Beeman P1/HW 45 air pistol: Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


The Beeman P1 sits in the top tier of air pistols for power and quality.

Today is accuracy day; before we begin, I’d like to share a Beeman P1 anecdote with you. I interviewed Robert Beeman for the podcast that will go live in the near future. After we were finished, he told me some stories about the old days, when Beeman Precision Airguns was getting started. This one relates to the P1 and the gun that was never designed.

After the success of the R1, Robert and his wife, Toshiko, embarked immediately on the design of the P1 pistol. They wanted a powerful spring-piston pistol made with the handling characteristics of the M1911A1 pistol. They also wanted dual power levels. They had sketches drawn and took their ideas to Hans Weihrauch for implementation.

Several months passed, and the Weihrauchs called the Beemans to Europe to see the new gun. When they arrived, they were ushered into a conference room where both Hans and his wife, Christa, were waiting along with both their sons. Everybody was hopeful that the design would blow away the Beemans.

When they showed the gun to Robert, he said, “What is this?” This is a single-stroke pneumatic. We wanted a powerful spring-piston pistol with dual power.”

“But you left the firing mechanism blank on the sketch!” was the reply.

“Yes. Because we aren’t airgun designers. We figured you would know what to put in that space to make the gun we wanted.”

“We thought you left it blank to indicate an air reservoir!”

Needless to say, the meeting did not go the way the Weihrauchs had hoped, but they asked for a few more months and would deliver the Beemans exactly what they wanted.

When the Beemans returned home, they had an artist sculpt a chalk model of the pistol to better guide the effort. It was darkened with finish and sent to Germany. A couple months later, they flew back to view what we now know as the P1.

A year after that, Hans Weihrauch caught Robert and said, “Herr Beeman, would you like to see the pistol you designed?”

Beeman knew he hadn’t designed any other air pistol, but he said yes out of curiosity. The Weihrauchs brought him the single-stroke pistol we now know as the P2. It was nearly an exact copy of the P1, but of course it operated entirely different. Beeman was so impressed that he added it to his growing line of airguns.

Pyramyd Air no longer imports the Beeman P2 pistol, but they still carry the Weihrauch HW 75, which is the same gun.

Accuracy test
I’m still not strong enough to hold the pistol properly, so I shot off a rest with my shooting arm rested on a sandbag and the pistol extended out in front of the bag. I held the gun as I described in the last report, and it made a huge difference. The distance was 10 meters.

My eyesight has improved to the point that I was able to shoot with my prescription shooting glasses. With a 500-watt light on the target, the bull was very sharp, and with concentration I could bring the front sight blade into sharp focus, too.


These shooting glasses have my prescription lens in the sighting eye. I used them when I competed in 10-meter pistol, and they still do the job.

Not surprisingly, the gun shot to a different point of aim, so it had to be resighted for this rested hold. I used a conventional 6 o’clock hold on the target.

I shot 5-shot groups instead of 10-shot groups, for reasons you will soon see. In a match, a competitor only shoots one pellet per bull because of the difficulty of scoring multiple hits stacked so close to each other.

RWS R 10 Match Pistol pellets
The first pellet I tried was the RWS R 10 Match Pistol pellet. It’s always been good in this P1.


The sight-in target was five RWS R 10 pellets. It showed promise, but the sights needed adjustment.

The sights needed to come down and to the right, which was easy to do since the P1 sights are so adjustable. All it takes is a thin-bladed screwdriver. It took several more targets to get the sights dead on, but that was good practice for this unconventional hold I was using.


Five R 10 pellets score a perfect 50. This is why I don’t shoot 10 pellets at the same target. When they clump together like this, it’s difficult to see the individual holes. Back when I was competing, I could sometimes do this with my target pistol in a conventional one-hand hold, though I don’t think I ever did it with a P1.

The best target really is a great one. Ask any 10-meter pistol shooter how hard it is to shoot five 10s in a row like that. Of course, my arm was resting on a bag in this test, so this wasn’t that difficult.

H&N Match Pistol pellets
Next, I tried some H&N Match Pistol pellets. They do well in P1s, though in the past I’ve used the Finale Match Pistol pellets that are a little more expensive.


