Beeman P1/HW45 air pistol

by B.B. Pelletier

The other day when I reviewed the HW75M pistol, I referred you to a post I’d written on the Beeman P1 back in 2005, titled The Beeman P1/HW 45: A shoulder stock, red dot sight & more! I thought I’d thoroughly covered the P1 in that post, but when I looked at it again I saw that it wasn’t complete. I want to correct that today.

Several readers expressed an interest in either the HW75 or the HW45/P1, and one gentleman asked me which of the two pistols I’d choose to train for shooting an M1911A1. I picked the P1 because of its recoil. The HW75 is going to be a lot easier to shoot accurately, but the P1 will be very demanding of your hold, just like the 1911 firearm. When considering my reply to that question, I had to evaluate both pistols critically, and that was what pointed out the holes in the earlier post.


You can see why the P1 (top gun) is called a 1911 on steroids! The pistol below is a 1911 .45 ACP, but the air pistol dwarfs it. Notice, though, that the grips are very similar. Grip panels interchange.

P1: Beeman’s magnum pistol
The P1 or HW45 (identical, except for their names) is a powerful spring-piston pistol with two power levels (only one in the .22 caliber version). The levels are achieved by the sear catching the piston with the spring half-compressed and fully compressed. Although it’s a selling point to have the two levels, my own pistol started detonating on the lower level. After I solved that problem (more about that in a minute), I never used low power again.

Fitting the piston seal
I called Beeman Service Manager Don Walker when my gun started detonating with almost every shot. He told me to dry-fire the pistol on high power two times. He explained that the P1 has a PTFE (another term for Teflon) piston seal and that the factory fits the seal by dry-firing the gun. Sometimes, they don’t quite get it fitted and the owner has to do it. Teflon deforms and doesn’t recover when the gun is dry-fired. Since there is no place to go, the seal conforms perfectly to the end of the compression chamber. There were also some Webley rifles with PTFE seals; I believe the Beeman C1 had one.

Adjustable trigger, manual safety
The trigger is adjustable for the length of the first stage travel (what the manual calls “slack”) and the weight of the second stage. Since it’s possible to eliminate the first stage with the adjustment, you can make this a single-stage trigger if you like. The safety on the P1/HW45 is manual, so you can decide to use it or not. It has levers on both sides of the frame, so the pistol is ambidextrous. There’s a dry-fire training feature so you can use the trigger without cocking the gun.

Sights
The sights are the same as the HW75. The rear is click-adjustable in both directions and the front is a low, square blade.

Cocking
To cock the pistol, pull back on the hammer slightly and the top of the gun will pop up. Pull it up and forward to cock the mainspring. The sear catches at both low and high power. There is a trick to cocking. By rotating your left (cocking) hand clockwise and grasping the upper portion of the gun (the part that contains the barrel) underneath, the cocking effort is greatly reduced. To envision what I’m saying, put your two closed fists together, thumbs up, in front of you so they touch, then rotate each one in the direction it wants to go. This is how you will be holding the pistol if you follow my instructions.

Loading and firing
With the gun cocked, insert a pellet in the breech point-first. Then return the top to the closed position and the hammer will lock it closed. The pistol is now ready to fire. For best results, use the same hold you would for shooting targets with an M1911A1. Apply pressure with your middle finger, squeezing the pistol into the web of your hand. Apply no pressure with the other two fingers or the thumb. Squeeze the trigger straight back until the shot fires. The pistol will recoil the maximum amount and, more important to accuracy, it will move the same way every time.

Power
When I first bought my P1, it got close to 600 f.p.s. with RWS Hobby pellets. The gun had some objectionable buzzing, so I stripped it, following an article published by The Airgun Letter. This pistol isn’t easy to disassemble, so I don’t recommend doing this unless you are already the master of several different spring-piston powerplants. I wiped all the factory grease off the internal parts and lubricated the compression chamber with Beeman M-2-M moly grease. I lubricated the mainspring with Beeman Mainspring Dampening Compound (no longer available). Were I to do the same job today, I’d use black tar on the mainspring (a special viscous grease used by spring gun tuners to control vibration).

The result was a very smooth pistol and a 40 f.p.s. drop in velocity – to 559 with Hobbys. Which begs the question: What can be done to increase power in a P1? NOTHING!!! This gun already runs at its maximum. Various spring gun tuners in the 1990s offered “sure-fire” power upgrades to this pistol, but nothing ever beat the power the factory put in it. One guy was so frustrated by the situation that he made up a special barrel from nested brass tubes of differing diameters to shoot 1/8″ ball bearings. He claimed velocities of more than 800 f.p.s., but when another gun was built and tested for Tom’ Gaylord’s The Airgun Revue, it got 664 f.p.s. on high power. The article did say the ball bearing was loose enough to roll out the barrel, so that could have caused the lower velocity than the initial gun had. Accuracy of the test gun was 1.5″ at 10 meters, which is not bad for a smoothbore, but not in the P1′s class when lead pellets are used.

