One of Ukraine's elite military VIP protection operators was spotted carrying a Laugo Arms 'Alien' 9mm pistol. This rare handgun features a highly exotic design that offers a very high degree of accuracy and it's also extremely expensive.
The individual armed with the apparent Alien pistol was part of the protective detail that accompanied Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other high-ranking officials to Snake Island at the Western end of the Black Sea on July 8. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine's Defense Intelligence Directorate, or GUR, was also among those present. We don't know who provided the protective security personnel, but GUR certainly has this capacity, as well as access to higher-end and otherwise more novel weapons and equipment.
The trip marked the 500th day of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which began with Russia's all-out invasion on February 24, 2022. Russian forces seized control of Snake Island, also known as Zmiinyi Island, early in the conflict, but it has since been recaptured. The defiance of the original Ukrainian defenders became a rallying cry and the island remains a powerful symbol of the country's resolve.
Twitter user @AbraxasSpa was among those to first spot the Alien pistol on the hip of one of the Ukrainian service members guarding Zelensky, Budanov, and the others during the visit. Though the available video from the Snake Island trip offers only a limited view of the pistol, it has a very distinct shape and features.
What can be seen of the rear of the pistol's slide, including the rear sights, as well as its frame all point to it being an Alien. These elements certainly look different from those on the Russian Arsenal Firearms Strizh pistol, which has been another suggestion.
True to its name, the design of the Alien is, in many ways, alien when compared to other traditional handguns. The core of the design is centered on a fixed barrel positioned in the frame, not the slide. This gives the pistol what is referred to as a very low bore axis.
A handgun with a low bore axis design inherently helps with mitigating felt recoil, since much of the force is directed back into the palm rather than over it. A low profile slide that really exists on just the sides, not the top of the pistol, also helps greatly with having less mass moving backward at a lower height. All this, in turn, helps reduce the muzzle's tendency to flip upwards during firing. The result is a high degree of accuracy even during rapid fire, with a shorter time needed to get it back on target to fire again.
It is important to note that low bore axis pistol designs are not new, with many designs accomplishing a lower bore axis to varying degrees. But Laugo's Alien is a whole other animal, especially in terms of how the barrel is mounted below the slide in order to maximize bore axis performance. Laugo says the Alien has the lowest bore axis on the market today.
The video below gives a detailed breakdown of the Alien's design and how it works.
As noted earlier, the novel nature of the gun's inner works allows for a slide design that is completely unlike the ones found on typical semi-automatic pistols. The Alien's slide is open at the top and has a fixed 'strap' that fits into that space. This means the pistol's sights are not moving when it is firing, helping with aiming, especially when firing multiple shots in rapid succession. This feature capitalizes on the gun's greatly reduced muzzle flip, providing a more persistent sight picture.
At 2.47 pounds with an unloaded 17-round magazine, the Alien is very much on the heavier side for a 9x19mm pistol. For comparison, a current generation Glock 17 weighs just over one and a half pounds unloaded. Weight-wise, the Alien is more in line with larger caliber handguns like the iconic .45 caliber Colt M1911, the standard version of which tips the scales at around two-and-a-half-pounds empty. Laugo does tout the Alien's low and balanced center of gravity, which it says helps with overall handling.
The concept of the Alien pistol dates back to the early 2000s, but its lead designer, Jan Lucansky, only began actively working on it in the early 2010s.
The name of the company Lucansky founded is a play on that of a Roman settlement, Laugaricio. It was situated near present-day Trencin in Slovakia where Laugo Arms was founded. The name of the Alien pistol is a clear reference to the famous film franchise of the same name and its iconic Xenomorph aliens. The resemblance of the gun to these terrifying fictional creatures is undeniable.
The headquarters of what is currently known as Laugo Arms Czechoslovakia has since moved to Prague in the Czech Republic. What had been known as Czechoslovakia peacefully split apart into the Czech Republic, formally known today as Czechia, and Slovakia in 1992.
Lucansky had previously designed a submachine gun that evolved into the CZ Scorpion Evo 3. Czech gunmaker CZ, now part of the Colt CZ Group, eventually purchased the rights to the Evo 3 and continues to make variants of that design which is used around the world by law enforcement and military units.
The Alien made its public debut at a trade show in Germany in 2019 and was first shown in the United States, where Laugo Arms also now has a division, the following year.
To date, the Alien does not appear to be publicly in standard use by any major military or law enforcement group. Laugo's Facebook page has pictures, one of which is seen below, of what look to be various European military personnel trying the pistol out during an event in 2019.
Otherwise, the company has heavily marketed Alien pistols to professional competition shooters and they have a price point to match. In the United States, these pistols typically sell for around $5,000. This is easily five to 10 times the cost of most common semi-automatic handguns on the market today. Even higher-end and more bespoke Glock platform-based pistols with more traditional designs, like the ZEV Technologies' OZ9, can be had for under $2,000. The Alien is priced more in line with a hand-built custom 1911.
All this being said, the Alien's high performance would be beneficial in various operational scenarios. In particular, for personnel charged with protecting high-value individuals, like President Zelensky and Gen. Budnaov on Snake Island, carrying a sidearm with a very high level of accuracy makes perfect sense. Handguns, in general, can be more easily brought into action than even many compact rifles or other long guns in the kinds of very close-quarter environments that protective security details often find themselves working in.
How exactly the apparent Alien pistol seen in the video footage from the recent visit to Snake Island might have come to be in Ukraine is not known. It is not clear whether this is in any way a standard weapon for high-end protective details or any other units in the country, either. Ukraine's military and other security services have certainly been making use of a wide array of small arms since the conflict began. The number of available designs has only increased thanks to Western aid and the capture of Russian types. Aliens can be purchased on the commercial market in Europe, too.
Whatever the case, at least one of the individuals charged with guarding Zelensky, Budanov, and the other Ukrainian officials during the recent trip to Snake Island looks to have been armed with one of the highest-end pistols available on the commercial market today. And in doing so, it marks the first known use of this exotic weapon by a military unit.
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