Five H&N Match Pistol pellets also produced a good target, though not quite as tight as the R 10s.

The bottom line
The Beeman P1 is an exceptional air pistol. If you don’t believe me, just read all the comments from other owners who have had the same experience.

The one thing I wish I hadn’t done was lighten the trigger-pull, because now the pistol is too sensitive. Air pistols need triggers that have at least 1 lb. of resistance, and this one now breaks at just 11 oz., making it too sensitive. You can control that in a rifle, but not in a pistol.

I’ve tried this gun with both red dot sights and scopes. It works fine with both, but being a veteran handgunner, I do not care for optical sights. As long as my eyes can still see the front sight, I’m not going to use them.

The power of this pistol is legendary. And I’ve shown you in this report that the power doesn’t diminish over time. The lube tune I did was probably unnecessary and cost me some velocity, so I would just start shooting a P1 as it comes from the box and leave it alone. Remember to dry-fire the gun two times on high power if it ever starts detonating.

Dr. Beeman said this is one of the four airguns he would rather not do without, and I can see why. It’s an heirloom airgun that will perform well throughout the years for both you and those to whom you pass it when you are through.

44 Responses to “Beeman P1/HW 45 air pistol: Part 4”

  • J-F Says:

    Your blogs revived my interest in this gun and I was able to score an almost new (it’s still smoking a bit) HW45 for under 300$. I LOVE it, I only have pneumatics and CO2 pistols, when you said it kicked I had no idea just how much. I’m not getting this kind of accuracy yet, I’ll have to keep on working on my grip.

    I know PA (or other dealers) don’t carry this anymore http://www.pyramydair.com/s/a/Weihrauch_HW45_Shoulder_Stock_Cherry_or_Oak_LH_RH/80
    but I would really like to have one, I’ve been searching all over the place and even tried to write to weihrauch and they said they don’t make it anymore. Now I know you have one, do you think you could give us (me) the measurements or a scan of the metal part? I would try to make myself one and if I can’t have a more competent person do it for me.

    I can’t help it I just love handguns/minicarbines.

    J-F

  • Bub Says:

    B.B.

    I have been trying to catch up on my blog reading. Great blog on pistol shooting back on May 6. It’s great to be reminded that almost all guns will out shoot the shooter. A lot of folks (sometimes me) get hung up on trying to find that perfect gun that will make them a great shot, but fail to understand that a good shooter with so so equipment will more often than not out perform a poor shooter with top of the line equipment. No substitute for fundamentals and practice.

    Also, enjoyed your article in Shotgun News on how to compete with Wal-Mart.

    Bub

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Bub,

      Thanks for reading the Shotgun News column. I don’t hear from a lot of readers on that.

      B.B.

  • Slinging Lead Says:

    BB

    Do you know why the pistol would diesel more on low power than high power? I would think it would be the reverse. More power, air compressed at a faster rate, more heat to start the combustion process? Or maybe it’s too much heat? I dunno.

    My best advice to P1/HW45 owners/buyers is to get a nice set of rubber grips. Take the original ones and wrap them up and put them in the box for storage. The rubber grips feel much better in your hands. The original wood grips are very nice, they just don’t feel as good. Plus it is just good to have options.

    On that note, would anybody out there know if the rubber Ivory grips for the Umarex Colt 1911 CO2 fit the P1? P1 grips are interchangeable with 1911 grips, are Umarex’s guns? That would look quite spiffy.

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      SL,

      The P1 only detonates (more than a diesel) when the piston seal doesn’t fit well. After it’s fitted, the detonation stops altogether.

      The grips that fit an Umarex 1911 should fit the P1 exactly.

      B.B.

  • EJBahnsen Says:

    What is the FPS of the Benjamin Trail NP XL 1500 with Crosman Premier heavys 10.5? Also what would the foot pounds be?

    • Bobby Nations Says:

      EJBahnsen,

      I can’t answer the question about how fast the Trail NP XL 1500 will shoot the CPH, as I don’t have one myself. However, once you get that number, just plug it into the formula on PyramydAir’s website to find the foot-pounds of energy.

      http://www.pyramydair.com/site/articles/formulas/

      Cheers,

      Bobby

      • Bobby Nations Says:

        I see that B.B. reviewed the .22 version of this rifle and found it to be in the 24 foot-pound range. Given that .177 pellets are usually not as effecient, I would guess that the 1500 version should fall into the 20-22 fpe range. These are only guesses, though.

