Legends C96 CO2 BB pistol: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

C96 BB pistol
Legends C96 BB pistol

Let’s cut to the chase. The title of this report says Legends C96 CO2 BB pistol, but Americans are going to call this a Broomhandle Mauser because of the shape of the pistol grip. The Legends part comes from the Umarex line of replica air pistols.

Before we continue, I want to express my concern about the Umarex lookalike airguns. I got a CO2 Colt M1911A1 pellet pistol when they first came out, and soon I had 4 different M1911/1911A1 firearms to go with it. Then the PPK/S BB pistol hit the market, and I got one of those. Not long after that, I added a .22 rimfire PPK/S to my firearms collection. Then came the Walther Lever Action rifle. Good, I thought. I’ll never buy the Winchester 30/30 1894 that it is patterned after. But I didn’t need to, because Edith did.

Then came the Magnum Research Desert Eagle pellet pistol. I knew I would never own the firearm version of that big hand cannon, but 2 years ago I got an IMI .357 Magnum Desert Eagle.

Of course there was the Makarov BB pistol that I used to train Crystal Ackley to shoot on American Airgunner. I say “train” advisedly; because after her first magazine, she was out-shooting me! That pistol spawned the purchase of both a 9mm Bulgarian Makarov, as well as the genuine Makarov firearm that the Russians at IZH turned into a BB pistol.

And just last year, Umarex came out with the Parabellum P08. I had already owned a junker Luger in the early 1970s, and I swore that I would never own another one. Well, my resolve being what it is, this past Christmas, Edith gifted me with a 1917 Erfurt P08 that is definitely not a junker!

And, now, I must confess that in my youth I’ve owned not 1 but 2 different low-grade Broomhandles. Both were in 7.63mm Mauser caliber, and neither one was particularly accurate. I reloaded for the last one, which might have been a large part of its problem. And here’s the Legends C96 Broomhandle! Lordy, I can’t afford to keep this up! I just hope they don’t bring out a Colt Walker next!

Is it a C96?
Technically, this pistol is not a C96. It is a copy of the M32/712 Schnellfeuer (German for rapid fire) pistol that has a selector switch on the left side of the gun for semi- and full-automatic operation, but it’s just a cast detail and is entirely non-functional. It also has a detachable magazine hanging down in front of the triggerguard, just like the 20-shot Schnellfeuer.

The C96 never had the detachable magazine or the selector switch. It has an internal 10-round magazine that’s loaded from the top of the gun through the ejection port with 10-round stripper clips. The bottom of the C96 magazine is flush with the bottom of the triggerguard. It’s true that the C96 magazine floorplate can be removed and a separate, detachable magazine can be installed, but these were never a popular option for the C96. I suppose only collectors and students of history will know the difference, so I’ll call this pistol the C96 from this point on.

The pistol
The Legends C96 is a 19-shot BB pistol powered by CO2. The CO2 cartridge and BB magazine are housed together in a single removable magazine unit that’s located in front of the triggerguard. Press a button on the right side of the receiver to release the mag.

There’s a lower magazine cover that hides the CO2 screw and the CO2 cartridge. This is something BB gun shooters are very sensitive about, so it was a necessary feature that completes the look of the gun.

C96 BB pistol magazine

The magazine has been removed, and the lower cover is off. You can see the selector switch in this photo.

When the CO2 cartridge is installed and the magazine is loaded, you might think the pistol would be muzzle-heavy like the firearm, but I don’t find that to be the case. This BB pistol is light enough that there’s very little muzzle heaviness. And it’s light because it’s made with a lot of synthetics. But this stuff is dense, strong and difficult to tell from metal. A matte finish makes it even more difficult to identify.

The pistol grip butt is slotted for a shoulder stock, just like the firearm. Those stocks are hollow wooden holsters with steel attachments that lock into the pistol at this point — forming a small carbine. However, since the gun is made of synthetic, I’m guessing a shoulder stock will not be an option since it would invite fractures at this slot.

