Most of the 88 gr. CO2 rifles I have tested over the years have been modern tactical designs like the Beretta CX-4 Storm and Sig Sauer MCX, with the one exception being the Walther Lever Action Rifle. Most all the range tests of pellet-firing, 88 gr. CO2 rifles have been shot at 10 meters, the Walther again being the one exception, as it was also tested at 15 yards because it could maintain tight groups with open sights at that extended range.
The others, regardless of velocity or optics, were really best suited to shooting at 10 meters. The 850 M2, however, falls more into comparative shooting against a precharged pneumatic like the Air Venturi Seneca Aspen. read more
Air rifles that are not copies of semi-auto or select-fire rifles are a different breed of airgun than I usually cover in Airgun Experience and the few exceptions, like the Air Venturi Seneca Aspen, have been impressive new designs. The Umarex 850 M2 is neither new nor technically impressive but rather familiar and welcomed because it continues a design by Hammerli that was always well liked by air rifle enthusiasts. The handful of improvements the M2 brings to the design are almost inconsequential for general sport shooting, but each adds to the versatility of the gun for target and precision shooting. With the addition of the short Picatinny rails around the forearm adding a UTG 28ST bipod (or any rail-mounting bipod) takes the 850 into new territory for target work. Combined with a good scope, the 850 in .22 caliber is a much more capable air rifle than its predecessor.read more
Hammerli is one of the oldest armsmakers in the world, established in 1863 and renown for quality target rifles and target pistols beginning in the 19th century, as well as airguns (rifles and pistols beginning in the late 1950s) for target shooting and competition, including Olympic level .22 caliber rimfire and 10 meter airgun. In 2006 the historic Swiss Armsmaker became part of the Umarex group in Germany, and combined with Carl Walther, (which merged with Umarex in 1993), the Hammerli helped form the basis for the Umarex group we see today, and models built by Umarex in Germany that have the foundation of their designs in guns originally built in Switzerland by Hammerli. The new Umarex 850 M2 is an updated version of the original Hammerli 850 Air Magnum, one of the more powerful and successful CO2 air rifles capable of performance that is almost up to the standards of some .177 and .22 caliber precharged pneumatics. The 850 was an impressive Hammerli model (built by Umarex), and becomes more impressive in its new M2 form in 2020.read more
If you collect old guns, 19th century guns, most will be blued (or were at one time), others might be nickel plated, but the vast majority, well into the 20th century were blued. It is an old process that Samuel Colt (among others) refined in the early to mid 19th century. Go back another century and you won’t find many blued guns, you will find instead browned guns, an even older process that was so common in the 1700s’s that the famous Revolutionary War British musket, the “Brown Bess,” was named after its finish (or so the story goes). Browned Damascus barrels on shotguns and pistols were revered for their beauty, but bluing became the dominant finish intended to prevent rust. Rust was and will always be the nemesis of gun barrels, frames (except of course, newer polymer frames), and parts made from steel, iron or other metals, except aluminum and aluminum alloys, and thus you will not often encounter rust with a modern air pistol, except those which use steel in their composition. Bluing is, in fact, a controlled rust process that is stopped and treated, creating a protective layer over the metal. But time wears everything down and bluing wears away. That is why old guns that have not been well cared for (or reblued) have faded worn finishes and the worst, have pitting from rust.read more
Its crunch time, time for the Umarex S&W M&P 45 to go head to head with the two higher-priced Umarex German-built models, the Walther CP99 and Heckler & Koch HK P30. It is a comparison of equals in terms of design and capabilities. All three CO2 models are based on centerfire, duty-size (law enforcement and military) use handguns, with the Walther and S&W being polymer frame pistols with striker-fired systems and the HK being a polymer frame pistol with a hammer-fired system. All three are individual design benchmarks as centerfire handguns, all among the first to utilize a polymer frame like Glock. Historically, H&K was the first, actually more than a decade before Glock’s G17 in 1982, then Walther in 1999, and S&W with the M&P (Military & Police) series beginning in 2006 (2007 for the .45 ACP model). There are of course, other gunmakers who have moved to polymer frames, like Sig Sauer, but these three are our topic.read more
I recall writing about the Umarex Walter PPS when it came out, that “you have to wonder how they can build an air pistol this good and sell it for $90.” I feel that I can reuse those words for the M&P 45, because up to this point it is right at the top of the entry-level price range (like the PPS was) and delivering the same sense of quality in build of more expensive CO2 models. Yes, Umarex has taken the shortcuts mentioned in Part One by molding in a few parts (that wouldn’t function if they were separate pieces), and they have cut manufacturing costs by making the slide an injection molded piece rather than an alloy casting. But even those two things do not equal the disparity in retail price between the Umarex HK P30 and the Umarex S&W M&P 45. The big price difference comes from where the M&P and P30 are manufactured. The HK is made in Germany by Umarex; the M&P is manufactured in Taiwan for Umarex. Those three words, Made in Germany, stamped into the side of an air pistol are what make the greatest difference in price. To explain that, I am reminded of one of Germany’s and the world’s oldest airgun manufacturers, Diana (Dianawerk) Mayer & Grammelspacher, which has been building superb air rifles and air pistols since 1895, and their not to distant venture into China to build the new Diana Chaser, which despite its Made in China stamping on the receiver, proved an impressive CO2 model that lives up to the Diana name. My point being that a German company can have a high quality airgun made outside of Germany, if it lives up to a certain standard. The Umarex S&W M&P 45 is as good an air pistol as the HK P30, it just benefits from more cost effective manufacturing. The upshot is that for under $100 one can get a gun that is capable of living up to the standards of one that costs $249.read more
In the 1970s, Smith & Wesson developed its own Air Gun Division (Sig Sauer wasn’t the first), and beganmanufacturing air rifles and a series of target pistols based on its own .22 caliber Model 41 semi-auto. Smith & Wesson’s venture into airguns was not entirely successful, and in 1980 the Air Gun Division was sold to Daisy, which renamed the S&W Models 78G and 79G (S&W’s CO2 versions of the Model 41) the Daisy Power Line 41, giving a tip of the hat to the original S&W .22 target pistol. The single shot .22 caliber pellet model remained in the Daisy line until 1984. The S&W models have since become something of a collectible air pistol.read more