        • B.B. Pelletier Says:

          Bobby,

          I would say your estimate is right on. The 10.5-grain pellet would be on the low side of that.

          B.B.

          • EJBahnsen Says:

            Where could I go to find out FPS? I would like the rifle but do not if over 1100 FPS. Thought the heavys might slow it down. Have 8 pistols and rifles all .177. Buy alot of pellets from PA and like to keep them all .177.

            • B.B. Pelletier Says:

              EJBahnsen,

              You’ll have to scour the internet to find what you’re looking for. What you really want is the most powerful rifle you can get in .177 that doesn’t shoot 10.5-grain Crosman Premiers over 1,100 f.p.s. Why you want exactly that I can’t guess, since 900 f.p.s. is the magic number not to exceed.

              What guarantee do you have that a 10.5-grain Premier will be accurate in this rifle?

              What is it that you are REALLY looking for? An accurate and powerful .177 spring rifle? Or something else?

              B.B.

              • EJBahnsen Says:

                You have got it right. Very accurate first. Very powerful second. In .177 if possible.

                • B.B. Pelletier Says:

                  EJBahnsen,

                  Okay, now another question. Why the Nitro Piston? Does the idea of it fascinate you?

                  And by accurate, since you have picked a spring-piston that’s difficult to shoot, is that where you want to stay?

                  And while we’re at this, give me a ballpark cost of what you are looking to buy.

                  See, what I’d like all of us to do is help you think this thing through so you get the best that’s out there.

                  B.B.

                  • EJBahnsen Says:

                    I have a RWS 350 mag. Have been reading that the gas pistons are much smoother. If the pumps were not so expensive I would be thinking PCP. Would like to keep the cost at 500 at below.

            • Chuck Says:

              EJBahnsen,
              Your question is a tough one to answer without having the actual rifle to shoot through a chrony. The only way you can find your answer is to talk to someone who has one and have them shoot the pellets you are interested in. Maybe you can do a search on the web and find an owner. These blasted rifles are all different as well as the pellets they eat best.
              -Chuck

  • Lee Says:

    B.B.,

    Thanks again for this series of reviews on the P1. As much as I am fascinated by the pistol, I am pretty sure that I will eventually get one despite the price.

    As a collector of airguns, do you suspect that the P1 will hold its value as a collector’s piece in the decades to come? I don’t know much when it comes to the factors determining whether a particular gun will be desired in the later years.

    Lee

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Lee,

      I think it looks good for the P1 to hold its price in the future. They hold value pretty good now, while they are still in production. After production ends I’d expect them to start rising like the other classics have.

      B.B.

  • Matt61 Says:

    B.B. that is an extraordinary pistol but at an extraordinary price too. Groan. But that is some slick shooting. Yes, we like to clump the holes so that you cannot distinguish a single one.

    Duskwight, don’t know if that quote was by Frank Herbert, but if so, I’d say he was having a good day. I thought his series started well, but got weird. I quit before the main character rolls into town after metamorphosing into a sandworm.

    Slinging Lead, as to your question about whether I had mishaps on my last airport trip, thankfully not. Actually, things went perfectly which for me means no rushing and plenty of time to stare at the ceiling and daydream, much of it about guns. And how about this notion that popped into my head. Behold your destiny.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1czBcnX1Ww

    Isn’t this hideous? You see all of your cockroaches were training you for this although I bet a Rogue would hardly be enough to handle it.

    As a bit of trivia, I understand that Ballistol will clean corrosive ammo out of guns, so that your cleaning routine for corrosive and noncorrosive would be the same. That is a miracle solution, and I spray it liberally on my guns.

    Matt61

  • Milan Says:

    This is one pistol i would not mind to own ;) .I can’t believe how accurate air (CO2) pistol can be (partly this is because i shoot mostly air rifles )Only air pistol i own is Norconia modified and tuned by me :)

  • Victor Says:

    B.B.,
    This is a nicely accurate pistol. Great for practicing at home, when you can’t take your .45 to the range.
    Victor

  • duskwight Says:

    B.B.