C96 CO2 BB pistol grip slot
The pistol grip is slotted for a separate shoulder stock.

Not having a shoulder stock is not a great loss, though. I’ve fired the Broomhandle as a carbine and found it to be very inaccurate. Of course, that could just be the ammo I used, once again. But any pistol/carbine is a compromise, and none of them have a reputation for accuracy or even utility. It would be nice to have an authentic holster in which to carry the pistol, though.

Since the pistol is made to also be a carbine, the rear sight is an adjustable tangent leaf that adjusts up to 1,000 meters. The BB pistol has the same markings on its tangent sight leaf, though no shooter should ever expect to shoot a BB that far unless it’s downward from a high platform. But it does give you the option of elevation for close-range shooting. There’s no windage adjustment on this BB pistol or on the Mauser firearms.

C96 BB pistol tangent sight
The rear sight adjusts up and down for distance.

Blowback!
This pistol has true blowback! Just like the firearm, the bolt handle comes back with each shot and cocks the hammer, so every shot is single-action. You must cock the hammer for the first shot. Some writers have suggested this is not a blowback pistol, but I think they’re not familiar with the C96 Mauser action. It doesn’t have a conventional slide like many autoloading pistols. The bolt is what moves to cock the hammer; and on the firearm, it also ejects the spent cartridge and strips a fresh one from the top of the magazine.

So, the Legends C96 is a true semiautomatic CO2 pistol. The trigger-pull is light and crisp. Unfortunately, unlike the firearm, the bolt does not stay open after the last shot’s been fired, so it’s up to the shooter to know when the last BB has been fired. You can continue to pull the trigger without BBs if you like.

The barrel of the Mauser firearm is dovetailed to the frame and does move when the gun recoils. It’s how the designers delayed the opening of the bolt until after the high-pressure gasses were exhausted. It also allows the pistol to tolerate ammunition with a wider range of power. The BB pistol looks the same as the firearm, but that’s just the casting details. The barrel does not move.

C96 BB pistol barrel detail
The barrel appears to be dovetailed to the frame, but this is just a casting detail.

Although it has blowback, this BB pistol will not recoil like the firearm. A Broomhandle Mauser really snaps your hand back, despite being chambered for light cartridges like the 7.63 Mauser and the 9mm Luger. That’s because the bore is high above the grip, so the recoil has nothing to slow it down. I remember the recoil as one of the bad points of a Broomhandle.

Yes, the blowback of this BB pistol does give the shooter a sense that the gun has fired, but there’s no heavy snap to your wrist. Trust me, this is better!

The safety is identical to the Mauser firearm part and works the same way. I found it to be positive and much easier to apply than the firearm safety.

C96 BB pistol safety
The safety is rotated to the rear and the hammer is cocked, making the pistol ready to fire. You can see the selector switch clearly in this photo.

Summing up
When Herr Wonish of Umarex told me last February this pistol was coming, I told him I was eager to see it. Now it’s here, and I intend examining it thoroughly!

66 thoughts on “Legends C96 CO2 BB pistol: Part 1

  1. For me it’s:
    -Reading BB’s review of a cool new BB gun, how could that hurt, it’s just a review.
    -Must… resist… urge… to… buy… new… gun
    -Resistance is futile, where’s my wallet? Maybe I could call Visa to see if I can get more money on my credit card?

    Unless I hit the winning loto numbers with our harsh Canadian laws concerning handguns these replicas will probably be the closest I’ll ever be to the real thing apart from seeing one in a museum.

    I must say this one looks great. Single action triggers are so much more fun. If it could have been bought with one of those shoulder stocks I think it would have made a great package, not for everyone and not really usefull for anything other than just being fun and cool… as an option, I would have bought it.

