Sawed-Off Rifles – Mosin-Nagant Part 1

Sawed-Off Rifles – Mosin-Nagant Part 1

From the Old West, to Prohibition, to the battlefield

By Dennis Adler

Rifles and shotguns that become, shall we say, “less than the sum of their parts” by being converted into unusual pistols or sawed off models present a unique substrata of guns. In the 1860s, percussion shotguns were made with short barrels for use on horseback by the Cavalry, but shotguns of all types were cut down with shorter barrels and stocks cut off behind the wrist to make them smaller and more concealable. Others were made as pistols from the start like the Ithaca-style double barrel in the center. Rifles also were given the barrel and stock cut for much the same reason, but the Winchester made for Steve McQueen’s character bounty hunter Josh Randall is the most famous cut down rifle of all time. At top, the Gletcher M1891 is a CO2 version of the early 20th century Russian Mosin-Nagant field-modified Obrez bolt action pistol.

Continuing on the theme of “Sweet Inspirations” it is safe to say that no one ever asked why you would saw the barrel down and cut the stock off a rifle or a shotgun, because the only people who did it already knew the reason. Most of the time it was either an outlaw or a lawman, and both for the same purpose, to conceal, either in a box or other cover, under a table, or on their person, a small but powerful weapon for use at close range. Sawed off shotguns came first, most prominently during the Civil War for mounted troops, later for lawmen, outlaws, and often mercantile shop and salon owners, especially in boom towns. By the end of the 19th century, sawed off shotguns and rifles were not that uncommon but used far less often than more conventional lever action carbines and short-barrel double action and pump action shotguns. read more


Sweet Inspirations

Sweet Inspirations

Borrowing from the past

By Dennis Adler

During the 1850s Colt produced .44 caliber Dragoon Models with detachable shoulder stocks. Although far from the first use of this combination to turn a holster pistol into a short barrel carbine, the Colt models from the 1850s through the 1860s are the most famous. Dragoons with shoulder stocks were generally fitted with a folding rear sight on top of the barrel lug (which you can see folded down). Accuracy with the stock attached was greatly enhanced and point of aim was more accurate than with the pistol’s hammer notch rear and half moon German silver front sight.

At the end of the article on the Crosman Backpacker Model 2289G I put in a picture of several Frank Wesson single shot .32 rimfire pistols from the 1870s which were fitted with shoulder stocks to make them into carbines. This shows that the concept for the Crosman was rooted in our past, but it is far more interesting than that. For so many of the very popular airguns we have today, the past is the source of their inspiration, like the early Gletcher Russian Legends, and Umarex Legends models such as the MP40 sub machinegun and M712 Broomhandle, among others. But this particular subject of making carbines out of pistols has its roots far more deeply planted in the past. Frank Wesson built his guns as simple, affordable single shot pistols, some with longer barrels that could be used to hunt small game and affixed with a metal skeleton shoulder stock to make the pistol more accurate, like a rifle, but removable for easier transport. In an airgun context the 2289G, Diana Chaser, shoulder stocks for any of the Crosman 1399 series models as well as other Crosman pneumatic pistols, even the shoulder stock for the Umarex S&W 586 (perhaps the closest relation to the Frank Wesson pistols) fall into this same category. read more


Crosman Bug Out Kit Part 2

Crosman Bug Out-Kit Part 2

A little something extra that could make a difference

By Dennis Adler

The Crosman Model 1377 American Classic is a not too distant relative of the 2289 series in a carbine design with longer barrel and removable shoulder stock.

For much of Crosman’s history they have built excellent single shot air rifles and pistols, and of the latter their strong suit with air pistols was the traditional single shot pneumatic pump. Crosman was also a pioneer in early CO2 pistols back in the 1950s. One of Crosman’s best pneumatic pump action designs remains the Model 1377, also known as the American Classic, a design that has evolved over time since 1947 and the Crosman Model 105. The 105 used a cocking knob at the rear of the receiver rather than the bolt action cocking mechanism used on the Model 1377, introduced in 1977. I mention this because if you look at a Model 1377 you see the basic design of the 2289G, even though it is in principal a carbine and not a pistol. Crosman still builds the Model 1377 currently known as the Model 1377C, which was introduced in 1998, coincidentally (or perhaps not) the same year that the original 2289 was introduced. This is a design archetype that has worked for Crosman over decades. read more


Crosman Bug Out Kit Part 1

Crosman Bug-Out Kit Part 1

A little something extra that could make a difference

By Dennis Adler

Walking into that tragic goodnight on the day after disaster strikes, be sure to take a .22 caliber pellet rifle with you…which is actually a sound idea. The Crosman Backpacker in its latest version has a lot of good features that make it worth considering as your extra hunting gun not only on Doomsday but perhaps for a camping trip with a little small game hunting mixed in.