Diana P5 Magnum
In case you wonder, the RWS Diana P5 Magnum is another 550 f.p.s. air pistol. When it first came out, RWS advertised it as a 700 f.p.s gun, but independent testing quickly poked holes in that elevated number. You’ll still see the number on some websites that haven’t kept pace. It’s very accurate and well-made, and you often hear the compliment that it’s a “poor man’s P1,” which says as much about the Weihrauch as the Diana.


Brass tubes of different diameters were nested to create this custom .125 caliber smoothbore. An attempt to make the P1 shoot faster.

Like the HW75, the P1/HW45 is a gun you’ll shoot for the rest of your life and hand down to future generations. Both are as well-made as the Beeman R1, which says a lot.

56 thoughts on “Beeman P1/HW45 air pistol



  1. Ronald,

    Good eye to spot my ambidextrous safety! But any standard 1911 grip can be relieved on the back to fit guns with the ambi safety and ambi-modified grips will fit the P1/HW45.

    The PT1911 is now retailing for $539.95.

    B.B.


  2. BB, when I took my gorgeous 1911A1 (C model, circa 1928) out for a shoot, it quickly put me in my place!

    Ever since then, I had been hoping to find an air pistol that would help me develop a usable shooting technique.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know if I’ll be able to justify the outlay for the P1, although I will see if I can find something used.

    Would the Diana P5 function as well as the P1 as a 1911 trainer?


  3. Vince,

    No worrys, man. You send me your old obsolete 1928 1911A1 Commercial model (not even military – tsk, tsk) and I’ll put you in the driver’s seat of a brand-spanking new P1. Might even throw in a box of pellets, just to be nice!

    Seriously, the Diana P5 is better than nothing and the hold it needs is the same as a 1911. Used P1s abound at airgun shows, so I know they’re out there.

    B.B.


  4. Ya know, when a friend’s father died I was offered anything out of his gun collection (stored in the attic in a box). There 3 1911′s, 2 ex-military and the “C” model.

    The military ones were an original 1911 (circa 1918) and an early 40′s A1 (with minor problems). Both were showing their age. The “C” model, on the other hand, looked like it just came out of the box.

    Kind wish I had grabbed one of the military ones… but oh well, I’ll just have to put up with the one I’ve got :-)

    I’ll sniff around for used P1′s and P5′s… thanks for the suggestion!


  5. bb,

    is there any difference in accuracy between the red ryder and the daisy buck?(my little sister is looking for a starter airgun)

    Dave


  6. BB, Since I like my new HW50S you forced my hand on getting and liking how it shoots with peeps. I got an old Anshutz Diopter to put on my RWS 350. Without a stop pin though it is sliding back on each shot 1/16″ to 1/8″ I can try to degrease the rails and put ?? Locktite? or what on the rails to stop the creep?
    KTK


  7. bb, on the gamo website they are advertising “the whisperer”…or something to that effect, which looks like its pretty much another version of their shadow, but with a noise suppressor…will this be the first ever spring piston airgun with a “silencer”?

    Dave





  8. Can i adjust the trigger on my gamo recon? It doesn’t have the adjustment screw like on my 440. I’ve put well over 1000 rounds through it and the trigger is still a looooong single stage. I don’t now much about air-gun triggers, but i know a little about your standard firearm trigger. The gun is a tack driver at 10 yards with gamo hunters.

    Thanks,
    hb


  9. hb,

    According to Gamo, not all models have adjustable triggers, and the Recon, being a lower-priced gun, is probably one that doesn’t.

    You might do a Google search to find someone who will work on the trigger for you, but nothing in the manual will help.

    B.B.



  10. According to Gamo’s product manual for the Recon, it should have an adjustable trigger. I believe the Recon is based off the old Delta, and THAT gun had the same trigger as the Shadow/220/440.

    But if the adjustment screw isn’t there, it isn’t there. If it WAS there, it oughta be just like the 440.

    BB – many manufacturers produce models “scope only” and without open sights. Gamo seems to be doing that in a BIG way… very few of their rifles anymore have open sights on them.

    What do you think of that?