    J-F


    • I here ya J-F,

      I’m in Ontario and couldn’t agree more. It’s nice to see great looking and shooting BB gun replicas of guns no longer available to the average Canadian shooter. The Luger is another great example that comes to mind. Real ones where once classified as ‘restricted’, meaning you could get one if you had a ‘handgun’ license, but then they passed bill C-68 and essentially all handguns with a 4″ barrel length or less went from ‘restricted’ to ‘prohibited’.

      There’s still the Luger artillery or navy models, but who has that kind of dough to hand over? I sure don’t! I’m quite content with my Umarex P-08, although it does have one heck of a heavy trigger pull, and I’ll be likewise just as happy when I order the Mauser “C96″. I wonder why they went with a mostly plastic body? I would’ve been happy to shell out a few extra dollars for all or mostly steel. Oh well, I shouldn’t look a gift-horse in the mouth. :-)


      • I like my PCP’s and springers but replicas have a special place because of how damn near impossible they are to get for us. I’d sometimes like to move down south but then I’d be spending all my money on guns and ammo and would be left to eat Ramen noodles 3 times a day/7 days a week LOL.

        J-F


        • Anybody remember the non-functional replicas of the ’70s? Made of cheap metal, with all components just far enough out of spec that one couldn’t, say on a 1911 model, drop in a real barrel and slide and have them fit.

          Somehow blowback AirSoft has probably taken over that world, and with something that even functions to propel a projectile — not just drop a hammer on a snap-cap (if a snap-cap would fit the blocked bore of the replica)


  2. A colt walker replica could get expensive!

    B.B.,

    Are you going to the SHOT Show?

    Just heard about one of Crosmans new introductions, the Comrade AK which came from the 760 platform. Fully automatic CO2. Sure hope you can go.

    kevin


    • A Colt Walker could be expensive but it would also be a lot of fun and a really nice addition to any collection.

      Where did you hear about the new Crosman gun? How could it be based on the 760, be fully automatic and work on CO2?

      J-F


      • J-F,

        The information on the Comrade AK and other new introductions was in the Crosman press release.

        Need to clear something up….the Comrade AK is semi-auto. Crosman’s new Battlemaster is their fully automatic introduction. I was confused. Not the first time. Here’s an excerpt,

        “The Crosman 760 Pumpmaster has been redesigned with an updated stock that features a new loading port location and offers a better hold. The Comrade AK is a semi-auto multi-shot CO2-powered BB rifle offering velocities up to 600fps.”

        kevin


        • Are you sure it’s not an airsoft? I haven’t seen the press release. The info I reported was taken from their facebook page.
          If it’s a steel BB gun and is similar to the Steel Storm and Steel Force I’m getting one!

          J-F


    • I looked around and found some info on other models but nothing on the Comrade AK.

      This is for the Rogue:

      STATEMENT REGARDING BENJAMIN ROGUE AVAILABILITY:

      Since its introduction in 2011, the Benjamin Rogue has been the subject of feature articles in Outdoor Life and NRA American Hunter, as well as being named among Petersen’s Hunting Gear of the Year. The rifle has been instrumental in opening new opportunities for airgun hunters in many states; most recently Alabama and Arizona added airguns as approved methods of take for big game including whitetail deer based on performance standards set by the Rogue.

      Crosman Corporation will be phasing out the Rogue as we focus on exciting, new next-generation airguns. We are not exiting the big bore market. We will continue to provide support and service to Rogue owners and encourage you to follow us on our social channels or subscribe to the newsletter (via crosman.com) for announcements.

      And they said the deal was stopped on the MAV77 underlever because of a safety issue but the Benjamin butterfly handpump is still in the work.

      J-F


      • J-F,

        Thanks for publishing this info. I will look long and hard at what Crosman offers this year. I’m fed up with the guns that have been shown many times and never launched. So I’m going to try to assess the probability of each new item before I mention is.

        The pump will likely not get mentioned, unless it is VERY close to launch.

        B.B.


        • Here is what they said about the pump “Vendor could not consistently produce samples. Still a hot project.”

          They also said the catalog would be available online on the 14th.

