safety" on either side of the front of the trigger guard... This is designed to keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to fire. I'm so used to it, that it just feels weird to not have it on any of my other firearms.

Nearly everyone that handles mine wants to know how they can get one, but sadly unless you're lucky enough to find one on Auction Arms or Gunbroker, chances are that you'll never have an oppoortunity to own one.

The only positive that can ever come from Alchemy going out of business, is that the value of MY pistol will only continue to go up. Couple that with the fact that mine is setup for both calibers, and the serial number is actually my name, and I truly have an absolute one-of-a-kind custom setup.

BTW: On multiple occassions I had placed these in the hands of both Richard Heine (mastor pistolsmith) and Dick Metcalf (Shooting Times), and they both really seemed to like them, even though they are both very much 1911 guys.

-Tim

Dframe
12-30-2008, 11:25 AM
You're right but what I was referring to was the inovation. Shabby construction could have been fixed. I didn't know the tround could be loaded backwards.

TGreene
12-30-2008, 12:19 PM
You're right but what I was referring to was the inovation. Shabby construction could have been fixed. I didn't know the tround could be loaded backwards.
I'm not sure I follow you on this one... If you're suggesting that somehow a round could have somehow been loaded backwards, that's a new one to me... There were chamber issues , but correcting the feed ramp and adjusting the chamfer by polishing it out a bit completely corrected that issue as well.

Depending upon where you're located in Illinois, my former partner in Quincy may actually still be sitting on a couple of these... If you're at all interested, try contacting Castle Arms at either 217-641-0364 or 217-223-5082... I really don't even know if he's still in business, but you can try.

-Tim

Joshua M. Smith
12-30-2008, 10:47 PM
Tim,

Thank you for the info.

I believe Rick, referring to the Tround, is talking of another pistol which took triangular cartridges.

Josh <><

TGreene
12-31-2008, 03:09 PM
Ahhh, nevermind then.

Dframe
12-31-2008, 03:37 PM
The major fault of the Dardick was flimsy construction and a cartridge called a "Tround" which was triangular in shape, which allowed it to be loaded backwards!
Tgreen this is what I was refering to, when I mentioned the tround being loaded backwards. I'll give your old partner in quincy a call. I'm just outside springfield and would gladly make a roadtrip over the the river town.

gmcfixer
01-01-2009, 03:13 AM
I found Tgreene's comments interesting, I don't recall everything on the gun and only handled one at the range in Randolph. Guy had nothing but fits with it (BTW it was a 45ACP and it didn't like his wadcutters) and told me how it had some wear marks on the rails even though the gun only had about 500 rounds through it. Once again this was what 5 years or so back and I wasn't that interested in it so my brain bucket may not remember all the details. I shot 5 rounds through it if I remember right and while I was hitting the target better than he did it still was nothing to write home about, it had only 1 failure when I shot it was a failure to chamber the last round, push on the back of the slide and it when home and went bang. Maybe this was one that left the factory without getting the additional work you have done to them. BTW I have seen folks getting Glock parts from them and haven't heard any griping over those parts. I do think it would be interesting to fire one that has been retuned as you describe, of course I'd want to do a little reshaping on the frame to make it more comfortable in my hands, but I can be a picky SOB :D

Dave Z

Dframe
01-01-2009, 01:49 PM
I don't think we're talking about the same thing. I was talking about the dardick, which I have been fasinated with for a long time.
No idea what everyone else is refering to. The dardick, used a triangular cartridge called a tround, and never used conventional ammunition. The closest description is a magazine fed revolver (Sort of).

gmcfixer
01-01-2009, 01:56 PM
I don't think we're talking about the same thing. I was talking about the dardick, which I have been fasinated with for a long time.
No idea what everyone else is refering to. The dardick, used a triangular cartridge called a tround, and never used conventional ammunition. The closest description is a magazine fed revolver (Sort of).The thread is about the Spectre pistol, the dardick was just mentioned during the thread.

Dave Z

itr674
07-06-2009, 08:27 PM
TGreene--do you have any schematics you could send me or post on the this site, please?

Spectre owner
08-09-2009, 10:43 AM
As an owner of one of these pieces of junk, I can tell everyone that it failed because it was flawed. I bought one since I hate the feel of a Glock and love a 1911. I quickly found out that the firing pin would hang into the chamber frequently. I did on occasion encounter automatic fire from my weapon as the firing pin would not retract out of the chamber through most of the magazine. I like everyone else who encountered this problem sent my weapon back to Alchemy Arms for repair. After a long wait, they stated 'We need to redesign the gun'. Shortly thereafter they went bankrupt without notice and without returning anyone's weapons. I hope that helps clear up the debate.

itr674
08-10-2009, 12:54 PM
TGreene--do you have any schematics you could send me or post on the this site, please?

Still looking for a schematic--anyone have one?

If you enjoyed reading about "Alchemy Arms Spectre - Why'd It Fail?" here in the FamilyFriendsFirearms.com archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join FamilyFriendsFirearms.com today for the full version!