  11. I am considering purchase of a condor with a 4-16×50 scope in .22cal what weight pellet would you recommend and at what yardage should the scope be sighted in. Based on what I have seen on your blog I am thinking somewhere around 30-35 yards shooting a 14.3 grain premier pellet.


  12. I read the report “The Beeman P1/HW 45: A shoulder stock, red dot sight & more!”

    Pyramid air says of the shoulder stock: “Estimated in stock date 12-01-2006 (!!!)
    Place your order now for delivery priority!”

    Are they making this any more? Thanks.


  13. Condor,

    I have my Condor sighted in at 20 yards for the first point of impact. I shoot 15.8-grain JSB Exacts. The second point of impact is around 37 yards, with an upward drift of half a pellet diameter between 20 and 37 yards. At 45 yards, I’m an inch low and at 50, it’s 2.5 inches.

    The Premier will be very accurate, but not as accurate as the JSB. And since you cannot push the velocity any faster than I am currently doing with my JSBs (1,000 f.p.s.) without loosing accuracy, there is no advantage to the Premier.

    Yes, I said 1,000 f.p.s. For some reason, the JSB is able to shoot well at that velocity. It isn’t supposed to, but it does so I just accept it.

    B.B.



  14. bb,

    i was wondering if you could do a blog on types of silencers(explaining how they work, which designs silence better, do they take away from power, speed, or accuracy?)…there seem to be more then one kind out there. (like what is on the tallon ss, and then the type that is on the gamo whisper…i don’t know if there are more types or not)

    and also, i know this is probably known knowledge to everyone else, but could you just explain(here, not in a blog) what it is about flat head pellets that makes them so accurate? thanks

    Dave


  15. dave,
    silencers work by controlling the expanding gasses behind the pellet or bullet. they are most effective in pnumatic pellet guns. accuracy will probly not be effected because the pellet does not touch the silencer. all silencers work the same way. the tube has baffles much like washers to alow the pellet to pass through. the air gets trapped behind the baffles and expands slower creating less noise. as to flat head pellets they do work supprizingly well. the accuracy in a pellet comes from drag so flat head exxell. they probly dont work well at higher speeds. they are primaraly used in paper target shooting where they cut a perfect hole. however some hunters like them for close range because of the impact and limited pennetration.
    Nate in Mass



  16. Thanks for your thoughts on the Diana RWS 48, 350 Magnum, Beeman R9 and HW97K.

    I ended up going with the HW97K .22. I already have several breakbarrels, so I wanted to try something a little different. Choose the HW97K over the Diana 48 b/c of the all metal trigger and the better scope mounting rails. Got it yesterday and mounted a Leapers 4-16×50 AOMDL scope to it. Fortunately I had also purchased some high profile scope mounts because due to the length of the scope it would have been very difficult to load a pellet into the chamber with anything lower. Beautiful gun and a very smooth shooter. Only took about 15 minutes to dial it in. Despite some comments that it’s hold sensitive, I did not find it to be so.


  17. Dave,

    I can do a blog on silencers, but I’m no expert.

    As for wadcutters, they are not more accurate than other pellets. But because they cut perfectly round holes, they are shot in target airguns, which only shoot at very short ranges. Those two things – target airguns and very short distances are associated with wadcutters, so it may SEEM that they are more accurate.

    B.B.




  18. BB, how well do the 7.9gr Premiers work at trans-sonic velocities?

    Reason I’m asking is that the Daisy 1000X and Baikal MP513 – both of which shot the Premiers at about 1000fps – seemed to do well with them.


  19. Nate in mass,

    you said that silencers are most effective in pnuematic guns…i thought about it, but i cant seem to think of a good reason why they would work less effectively in spring guns….could you explain? thanks for all the help.

    Dave



  20. Vince,

    In my experience, 7.9 Premiers do poorly at transsonic velocities. This was demonstrated when I tested the MP513 M. You will recall hat the heavier JSBs did better.

    B.B.


  21. Dave,

    Regarding silencers in spring guns – there’s nothing to silence!

    Spring guns discharge so little air that a silencer has nothing to work with. And the spring gun makes most of its fitring noise in its powerplant, where the silencer has no effect. That’s why a silencer is less usefull on a springer.

    A compressed air or CO2 gun, by comparison, discharges lots of high pressure gas that can be silenced. And their powerplants produce very little noise.

    B.B.


  22. BB, I looked up the MP513 review, and you’re right – the heavy JSB’s did better, on the order of 1/8″ at 30 yards. But the heavy Kodiaks did worse. The Premiers tended to put 4 pellets in real tight, with the 5th opening the group up.