          J-F


      • Well, some good news at least… I’ve been awaiting that pump with bated breath (though considering some of what I’ve been eating — baited might also apply)


    • Kevin,

      You betcha, I’m going! Gonna ask you oldtimers to help the new readers while I’m gone, next week.

      I plan on having 3 days of SHOT Show reports, plus a surprise on Tuesday!

      B.B.



  3. Woohoo! I myself am not a fan of CO2, but this could happen. I have been waiting for this report for some time. Thankfully, this report did not come out before Christmas. I have time to save up some change. Hopefully they won’t come out with a fully functional Schnellfeuer.



  4. I had a Schnellfeuer 7,63mm, with holster/stock and all, on my hands few months ago. It was offered to me as the owner was moving overseas. Ammo availability is quite a problem, at least in my corner of the woods, even considering that Mauser pistols in 7,63mm were very common issue guns in Brazilian State Police departments before WW2. I didn’t buy that gun due to this ammo shortage. In total, the owner had something like 80 or 90 rounds, which must be the largest quantity of 7,63mm ammo I have seen together in my entire lifetime. The excitement of a full-auto machine-pistol/carbine combo would not resist ammo shortage.
    On the other hand, BBs and CO2 are not in shortage, and that might be a perfect excuse!


    • Fred_BR,

      You can manufacture 7.63 Mauser from .223 Remington cases. They are the most plentiful cartridge case in America. I was considering going into commercial production of the round in the 1970s.

      That was when I owned the second Broomhandle. I was stationed at Ft. Knox on what was to become my final assignment, so I didn’t have much time to devote to the job and I never followed through.

      B.B.


      • BB : you probably also know ,but you can make the 7.63 Mauser (.30 Mauser) from .38 Spcl. cases by turning off the rim, cut extractor groove,trim to .980 length, and resize in full lenght resizing die. Use .308 bullets and Unique powder, 5-5.4 grs load.


        • Robert,

          I didn’t know that, but .223 cases are easier. Just cut to length with a tubing cutter, run through the sizing die, trim and load. The bases do swell a bit on the first firing, but .223 rifle brass is so thick at the base that it isn’t a problem. After one firing, they function perfectly.

          B.B.


          • And why on Earth do I get to know that only now?!?
            Not that .223 cases are so easy to find around here (we have severe restrictions on military calibres, i.e. on the 5,56X45mm), but nevertheless they are definitely a lot easier than 7,63 Mausers.
            Maybe a few phone calls are on the way…


  5. There’s a review at PA on this gun that mentions the barrel is pressed into a rubber breech block, and the owner complained his barrel was working its way out. Can you confirm this? It’d be fun to tell someone “I shot it til the barrel fell out!” but not if that happens on the first cart!


  6. Last year while pursuing the purchase of an m1 Garand, I visited a guy who I won’t name, who had several for sale. Unfortunately, we couldn’t agree on pricing. That’s when he took out a turn off the century broomhandle in new condition in its original presentation wooden box. He put on white cotton gloves to show my brother and myself. He said NRA estimated pricing was close to $90,000!

    I typically an not interested in bb pistols but to own a replica of that Mauser at a fraction of the price of that collectible, …….

    Fred DPRoNJ


    • Fred,

      There are some C96 variants that command a lot of money. A slabside is one, and a Bolo is another. And condition does drive the price.

      A regular C96 with a very good bore in 7.63mm, all matching numbers including grips and 65 percent finish should bring about $1,800-$2,200 these days.

      B.B.


      • I have seen quite a few for $1500-$2000 and up, but no one was paying that. Your little review here will probably run the price up a little.


  7. Everything rolls around again… Just when you think you’re done with bb guns and have moved on to the more accurate and powerful pellet guns, BB has to show you something new to drool over… I sense another c-note flying out of my wallet soon if I can’t come to my senses first!

    /Dave


  8. BB, if you would like a colt walker replica, Uberti makes a very, very nice one. A friend has one and I have shot it. Price isn’t bad, I see them in the $400 range new. Accurate, modern metal work, big and bad. What’s not to love! Now, don’t run out and buy one today!

