By William Collier
This is not a gun review in the usual sense. This one is more along the lines of watching ‘Top Gear’ to see the latest Ferrari weighed against the newest Koenigsegg, and to watch someone complain about the dimensions of the cupholders in a million-dollar hypercar.
We will assess the Laugo Alien pistol to determine — if one is in the habit of making foolishly extravagant financial decisions — just how foolish this one might be. Allow me to offer the lede, and even the conclusion, up front: I am pleased to report, as one of the common folk fortunate and/or foolish enough to have acquired the Laugo Alien Signature Edition pistol, that its claims to fame are justified.
The effect of this exotic gun’s design is not magic. If you can’t shoot a $500 pistol worth beans, you won’t be able to shoot this one worth beans either. That said, the Laugo Alien is…surreal. It rewards good technique astonishingly well without the need for a compensator or barrel porting.
As its designers claim, the recoil vector is directed almost straight back into the web of the strong hand. With proper forearm strength and technique and a bit of practice, a skilled shooter can hold a sight picture throughout recoil. That is, when you manage it, quite a strange experience, especially on a pistol which doesn’t vent gasses vertically.
My rapid-fire group sizes were significantly smaller than my groups with my other pistols for any given rate of fire….on the order of 50% tighter. As fast as I could work the trigger with my amateur finger, I couldn’t manage to land a round outside the head on a standard silhouette at seven yards.
The Laugo Alien feels in the hand like a pistol, but the results in rapid fire feel more like a carbine. Again, that’s not because the pistol “makes it easy,” necessarily, not because it substitutes for good technique, but because it rewards you when you do your job, as a precision instrument should. That’s something I have never experienced in the same way except with a carbine.
My results with the Laugo Alien in slow fire were likewise dramatic. The pistol rewarded me for eliminating a very slight angle in the vector of my trigger pressure, shifting the point of impact at seven yards from a quarter inch left of aim to dead-nuts center.
I don’t have the facilities to determine how accurate this pistol is. With simple remanufactured FMJ and a red dot, I was able to discern no dispersal at all at seven yards. As long as my technique was correct, the bullet hit exactly where the center of the dot had been at the moment of break, centered to less than a millimeter. It is rifle-accurate.
I have employed several less-experienced shooters, some experienced with rifles and shotguns, but less so with pistols and even a few who were brand new to shooting, to help me test this thing. We observed that each improvement a shooter made to his or her technique dramatically reduced group size in rapid fire and noticeably improved shot placement in slow fire. It’s just real good.
I will note here the nature of the Alien’s felt recoil. Others have accurately said that such a low bore axis results in a sharp recoil impulse. Your hand, wrist, and arm absorb the full impact, unlike in pistols of a higher bore axis which send their recoil at least partially over the hand in the form of a rotating movement.
With the Alien, you feel the recoil as a percussive impact into the web of your hand, rather than as vertical torque. Think of the difference in recoil between a Beretta 92 (or other higher-bore pistol) and a pistol with a relatively lower axis such as a GLOCK. The Alien is the GLOCK in this comparison, only much, much more so.
The Alien’s rearward recoil impulse is not unpleasant as pistols go, thanks to its weight, the strength of its operating springs, and its gas-delayed blowback operating system. One female tester who generally prefers to battle the muzzle-rise of a high-bore pistol rather than endure the more uncomfortable hammering of GLOCKs and their relatively lower bore axis ilk, absolutely adores the Alien.
Attesting to this: with the Alien, for the first time in her life, she was shooting a pistol at such a rate of fire as to produce a coherent parabolic stream of empty brass through the air.
With higher-bore-axis pistols, she hadn’t the forearm strength to shoot that fast with accuracy, and with other lower-bore-axis pistols she would not because it hurt too much. With the Alien, even for her, it was a joy to pour out full-power 9mm rounds as fast as she could make her finger go. To her credit and the pistol’s, she made a tight cluster of holes at six yards.
Unlike many highly tuned match guns that I have shot, the Alien seems to be extremely reliable. We experienced not a single malfunction in the hundreds of rounds we have fired consisting of simple, cheap remanufactured FMJ in slow and rapid fire. This is noteworthy because the same lot of ammunition suffers failures to fire (at a rate of 1% to 2%) in other high-quality firearms.
Granted, this Alien is very new, but my daily-carry GLOCK has less than a thousand rounds through it, and the same ammunition in the GLOCK produces FTFs (nicely-dimpled primers in unfired cartridges) at the above rate. The Alien fires them without a hitch.
I presume its upside-down hammer to be dropping with some thunder. We haven’t tried any wad-cutter bullets through it, but round-nose and defensive hollow-points all feed perfectly. The strange upward way the pistol lobs empty brass (of necessity because the chamber is way down there in the frame, well below the slide) seems to work just fine.
The replaceable top rail works as advertised, which is to say, shockingly well. Installing the rail is a matter of positioning it on the frame, sliding it aft so that it “snaps” into place, and then pushing home the captive pin at the front.
Initially, the “snap” was very tight. It took a sharp rap with the heel of the palm or a nylon mallet to get the rail to seat properly. That eased within 10 repetitions until it could be done with strong thumb pressure.
