Designing a new pistol from the ground up, and then starting a new company to manufacture it is difficult, to say the least. Doing it in California is darn near impossible. That makes Jim Pontillo’s accomplishment all the more impressive. Jim has managed to design a gun and bring it to market in what may be the toughest environment in the United States. His model 9C1 autoloader is one of only two new handguns approved by the California Department of Justice for manufacture or sale within the state. Ruger has the other one, so Jim is in good company.
Jim is an engineer who owns a successful tool and model making company. So he has the technical chops needed to design a new self-defense pistol, and, thanks to his primary business, has the resources to stay in the game for the long haul as the 9C1 gets off the ground. Working with Jim, I started testing the 9C1 about 6 months ago. Like all new products, the early models had some bugs that needed to be corrected, but during the process I was very impressed by Jim’s attitude. He took every complaint and suggestion on board, and re-engineered the gun to correct or improve whatever was in question. He is a guy who definitely wants to get it right.
Visually, the 9C1 is unique. It has a nice clean profile, but your eye will immediately notice that the slide is extensively inscribed with text. A closer look will reveal that most of that text is actually the Bill of Rights from the Constitution of the United States with each of the amendments distilled down to a few pithy words. You might be tempted to dismiss this as just a gimmick, but you’d be wrong. Jim Pontillo cares deeply about this country, about our history, and about our constitution and the liberties it guarantees. Part of FMK’s corporate charter describes FMK’s desire to, “encourage Americans on a journey to embrace and understand American history and our Founders’ intent in setting down into law the philosophies and principles which make the United States of America the greatest nation on earth.”