    Mike


    • Mike,

      I have owned a Uberti black powder replica Walker and I agree with you — they are quite nice. The loading lever falls when they fire, but that was a design fault of the Walker — not a reflection on Uberti. I had an early one back in the 1970s.

      B.B.


  9. BB, any idea on if you might get to do a test on the Stoeger X20s in .22? My Benjamin 392 is a little loud to shoot often in my back yard, although I still do occasionally. Also, if any of the readers here has one, any opinions would be appreciated.

    Jim


  10. Hi Ridgerunner, I did read about that, and there are a lot of youtube videos on having it done. I saw that the charlie da tuna has one that you have to file the saftey down, but there is one from archer that is just drop in. I get nervous taking triggers out, but I have read it is really worth doing though.


    • I too have been looking at the Stoeger. If PA had priced the .22 at the same price as the .177 for their Christmas sale, I would have snatched one up.

      I do not know anything about Archer’s trigger, but I have used the GRT3 in a Gamo CFX. The Gamo trigger is legendary for how bad they are. The difference is like night and day. It turned the CFX into a nice sproinger. No, it will not be a Reckord, but it will be way better than most.

      It is not a difficult modification. If you go to his website, he has step by step tutorials. The most important thing to remember is to just take your time.




      • If you get it b.b. I’d be interested in knowing what the ‘original packaging’ is like.
        A friend of mine this summer purchased a commemorative WW1 Colt 1911. The pistol and mags were wrapped in that old style waxed brown paper and boxed in period cardboard box.
        I was there when he got it home…it was like two little kids at Christmas unwrapping the box and paper…all of which he has carefully saved.



  11. B.B., Oh I’m looking so forward to the rest of the reviews on this one….looks so promising! And I too would like to see someone do a “Black powder revolver” pellet pistol. Remember the Crosman 1861 Army Shiloh Co2 revolver. Shot pellets around 350 fps and was sold at big box stores fairly cheap. It was no big deal then as they were everywhere. Now I wish I had bought one so bad. Don’t see them much anymore.


    • Bradly. Two years ago the Shiloh was not even on my radar.
      But about that time a friend called up, said he’d found an old pellet gun he had when he was a kid and asked if I wanted it. Figured it would be nothing special, but the next day he came by with a Shiloh, in original box that looked like it had never been fired. He gave it to me (all he would let me do was buy him lunch) for nothing.
      Took it home, loaded a CO2 bulb and listened to all the air leak out.
      Took it to a fellow who is very good with this stuff. He resealed it and now it is one of our favorite basement guns.
      We shoot the Gamo Lead rounds in it (the loading system really seems to want to deform pellets) and at 30 feet we’ve shot many a bad hombre ;-)


      • B.B., good to hear. From the review I’ve read on a collector’s site, this was Crosman’s most accurate Co2 “revolver” they produced, beating the 38T. Bradly


      • Aren’t those sweet revolvers!?! I love mine. I bought it resealed and refinished on the CAF and the guy did an amazing job, it looks brand new except for the new screw to pierce the cartridge and the missing CO2 “door”. It’s one of my favorite, it has a nice trigger too!

        J-F


  12. B.B., why did you vow never to own another Luger?

    I had thought that the original Mauser Broomhandle was selective fire. But that being the case, I wonder what was the big deal with John Garand designing a semiautomatic rifle decades later and the Germans creating the first selective fire assault rifle about that time. You would think that the engineering problem was solved. Maybe the difficulty was making it work with the more powerful cartridge.

