What do you get when you take an Army Vet who is also a competitive shooter and former law enforcement officer and put him in the same room with an aerospace engineer with a manufacturing background? You get one incredibly badass pistol from a company with one of the most patriotic names in the industry. That company is Live Free Armory, and it offers a unique take on the 9mm with the Aluminum Match-Grade Pistol (AMP).
Getting AMP’d Up with the Live Free Armory AMP
I ran into these guys in a small booth in the basement of the Venetian during SHOT Show 2022. They had these two stands sitting out in front of their booth with pistols on them. They looked sort of like a Glock 19, but something was very different with these pistols.
Plus, their booth signs screamed ’Merica, so naturally, I had to stop and see what this was all about. This is when I was introduced to the AMP pistol.
The Live Free Armory Origin Story
Chris Riedeman is the founding member of Live Free Armory. He is a veteran of the United States Army, a former law enforcement officer, and a competitive rifle shooter. Around 2013, he became frustrated because he couldn’t find an accurate AR-10 rifle in .308 that didn’t break the bank.
Chris knew he could do better and set off to build an MOA rifle at a reasonable price. Using his inner circle of friends as his first customer base, in 2014, Chris turned his idea into a business.
During this initial build-up phase, Chris’s reputation drew the interest of a young, up-and-coming aerospace engineer named Colby Santaw who worked in manufacturing. Luckily for Chris, Colby was not your typical aerospace engineer who wanted to work for NASA. Instead, he came from a long line of engineers who have owned their own manufacturing companies and worked directly with Ruger and Sig Sauer.
Because of this, Colby grew up running and programming the very CNC machines that were needed to take Live Free Armory into manufacturing.
Onward and Upward
Four months after teaming up with Colby full-time, Live Free Armory was in hyperdrive. In 2016, the transition was made from Chris’s garage to a 2,000-square-foot bay not too far from Chris’ home in Saint Cloud, Florida. LFA’s employees grew to six in order to handle all the orders for AR-15/AR-10 rifles, carbines, and pistols coming in from all across the country.
The company was built around the “Made in America” mindset. However, that motto proved to be tough when finding well-made, American-made parts at reasonable prices was getting harder. This was when Live Free Armory decided to just solve the problem by directly becoming the manufacturer.
Fast forward to today, and Live Free Armory’s newest West Melbourne facility is packed full of state-of-the-art CNCs, turning, deburring, finishing, and testing machines.
Live Free Armory is definitely not a new company in the firearms industry. They now make OEM parts for more than 100 well-known companies. This leads them naturally down the path of producing their own complete pistols.
Meet The AMP
The Live Free Armory AMP is like a Glock, Sig P320, and 1911 got a bit tipsy at the bar, went home together, and created the perfect love child. A true blend of steel pistol precision without compromising the reliability and comfort of a modern polymer handgun.
This aluminum Match-Grade Pistol (AMP) has a fire control unit, much as you see on the Sig P320. Thus making the system extremely modular. The FCU is precision CNC-machined out of heat-treated 416 Stainless Steel. This allows for very tight tolerances and a near-seamless edge when sitting in the aluminum frame of the AMP.
I love the fire control unit idea because of Live Free Armory’s rifle manufacturing background. I am sure we will see some modular PCC options in the future to drop that thing in.
The Trigger is my only complaint with this entire pistol. It came from the factory at the time of testing with a standard Glock trigger.
Luckily, the aftermarket world has a plethora of trigger options. So, I just dropped my favorite trigger in it from Continuous Precision. The Continuous Precision trigger is aluminum and just seemed perfect for this situation.
The Aluminum Match-Grade Pistol in Hand
The frame has a grip angle that will be very familiar to 1911 fans. I personally love the grip angle of the 1911, so this frame feels perfect for me right from the factory. If you do want to change it up a bit, I am sure there will be several grip panel options to replace the factory removable ones in the near future.
The frame also features an extended beavertail that allows the pistol to sit lower and more comfortably in the hand. Its 100-percent aluminum design helps remove any possible flex found in the popular polymer pistols that share a holster with the AMP. You also get a built-in accessory rail up front for those who like carrying a light or laser.
Moving to the slide, Live Free Armory didn’t take the easy way out here either. You get a very attractive slide with stepped quad windows and nice, deep, aggressive serrations front and back.
The slide is also factory cut with an RMR optic cut to directly mount a sight without plates or adapters. If you don’t want to run an RDS system, you get a very nice metal cover plate. The plate features a machined American Flag on the top of it and beveled edges to perfectly match the slide.