The top rails held zero throughout multiple swaps. The adjustable iron sights are excellent, though as with all open sights, they best reward those who have learned the full volume of pistol iron sights technique. These sights and this pistol are easily equal to the task of a bull’s-eye pistol competition, more than able to hold their own against tuned 1911s on the 50-yard slow-fire target.
That said, a note about the Alien’s trigger: It’s also very good, certainly one of the best stock pistol triggers on the market, but not quite as clean as a race-tuned 1911. It has a couple of degrees of smooth slack, and then a bit of travel under friction (AKA “creep”) as the sear is drawn off the hammer.
To be sure, it brooks no comparison to common striker guns, and feels very different from even the lightest and finest of those (such as the Walther PPQ), but that creep is there and a factor if you are trying to make those precise shots into a six-inch space at 50 yards with one hand.
On my unit, the bearing surface between the hammer and sear seems to be about 0.025 inches, according to my digital calipers, so that’s how far you have to move the sear with the trigger before the hammer springs free. I suspect that competition shooters (who can accept extremely light trigger pull weights) will experiment with sears cutting closer to the edge, but as it stands now, the 25 thousandths of an inch of sear bearing surface translates to about 35 thousandths of an inch of trigger creep at the tip of the trigger.
While noticeable in slow fire, that can be taken up carefully if you need to make an ultra-precise shot at the highest levels of competition. In rapid fire it goes unnoticed and is a non-factor.
Grip texturing is, in a word, awesome on the front and back straps. The golf ball style grip panel texture and precise front and rear checkering yield zero slippage during rapid fire. Never once did I have to readjust my grip.
The slide serrations are also excellent. They could be used to saw through timber and will flay your hand before they let your grip on the slide slip.
Overall, fit and finish are, well, perfect giving the impression of a hand-fitted match-grade pistol. The only thing I had to monitor was the installation screw for the detachable magazine well flare. The flange works as advertised, making reloads a breeze, but it can be removed by backing out a small set screw on the bottom.
I found that this screw backs out of its own accord during shooting, loosening the removable flange until it rattles a little. A little blue Loctite and some judiciously applied torque took care of that.
Are there any real flaws in the Alien, any drawbacks at all? Well, yes, relatively speaking. As others have noted, the price of the gun is broadly prohibitive. You will pay what you would for your bull’s-eye tuned 1911—after all the tuning. Fortunately, you get that level of quality from Alien, as well.
Alien owners are waiting for customization options, such as a barrel with a threaded muzzle, or magazines of expanded capacity. Lancer, the Alien’s distributor, remains committed so far to long-term support of the gun and swears these and other options are coming, but there is still no word yet of aftermarket or even spare parts support for the pistol.
The Alien is also a full-sized, all-steel pistol, so it is big and heavy and not meant for real-world carry, per se. It comes with what is supposedly a race holster, but I don’t much care for the thing. It tends to bite down and bind on the pistol if you don’t pull at exactly the right angle (some training helps here).
Finally, because this pistol begs to be shot at machine gun speeds, you will tend to do that, burning through tremendous volumes of ammunition. So you may consider that a drawback given current ammunition prices and availability.
The upshot of all of that rapid-fire shooting, in conjunction with the pistol’s all-metal construction, is that in short order its entire frame is smoking hot. The thumb and heel of the palm of your support hand, and your trigger finger which you so conscientiously keep “straight and off the trigger” between engagements, will be singed if you don’t have shooting gloves with good insulation.
All in all, I am floored by the Alien. It is exactly what it is advertised to be, an out-of-the-box competitor to highly-modified race guns and hand-fitted bull’s-eye guns…a surreal shooting experience for expert and novice alike.
I would like to thank Lancer’s people, particularly, for fighting the good fight to bring it to our shores. To give the reader a little background on that, the ATF essentially used COVID and other excuses to refrain from acting on the already legal and approved import agreement, effectively stonewalling (without justification) the pistol’s importation.
Lancer’s leadership went to war, legally speaking, filing suits and ultimately enlisting the aid of elected officials to force the ATF to finish processing the application and issue the final approval. It’s through the dedicated efforts of Lancer Systems that we have this new toy today.
Specifications: Laugo Alien Signature Edition Pistol
Overall Length: 8.2”
Barrel Length: 4.8”
Weight (empty): 2.2 lbs
Magazine Capacity: 17 rounds
Price: about $5000 retail (if you can find one)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance: * * * * *
It’s gorgeous. It’s sleek, brutal, and ultramodern…a standout design in an age of Tavors and chassis rifles.
Fit and Finish: * * * * *
Flawless. That’s the only word for it. And it had better be at that price.
Promises, promises. We shall see.
Reliability: * * * * *
I was a little surprised by this. I have yet to be able to make it not work.
Accuracy: * * * * *
Probably sub-MOA. It’s remarkably accurate.
Overall: * * * * ½
A brilliant gun that’s almost impossible to acquire and lights you on fire if you have too much fun with it. The cup-holders are a little small.
This is a reader-submitted review.