    Just returned from an interesting vacation. Team airguns made great progress on all fronts. My sister-in-law who originally would not let my brother go to the gun range with me actually asked to see and handle my 1911 and SW 686! I was glad to oblige. I also took my Dad to an indoor range with the movable targets to see why he can’t hit anything with a pistol at 25 yards. With the first target at about five yards, it looked like the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. But after that he tightened up and did well as we advanced the target out to the maximum of 20 yards. So progressive distance works. We ended up shooting a Glock 9mm and my 1911, and I must say that the Glock didn’t compare very well (although it was utterly reliable). My Dad as a blank slate much preferred the 1911 in spite of its heavier caliber. Out of the mouths of babes… :-)

    There was also the usual range weirdness. A fellow shooting next to us dressed like a cross between a lumberjack and a commando, poked his head into our stall and asked if we were shooting hollowpoints. ? No. Then, he and his companion played a laser light over a target without firing any rounds. Then, he cut loose with a whole magazine of a centerfire rifle at 50 feet! So we have come full circle. Where the presumption is that airguns are trying to be firearms, we now have firearms trying to be airguns. If he was practicing for a home invasion, I’m sure that would have been the end of the invasion. Down in another lane, a fellow was firing a revolver while wearing only swim trunks. Hawaiian style I suppose.

    Duskwight, I put in the time by reading an historical novel about the entire sweep of Russian history called, Russka. It’s full of mad monks, violent tartars, Vikings, rusalka and a rich cultural array. And not the least are the gorgeous peasant girls ready to throw in their lot with you, especially if they have nothing to lose and if you are a boyar with ultimate power. Beneath all this was a point which was the essence of the true Slavic character. And what would this be? Underneath it all, the Slavic culture is fundamentally gentle. I must say from my immersion in the Easter Front that was not my first impression. But it does speak to other experiences I’ve had including with the Russian commandos. No joke. Anyway, it was an all-around entertaining read that was quite positive and not to be taken with too much seriousness. :-)

    Matt61


    • Matt,

      Welcome home. My first Luger was a junker that wasn’t easy to use and wasn’t particularly accurate. This one is both those things — night and day. It’s the difference between a redneck junker muscle car and one that’s been done up right.

      B.B.


  13. There’s a lower magazine cover that hides the CO2 screw and the CO2 cartridge. This is something BB gun shooters are very sensitive about, so it was a necessary feature that completes the look of the gun.

    Given the presence of the lanyard ring, I’m surprised they didn’t design it to fit the CO2 cartridge under the grip panels using the lanyard ring as the piercing screw. And for realism, make a BB magazine that loaded from the top (a non-stripper clip)


  14. I know a lot of you don’t like them and I can understand why but I love CO2 BB guns. They don’t get old with me. Shredding cans is just fun, letting rip a full mag as fast as you can pull the trigger is a great stress reliever and when you’re done you’re ready to settle down and shoot the accurate guns.

    People who have never been into guns will be willing to try these out, it’s a lot less intimidating than a firearm because it often doesn’t have any recoil if your gun doesn’t have blowback and they don’t have to admit to admit to liking shooting a big bad GUN.

    I wish I had more money so I could afford even more of these replicas. Having a chance to handle all those pistols is something I like a lot. Being able to afford the firearms (and ammo) they copy would be even better but it’s just not possible. Even owning a few would be prohibitive money wise especially here where the market isn’t very big and gun shows are scarce to say the least.

    So Umarex, KWC, Crosman and all other makers, please, KEEP THEM COMING!!!

    J-F


  15. J-F
    Right now my favorite air gun to shoot is my FX Monsoon. Nothing like shooting a rifle as fast as you can pull the trigger. And slow down on the trigger finger and still make accurate shots.

    I only hope that Crosman and the others will bring out some true semi-auto guns that work like the FX pcp gun.

    I wish some body would make some kind of spring loaded clip type magazine that would hold 32 pellets instead of the 12 shot rotary magazine that FX uses right now. And still be loaded into the right side of the breach like the rotary magazine. I would be all over one of those magazines.


  16. My question is when someone is going to sell a kit to recreate a Han Solo blaster! LOL! THAT would be interesting!

    While I am attempting to be humorous, I would imagine such a kit would actually sell like free money considering all the Star Wars fans out there.


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