Podcast: Biofire Founder Kai Kloepfer Answers Questions About His New ‘Smart Gun’

This week, we’re joined by the man behind the first “smart gun” that’s going to come to market.

Kai Kloepfer is the founder of Biofire, a company that has been getting a lot of attention since announcing it will ship a 9mm pistol with integrated biometric locks this year. He answered a wide array of different questions on smart guns and the Biofire model in particular.

He explained how Biofire intertwines the operation of the firing mechanism with biometrics. Instead of using an electronic device to block a traditional trigger setup, they have eliminated the traditional system to substitute it with a fire-by-wire system. He said that was the only way they found to make the gun lock and unlock quickly enough to be useful for home defense.

He also talked at length about how the company has worked to make the gun reliable–a key consideration for most gun owners that will likely determine if the company sinks or swims.

He also addressed key political questions. Kloepfer said he believes his gun should be an option for consumers but never mandated. That’s why he’s filed an amicus letter in the case against California’s handgun roster.

We also talk about the unique possibilities that a fire-by-wire system opens up for things like adjustable trigger weights, shooting statistics, and even maintenance notifications.

Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I discuss Congress taking on the pistol-brace ban. And I talk about the setback I just had in obtaining my DC concealed carry license.

You can listen to the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here. Video of the episode is available on our YouTube Channel. Reload Members get access on Sunday, as always. Everyone else can listen when it goes public on Monday.

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019


Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Comments From Reload Members

3 Responses

  1. An interesting podcast Stephen. The fire-by-wire concept seems unique and the adjustable trigger potential sounds promising, but I wonder what other things, some smart capable person may be able to do with this fire control system. Nothing is un-hackable and electronics can be modified so it seems changing it to automatic fire (illegally) from semi-auto is a possibility. I’m sure someone could figure out how to bypass all the biometrics to command it to fire as well. These things may be difficult to bypass, but not impossible.

    Those in power who may view this tech as the solution to gun crime, gun accidents, and gun suicides may find it enables negative behaviors and consequences that were never intended.

    Additionally, like we are taught not to rely on the mechanical safety, I worry the same will not be said about the biometric safety. In fact it seems that is the main selling feature. Don’t worry, the gun won’t fire unless the “approved person(s)” has his/her grip on the right spot or his/her face in the right spot. That could lead to a culture of gun users that take safety for granted which could also lead to unintended consequences.

    None of this is to say, the project has no merit, but those in power should be realistic about their expectations for this tech and its limitations for solving the very real social problems that exist in this country.

    1. Thanks, Jason.

      I think those are all very salient points.

      The least discussed part of this gun, the fire-by-wire system, seems like it could end up being the most interesting. Both from a practical question of what tinkerers and hackers can do with it and from a regulatory standpoint. How will the ATF react if somebody does hack the firing system to make it fully automatic? Where does this system even fit under federal definitions as they exist today since those definitions are all based around a purely mechanical system? What is a “function of the trigger” when the trigger isn’t directly connected to the sear?

      Your argument about relying on safeties, even biometric ones, is legitimate too. Should we think about leaving this gun out the same way we do with leaving any gun out or is it more akin to leaving a gun in a biometric safe? I think time will have to tell. A lot will be determined by how these guns perform once they’re out in the wild.

      I also agree with your conclusion. There are many people who would never want to own a gun like this, especially as their main means of home defense. But it is a pretty fascinating firearm with a lot of intriguing potential.

      But potential is all it is until it’s actually outside of the lab setting. If what Kai said is accurate, that won’t be long.

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