    Thanks for the info on bigbore’s kick.
    By mentioning .410 shotgun you piqued my interest – what do you think on possiblity of fittling this Gunzilla with quick-change smoothbore and using something like Viper Skeet shells with birdshot?

    duskwight

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      duskwight,

      When Lloyd and I first met with Crosman to discuss this project I did everything but stand on the table to get them to offer a .410 barrel with the initial offering.

      Lloyd? See what I was talking about? Airgunners know what they want. ;)

      B.B.

      • Slinging Lead Says:

        BB

        That’s what I want!!!

      • lloyd Says:

        BB,
        You are so right, the shotgun idea keeps popping up. Somebody needs to work on that!
        Lloyd

        • Slinging Lead Says:

          Lloyd

          May I suggest that they call the .410 airshotgun the Lloyd Special?

          I think they could sell about 4 trillion or so.

          There are many nay-sayers out there. To them I say, “nay.”
          Your innovation is the equivalent of plastics, or at least sliced bread. If Crosman develops this technology correctly they will dominate the airgun market for the foreseeable future, and make the barrier between air guns and firearms very fuzzy.

          Your #1 fan,

          Slinging Lead

  • Titus Groan Says:

    Thank you again B.B. for the P1/HW45 test. I just bought an HW45 Black Star to go along with my Silver Star. I suppose I am really addicted to air guns. One question though. I only have 50 or so pellets through it and it is dieseling so bad, you can’t see through the barrel for smoke after taking a shot. Will this go away eventually, or do I dry fire it as you mention at the end of this article? Thanks again. And good to see you looking so healthy too.
    Titus Groan

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Titus Groan,

      Dry-fire your gun right now. Two shots on high power and then see if the dieseling doesn’t stop. If that doesn’t do it, try it one more time.

      Please tell us all the results.

      B.B.

  • pcp4me Says:

    BB,

    This is one gun I used to own and loved it. But sadly it was either stolen or lost in a move made by a commercial trucking firm. It was there when we were packing and not when we unpacked. I cannot say it was the trucking firms employee’s though as the neighbors kids were wandering in and out of the house too.

    Man I miss that gun so much. It was my favorite pistol at the time and still probably would be.

    However I just latched on to a RWS Diana 6 M with wood adjustable target grips and it is a beauty. Got it on the yellow forum for only $210 shipped and it is as almost new. Bluing and finish is pristine. There is a little wear on the sharp edges of the grip where the index finger rests. It was just resealed this year and shoots great. Accurate and hits hard for a target type gun. In fact I just opened my back door an hour ago and popped a squirrel at about 25′ in the head and he never went anywhere. Wife was wondering what to cook for supper!

    I have been wanting one of the Beeman or Diana Giss system guns ever since I was a teenager and Beeman first started importing them. Now I finally have one and it would surely compete with the P1 for my affection. Might have an edge over the P1 as it is recoil less!

    Some day hope to find a pristine P1 on the yellow also.

    • Slinging Lead Says:

      pcp4me

      You probably won’t have to wait around long. Great deals on a used P1/HW45 seem to pop up with regularity on the yellow classifieds.

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      pcp4me,

      I won’t argue that the Diana 6M is a class act and just as well made as the P1. You are lucky to have that pistol.

      I never had a 6, but I did own a model 10, which is the all-out target version. I really shot the heck out of that gun. I only sold it when I got divorced and had to sell all my guns to pay bills.

      B.B.

  • JGC Says:

    Did you modify your P1 in addition to using the part I sent you back in ’96?

    Putting the original part back would return the trigger to stock.

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      JGC,

      I’ve been looking for those screws for a while now. I might just swap them back if I find them.

      B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    EJBahnsen,

    Have you considered the Benjamin Discovery? I designed it for shooters in your situation. It’s a PCP that comes with a pump for under $400. When I tested it, both calibers were shooting five-shot groups of about a half-inch at 50 yards. The .22 would be the better of the two, because it will be as flat as you desire, but the .177 also works.

    But you’d better act fast, because I believe Crosman intends discontinuing this model. They’ve sold thousands of them, but they don’t make much money, and the Marauder is also selling very well.

    B.B.

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