Monday, July 17, 2023

High-End Alien Handgun Spotted Among Zelensky's Security Team


Government of Ukraine / Laugo Arms

An elite member of Ukraine's military tasked with VIP protection was observed with a unique Laugo Arms 'Alien' 9mm pistol. This infrequently seen handgun is recognized for its unconventional design that guarantees an elevated level of accuracy, alongside being noticeably costly. This individual was part of the security team escorting President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, along with other senior officials, to Snake Island, located on the westernmost part of the Black Sea, on July 8. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, chief of Ukraine's Defense Intelligence Directorate, or GUR, was also present. While the source of these security personnel remains unknown, GUR is known to possess the ability and access to advanced weaponry and equipment.

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The visit was a grim reminder of the 500-day long conflict in Ukraine, instigated by Russia's full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022. The Russians had initially taken over Snake Island, also referred to as Zmiinyi Island, but it was eventually regained. The courageous resistance of the initial Ukrainian defenders became a rallying symbol and the island continues to symbolize the nation's determination.

Twitter user @AbraxasSpa was among the first to identify the Alien pistol on one of the Ukrainian servicemen protecting Zelensky, Budanov, and others during the visit. The video footage from the Snake Island journey only provides a limited view of the firearm, but its unique shape and features are clearly distinguishable.

The rear aspects of the pistol's slide, including the rear sights and its frame, all indicate its identity as an Alien. These components appear distinctively different from those on the Russian Arsenal Firearms Strizh pistol, which has been proposed as an alternative. 

The Alien, staying true to its name, flaunts a design that stands out when compared to conventional handguns. The design primarily focuses on a static barrel located in the frame instead of the slide, giving the pistol a noticeably low bore axis.

Handguns with a low bore axis design naturally help in lessening felt recoil, as a majority of the force is directed back into the hand instead of over it. A compact slide that only exists on the sides, not the top, of the pistol significantly contributes to having less mass moving backward at a lower height. This, consequently, helps minimize the muzzle's inclination to lift during firing. The outcome is a firearm that offers a high degree of accuracy, even during quick firing, needing less time to realign the target for another shot.

It's noteworthy to mention that low bore axis pistol designs aren't a recent invention, with numerous designs achieving a lower bore axis to different extents. However, Laugo's Alien stands out, particularly regarding how the barrel is mounted below the slide to optimize bore axis performance. According to Laugo, the Alien boasts the lowest bore axis currently available in the market.

As indicated before, the innovative internal mechanism of the gun allows for a slide design unlike those found on standard semi-automatic pistols. The Alien's slide is open at the top, with a stationary 'strap' that fits into this space. This implies that the pistol's sights remain still when it fires, aiding in targeting, particularly during rapid successive firing. This feature leverages the firearm's greatly diminished muzzle flip, providing a more stable sight picture.

Weighing in at 2.47 pounds with an empty 17-round magazine, the Alien is significantly heavier for a 9x19mm pistol. For comparison, the current generation Glock 17 weighs just a tad over one and a half pounds when unloaded. In terms of weight, the Alien aligns more with larger caliber handguns like the iconic .45 caliber Colt M1911, which weighs approximately two-and-a-half-pounds when empty. Nevertheless, Laugo advocates for the Alien's low and balanced center of gravity, claiming it aids in overall handling.

The Alien pistol's conception dates back to the early 2000s, but it was not until the early 2010s that its lead designer, Jan Lucansky, began working on it actively. The company Lucansky founded is named after a Roman settlement, Laugaricio, which was situated near present-day Trencin in Slovakia, where Laugo Arms was initially established. The Alien pistol's name alludes to the renowned film franchise of the same name and its emblematic Xenomorph aliens, with the firearm's resemblance to these fictional creatures being striking.

The headquarters of what is currently known as Laugo Arms Czechoslovakia has since been relocated to Prague in the Czech Republic. Czechoslovakia amicably split into the Czech Republic, formally known as Czechia, and Slovakia in 1992. 

Lucansky had previously designed a submachine gun that evolved into the CZ Scorpion Evo 3. The rights to the Evo 3 were eventually bought by Czech gunmaker CZ, now a part of the Colt CZ Group, and they continue to produce variants of that design used globally by law enforcement and military units.

The Alien was first introduced to the public at a trade show in Germany in 2019 and debuted in the United States, where Laugo Arms also operates a division, the following year.

Up until now, the Alien doesn't seem to be a standard tool for any significant military or law enforcement group. Laugo's Facebook page showcases images of various European military personnel testing the pistol during an event in 2019.

Otherwise, the company has marketed Alien pistols heavily to professional competition shooters, and their pricing matches that target group. In the United States, these pistols typically retail for around $5,000, which is five to 10 times the cost of most common semi-automatic handguns available today. Even more upscale and custom Glock platform-based pistols with traditional designs, like the ZEV Technologies' OZ9, can be bought for under $2,000. The Alien's price is more comparable to a handcrafted custom 1911.

Despite the price, the Alien's superior performance can prove advantageous in several operational scenarios. Particularly for those entrusted with the protection of high-value individuals, like President Zelensky and Gen. Budanov on Snake Island, having a highly accurate sidearm is invaluable. Handguns can be more easily deployed than many compact rifles or other long guns in the close-quarter environments where protective security details often operate.

The circumstances under which the apparent Alien pistol seen in the recent video footage from Snake Island ended up in Ukraine remain unknown. There's no clarity as to whether this is a standard weapon for premium protective details or any other units in the country. Ukraine's military and other security services have been utilizing a wide range of small arms since the conflict began. The diversity of available designs has only expanded thanks to Western aid and the capture of Russian types. Aliens can also be bought on the commercial market in Europe.

Regardless of the details, at least one of the personnel responsible for guarding Zelensky, Budanov, and the other Ukrainian officials during the recent trip to Snake Island was armed with one of the most advanced pistols available on the commercial market today. This marks the first known use of this exceptional firearm by a military unit.

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