AMT’s On Duty Pistol that never went on duty.


BY Luis Valdes

Arcadia Machine & Tool, a company made famous by the hit 1980s sci-fi action/horror film, Terminator made a number of guns other than the seven inch all stainless Hardballer 1911. 

AMT was founded in 1977 in Irwindale, California and made their claim to fame with developing a number of guns in stainless steel like the movie famous Hardballer above. 

But by the late 80s, AMT knew that their little pocket pistols and hand cannons wouldn’t keep them out of the poor house. The Law Enforcement Market was ripe for conquest and AMT saw a chance to enter the market and they did so with the On Duty Pistol. A double stack DA/SA and DAO 9mm and .40 S&W chambered duty size handgun. 

 The pushed it in the gun rags and in sales ads.

But the gun was a flop. Made from 1991 to 1994, the On Duty was plagued with issues. Small production numbers, lack of quality control, and a high price for a handgun that was competing against other brands like GLOCK, SIG Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Beretta, Heckler & Koch, and others. The MSRP for the On Duty was $700 and that hurt it, especially since AMT had a bad reputation of bad quality. Their other handguns were looked down upon due to most not working correctly out of the box. About the only quality part of that gun that was good across the board was the magazines. Why? Because they were made by Mec-Gar of Italy. 
Anyways, here are some better photos of the On Duty. Enjoy.

Notice the difference between the control levers on the .40 S&W and 9mm models. 

The gun could have been a viable contender if it was made by someone else. It had a lot of features that were popular in the early 1990s. It was event advertised as eventually being released in ,45 ACP but due to setbacks with AMT. That never happened. Oh well, it is another interesting entry in the high stakes LE Duty Gun market when beat cops as a whole were switching from six shot wheel guns to high capacity wonder-nines and barrier penetrating .40 cals.


  1. Wasn’t this pistol partially based on the South African Mamba? I vaguely remember hearing that either AMT had hired the designers of that pistol or bought the design from them…

    Some of the lines remind me of that thing that Navy Arms tried bringing in, back during the 1980s.

    • Navy Arms imported the Mamba pistols. US manufacturing never took off. Mambas relied heavily upon cast stainless steel. Their poor heat treatment caused excessive galling of the slide and frame. Navy Arms abandoned plans to manufacture them domestically.

      Source: Firearms Developed And Manufactured In Southern Africa pg. 469

      Since AMT had experience overcoming stainless steel galling, it would make sense for them to try and resuscitate the Mamba with sounder metallurgy.


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