    Since the groups were fairly close, I figured that the discrepency was just due to the typical variation in the pellet preference of any given rifle.

    Or is the inaccuracy induced by trans-sonic velocities lower than I’m thinking?


  23. Vince,

    The faster you go, the greater the dispersion. Also the farther you shoot, the same.

    The best thing is to test the pellet for yourself, in your own rifle. Then there’s no question.

    B.B.



  24. B.B,
    your was very good but the P1 is out my price range i also read your review of the Diana P5 mag.
    do you have any experience with
    the IZH 53 and how does it compare
    with the Diana P5 or Beeman HW 70.


  25. Hi BB, This is off topic but I am looking for a underlever springer. I really like the way the HW57 has tho pop up loading gate. I know that the RWS 46 also had the same feature. I would prefer the Rekord trigger of the HW, but am looking for a .22, Was the HW ever made or imported in .22, or can the trigger in the RWS 46 be upgraded with the Rekord trigger. Thanks, Steve


  26. IZH 53,

    his pistol does not compare to either the P1 or the RWS Diana P5 Magnum. It compares to the pre-WWII Diana model 5 and the BSF S20, both of which are obsolete.

    The spring piston is very high above where the hand holds the pistol, so the recoil on this gun tends to bounce the gun more than the other two pistols. It’s a good air pistol, just not equivalent.

    It is accurate and would be a good pistol to get – but not as a substitute for the others.

    B.B.


  27. Steve,

    The Rekord trigger is proprietary to Weihrauch. Dian guns cannot be adapted to it.

    The HW 57 does exist in .22 caliber, but I don’t see it being imported into this country. It’s only available in German specs (5 foot-pounds) or UK specs (12 foot-pounds).

    B.B.






  28. BB Sir, I just purchased an HW45 .177 from Pyramid and 4 tins of Beeman FTS. Can you make other recommendations of pellets for this gun? Thanks



  29. dear B.B.

    I have the DIANA P5 MAGNUM pistol.
    After 10.000 shots or so, it seems that the power has decreased. My question is : what can I do to have the initial power again ? If I change the spring do you think I ‘ll get the same power as in a brand new pistol ? Many thanks ! / ERIC from BELGIUM


  30. Eric,

    Yes, I think you probably need a new mainspring. Air pistols have much smaller spring tubes, so the diameter of the wire used for their springs must be smaller. As a result, the springs do not last forever.

    If you replace the mainspring your pistol should have new power again.

    B.B.


  31. I recently purchased an HW45 and it is detonating ie. smoking barrel. Should I dry-fire the pistol or just keep putting more pellets through until this stops? Will dry-firing hurt the gun?



  32. Mike,

    In this case I’m going to disagree with .22 multi-shot. You can dry-fire the HW 45/P1 in perfect safety. As you read in this report, that’s the way Weihrauch fits the Teflon piston seal. And that’s what Don Walker of Beeman told me to do when I had the same problem.

    Teflon will squash out to fit the compression chamber perfectly with two dry-fire shots at full power. Don’t do more than that, but two should fix everything.

    My P1 is 13 years old and still going strong with the original piston seal, in spite of the fact that I bought two spares when I bough the gun.

    Now the advice .22 multi-shot give is normally correct for spring-piston guns. But because of the special seal material in this gun,the dry-fire procedure I wrote about is required to fit that seal.

    B.B.



  33. Hello again,Thanks BB and .22 multi-shot for your quick replies! I dry-fired the HW45 once to be safe and waited a couple hours as I am studying for an exam. When I returned to my pistol I loaded it, fired it and now there is no smoke but still a bit of that burnt smell. I’ve put probably 100 shots through it now, and no problems! Thanks for the advice from this blog and all the other posts. I learn something new every time I read the archives. If you keep posting I’ll keep reading!!

    PS – HW45 is a great gun which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to learn to shoot. If you can learn to shoot with this you can learn to shoot any other pistol!! It is expensive but you get what you pay for!


  34. Hi,
    Could you tell me more about the correct way to hold the Beeman P1 when firing?
    I’ve been trying to shoot with both hands, applying pressure only with the middle finger of my right hand. I keep my left hand on my right, pulling back slightly to steady the pistol. Eye focusing on front sight, line up, squeeze trigger slowly until the gun fire.
    I’ve been practicing this routine, but failed to achieve any real consistency. Do you have suggestions or tips? Many thanks.
    -Sam



  35. It works! Thank you B.B. My one-hand hold is now consistent enough that I can call the shot every time. Yesterday I put 5 shots into one hole from 6m, never done that before. I never knew the P1 can be this accurate! Thanks again!



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