Airguns were designed for recreational sport shooting, some have proven excellent for training others for competition shooting, but most of us don’t seriously consider an air pistol or rifle as a survival weapon. But it can be. Let me start by saying that I am by no means a Prepper or a survivalist, but living in a rural environment I know pretty much that if things go terribly wrong I had better be able to help myself. The idea has been floated for years that among the basic items for survival there should be an air rifle. I understand this and appreciate the logic of a 4.5mm or larger caliber 5.5mm (.22) pellet rifle for field survival, i.e., quietly taking small game that can provide food. Of course, there is a long, hands-on process between the shooting and someone saying, “OK, break out the rabbit roasting pan” and that’s assuming you have electricity, gas, or propane or some way to cook anything in a situation where you have just resorted to an air rifle to shoot dinner. Welcome back to the 19th century. read more


Crazy for holsters

Crazy for holsters

If the gun fits, buy it!

By Dennis Adler

In the Old West not everyone who carried a gun wore a holster. Some men just tucked the pistol into their pant’s waist. Others who wore a cartridge belt and holster often tucked a second gun behind the belt. The rig I am wearing in this photo is an exact copy of the holster and belt worn by Tom Horn. It was copied from the original by Alan Soellner of Chisholm’s Trail Leather. It was originally used for a feature on Tom Horn in Guns of the Old West. Here it plays host to a pair of 5-1/2 inch Umarex Colt Peacemakers.

I hesitate to tell you how many holsters I have. Let’s just say that if I ever end up on an episode of Hoarders it is going to be because of holsters. I am not alone in this, there are, and this is the truth, people who collect holsters, not guns, just holsters. They buy guns, but only to put in the holsters, that’s where the term “holster stuffer” comes from.

I have purchased holsters, off the rack, as it were, and I have had holsters custom made to fit specific guns, I have commissioned reproductions of original western holsters to be made for articles (which is altogether different because I got paid to do that), but I have also done this just for my own satisfaction. I would dare say that there are some holsters out there today from certain makers that would not exist if I hadn’t been the instigator of its design and manufacturing. There is even one out there today surreptitiously named after me. But before this becomes a holsters anonymous meeting, there is a point to this as it relates to CO2 air pistols. read more


Conceptual Evolution

Conceptual Evolution

Looking back and looking forward

By Dennis Adler

For 2019 Umarex only has three new models we haven’t already seen, the Glock 17 Gen4, Beretta M9A3, and Ruger 10/22 but they also count the late 2018 introductions of the Glock 19, Glock 17 Gen3, HK VP9, and Legends Cowboy Lever Action as new models for 2019. Considering their timeline in 2018, they certainly qualify, giving Umarex quite a lineup of new CO2 models for this year.

Every so often you watch a movie trailer and it looks like it is going to be the best new film of the year, but it turns out that all the best scenes were used in the trailer and the movie as a whole falls flat on its face. That’s kind of where we are looking forward to new air pistols this year. Tom Gaylord gave us a thorough look at what new airguns are coming in 2019 direct from the Shot Show floor. And there are a lot of new airguns coming, but in the area of CO2 models, the offerings are impressive but few, as they apply to Airgun Experience readers. We are a picky lot and expect every year to be a banner year with an abundance of new and exciting CO2 pistols and rifles. But the reality is not always as exciting and many months go by between debuts and availability. Case in point, Umarex has announced a second Glock 17 with an enhanced blowback action for even more realistic handling. As a training gun this will be a benchmark, at least for those who want to train for carrying a 9mm Glock. And even just as a CO2 pistol on its own, it will likely rise to the top as one of the, if not the most realistic CO2 pistols built to date. But exhale; we won’t see them until late this summer. This is about the same waiting period as last year’s Shot Show announcement of the Legends Cowboy Lever Action Rifle (before it was pushed back to December). But it has proven well worth the wait. The question is, “What are we waiting for next?” read more


Back in my Guns & Ammo days

Back in my Guns & Ammo days

Beretta Model 92FS XX-Treme

By Dennis Adler

I originally wrote this caption because at the time very few CO2 pistols looked like the XX-Treme. “Not your father’s Crosman pellet gun, the Beretta XX-Treme raises the bar for intimidating design. Fully equipped, as shown, the price is just $318.99.”

This is a little trip back in time, about 15 years back, when I was primarily an automotive journalist, gun enthusiast and collector. Early on in my career when I was writing about rare and expensive vintage American and European cars from the early 20th century, I had determined that I was never going to be a car collector. My interests were in photographing and writing about them, not owning them, and I never kept that a secret even when I was editor of one of the (at the time) top-rated collector car magazines in America. This led one of my competitors to brand me a “non-collecting voyeur” which really has a pretty nasty connotation. But I wore it well for over 30 years and through authoring dozens of automotive books and running the magazine. I loved old cars; I just didn’t want to own them. (Truth be told, the ones I would have loved to own were so far out of my reach financially that I had long dismissed any thoughts of ownership). read more