In the slide, you will find a match-grade nitrided fluted barrel that is honed, and a rifle-cut for the best possible accuracy. Topping the slide off is a set of nice steel sights with front fiber optic and a blacked-out, serrated rear. These are also standard Glock-style sights, so you can easily put your favorite set of aftermarket sights on as well.
I personally liked the sights that came on the gun standard, though.
The AMP in Action
I had been looking forward to getting some trigger time on the AMP Pistol since I first laid eyes on it at SHOT Show. Once it arrived, I immediately dropped everything and headed to the range.
I had a mixture of about 500 rounds of 124-grain Black Hills JHP, 115-grain Pinnacle TAC-XP, 115-grain Remington UMC, 115-grain Ammo Inc. Streak, and 147-grain Federal Premium HST tactical.
I loaded up the first magazine and shot the pistol with no issues at all. Then I loaded up another magazine and experienced some issues with the slide not going back into battery. After this happened multiple times, I began getting frustrated and ended up packing the pistol up and heading home.
I contacted Live Free Armory, and they immediately sent me a return label so they could figure out what happened. After sending the gun back, they discovered that I had a very early-model fire control unit in my frame. They had previously discovered a small issue with this model and had already fixed it in newer models.
So, they immediately replaced it and sent it back to me. I had the gun back in about 36 hours from when I shipped it. Pretty incredible, honestly, and all covered no matter what under their lifetime warranty.
Running the New FCU
With the new FCU, I headed back to the range to run this thing again. This time, I added 125-grain Hornady steel match and 115-grain Fiocchi FMJ to the mix. I really wanted to run this gun hard.
I ended up putting around 1,000 rounds downrange by the time this article was written. And I experienced zero malfunctions after the FCU was replaced. Everything I threw at the pistol was easily eaten up and spit out with extreme accuracy.
I mainly shot outside at steel. However, I did run some simple accuracy tests on some paper targets with the iron sights. I started off doing accuracy testing by shooting at 7 yards. This is a carry gun in my eyes, so I wanted to run real distances first.
I saw my best groups with the 115-grain Black Hills JHP rounds. Although everything I fed the AMP was very similar in accuracy and achieved tight groupings. The best 7-yard group I shot was under 1 inch with the Black Hills JHP.
Out at longer distances, those groups really did not open much at all. Even out at 50 yards, I was able to achieve around 5-inch groups with ease when I slowed it down a little. Just to try, I reached out 125 yards and was able to walk it in with only four rounds.
All my shooting was done standing, unsupported. I was very pleasantly surprised as to how well this thing handled. Specifically, because it is a totally new system from a brand-new pistol manufacturer.
The pistol just ran and didn’t care about the conditions or how dirty it got. The only issue I ran into was, after about 350 rounds, I started to shoot left, it seemed. I couldn’t figure it out at first. Then I realized the front sight had loosened up a bit. I tightened it up and was right back to incredibly tight groups.
I know what the big question now is how much does this thing cost? American-made with this kind of accuracy, it fits all my current Glock 19 holsters, accepts any aftermarket Glock accessory I can throw at it, and comes with a lifetime warranty.
One would probably guess the AMP comes in upwards of $1,500 at least, and I wouldn’t say you are crazy. However, Live Free Armory’s goal was to create an incredible pistol that pretty much anyone could afford. So, it boasts an MSRP of only $700 in the FDE or black configurations and only an extra $150 if you decide to get fancy with the Cerakote finish and colors.
It is not often that a pistol excites me as much as the AMP pistol from Live Free Armory did at SHOT Show and then actually lives up to the expectations, and in this case, crushed my expectations. So much so that this has become my new go-to everyday carry option.
Finally, an American company making quality American guns for a price that will fit into a majority of budgets.
If you are looking for a pistol packed with premium features and a massive aftermarket community already out there for a great price, look no further than the AMP pistol from Live Free Armory.
For more information, please visit LiveFreeArmory.com.
Live Free Armory AMP Specs
|27.2 ounces (empty)
|Fiber-optic front, blacked-out serrated rear
|Matte black, FDE or Cerakote
|Ammo Inc. 115 Streak
|Black Hills 124 JHP
|Federal Premium 147 HST tactical
|Fiocchi 115 FMJ
|Hornady 125 Steel Match
|Remington 115 UMC
|Wilson Combat 115 Pinnacle TAC-XP
Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second (fps) by chronograph and accuracy in inches for best five-shot groups at 7 yards.
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